Genesis 21:8
And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
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(8) The child grew, and was weaned.—According to tradition, Isaac was two years old when weaned. Three years is the age mentioned in 2Chronicles 31:16, 2 Maccabees 7:27; and Samuel was old enough at his weaning to be left at the tabernacle with Eli (1Samuel 1:24). In Persia and India it is still the custom to celebrate the weaning of a child by an entertainment.

21:1-8 Few under the Old Testament were brought into the world with such expectations as Isaac. He was in this a type of Christ, that Seed which the holy God so long promised, and holy men so long expected. He was born according to the promise, at the set time of which God had spoken. God's promised mercies will certainly come at the time which He sets, and that is the best time. Isaac means laughter, and there was good reason for the name, ch. 17:17; 18:13. When the Sun of comfort is risen upon the soul, it is good to remember how welcome the dawning of the day was. When Sarah received the promise, she laughed with distrust and doubt. When God gives us the mercies we began to despair of, we ought to remember with sorrow and shame our sinful distrust of his power and promise, when we were in pursuit of them. This mercy filled Sarah with joy and wonder. God's favours to his covenant people are such as surpass their own and others' thoughts and expectations: who could imagine that he should do so much for those that deserve so little, nay, for those that deserve so ill? Who would have said that God should send his Son to die for us, his Spirit to make us holy, his angels to attend us? Who would have said that such great sins should be pardoned, such mean services accepted, and such worthless worms taken into covenant? A short account of Isaac's infancy is given. God's blessing upon the nursing of children, and the preservation of them through the perils of the infant age, are to be acknowledged as signal instances of the care and tenderness of the Divine providence. See Ps 22:9,10; Ho 11:1,2.Isaac is born according to promise, and grows to be weaned. "The Lord had visited Sarah." It is possible that this event may have occurred before the patriarchal pair arrived in Gerar. To visit, is to draw near to a person for the purpose of either chastising or conferring a favor. The Lord had been faithful to his gracious promise to Sarah. "He did as he had spoken." The object of the visit was accomplished. In due time she bears a son, whom Abraham, in accordance with the divine command, calls Isaac, and circumcises on the eighth day. Abraham was now a hundred years old, and therefore Isaac was born thirty years after the call. Sarah expressed her grateful wonder in two somewhat poetic strains. The first, consisting of two sentences, turns on the word laugh. This is no longer the laugh of delight mingled with doubt, but that of wonder and joy at the power of the Lord overcoming the impotence of the aged mother. The second strain of three sentences turns upon the object of this admiring joy. The event that nobody ever expected to hear announced to Abraham, has nevertheless taken place; "for I have borne him a son in his old age." The time of weaning, the second step of the child to individual existence, at length arrives, and the household of Abraham make merry, as was wont, on the festive occasion. The infant was usually weaned in the second or third year 1 Samuel 1:22-24; 2 Chronicles 31:16. The child seems to have remained for the first five years under the special care of the mother Leviticus 27:6. The son then came under the management of the father.8. the child grew, and was weaned—children are suckled longer in the East than in the Occident—boys usually for two or three years.

Abraham made a great feast, &c.—In Eastern countries this is always a season of domestic festivity, and the newly weaned child is formally brought, in presence of the assembled relatives and friends, to partake of some simple viands. Isaac, attired in the symbolic robe, the badge of birthright, was then admitted heir of the tribe [Rosenmuller].

It doth not appear how old Isaac was, because the time for the weaning of children is very various, according to the differing tempers and necessities of children, or inclination of parents; and in those times, when men’s lives were longer than now they are, proportionably the time was longer ere children were weaned. And the child grew, and was weaned,.... He throve under the nursing of its mother, and through the blessing of God upon him; and being healthy and robust, and capable of digesting stronger food, and living upon it, he was weaned from the breast: at what age Isaac was when weaned is not certain, there being no fixed time for such an affair, but it was at the discretion of parents, and as they liked it, and the case of their children required; and in those times, when men lived to a greater age than now, they might not be weaned so early, as we find their marrying and begetting children were when they were more advanced in years. The Jewish writers are not agreed about this matter. Jarchi and Ben Melech say that Isaac was weaned twenty four months after his birth; a chronologer of theirs says (q) it was in the hundred and third year of Abraham, that is, when Isaac was three years old, which agrees with the Apocrypha:"But she bowing herself toward him, laughing the cruel tyrant to scorn, spake in her country language on this manner; O my son, have pity upon me that bare thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee such three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age, and endured the troubles of education.'' (2 Maccabees 7:27)According to Jerom (r), it was the opinion of some of the Hebrews that he was five years old; and at this age Bishop Usher (s) places the weaning of him; for to make him ten or twelve years of age, as some of the Rabbins do (t), when this was done, is very unlikely. Philo the Jew (u) makes him to be seven years of age at this time:

and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned; because he had now escaped the dangers of infancy, and had gone through or got over those disorders infants are exposed unto, and had his health confirmed, and there was great likelihood of his living and becoming a man, since now he could eat and digest more solid and substantial food; and this was great joy to Abraham, which he expressed by making a grand and sumptuous entertainment for his family, and for his neighbours, whom he might invite upon this occasion. Jarchi says, the great men of that age were at it, even Heber and Abimelech. The Jews very impertinently produce this passage, to show the obligation they lie under to make a feast at the circumcision of their infants (w); for this was not at Isaac's circumcision, but at his weaning.

(q) R. Gedaliah, Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 2. (r) Quaestion. in Genesin, fol. 68. K. tom. 3.((s) Annal. Vet Test. p. 9. (t) Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. Vid. Hieron. Quaest. ut supra. (in Genesin, fol. 68. K. tom. 3.) (u) De his Verb. Resipuit. Noe, p. 275. (w) Pirke Eliezer, c. 29. fol. 30. 1.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
8. was weaned] Weaning was often, in the East, deferred until as late as the child’s third or fourth year; see 1 Samuel 1:24. It is still regarded as the occasion for a family rejoicing.

8–21 (E). The Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael

A narrative from E which forms a parallel to that in chap. 16. (J).Verse 8. - And the child grew, - καὶ ἠυξήθη τὸ παιδίον (LXX.): imitated by Luke concerning Christ: τὸ παιδίον ηὔξανε (Luke 2:40) - and was weaned. The verb gamal originally signifies to do good to any one, to do completely; hence to finish, or make completely ready, as an infant; hence to wean, since either at that time the period of infancy is regarded as complete, or the child s independent existence is then fully reached. The time of weaning is commonly believed to have been at the end of the second or third year (cf. 1 Samuel 1:22-24; 2 Chronicles 31:16; 2 Macc. 7:27; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 2:09, 6). And Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. Literally, in the day of the weaning of Isaac; probably, therefore, when Isaac was three years old and Ishmael seventeen. "It is still customary in the East to have a festive gathering at the time a child is weaned. Among the Hindoos, when the time for weaning has come, the event is accompanied with feasting and religious ceremonies, during which rice is formally presented to the child" ('Bible Manners and Customs,' by Rev. J. A. Freeman, M.A., ' Homiletical Quarterly,' vol. 1. p. 78; cf. Roberts' 'Oriental Illustrations,' p. 24).

CHAPTER 21:9-14 Birth of Isaac. - Jehovah did for Sarah what God had promised in Genesis 17:6 (cf. Genesis 18:14): she conceived, and at the time appointed bore a son to Abraham, when he was 100 years old. Abraham gave it the name of Jizchak (or Isaac), and circumcised it on the eighth day. The name for the promised son had been selected by God, in connection with Abraham's laughing (Genesis 17:17 and Genesis 17:19), to indicate the nature of his birth and existence. For as his laughing sprang from the contrast between the idea and the reality; so through a miracle of grace the birth of Isaac gave effect to this contrast between the promise of God and the pledge of its fulfilment on the one hand, and the incapacity of Abraham for begetting children, and of Sarah for bearing them, on the other; and through this name, Isaac was designated as the fruit of omnipotent grace working against and above the forces of nature. Sarah also, who had previously laughed with unbelief at the divine promise (Genesis 18:12), found a reason in the now accomplished birth of the promised son for laughing with joyous amazement; so that she exclaimed, with evident allusion to his name, "A laughing hath God prepared for me; every one who hears it will laugh to me" (i.e., will rejoice with me, in amazement at the blessing of God which has come upon me even in my old age), and gave a fitting expression to the joy of her heart, in this inspired tristich (Genesis 21:7): "Who would have said unto Abraham: Sarah is giving suck; for I have born a son to his old age." מלּל is the poetic word for דּבּר, and מי before the perfect has the sense of - whoever has said, which we should express as a subjunctive; cf. 2 Kings 20:9; Psalm 11:3, etc.
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