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on none else, and none else should look on her. Some have rendered the words, ' It, that is, the silver, shall be to thee a cover. ing for the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and to all other.'. As if he bad given it to buy her a veil, which might prevent all such mistakes in future. • Take this, (q. d.) and never go without a veil again, nor any of your married servants.' So she was reproved.
The issue was, Abraham prayed, and the Lord answered him, and healed the family of Abimelech. He would feel a motive for prayer, in this case, which he did not when interceding for Sodom : for of this evil he himself had been the cause.
THE BIRTH OF ISAAC, &c.
VER. 1. ABRAHAM, still sojourning in the land of the Philistines, at length sees the promise fulfilled. It is noted with some degree of emphasis, as forming a special epocb in his life, that the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. Such a kind of language is used of his posterity being put in possession of the promised land: The Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers—there failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel: all came to pass. And such will be our language, sooner or later, concerning all the good things promised to the church, or to us as individuals.
Ver. 2. Two things are particularly noticed in the birth of this child : It was in Abraham's old age, and at the set time of which God had spoken to him. Both these circumstances showed the whole to be of God. That which comes to us in the ordinary course of things may be of God; but that which comes otherwise, manifestly appears to be so.
One great difference between this child and the son of Hagar consisted in this: the one was born after the flesh; that is, in the ordinary course of generation : but the other, after the Spirit ; that is, by extraordinary divine interposition, and in virtue of a special promise.* Analogous to these were those Jews, on the one hand, who were merely descended from Abraham according to the flesh; and those, on the other, who were not
of the circumcision only, but also walked in the steps of the faith of their father Abraham.* The former were the children of the bond-woman, who were cast out: the latter of the free-woman, who being his people whom he foreknew, were not cast away, but were counted for his seed.f
Ver. 3, 4. The name by which this extraordinary child should be called was Isaac, according to the previous direction of God. It signifies laughter, or joy, and corresponds with the gladness which accompanied his birth. Children are ordinarily an heritage of the Lord. On account of the uncertainty of their future cbaracter, however, we have reason to rejoice with trembling : but in this case it was joy in a manner unmixed; for he was born under the promise of being blessed, and made a blessing. But what a difference between the joy of Abrabam at the birth of a child, and that which is commonly seen among us! His was not that vain mirth, or noisy laughter, which unfits for obedience to God : on the contrary, he circumcised bis son when he was eight days old, not in conformity to custom, but as God had commanded him.
Ver. 5–7. The sacred writers seldom deal in reflections themselves ; but will often mention those of others.
Moses baving recorded the fact, that Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born unto him, tells us of the joyful sayings of Sarah : -God, saith she, hath made me to laugh, so that all who hear me will laugh with me. Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age! Yes, God had made her to laugh, and that without any of ber crooked measures : and pot merely with a private, but a public joy : for all that hear shall laugh with her.
Ver. 8. For a time, nothing remarkable occurred: the child grew, and all went on pleasantly. When the time came for his being weaned, a great feast was made, in token of joy that he had passed the most delicate, and dangerous stage of life.
Ver. 9. But the joy of that day was embittered. The son of Hagar, being stung with envy, cannot bear such an ado about this child of promise. So he turns it into ridcule, probably deriding the parents and the child, and the promise together ; and all this
* Rom. iv. 12.
+ Gal. iv. 28–31. Rom. ix, 7. 9. xi. 1, 2.
' in the sight of Sarah! Thus he that was born after the flesh began, at an early stage, to persecute him that was born after the Spirit; and thus Sarah's crooked policy, in giving Hagar to Abraham, goes on to furnish them with new sources of sorrow. From what is said of Hagar, in Chap. xvi. we conceived hopes of her; but, whatever she was, her son appears at present to be a bitter enemy to God and his people.
Ver. 10–13. The consequence was, Sarah was set on both the mother and the son being banished from the family. Abraham had earnestly desired that Ishmael might live before God: but Sarah says, He shall not be heir with her son, with Isaac. This resolution on the part of Sarah might be the mere effect of temper; but, whatever were her motives, the thing itself accorded with the design of God : though therefore it was grievous to Abraham, he is directed to comply with it. The Lord would indeed make a nation of Ishmael, because he was his seed; but in Isaac should his seed be called. We must not refuse to join in doing wbat God commands, however contrary it may be to our natural feelings, nor on account of the suspicious motives of some with whom we are called to act.
Ver. 14. Impressed with these principles, the father of the faithful, without further delay, rose early the next morning, probably before Sarab was stirring, and sent away both the mother and the son. His manner of doing it, however, was tender and kind. Giving Hagar a portion of bread, and a bottle of water, he committed them to Him who had in effect promised to watch over them. And now for a little while we take leave of Abraham's family, and observe the unhappy Hagar and her son, wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba.
Ver. 15, 16. It was doubtless the design of Hagar, when she set off, to go to Egypt, her native country ; but having to travel through a desert land, where there was ordinarily no water, it was necessary she should be furnished with that article. Whether the wilderness of Beersheba, as it was called at the time Moses wrote the narrative, was direcily in her way, or whether she went thither in consequence of having wandered, or lost her way; so it