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Genesis 21:1-8

Context
The Birth of Isaac

21:1 The Lord visited 1  Sarah just as he had said he would and did 2  for Sarah what he had promised. 3  21:2 So Sarah became pregnant 4  and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that God had told him. 21:3 Abraham named his son – whom Sarah bore to him – Isaac. 5  21:4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, 6  Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded him to do. 7  21:5 (Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.) 8 

21:6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. 9  Everyone who hears about this 10  will laugh 11  with me.” 21:7 She went on to say, 12  “Who would 13  have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have given birth to a son for him in his old age!”

21:8 The child grew and was weaned. Abraham prepared 14  a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 15 

1 sn The Hebrew verb translated “visit” (פָּקַד, paqad ) often describes divine intervention for blessing or cursing; it indicates God’s special attention to an individual or a matter, always with respect to his people’s destiny. He may visit (that is, destroy) the Amalekites; he may visit (that is, deliver) his people in Egypt. Here he visits Sarah, to allow her to have the promised child. One’s destiny is changed when the Lord “visits.” For a more detailed study of the term, see G. André, Determining the Destiny (ConBOT).

2 tn Heb “and the Lord did.” The divine name has not been repeated here in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “spoken.”

4 tn Or “she conceived.”

5 tn Heb “the one born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.” The two modifying clauses, the first introduced with an article and the second with the relative pronoun, are placed in the middle of the sentence, before the name Isaac is stated. They are meant to underscore that this was indeed an actual birth to Abraham and Sarah in fulfillment of the promise.

6 tn Heb “Isaac his son, the son of eight days.” The name “Isaac” is repeated in the translation for clarity.

7 sn Just as God had commanded him to do. With the birth of the promised child, Abraham obeyed the Lord by both naming (Gen 17:19) and circumcising Isaac (17:12).

8 tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause underscores how miraculous this birth was. Abraham was 100 years old. The fact that the genealogies give the ages of the fathers when their first son is born shows that this was considered a major milestone in one’s life (G. J. Wenham, Genesis [WBC], 2:80).

9 tn Heb “Laughter God has made for me.”

10 tn The words “about this” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

11 sn Sarah’s words play on the name “Isaac” in a final triumphant manner. God prepared “laughter” (צְחֹק, ysÿkhoq ) for her, and everyone who hears about this “will laugh” (יִצְחַק, yitskhaq ) with her. The laughter now signals great joy and fulfillment, not unbelief (cf. Gen 18:12-15).

12 tn Heb “said.”

13 tn The perfect form of the verb is used here to describe a hypothetical situation.

14 tn Heb “made.”

15 sn Children were weaned closer to the age of two or three in the ancient world, because infant mortality was high. If an infant grew to this stage, it was fairly certain he or she would live. Such an event called for a celebration, especially for parents who had waited so long for a child.



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