Friday, April 10, 2009

QQC—The Boy, Ishmael

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 21

Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born, so he must have been somewhere between 15 and 17 when Isaac was weaned. On that day, Abraham held a great feast to celebrate the weaning of his son and Sarah became jealous of Ishmael’s status as eldest son. “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” (Genesis 21:10 NIV)

Abraham was naturally distressed—Ishmael was his son, after all—but God confirmed Sarah’s wish to get rid of Hagar and her son so Abraham gave them some food and water and sent them away.

What’s curious to me is that if Ishmael is somewhere between 15 and 17 years old, he would have been a strong young man, yet he is repeatedly referred to as a boy and it is his mother who carries the food and water, not him.
“When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’” (v.15, 16 NIV)
She put him under one of the bushes. Was she so strong and he so small that she could do this? I certainly couldn’t have when my boys were that age.

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