Abraham journeys south and Isaac is born

Gen 20:1    Abraham moves from Hebron to the Negev Desert between Kadesh and Shur (see 3 on Map 40). He may have lived as a donkey or camel caravanner, taking goods such as salt, potash, wine and olives south from Canaan in exchange for the cotton and linen goods of Egypt.

Gen 20:2    Later he stays at Gerar (see 4 on Map 40) where, once again, he tries to secure favour with the local ruler by pretending his wife is his sister.

Gen 20:3-18    Abimelech, the King of Gerar, discovers Sarah’s true identity and returns her to Abraham, together with gifts of sheep, cattle and slaves. Abraham is forced to move again, and settles in Beersheba (see 5 on Map 40).


Abraham's Well at Beersheba

Abraham's Well at Beersheba  (Daniel Baránek)


Gen 21:1-7    Abraham’s wife Sarah finally becomes pregnant and Isaac is born in c.1829BC. In accordance with God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac will become the father of a nation – the Jews.

Gen 21:8-19    After Isaac is born, Sarah becomes hostile to his elder half-brother Ishmael and his mother Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian slave (see Genesis 16:15-16). As a result, Hagar and her son (who is now a teenager aged 13) are forced to leave. Hagar and Ishmael wander in the Wilderness of Beersheba (see 6 on Map 40). They nearly die of thirst, but God reveals a nearby well, and promises that Ishmael, like Isaac, will also become the father of a nation – the Arabs. Many commentators date the longstanding hostility between Jews and Arabs to this event, as Ishmael – the elder son and heir – was displaced by his younger half brother.

Gen 21:20-21    Ishmael grows up in the Wilderness of Paran. He develops his archery skills so he can shoot wild animals for food, and marries a young woman from Egypt.

Gen 21:22-26    Abraham complains to Abimelech, the Philistine king of Gerar, about a well that his servants have seized.

Gen 21:27-34 Abimelech accepts seven lambs to recognise Abraham’s ownership of the well. The well is called Beersheba (meaning ‘Well of the vow’ or ‘Well of seven’) because the two men made a vow there (see also Genesis 26:33).

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