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Power Or Inheritance: A Constructive Comparison Of Genesis 16 And Genesis 21

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Chapter Summary

The two tales of Hagar's expulsion from Abraham's family in Genesis 16 and 21 have generally been regarded as doublets going back to the same oral tradition or motif. In Genesis 21 Sarah realizes that there will always be the problem that Ishmael is Abraham's firstborn son. Nevertheless he is the firstborn of this father, and so there will be the danger for Isaac not to succeed his father. Genesis 21 is, indeed, focused on the promised son Isaac and his role as the next "father" of Israel. In order to let the promise become true, Abraham has to follow God's command and dismiss his son Ishmael together with Hagar. In other words, the lineage of promised blessing will be continued by Isaac although Ishmael is Abraham's "seed", too, and will also be made a nation. This chapter compares the focus of the two narratives (Genesis 16 and 21).

Keywords: Abraham; firstborn; Genesis; Hagar; inheritance; Isaac; Ishmael; Sarah



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