WHY DID ABRAHAM SEND ISMAEL AWAY? Did Ishmael Really 'Mock' the Little Isaac?

Genesis 21:9
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking

Elohim told Abraham (Abraham) in Genesis 15:13-16 that his seed was to be sojourners in a land that was not theirs, and would serve and be afflicted for 400 years. And this is interpreted by many that Israel was in Egypt 400 years. However, in Exodus 12:40-41 we see that the sojourn of Israel in Egypt was 430 years. {The Septuagint and Samaritan texts state that the 430 years were spent in Canaan and in Egypt. Josephus says more explicitly that the sojourn was 215 years in Canaan and 215 years in Egypt. Thus all three interpret the sojourn as beginning with Abraham – Nazarene Notes}.

Is there any contradiction in the Scripture and how does Yishma’el’s mocking relate to Genesis 15:13-16 and Exodus 12:40-41? Let us reason together. 
According to Genesis 16:15-16, Abraham was 86 when Yishma’el was born by an Egyptian woman. But the “seed” of the covenant, Yitsaq, was born when Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 17:19-21), therefore at the Isaac’s birth Ishmael was 14 years old. On the day that Isaac was weaned, Abraham’s Egyptian son, Ishmael, was “poking fun” at him (Genesis 21:8-9).
According to archaeological evidence, the children in the Ancient Near East were weaned between three and five years of age [per Gen. Rabbah 53:10, Keth. 60a, ‘at the end of twenty-four months’], then it is possible that Ishmael was between 17 to 19 years old and Isaac, 3-5 years old when the “mocking” occurred and Ishmael was expelled.

Tsachaq‘s [צָחַק] application as a sexual play can be seen in Genesis 26:8 where Yitshak and Ribqah were involved in a sexual play.

Genesis 26:8
8 And it came to be, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelek sovereign of the Philistines looked through a window, and he watched and saw Yitshaq playing (צָחַק tsachaq)  with Ribqah his wife. 

This Hebrew word צָחַק tsachaq can have an expression of idolatry in the golden calf sin, as idolatry with idols is likened to whoring:

Exodus 32:6
6 And they rose early on the next day, and offered ascending offerings, and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (צָחַק tsachaq)

And an expression of illicit sexual relations, as it is said in Genesis 39:17, where the Yoseph’s mistress falsely accused him of an attempt for rape:

Genesis 39:17-18
And she spoke to him these same words, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me, to mock me (צָחַק tsachaq), so it came to be, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.” 

Or, we may  simply say that tsachaq in its simple meaning “to poke” can be translated depending on what one pokes with. Therefore, we may conclude that the Hebrew word צָחַק tsachaq for “mocking” can have a negative connotation and Genesis 21:9 can be translated as:

Genesis 21:9 
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Avraham, (צָחַק tsachaqmolesting.

In support of this understanding of what happened between Yishma’el and Yitshaq, Apostle Shaul makes the same point in his Epistle to the Galatians where he says that Yishma’el persecuted Yitshaq (see also Mid. Rab. Exodus 1:1 and Mid Rab Genesis 53:11):

Galatians 4:29-30
But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him born according to the Breath, so also now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the female servant and her son, for the son of the female servant shall by no means be heir with the son of the free woman.” 

But, when did Yishma’el persecute Yitshaq? Never. There is no such an account of persecution except in Genesis 21:9.
If a molestation was what happened, then that was the beginning of the “affliction” of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 15:13), and the Exodus occurred 400 years later from that point. Therefore, Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 12:40-41 are two statements for two different events.

 

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Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.