I received the following question:

In Genesis 21:14-16, Ishmael seems old enough at this point to not have his mother care for him but the opposite right? What’s up? 

14.  So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 16. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.

Yes, Ishmael was probably in his early teens here, so he was able to care for himself. The problem in this case is that they were out of water, and dying of thirst in the wilderness. A young man or not, it seems that Ishmael was suffering worse from the lack of water than his mother was. What the reason for this was is hard to say. Maybe he had courageously made her drink more of the water than he did. Maybe she just had a stronger constitution than he did. Maybe she drank more before they left Abraham. I don’t know. But whatever the reason for it, the bottom line is that he was dying of thirst faster than she was, and that is why she was able to carry him and place him in the shade after he had already collapsed.

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