For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia
The Arabic version, instead of Arabia, reads "Balca". The Syriac version makes Hagar to be a mountain, reading the words thus, "for Mount Hagar is Sinai, which is in Arabia": and some have been of opinion that Sinai was called Hagar by the Arabians. It is certain, that (rgx) , which may be pronounced Hagar, does signify in the Arabic language a stone or rock; and that one part of Arabia is called Arabia Petraea, from the rockiness of it; the metropolis of which was (trgx) , or "Agara", and the inhabitants Agarenes; and Hagar was the name of the chief city of Bahrein, a province of Arabia F18: and it may be observed, that when Hagar, with her son, was cast out, they dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, ( Genesis 21:21 ) which was near to Sinai, as appears from ( Numbers 10:12 ) ( Deuteronomy 33:2 ) so that it is possible that this mount might be so called from her, though there is no certainty of it; and near to it, as Grotius observes, was a town called Agra, mentioned by Pliny F19 as in Arabia. However, it is clear, that Sinai was in Arabia, out of the land of promise, where the law was given, and seems to be mentioned by the apostle with this view, that it might be observed, and teach us that the inheritance is not of the law. It is placed by Jerom F20 in the land of Midian; and it is certain it must be near it, if not in it, as is clear from ( Exodus 3:1 ) . And according to Philo the Jew F21, the Midianites, as formerly called, were a very populous nation of the Arabians: and Madian, or Midian, is by F23 Mahomet spoken of as in Arabia; and it may be observed, that they that are called Midianites in ( Genesis 37:36 ) are said to be Ishmaelites, ( Genesis 39:1 ) the name by which the Arabians are commonly called by the Jews. The apostle therefore properly places this mountain in Arabia. But after all, by Agar, I rather think the woman is meant: and that the sense is, that this same Agar signifies Mount Sinai, or is a figure of the law given on that mount.
And answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her
that is, agrees with and resembles the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of all the cities and towns in Judea; and she, being a bondwoman, represented that state of bondage the Jews were in, when the apostle wrote this, who were in a state of civil, moral, and legal bondage; in civil bondage to the Romans, being tributaries to the empire of Rome, and under the jurisdiction of Caesar; in moral bondage to sin, to Satan, to the world and the lusts of it, whose servants they in general were; and in legal bondage to the ceremonial law, which was a yoke of bondage: they were in bondage under the elements or institutions of it, such as circumcision, a yoke which neither they, nor their forefathers could bear, because it bound them over to keep the whole law; the observance of various days, months, times, and years, and the multitude of sacrifices they were obliged to offer, which yet could not take away sin, nor free their consciences from the load of guilt, but were as an handwriting of ordinances against them; every sacrifice they brought declaring their sin and guilt, and that they deserved to die as the creature did that was sacrificed for them; and besides, this law of commandments, in various instances, the breach of it was punishable with death, through fear of which they were all their life long subject to bondage: they were also in bondage to the moral law, which required perfect obedience of them, but gave them no strength to perform; showed them their sin and misery, but not their remedy; demanded a complete righteousness, but did not point out where it was to be had; it spoke not one word of peace and comfort, but all the reverse; it admitted of no repentance; it accused of sin, pronounced guilty on account of it, cursed, condemned, and threatened with death for it, all which kept them in continual bondage: and whereas the far greater part of that people at that time, the Jerusalem that then was, the Scribes, Pharisees, and generality of the nation, were seeking for justification by the works of the law, this added to their bondage; they obeyed it with mercenary views, and not from love but fear; and their comforts and peace rose and fell according to their obedience; and persons in such a way must needs be under a spiritual bondage.
F18 Castel. Lex. Polyglot. col. 804.
F19 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.
F20 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. H.
F21 De Fortitudine, p. 741.
F23 Koran, c. 7. p. 126.