Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bare him no children
She is before said to be barren, and he to be childless, ( Genesis 11:30 ) ( 15:2 ) ; God had promised him a seed, but as yet he had none, which was a trial of his faith; he had been married many years to Sarai his wife, she was his wife when they came out of Ur of the Chaldees, and how long before cannot be said; they stayed and dwelt some time at Haran, the Jews F24 say five years, and they had been now ten years in the land of Canaan, ( Genesis 16:3 ) ; and were advanced in years, the one being seventy five, and the other eighty five, so that there was no great probability of having any children, wherefore the following step was taken:
and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name [was]
no doubt but she had many, but this was a principal one, that might be over others, and was chiefly entrusted with the care and management of family affairs under her mistress; she might be the daughter of an Egyptian, born in Abram's house, as Eliezer was the son of a Syrian of Damascus, born there also; or she might be one of the maidservants Pharaoh, king of Egypt, gave to Abram, ( Genesis 12:16 ) ; the Jews F25 have a tradition, that she was a daughter of Pharaoh, who, when he saw the wonders done for Sarai, said, it is better that my daughter should be a handmaid in this house, than a mistress in another, and therefore gave her to Sarai; others say F26 she was a daughter of his by a concubine, but neither is probable: from her came the people called Hagarites, ( 1 Chronicles 5:10 ) , and Hagarenes, ( Psalms 83:6 ) ; and there were a people in Arabia called Agraei, both by Strabo F1 and Pliny F2; and the latter speaks of a royal city in that country called Agra, which seem to have their names from this person. Melo F3, an Heathen writer, speaking of Abram, says, that he had two wives, one of his own country, and akin to him, and the other an Egyptian, a servant; of the Egyptian he beget twelve sons, who, going into Arabia, divided the country among them, and were the first that reigned over the inhabitants of it; as to her twelve sons, he mistakes, for these were not Hagar's sons by Abram, but her grandsons, the sons of Ishmael, see ( Genesis 17:20 ) .
F24 Seder Olam Rabba, p. 2.
F25 Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 45. fol. 40. 2.
F26 Pirke Eliezer, c. 26.
F1 Geograph. l. 16. p. 528.
F2 Hist. Nat. l. 6. c. 28.
F3 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 19. p. 420, 421.