Genesis 16

Hagar and Ishmael

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;
2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.
4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.
8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”
10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,[a]for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward[b] all his brothers.”
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.”
14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d] ; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.
16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Images for Genesis 16

Genesis 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

Sarai gives Hagar to Abram. (1-3) Hagar's misbehaviour to Sarai. (4-6) The Angel commands Hagar to return, The promise to her Birth of Ishmael. (7-16)

Verses 1-3 Sarai, no longer expecting to have children herself, proposed to Abram to take another wife, whose children she might; her slave, whose children would be her property. This was done without asking counsel of the Lord. Unbelief worked, God's almighty power was forgotten. It was a bad example, and a source of manifold uneasiness. In every relation and situation in life there is some cross for us to bear: much of the exercise of faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord's time, and using only those means which he appoints for the removal of the cross. Foul temptations may have very fair pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible. Fleshly wisdom puts us out of God's way. This would not be the case, if we would ask counsel of God by his word and by prayer, before we attempt that which is doubtful.

Verses 4-6 Abram's unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it ( 1 Peter. 2:20 )

Verses 7-16 Hagar was out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the Angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast blest with in Abram's tent. It is good to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The declaration of the Angel, "I will," shows this Angel was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord's mercy, and feel, Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were always suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!

Cross References 35

  • 1. S Genesis 11:29
  • 2. S Genesis 11:30; Luke 1:7,36; Galatians 4:24-25
  • 3. Genesis 21:9; Genesis 24:61; Genesis 29:24,29; Genesis 31:33; Genesis 46:18
  • 4. ver 3-4,8,15; Genesis 21:14; Genesis 25:12
  • 5. Genesis 29:31; Genesis 30:2
  • 6. Genesis 19:32; Genesis 30:3-4,9-10
  • 7. S Genesis 12:5
  • 8. S Genesis 12:4
  • 9. S ver 1
  • 10. Genesis 30:1; 1 Samuel 1:6
  • 11. Genesis 31:53; Exodus 5:21; Judges 11:27; 1 Samuel 24:12,15; 1 Samuel 26:10,23; Psalms 50:6; Psalms 75:7
  • 12. Joshua 9:25
  • 13. Genesis 31:50
  • 14. ver 11; Genesis 21:17; Genesis 22:11,15; Genesis 24:7,40; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 48:16; Exodus 3:2; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20,23; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2; Numbers 22:22; Judges 2:1; Judges 6:11; Judges 13:3; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Kings 19:5; 2 Kings 1:3; 2 Kings 19:35; Psalms 34:7; Zechariah 1:11; S Acts 5:19
  • 15. ver 14; Genesis 21:19
  • 16. Genesis 20:1; Genesis 25:18; Exodus 15:22; 1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Samuel 27:8
  • 17. S ver 1
  • 18. S Genesis 3:9
  • 19. S Genesis 13:16">Genesis 13:16; Genesis 13:16">Genesis 13:16; Genesis 17:20
  • 20. S ver 7; S Acts 5:19
  • 21. S Genesis 3:15
  • 22. Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 18:19; Nehemiah 9:7; Isaiah 44:1; Amos 3:2; Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:13,31
  • 23. Genesis 17:19; Genesis 21:3; Genesis 37:25,28; Genesis 39:1; Judges 8:24
  • 24. Genesis 29:32; Genesis 31:42; Exodus 2:24; Exodus 3:7,9; Exodus 4:31; Numbers 20:16; Deuteronomy 26:7; 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 25. Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; Job 39:5; Psalms 104:11; Jeremiah 2:24; Hosea 8:9
  • 26. Genesis 25:18
  • 27. Psalms 139:1-12
  • 28. Genesis 32:30; Genesis 33:10; Exodus 24:10; Exodus 33:20,23; Numbers 12:8; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22; Isaiah 6:5
  • 29. S ver 7
  • 30. Genesis 24:62; Genesis 25:11
  • 31. S Genesis 14:7
  • 32. S ver 1
  • 33. Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:22
  • 34. Genesis 17:18; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 28:9
  • 35. S Genesis 12:4

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. "Ishmael" means "God hears."
  • [b]. Or "live to the east" / "of"
  • [c]. Or "seen the back of"
  • [d]. "Beer Lahai Roi" means "well of the Living One who sees me."

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of Abram's marrying his maid, at the instance of his wife Sarai, Ge 16:1-3, who, upon conceiving, despised her mistress; of which complaint is made to Abram, who leaving his maid to his wife, to deal with her as she pleased, dealt harshly by her, and therefore fled from her, Ge 16:4-6; when she was met by an angel, who advised her to return and submit herself to her mistress, and told her her seed would be greatly multiplied, gave a name to the child she went with, and described his temper and disposition, Ge 16:7-12; and then we have the name of God that spoke to her, and of the place where the discourse passed between them, Ge 16:13,14; and the chapter is concluded with the birth of Ishmael, and the age of Abram at his birth, Ge 16:15,16.

Genesis 16 Commentaries

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