Genesis 16

1 And Sara the wife of Abram bore him no children; and she had an Egyptian maid, whose name was Agar.
2 And Sara said to Abram, Behold, the Lord has restrained me from bearing, go therefore in to my maid, that I may get children for myself through her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sara.
3 So Sara the wife of Abram having taken Agar the Egyptian her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Chanaan, gave her to Abram her husband as a wife to him.
4 And he went in to Agar, and she conceived, and saw that she was with child, and her mistress was dishonoured before her.
5 And Sara said to Abram, I am injured by thee; I gave my handmaid into thy bosom, and when I saw that she was with child, I was dishonoured before her. The Lord judge between me and thee.
6 And Abram said to Sara, Behold thy handmaid is in thy hands, use her as it may seem good to thee. And Sara afflicted her, and she fled from her face.
7 And an angel of the Lord found her by the fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Sur.
8 And the angel of the Lord said to her, Agar, Sara's maid, whence comest thou, and wither goest thou? and she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sara.
9 And the angel of the Lord said to her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the Lord said to her, I will surely multiply thy seed, and it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, Behold thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ismael, for the Lord hath hearkened to thy humiliation.
12 He shall be a wild man, his hands against all, and the hands of all against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the Lord God who spoke to her, Thou art God who seest me; for she said, For I have openly seen him that appeared to me.
14 Therefore she called the well, The well of him whom I have openly seen; behold it is between Cades and Barad.
15 And Agar bore a son to Abram; and Abram called the name of his son which Agar bore to him, Ismael.
16 And Abram was eighty-six years old, when Agar bore Ismael to Abram.

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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!

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 16

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