Genesis 16

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar,
2 and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.
4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!"
6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
8 And he said, "Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am running away from my mistress Sarai."
9 The angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her."
10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude."
11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin."
13 So she named the Lord who spoke to her, "You are El-roi"; for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?"
14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
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!

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. That is [God hears]
  • [b]. Perhaps [God of seeing] or [God who sees]
  • [c]. Meaning of Heb uncertain
  • [d]. That is [the Well of the Living One who sees me]
  • [e]. Heb [Abram]

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