Gen. 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Gen. 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Gen. 16:3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
Gen. 16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
Gen. 16:5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
Note: They have been in Canaan for ten years, so Abram is 85 and Sarai is 75.
In this chapter, we are told more about Sarai. She is upset because she still has no children of her own; so she offers her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, to her husband as a means to building a family. This was an accepted custom of that time. Abram complied (Desire and impatience won out over wisdom.), slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. Hagar must have taken every opportunity to “rub it in” to Sarai. Then Sarai turns around and blames her suffering on Abram and Hagar.
“The Lord judge between me and thee.” I’m not sure what Sarai meant by this statement. It was her idea for Abram to sleep with Hagar for the purpose of starting a family. Maybe she was inferring that his was the greater sin. As the head of the household and knowing God’s promise, he should have insisted that they trust God instead of taking things into their own hands, so to speak. (Oh how often I’ve insisted on doing it my way and then wished I could go back and be patient and wait for God.)
This reminds me of God’s words to Adam when pronouncing the consequences of his sin—“because you listened to your wife” [and not to Me is implied] (v3:17). Disobedience to and lack of faith in God always has consequences. The people of Israel are still suffering from those consequences today.
Gen. 16:6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
In my opinion, neither Abram or Sarai showed wisdom or fairness here. Abram gave Sarai permission to deal with Hagar as she wished. Then Sarai treated her so badly that she ran away. Abram refused to accept any responsibility for his actions. Both Sarai and Abram were wrong, and both tried to place total blame on the other. This is very typical of most of us in regard to our sin.
Gen. 16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Gen. 16:8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
Gen. 16:9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
Gen. 16:10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
Gen. 16:11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
Gen. 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Gen. 16:13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
Gen. 16:14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
“The angel of the Lord”(v7)—From the verses that follow, I believe that this is the Lord Himself, the reincarnate Jesus, because of His message and because Hagar recognized Him (v13). He questioned Hagar and told her to go back to her mistress and submit to her. Then the Lord makes her a promise and tells her what to name her child.
Only the Lord could make these kinds of promises.
Again, God tells someone about the future. Although most of the promise is good news, it also includes a message of sadness—her son would live a life at enmity with his brethren. As with Abram, there were no questions, just acceptance and obedience. I always have questions. I guess I would react differently if I were facing God in person.
More insight from Stedman: “The spiritual significance of this is explained in Galatians 4. There Paul says that Hagar is a picture of the Law and Ishmael, her son, is a picture of those who try to establish favor in God's sight through religious activity.”
Beerlahairoi = the well of him that liveth and seeth me OR the well of the vision of life.
Another beautiful observation from Stedman: “We are also told that this well is located between Kadesh and Bered. Kadesh means ‘holiness’ and Bered means ‘hail’ or ‘judgment.’ Here is the well of grace, lying between holiness and judgment. When we begin to stray from the place of God's blessing toward the certainty of judgment, God meets us on the way, at the well of grace, saying, ‘Now wait a minute. I don't want to have to make this known to others. I don't want to judge you openly. I don't want to bring trial or affliction or heartache into your life to make you listen. Listen now. Return and submit so I won't have to do this.’ That is the well of grace.”
Gen. 16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
Gen. 16:16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Hagar had a son—just as God had said. Abram called him Ishmael—just as the LORD had commanded. I assume that Hagar told Abram of her encounter with the Lord. Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.
A thought from Joe Focht: “Jesus’ first appearance in scripture is to an abused Egyptian woman, a lowly woman in desperate need, not a giant of the faith or a person of importance according to man’s perspective.”