Genesis 16

Genesis 16

Sarai and Hagar

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant 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!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her,

  “Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
  You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the LORD has listened to your affliction.
  He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
  and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.


Genesis 16 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Think about all the stressful situations that Abraham, Sarai, and Hagar now faced from one sinful decision. Does Sarai have a right to be mad at Abraham and to despise Hagar? Should Abraham raise his child with Hagar? Will Abraham end up treating Sarai as a second priority if he commits to raising Ishmael with Hagar? Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing God puts us in situations where we must choose the “lesser of two sins.” In reality, this all started with not trusting God’s promises from the beginning.

Today, we can look back and understand that the battle between Jews and Arabs began with the sins of Abraham and Sarai trying to take matters into their own hands. The Arabs can trace their roots back to Ishmael while the Jews come from Isaac. Just think about the gravity of their one decision to try and “help God.”

“The wrong that they committed by Abram taking Sarai’s maid Hagar was a sin, and God treated it as such. But today we reverse the emphasis and say that taking a concubine is a sin, but we do not pay too much attention to the unbelief. Yet the unbelief was the major sin here; that is, it was lots blacker than the other.”

J. Vernon McGee

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