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Genesis 16

16
Birth of Ishmael.#In the previous chapter Abraham was given a timetable of possession of the land, but nothing was said about when the child was to be born. In this chapter, Sarah takes matters into her own hands, for she has been childless ten years since the promise (cf. 12:4 with 16:16). The story is about the two women, Sarah the infertile mistress and Hagar the fertile slave; Abraham has only a single sentence. In the course of the story, God intervenes directly on the side of Hagar, for she is otherwise without resources. 1Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children. Now she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.#Gn 11:30. 2Sarai said to Abram: “The Lord has kept me from bearing children. Have intercourse with my maid; perhaps I will have sons through her.” Abram obeyed Sarai.#The custom of an infertile wife providing her husband with a concubine to produce children is widely attested in ancient Near Eastern law; e.g., an Old Assyrian marriage contract states that the wife must provide her husband with a concubine if she does not bear children within two years. #Gn 21:8–9; Gal 4:22. 3Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. As soon as Hagar knew she was pregnant, her mistress lost stature in her eyes.#Because barrenness was at that time normally blamed on the woman and regarded as a disgrace, it is not surprising that Hagar looks down on Sarah. Ancient Near Eastern legal practice addresses such cases of insolent slaves and allows disciplining of them. Prv 30:23 uses as an example of intolerable behavior “a maidservant when she ousts her mistress.” #1 Sm 1:6; Prv 30:23. 5#Gn 21:10–19. So Sarai said to Abram: “This outrage against me is your fault. I myself gave my maid to your embrace; but ever since she knew she was pregnant, I have lost stature in her eyes. May the Lord decide between you and me!” 6Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power. Do to her what you regard as right.” Sarai then mistreated her so much that Hagar ran away from her.
7The Lord’s angel#The Lord’s angel: a manifestation of God in human form; in v. 13 the messenger is identified with God. See note on Ex 3:2. found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,#Ex 15:22. 8and he asked, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.” 9But the Lord’s angel told her: “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority. 10I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the Lord’s angel, “that they will be too many to count.”#Gn 17:20; 21:13, 18; 25:12–18. 11Then the Lord’s angel said to her:
“You are now pregnant and shall bear a son;
you shall name him Ishmael,#Ishmael: in Hebrew the name means “God has heard.” It is the same Hebrew verb that is translated “heeded” in the next clause. In other ancient Near Eastern texts, the name commemorated the divine answer to the parents’ prayer to have a child, but here it is broadened to mean that God has “heard” Hagar’s plight. In vv. 13–14, the verb “to see” is similarly broadened to describe God’s special care for those in need.
For the Lord has heeded your affliction.
12He shall be a wild ass of a man,
his hand against everyone,
and everyone’s hand against him;
Alongside#Alongside: lit., “against the face of”; the same phrase is used of the lands of Ishmael’s descendants in 25:18. It can be translated “in opposition to” (Dt 21:16; Jb 1:11; 6:28; 21:31), but here more likely means that Ishmael’s settlement was near but not in the promised land. all his kindred
shall he encamp.”#Gn 21:20; 25:18.
13To the Lord who spoke to her she gave a name, saying, “You are God who sees me”;#God who sees me: Hebrew el-ro’i is multivalent, meaning either “God of seeing,” i.e., extends his protection to me, or “God sees,” which can imply seeing human suffering (29:32; Ex 2:25; Is 57:18; 58:3). It is probable that Hagar means to express both of these aspects. Remained alive: for the ancient notion that a person died on seeing God, see Gn 32:31; Ex 20:19; Dt 4:33; Jgs 13:22. she meant, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after he saw me?”#Gn 24:62. 14That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi.#Beer-lahai-roi: possible translations of the name of the well include: “spring of the living one who sees me”; “the well of the living sight”; or “the one who sees me lives.” See note on v. 13. It is between Kadesh and Bered.
15Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael.#Gn 16:2; Gal 4:22. 16Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
16
Hagar and the Ishmaelites’ origins
1Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have children. Since she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, 2Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant. Maybe she will provide me with children.” Abram did just as Sarai said. 3After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when she realized that she was pregnant, she no longer respected her mistress. 5Sarai said to Abram, “This harassment is your fault. I allowed you to embrace my servant, but when she realized she was pregnant, I lost her respect. Let the LORD decide who is right, you or me.”
6Abram said to Sarai, “Since she’s your servant, do whatever you wish to her.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from Sarai.
7The LORD’s messenger found Hagar at a spring in the desert, the spring on the road to Shur, 8and said, “Hagar! Sarai’s servant! Where did you come from and where are you going?”
She said, “From Sarai my mistress. I’m running away.”
9The LORD’s messenger said to her, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you.” 10The LORD’s messenger also said to her,
“I will give you many children,
so many they can’t be counted!”
11The LORD’s messenger said to her,
“You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son.
You will name him Ishmael#16.11 Or God hears
because the LORD has heard about your harsh treatment.
12He will be a wild mule of a man;
he will fight everyone, and they will fight him.
He will live at odds with all his relatives.”#16.12 Or He will reside near all his relatives.
13Hagar named the LORD who spoke to her, “You are El Roi”#16.13 Or God who sees or God whom I’ve seen because she said, “Can I still see after he saw me?”#16.13 Heb uncertain; or Have I really seen God and survived? 14Therefore, that well is called Beer-lahai-roi;#16.14 Or the Well of the Living One who sees me or whom I’ve seen it’s the well between Kadesh and Bered. 15Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael for Abram.