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Genesis 16

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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.
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The story about Hagar and Ishmael
1-3Abram and Sarai lived in that Canaan country, and after they were there for 10 years, they still had no kids. Sarai had a woman from Egypt working for her, called Hagar. She was Sarai’s slave. That means Sarai owned Hagar, and Hagar had to do everything that Sarai told her to do.
Sarai was sad because she had no kids, but she got an idea about how to get a baby for herself. So she said to Abram, “God has stopped me from having my own kids. But listen. I want you to sleep with Hagar, like she is your wife. You see, she belongs to me, so if she has a baby, that baby will really belong to me.” So Abram did that, just like Sarai said. 4He slept with Hagar like she was his wife.
Then Hagar found out that she was going to have a baby, so she started rubbishing Sarai all the time, because Sarai didn’t have any kids. 5So Sarai said to Abram, “I blame you for this trouble. I gave Hagar to you, and now she is going to have a baby, and she is rubbishing me all the time. I reckon God knows that I am right, and you are wrong.”
6But Abram said to Sarai, “Hagar belongs to you. You are her boss, so do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai started to treat Hagar in a really bad way. So Hagar left Abram and Sarai’s camp and ran away.
7Hagar started walking through the desert, along the road that went to a town called Shur, near Egypt. She sat down next to a water-hole there in the desert. God’s angel messenger went to her there. 8He said, “Hagar, you belong to Sarai, so why are you sitting out here in the desert? Where are you going?”
Hagar said, “I’m running away from my boss, Sarai. She is too hard on me.”
9God’s angel messenger said to her, “Don’t do that. Go back to your boss, and do what she says.” 10And the angel also said, “God is going to give you a really big family. You will have a son, and later on lots of people will be born into his family, and they will be a real big family, so that nobody will be able to count all those people.” 11The angel said, “You are going to have a baby boy, and you will name him Ishmael, because that name means God listens. You see, God listened to you. He heard about your trouble, and he will help you. 12And Ishmael, your son, he will live like a wild donkey. He will go anywhere he wants to, and he will fight against everybody, and everybody will fight against him. He will not live close to his relatives.”
13Then Hagar said to herself, “I have seen the God that sees me, and he looks after me.” So she gave God a name, she called him the God that sees me. 14So that’s why people call that water-hole the water-hole that belongs to the one that is alive and sees me. That water-hole is between a place called Kadesh and a place called Bered.
15Soon after that, Hagar had a baby boy, and Abram named him Ishmael.#Galatians 4:22 16Abram was 86 years old at the time when Ishmael was born.