Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
A Mizrite handmaid. - Hagar was probably obtained, ten years before, during their sojourn in Egypt. "The Lord hath restrained me." It was natural to the ancient mind to recognize the power and will of God in all things. "I shall be builded by her," אבנה 'ı̂bāneh, built as the foundation of a house, by the addition of sons or daughters (בנים bānı̂ym or בנית bānôt). She thought she had or wished to have a share in the promise, if not by herself personally, yet through her maid. The faith of Sarah had not yet come fully to the birth. Abram yields to the suggestion of his wife, and complies with the custom of the country. Ten years had elapsed since they had entered the land they were to inherit. Impatience at the long delay leads to an invention of their own for obtaining an heir. The contempt of her maid was unjustifiable. But it was the natural consequence of Sarai's own improper and imprudent step, in giving her to her husband as a concubine. Unwilling, however, to see in herself the occasion of her maid's insolence, she transfers the blame to her husband, who empowers or reminds her of her power still to deal with her as it pleased her. Hagar, unable to bear the yoke of humiliation, flees from her mistress.
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.
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.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
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.
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.
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
The angel of the Lord either represents the Lord, or presents the Lord in angelic form. The Lord manifests himself to Hagar seemingly on account of her relationship to Abram, but in the more distant form of angelic visitation. She herself appears to be a believer in God. The spring of water is a place of refreshment on her journey. She is on the way to Shur, which was before Mizraim as thou goest rewards Asshur Genesis 25:18, and therefore fleeing to Egypt, her native land. The angel of the Lord interrogates her, and requires her to return to her mistress, and humble herself under her hands.
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.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
I will multiply. - This language is proper only to the Lord Himself, because it claims a divine prerogative. The Lord is, therefore, in this angel. He promises to Hagar a numerous offspring. "Ishmael." "El," the Mighty, will hear; but "Jehovah," the Lord (Yahweh), heard her humiliation. Yahweh, therefore, is the same God as El. He describes Ishmael and his progeny in him as resembling the wild ass. This animal is a fit symbol of the wild, free, untamable Bedouin of the desert. He is to live in contention, and yet to dwell independently, among all his brethren. His brethren are the descendants of Heber, the Joctanites, composing the thirteen original tribes of the Arabs, and the Palgites to whom the descendants of Abram belonged. The Ishmaelites constituted the second element of the great Arab nation, and shared in their nomadic character and independence. The character here given of them is true even to the present day.
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.
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.
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?
God of my vision - (El-roi). Here we have the same divine name as in Ishmael. "Have I even still seen" - continued to live and see the sun after having seen God? Beer-lahai-roi, the well of vision (of God) to the living. To see God and live was an issue contrary to expectation Exodus 33:20. The well is between Kadesh and Bered. The site of the latter has not been ascertained. R. Jonathan gives חוּצא chelûtsā' the Ἔλουσα elousa of Ptolemy, now el-Khulasa, about twelve miles south of Beersheba. Rowland finds the well at Moyle or Muweilah, still further south in the same direction. The birth of Ishmael is in the sixteenth year after Abram's call, and the eleventh after his arrival in Kenaan.
- The Sealing of the Covenant
1. שׁדי shaday, Shaddai, "Irresistible, able to destroy, and by inference to make, Almighty." שׁדד shādad "be strong, destroy." This name is found six times in Genesis, and thirty-one times in Job.
5. אברהם 'abrâhām, Abraham, from אברם 'abrām "high-father," and הם hām the radical part of המין hāmôn a "multitude," is obtained by a euphonic abbreviation אברהם 'abrâhām, "father of a multitude." The root רהם rhm is a variation of רום rvm; affording, however, a link of connection in sound and sense with the root המה hāmâh "hum, be tumultuous," from which comes המון hāmôn a "multitude." The confluence of the biliterals רם rm and הם hm yields the triliteral רהם rhm occurring in Arabic, though not elsewhere in our written Hebrew. The law of formation here noticed is interesting and real, though רהם rhm may not have been an actual result of it.
11. נמלתם nemaltem formed from נמל nāmal, "circumcised." מוּל mûl "cut, circumcise."
15. שׂרה śārâh Sarah, "princess."
19. יצהק yı̂tschāq Jitschaq, "laughing."
The present form of the covenant is not identical with the former. That referred chiefly to the land; this chiefly to the seed. That dwelt much on temporal things; this rises to spiritual things. That specifies only Abram; this mentions both Abram and Sarai. At the former period God formally entered into covenant with Abram ברית כרת kārat berı̂yt, Genesis 15:18); at present he takes the first step in the fufillment of the covenant ברית נתן nātan berı̂yt, seals it with a token and a perpetual ordinance, and gives Abram and Sarai new names in token of a new nature. There was an interval of fourteen years at least between the ratification of the covenant and the preparation for the fulfillment of its conditions, during which Abraham's faith had time to unfold.
Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.