|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:4-6 Abram's unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it patiently, 1Pe 2:20.
Verse 6. - But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand (regarding her still as one of Sarai's servants, though elevated to the rank of secondary wife to himself); do to her as it pleaseth thee. Literally, the good in thine eyes; in which conduct of the patriarch may be seen perhaps
(1) an evidence of his peaceful disposition in doing violence to his feelings as a husband in order to restore harmony to his disquieted household (Calvin), and
(2) a proof that he had already found out his mistake in expecting the promised seed through Hagar (Calvin); but also
(3) an indication of weakness in yielding to Sarai's passionate invective (Willet, Bush), and
(4) an unjustifiable wrong inflicted on the future mother of his child (Candlish). And when Sarai dealt hardly with her - (literally, afflicted) her by thrusting her back into the condition of a slave (Lange, Candlish); though probably by stripes or maltreatment of some sort in addition (Ainsworth, Bush) - she fled from her face.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But Abram said unto Sarai,.... In a meek, mild and gentle manner:
behold, thy maid is in thine hand; though Hagar was Abram's secondary wife he still considers her as Sarai's maid, and as subject to her, and allows her to exercise authority over her; for he still retained the same love and affection for Sarai, his first and lawful wife, and showed the same respect he ever did, and supported her in her honour and dignity:
do to her as it pleaseth thee: not giving her liberty to take away her life, nor even to use her cruelly, but to deal with her as a mistress might lawfully do with a servant, or however exercise that power which a first wife had over a second: perhaps Abram, in complaisance to Sarai, gave her too large a commission, and left it too much in her power to distress Hagar; and it might have been more correct to have heard both sides, and judged between them, and used his own authority, by reproving and correcting as he saw meet; had she been only Sarai's maid and not his wife, it would have been less exceptionable; however, for peace sake, he gave leave to Sarai to do as she would:
and when Sarai dealt hardly with her; or afflicted her (m), not only with words but with blows, as some think, and unmercifully beat her, and laid hard service upon her she was not able to go through, especially in her circumstances; though it may be she only chastised her in such a manner as a mistress may chastise her maid, since the angel seems to approve of what she did, Genesis 16:9; which her proud spirit not being able to bear:
she fled from her face; which was set against her, and was full of wrath and fury: she deserted her service, quitted Abram's house though with child by him; unmindful of the various relations she stood in, which should have obliged her to have kept her place, and especially until she had made proper remonstrances of her ill usage, and could have no redress; but, unable to bear the treatment she met with, meditated a flight into her own country, Egypt, for by what follows it appears she steered her course that way; this flight of hers was agreeable to her name, for Hagar in the Arabic language signifies to "flee", hence the flight of Mahomet is called the Hegira.
(m) "eam affligeret", Tigurine version, Schmidt; "afflixit eam", Fagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.
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