Genesis 16:11
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.
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(11) Ishmael.—That is, God heareth. Like Samuel, Ishmael received his name from the events of his mother’s life, and not from anything in his own. There was, however, no rule in this matter, and the naming of children in the Book of Genesis is very diversified.

Genesis 16:11. Ishmael — That is, God will hear; and the reason is, because the Lord hath heard — He hath, and therefore he will. The experience we have had of God’s seasonable kindness in distress should encourage us to hope for the like help in the like exigencies. Even there where there is little cry of devotion, the God of pity hears the cry of affliction: tears speak as well as prayers.

16:7-16 Hagar was out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the Angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast blest with in Abram's tent. It is good to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The declaration of the Angel, I will, shows this Angel was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord's mercy, and feel, Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were always suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!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.11. Ishmael—Like other Hebrew names, this had a signification, and it is made up of two words—"God hears." The reason is explained. Hath heard thy cry in thy affliction.

And the angel of the Lord said unto her,.... Continued his discourse with her, informing her she should have a son, and what his name should be, and what his character, and the place of his habitation:

behold, thou art with child; this she knew, and it is said, not for her information, as to this respect, but to lead on to something else he had to acquaint her with, she did not know. Jarchi indeed would have the sense to be, "thou shall conceive" or "be with child", as was said to Manoah's wife, Judges 13:5; for it is a fancy of his, that Hagar had miscarried, and he, supposes the angel to promise her, that if she would return, or when she should return, she should conceive again; but this is said and supposed without any foundation:

and shalt bear a son; this was what she hoped for, but was not certain of; but the angel assures her of it, that the child she went with was a son, which none could foretell but God, that is omniscient:

and shall call his name Ishmael; the Jews (s) observe, there were six persons who had their names given them before they were born, and Ishmael is one of them; the six were Isaac, Genesis 17:19; Ishmael, here; Moses, Exodus 2:10; Solomon, 2 Samuel 12:24; Josiah, 1 Kings 13:2; and the Messiah, Isaiah 7:14, the reason of his name follows:

because the Lord hath heard thy affliction: heard of it, had took notice of it, and observed, and fully understood the nature and cause of it; he had heard her groans and sighs under it, and her prayer and cries for deliverance from it; and so the Targum of Onkelos,"for the Lord hath received thy prayer,''which she had put up in her affliction, both when in the service of her mistress, and since her flight from her.

(s) Pirke Eliezer, c. 32. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 1.

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.
11. thou shalt call his name Ishmael] That is, God heareth. The name is to be given by the mother. Cf. note on Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25. The name “Ishmael” may mean either “God hears,” or “may God hear.” See also Genesis 21:17. The reason for the name is explained by the words, “because the Lord hath heard (shâma‘) thy affliction.”

heard thy affliction] See note on Genesis 16:6. The expression means that Jehovah has either heard of the persecution Hagar has received, or, more probably, has heard the prayer uttered by her in her affliction (Genesis 16:6). Cf. Exodus 2:24; Exodus 4:31.

Verse 11. - And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael. "God shall hear," or, "Whom God hears," the first instance of the naming of a child before its birth (cf. afterwards Genesis 17:19; 1 Kings 13:2; 1 Chronicles 22:9; Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:13). Because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. Τῇ ταπεινώσει (LXX.), "thy prayer" (Chaldee), of which there is no mention, though men's miseries are said to cry when men themselves are mute (Calvin; cf. Exodus 1:24; 3:7). Genesis 16:11Hagar no doubt intended to escape to Egypt by a road used from time immemorial, that ran from Hebron past Beersheba, "by the way of Shur." - Shur, the present Jifar, is the name given to the north-western portion of the desert of Arabia (cf. Exodus 15:22). There the angel of the Lord found her by a well, and directed her to return to her mistress, and submit to her; at the same time he promised her the birth of a son, and an innumerable multiplication of her descendants. As the fruit of her womb was the seed of Abram, she was to return to his house and there bear him a son, who, though not the seed promised by God, would be honoured for Abram's sake with the blessing of an innumerable posterity. For this reason also Jehovah appeared to her in the form of the Angel of Jehovah. הרה is adj. verb. as in Genesis 38:24, etc.: "thou art with child and wilt bear;" ילדתּ for ילדת (Genesis 17:19) is found again in Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7. This son she was to call Ishmael ("God hears"), "for Jehovah hath hearkened to thy distress." עני afflictionem sine dubio vocat, quam Hagar afflictionem sentiebat esse, nempe conditionem servitem et quod castigata esset a Sara (Luther). It was Jehovah, not Elohim, who had heard, although the latter name was most naturally suggested as the explanation of Ishmael, because the hearing, i.e., the multiplication of Ishmael's descendants, was the result of the covenant grace of Jehovah. Moreover, in contrast with the oppression which has had endured and still would endure, she received the promise that her son would endure no such oppression. "He will be a wild ass of a man." The figure of a פּרא, onager, that wild and untameable animal, roaming at its will in the desert, of which so highly poetic a description is given in Job 39:5-8, depicts most aptly "the Bedouin's boundless love of freedom as he rides about in the desert, spear in hand, upon his camel or his horse, hardy, frugal, revelling in the varied beauty of nature, and despising town life in every form;" and the words, "his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him," describe most truly the incessant state of feud, in which the Ishmaelites live with one another or with their neighbours. "He will dwell before the face of all his brethren." פּני על denotes, it is true, to the east of (cf. Genesis 25:18), and this meaning is to be retained here; but the geographical notice of the dwelling-place of the Ishmaelites hardly exhausts the force of the expression, which also indicated that Ishmael would maintain an independent standing before (in the presence of) all the descendants of Abraham. History has confirmed this promise. The Ishmaelites have continued to this day in free and undiminished possession of the extensive peninsula between the Euphrates, the Straits of Suez, and the Red Sea, from which they have overspread both Northern Africa and Southern Asia.
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