And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, from where came you? and where will you go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whence camest thou?—It is noteworthy that in these Divine communications God’s knowledge of all the circumstances is not presumed, but the person visited is led on to tell them. This adds very much to the freshness and poetry of the narrative. Here, however, in the address, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, the angel, at least, shows that he is aware who she is, and also reminds her of what she had forgotten, that in bestowing her upon Abram Sarai did not cease to be her mistress.Genesis 16:8-9. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid — 1st, This was to check her pride. Though she was Abram’s wife, yet he calls her Sarai’s maid, to humble her. 2d, It was a rebuke to her flight. Sarai’s maid ought to be in Sarai’s tent, and not wandering in the wilderness. Whence camest thou? — Consider that thou art running away both from the duty thou wast bound to, and the privileges thou wast blest with, in Abram’s tent. She said, I flee from the face of my mistress — She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress; and yet excuses it, that it was from the face, or displeasure, of her mistress. And the angel said, Return to thy mistress — Go home and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better.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.
whence camest thou? this question the angel asked, not as ignorant, for he that could call her by her name, and describe her character and state, knew from whence she came; but he said this not only to lead on to what he had further to say to her, but to put her upon considering from whence she came, what she had left behind, and what blessings she had deprived herself of; she had not only left her husband and her mistress, but the house of God; for such Abram's family was, where the worship of God was kept up, and where the Lord granted his presence, and indulged with communion with himself:
and whither wilt thou go? he knew her intention and resolution was to go to Egypt, and he would have her think of the place whither she intended to go, as well as that she had left, as that her journey to it was dangerous, through a wilderness; that the country she was bound for was a wicked and an idolatrous one, where she would not have the free exercise of her religion she had embraced, nor any opportunity of attending the pure worship of God, and would be liable to be drawn into a sinful course of life, and into idolatrous worship:
and she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai; this was very ingenuously said, she acknowledges Sarai to be her mistress, and owns that, she had displeased her, and caused her face to be against her; and confesses the truth, that she had fled from her, not being able to bear her frowns and corrections, at least her spirit was too high to submit to them.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 8. - And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid. Declining to recognize her marriage with the patriarch, the angel reminds her of her original position as a bondwoman, from which liberty was not to be obtained by flight, but by manumission. Whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go! And she maid, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. "Her answer testifies to the oppression she had experienced, but also to the voice of her own conscience" (Lange). Genesis 15:4) did not seem likely to be fulfilled, even after the covenant had been made, Sarai resolved, ten years after their entrance into Canaan, to give her Egyptian maid Hagar to her husband, that if possible she might "be built up by her," i.e., obtain children, who might found a house or family (Genesis 30:3). The resolution seemed a judicious one, and according to the customs of the East, there would be nothing wrong in carrying it out. Hence Abraham consented without opposition, because, as Malachi (Malachi 2:15) says, he sought the seed promised by God. But they were both of them soon to learn, that their thoughts were the thoughts of man and not of God, and that their wishes and actions were not in accordance with the divine promise. Sarai, the originator of the plan, was the first to experience its evil consequences. When the maid was with child by Abram, "her mistress became little in her eyes." When Sarai complained to Abram of the contempt she received from her maid (saying, "My wrong," the wrong done to me, "come upon thee," cf. Jeremiah 51:35; Genesis 27:13), and called upon Jehovah to judge between her and her husband,
(Note: בּיניך, with a point over the second Jod, to show that it is irregular and suspicious; since בּין with the singular suffix is always treated as a singular, and only with a plural suffix as plural.)
Abram gave her full power to act as mistress towards her maid, without raising the slave who was made a concubine above her position. But as soon as Sarai made her feel her power, Hagar fled. Thus, instead of securing the fulfilment of their wishes, Sarai and Abram had reaped nothing but grief and vexation, and apparently had lost the maid through their self-concerted scheme. But the faithful covenant God turned the whole into a blessing.
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