Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Verse 1. - Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children (literally, bare not to him, notwithstanding the promise; the barrenness of Sarai being introduced as the point of departure for the ensuing narrative, and emphasized as the cause or occasion of the subsequent transaction): and she had - literally, to her (there was) - an handmaid, an Egyptian (obtained probably while in the house of Pharaoh (Genesis 12:16) - whose name was Hagar - "flight," from hagar, to flee. Cf. Hegirah, the flight of Mahomet. Not her original designation, but given to her afterwards, either because of her flight from Egypt (Ambrose, Wordsworth), or because of her escape from her mistress (Michaelis, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Though not the imaginary or mythical (Bohlen), it is doubtful if she was the real (Ainsworth, Bush), ancestor of the Hagarenes (1 Chronicles 5:10, 19, 20; 1 Chronicles 27:31; Psalm 83:6, 8).
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.
Verse 2. - And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained us from bearing. Literally, hath shut me up (i.e. my womb, Genesis 20:18; συνέκλεισέ με, LXX.) from bearing. Her advancing age was rendering this every day more and more apparent. I pray thee go in unto my maid (cf. Genesis 30:3, 9). It is so far satisfactory that the proposal to make a secondary wife of Hagar did not originate with Abram; though, as Sarai's guilt in making it cannot altogether. be excused, so neither can Abram be entirely freed from fault in yielding to her solicitations. It may be that I may obtain children by her. Literally, be built up by her; from banah, to build, whence ben, a son (Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11). Calvin notes that Sarai s desire of offspring was not prompted by natural impulse, but by the zeal of faith which made her wish to secure the promised benediction. As yet it had not been clearly intimated that Sarai was to be the mother of Abram's child; and hence her recourse to what was a prevalent practice of the times, while unjustifiable in itself, was a signal proof of her humility, of her devotion to her husband, and perhaps also of her faith in God. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. "The faith of both was defective; not indeed with regard to the substance of the premise, but with regard to the method in which they proceeded" (Calvin).
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.
Verse 3. - And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan (i.e. in his eighty-fifth, and her seventy-fifth year; a note of time introduced, probably, to account for their impatience in waiting for the promised seed), and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. Afterwards styled a pilgash or concubine (Genesis 25:6), she is here improperly called a wife quae praeterDei legem is alienum thorum inducitur (Calvin), from whom the pilgash or concubine differed
(1) in power over the family, which belonged solely to the true wife, not to the secondary;
(2) in the manner of espousal, which in the case of the former was accompanied with solemn rites of espousal and liberal gifts of dowry; and
(3) in privilege of issue, the offspring of the secondary wife having no title to inherit. The act of Sarai (cf. the similar behavior of Stratonice, the wife of King Deiotarus, who, according to Plutarch, gave her maid Electra to her husband, and so obtained an heir to the crown) is as little to be imitated as the conduct of Abram. The apparent repetitions in Vers. 1-3 do not require the hypothesis of different authorship (Tuch, Colenso, Bleek, Davidson) for their explanation, but are characteristic of the genius of Hebrew composition (cf. Genesis 7:1-10), and may even be considerably removed by connecting Vers. 1, 2 with Genesis 15, and commencing the new sub-section with Genesis 16:3 (Quarry, p. 331).
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
Verse 4. - And he went in unto Hagar. בּוא אֶלאּ, a linguistic peculiarity of the Jehovist, occurring Genesis 29:21, 30; Genesis 30:3, 4; Genesis 38:2, 9, 16 (Vaihinger, Davidson); but by some partitionists Genesis 29. and 30. are assigned to the Elohist (Tuch, Bleek, De Wette). And she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. As Hannah by Peninnah (1 Samuel 1:6); barrenness among the Hebrews having been regarded as a dishonor and reproach (Genesis 19:31; Genesis 30:1, 23; Leviticus 20:20), and fecundity as a special mark of the Divine favor (Genesis 21:6; Genesis 24:60; Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 7:14). Whether Hagar imagined Sarai to be through her barrenness "tanquam a Divino promisso repudiatam" (Lyra), or anticipated Sarai's displacement from her position as Abram s wife (Inglis), she, immediately on perceiving her condition, became insolent (cf. Proverbs 30:23).
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.
Verse 5. - And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee. Ἀδικοῦμαι ἐκ σοῦ (LXX. ); indue agis contra me (Vulgate); My injury is upon thee, i.e. thou art the cause of it (Jonathan, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth, Clarke, 'Speaker s Commentary'); or, it belongs to thee as well as to me (Clericus, Bush, Alford); or, perhaps better, May the injury done to me return upon thee! cf. 27:13 (Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Wordsworth) - the language of passionate irritation, indicating repentance of her previous action and a desire to both impute its guilt to, and lay its bitter consequences on, her husband, who in the entire transaction was more innocent than she. I have given my maid into thy bosom (very imprudent, even had it not been sinful; the result was only what might have been expected); - and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee (cf. 1 Samuel 24:15; Judges 11:27). An irreverent use of the Divine name on the part of Sarai (Calvin), and a speech arguing great passion (Ainsworth).
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.
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.
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Verse 7. - And the angel of the Lord. Maleach Jehovah, elsewhere styled Maleach Elohim (Genesis 21:17; Genesis 31:11); supposed but wrongly to be a creature angel (Augustine, Origen, Jerome, Hofmann, Bamngarten, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Kurtz), for the reasons chiefly
(1) that the term angel commonly designates a class of spiritual beings (Genesis 19:1; Genesis 32:1; Job 4:18; Psalm 91:11; Matthew 13:41; John 20:12, et passim);
(2) that the ἄγγελος κυρίου of the New Testament (Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:9; Acts 12:7) is always a created angel;
(3) that the meaning of the term מַלְאָך, one sent, from לָאַך, to depute (Gesenius), one through whom work is executed, from לָאַך, to work (Keil), implies a certain degree of subordination, which is afterwards more distinctly recognized (1 Chronicles 21:27; Zechariah 1:12);
(4) that the distinction between the unrevealed and the revealed God was not then developed as in later times, and particularly since the advent of Christ - to every one of which arguments, however, it is comparatively easy to reply (cf. Keil and Lange in love). With more force of reason believed to have been the Divine Being himself, who already as Jehovah had appeared to Abram (the Fathers, the Reformers, Hengstenberg, Keil, Lange, Havernick, Nitzsch, Ebrard, Steir, Kalisch, Ainsworth, Bush, Wordsworth, Candlish), since -
1. The Maleach Jehovah explicitly identifies himself with Jehovah (Ver. 10) and Elohim (Genesis 22:12).
2. Those to whom he makes his presence known recognize him as Divine (Genesis 16:13; Genesis 18:23-33; Genesis 28:16-22; Exodus 3:6; Judges 6:15, 20-23; Judges 13:22).
3. The Biblical writers constantly speak of him as Divine, calling him Jehovah without the least reserve (Genesis 16:13; Genesis 18:1; Genesis 22:16; Exodus 3:2; Judges 6:12).
4. The doctrine here implied of a plurality of persons in the Godhead is in complete accordance with earlier foreshadowings (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 11:7) and later revelations of the same truth.
5. The organic unity of Scripture would be broken if it could be proved that the central point in the Old Testament revelation was a creature angel, while that of the New is the incarnation of the God-Man. Found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness. Properly an uninhabited district suitable for pasturing flocks, from a root signifying to lead to pasture; hence a sterile, sandy country, like that here referred to, Arabia Deserta, bordering on Egypt (Genesis 14:6; Exodus 3:1). By the fountain. The article indicating a particular and well-known spring. In the way to Shur. "Before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria" (Genesis 25:18); hence not Pelusium on the Nile (Jos., 'Ant.,' 6:07, 3), but probably the modern Dachifar in the north-west of Arabia Deserta (Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange). Hagar was clearly directing her flight to Egypt.
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.
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).
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
Verse 9. - And the angel of the Lord said unto her - as Paul afterwards practically said to Onesimus, the runaway slave of Philemon (vide Philippians 12) - return to thy mistress, and submit thyself - the verb here employed is the same as that, which the historian uses to describe Sarah s conduct towards her (Ver. 6); its meaning obviously is that she should meekly resign herself to the ungracious and oppressive treatment of her mistress - 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.
Verse 10. - And the angel of the Lord said unto her (after duty, promise), I will multiply thy seed exceedingly (literally, multiplying I will multiply thy seed; language altogether inappropriate in the lips of a creature), that (literally, and) it shall not be numbered for multitude.
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.
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).
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.
Verse 12. - And he will be a wild man. Literally, a wild ass (of a) man; the פֶּרֶא, snarler, being so called from its swiftness of foot (cf. Job 39:5-8), and aptly depicting "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, reveling in the varied beauty of nature, and despising town life in every form" (Keil). As Ishmael and his offspring are here called "wild ass men," so Israel is designated by the prophet "sheep men" (Ezekiel 36:37, 38). His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him. Exemplified in the turbulent and lawless character of the Bedouin Arabs and Saracens for upwards of thirty centuries. "The Bedouins are the outlaws among the nations. Plunder is legitimate gain, and daring robbery is praised as valor (Kalisch). And he shall dwell in the presence of - literally, before the face of, L e. to the east of (Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Tuch, Knobel, Delitzsch); or, "everywhere before the eyes of" (Kalisch, Wordsworth); or, independently of (Calvin, Keil, Lunge, Murphy) - all his brethren. The Arabs of today are "just as they were described by the spirit of prophecy nearly 4000 years ago" (Porter's 'Giant Cities of Bashan,' pp. 28, 31, 324).
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?
Verse 13. - And she called the name - not invoked the name (Chaldee, Lapide), though occasionally קָרָא שֵׁם has the same import as קָרָא בִשֵׁס (vide Deuteronomy 32:3) - of the Lord - Jehovah, thus identifying the Ma-leach Jehovah with Jehovah himself - that spake unto her, Thou God asset me. Literally, Thou (art) El-Roi, a God of seeing, meaning either the God of my vision, i.e. the God who revealest thyself in vision (Gesenius, Furst, Le Clerc, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), or, though less correctly, the God who sees all things, and therefore me (LXX., Vulgate, Calvin, Ainsworth; Candlish, Hofmann, Baumgarten, Delitzsch, Wordsworth). For she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Literally, Have I also hitherto seen? i.e. Do I also still live after the vision? (Onkelos,. Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Kalisch, Rosenmüller, Murphy).
Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
Verse 14. - Wherefore the well was called - in all likelihood first by Hagar - Beer-lahai-roi, or the well of him that liveth and seeth me (A.V.); but either
(1) the well of the living one of vision, i.e. of God, who appeared there (Onkeles, Rosenmüller, Lange) or
(2) the well of the life of vision, i.e. where after seeing God life was preserved (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), or where in consequence of seeing God a new life was imparted (Inglis). Behold, it is between Kadesh (vide Genesis 14:7) and Bered. Of uncertain situation; but the well has probably been discovered in Ain Kades (called by the Arabs Moilahi Hagar), to the south of Beersheba, and about twelve miles from Kadesh (cf. Keil in lees).
And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
Verse 15. - And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name - a peculiarity of the Elohist to assign the naming of a child to the father (Knobel); but the present chapter is usually ascribed to the Jehovist, while the instances in which the name is given by the mother do not always occur in Jehovistic sections (cf. Genesis 30:6, which Tuch imputes to the Elohist) - which Hagar bare, Ishmael - thus acknowledging the truth of Hagar's vision.
And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Verse 16. - And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.