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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 16



Verses 1-16

The Circumstances connected with the Birth of Ishmael

1, 2. Abraham was now eighty-five years old, Sarah was seventy-five, and the promise of an heir seemed no nearer fulfilment. Despairing of offspring herself, Sarah persuades Abraham to take her Egyptian maid Hagar as a secondary wife, intending, according to ancient custom, to regard the issue as her own. But her lack of faith in God's promises was productive of very unhappy consequences.

4. Hagar] The Arabs claim descent from Hagar through Ishmael. Her name, which means 'flight,' is akin to the word Hegira, used of the flight of Mohammed from Medina to Mecca (622 a.d.), an event from which the Mohammedans date their era.

Her mistress was despised in her eyes] because she was fruitful while Sarah was barren: cp. Hannah and Peninnah (1 Samuel 1:6). It was accounted a great disgrace and a sign of God's displeasure to be without offspring: cp. Genesis 30:23.

5. My wrong be upon thee] i.e. May the blame for the wrong done to me (by Hagar's conduct) fall on thee.

7. The angel of the Lord] see on Exodus 3:2. Shur] The word means 'wall' and was probably applied to the chain of fortresses on the NE. frontier of Egypt. The Desert of Shur was the wilderness bordering on these fortresses which were built to keep out Asiatic invaders.

7, 8. Hagar might flee from the presence of Sarah, but not from the knowledge and sight of God. He finds her, and addresses her, as He did Adam, when he concealed himself in the Garden of Eden: cp. Exodus 1:8, Exodus 1:9.

10. A promise fulfilled in the Arab race: see on Genesis 16:4.

11. Ishmael] 'E1 (God) hears.'

12. A wild man] RV 'as a wild-ass among men.' The wild ass is of an untameable nature, ever roving: cp. Job 39:5. Such was Ishmael, and such are his Arab descendants. He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren] i.e. shall preserve his independenee, though close to them; a true forecast of the history of Ishmael's descendants. But another translation gives, 'He shall dwell to the east of his brethren.'

13. Have I also here, etc.] Hagar realises that she still lives though God has looked upon her.

14. Beer-lahai-roi] 'the well of the living one who hath seen' God: see on Genesis 21 for St. Paul's references to Hagar.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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