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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 16:8

He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Communion;   Lahai-Roi;   Prayer;   Servant;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abraham;   Angel of the Lord;   Hagar;   Ishmael;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Sarah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel of the Lord;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Beer-Lahai-Roi;   Face;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Archaeology and Biblical Study;   Archangel;   Genesis;   Hagar;   Theophany;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Family;   Greek Versions of Ot;   Hagar;   Ishmael;   Sarah;   Slave, Slavery;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Hagar ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Hagar ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Beer-la-hai-roi;   Lot;   Shur;   Sodom;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Angel;   Concubine;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Abram;   Ishmael;   Encampment at Sinai;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beer-Lahai-Roi;   Ishmael (1);   Mediation;   Mistress;   Trinity;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Baruch, Apocalypse of (Syriac);   Philo Jud├Žus;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for February 10;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Genesis 16:8. Hagar, Sarai's maid — This mode of address is used to show her that she was known, and to remind her that she was the property of another.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Birth of Ishmael (16:1-16)

When Abram earlier suggested adopting his slave as his heir, God reassured him that his heir would be a son of his own (see 15:2-4). But after ten years in Canaan, Sarai was still childless. Weakened in faith, she suggested that Abram obtain his son through their slave-girl Hagar. This was not God’s way, but it followed an accepted custom among the people of the region. All legal rights over the child belonged to the wife, not to the slave-girl, though the wife had no right to expel the slave-girl. However, when jealousy arose between Sarai and Hagar, Sarai enforced her rights with such bitterness that Hagar fled (16:1-6).
Hagar was probably heading for her home country Egypt when she was met by the angel of the Lord. Through the angel God told Hagar to return and submit to Sarai, adding that the son to be born to her would himself become the father of a great people. He would be named Ishmael and would grow into a tough, fiercely independent desert-dweller (7-12; cf. 17:20; 21:13). Hagar was so amazed to think she had seen God and lived, that she addressed God by a special name in acknowledgment of her extraordinary experience (13-16).

Note: In the early books of the Old Testament the angel of God appears almost to be the same as God himself. This is possibly because the angel is so closely identified with God as his messenger that when he speaks, God speaks. The temporary physical appearance of the angel is interpreted as the temporary physical appearance of God. (See also 21:17-18; 22:15-17; Exodus 3:2-6.)

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way of Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, whence camest thou and whither goest thou? And she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai."

"The angel of Jehovah ..." This being can hardly be thought of as a creature, despite the usual meaning of the word "angel." This is one of those O.T. "intimations of personal distinctions with God Himself"[8] and is definitely a hint of the "Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," revealed in the N.T. Those who find here a Christophany, therefore, are not necessarily wrong. The words "refer to the Lord himself."[9] "The Biblical writers constantly speak of the angel of the Lord as Divine, calling him Jehovah without the least reserve."[10] The teaching here implied of there being a plurality of Persons in the Godhead is in perfect harmony with Genesis 1:26; 11:7, etc. We shall encounter other examples of the same thing in the O.T. This is the very first occurrence in the Bible of this phraseology. "This angel was God Himself, that is, another pre-incarnate appearance of the Messiah."[11]

"By the fountain in the way to Shur ..." This was evidently a well-known watering place on the way back to Egypt, toward which Hagar was evidently going. "The word `Shur' means `wall' and was probably applied to the chain of fortresses on the northeast frontier of Egypt."[12] Hagar could flee from Sarai, but not from the presence of God. The angel of the Lord questioned her as God had questioned Adam in Eden, not for the purpose of procuring information but with a design of appealing to Hagar's conscience. She was engaged in an illegal flight, which, according to the laws of that age, could have been punished severely, even with death. Furthermore, there were terrible dangers and hardships on the way, as she had already discovered. "Whence camest thou? and whither goest thou? ..." Everyone needs to ask such questions of himself when confronting any crisis in life.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

- The Birth of Ishmael

1. הנר hāgār, Hagar, “flight.” Hejrah, the flight of Muhammed.

7. מלאך mal'ak “messenger, angel.” A deputy commissioned to discharge a certain duty for the principal whom he represents. As the most usual task is that of bearing messages, commands, or tidings, he is commonly called a “messenger” ἄγγελος angelos). The word is therefore a term of office, and does not further distinguish the office-bearer than as an intelligent being. Hence, a מלאך mal'ak may be a man deputed by a man Genesis 32:3; Job 1:14, or by God Haggai 1:13; Malachi 3:1, or a superhuman being delegated in this case only by God. The English term “angel” is now especially appropriated to the latter class of messengers.

1st. The nature of angels is spiritual Hebrews 1:14. This characteristic ranges over the whole chain of spiritual being from man up to God himself. The extreme links, however, are excluded: man, because he is a special class of intelligent creatures; and God, because he is supreme. Other classes of spiritual beings may be excluded - as the cherubim, the seraphim - because they have not the same office, though the word “angelic” is sometimes used by us as synonymous with heavenly or spiritual. They were all of course originally good; but some of them have fallen from holiness, and become evil spirits or devils Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:41; Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:7. The latter are circumscribed in their sphere of action, as if confined within the walls of their prison, in consequence of their fallen state and malignant disposition Genesis 3:0; Job 1:2; 1 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:2. Being spiritual, they are not only moral, but intelligent. They also excel in strength Psalms 103:20. The holy angels have the full range of action for which their qualities are adapted. They can assume a real form, expressive of their present functions, and affecting the senses of sight, hearing, and touch, or the roots of those senses in the soul. They may even perform innocent functions of a human body, such as eating Genesis 18:8; Genesis 19:3. Being spirits, they can resolve the material food into its original elements in a way which we need not attempt to conceive or describe. But this case of eating stands altogether alone. Angels have no distinction of sex Matthew 22:30. They do not grow old or die. They are not a race, and have not a body in the ordinary sense of the term.

2d. Their office is expressed by their name. In common with other intelligent creatures, they take part in the worship of God Revelation 7:11; but their special office is to execute the commands of God in the natural world Psalms 103:20, and especially to minister to the heirs of salvation Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 18:10; Luke 15:10; Luke 16:22. It is not needful here to enter into the uniquenesses of their ministry.

3d. The angel of Jehovah. This phrase is especially employed to denote the Lord himself in that form in which he condescends to make himself manifest to man; for the Lord God says of this angel, “Beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in his inmost” Exodus 23:21; that is, my nature is in his essence. Accordingly, he who is called the angel of the Lord in one place is otherwise denominated the Lord or God in the immediate context (Genesis 16:7, Genesis 16:13; Genesis 22:11-12; Genesis 31:11, Genesis 31:13; Genesis 48:15-16; Exodus 3:2-15; Exodus 23:20-23; with Exodus 33:14-15). It is remarkable, at the same time, that the Lord is spoken of in these cases as a distinct person from the angel of the Lord, who is also called the Lord. The phraseology intimates to us a certain inherent plurality within the essence of the one only God, of which we have had previous indications Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22. The phrase “angel of the Lord,” however, indicates a more distant manifestation to man than the term Lord itself. It brings the medium of communication into greater prominence. It seems to denote some person of the Godhead in angelic form. שׁוּר shûr, Shur, “wall.” A city or place probably near the head of the gulf of Suez. The desert of Shur is now Jofar.

11. ישׁמעאל yı̂shmā‛ē'l, Jishmael, “the Mighty will hear.”

13. ראי אל 'êl rŏ'ı̂y, “God of vision or seeing.”

14. ראי לחי באר be'ēr-lachay-ro'ı̂y, Beer-lachai-roi, “well of vision to the living.” ברד bered, Bered, “hail.” The site is not known.

Sarah has been barren probably much more than twenty years. She appears to have at length reluctantly arrived at the conclusion that she would never be a mother. Nature and history prompted the union of one man to one wife in marriage, and it might have been presumed that God would honor his own institution. But the history of the creation of man was forgotten or unheeded, and the custom of the East prompted Sarai to resort to the expedient of giving her maid to her husband for a second wife, that she might have children by her.

Genesis 16:1-6

A Mizrite handmaid. - Hagar was probably obtained, ten years before, during their sojourn in Egypt. “The Lord hath restrained me.” It was natural to the ancient mind to recognize the power and will of God in all things. “I shall be builded by her,” אבנה 'ı̂bāneh, built as the foundation of a house, by the addition of sons or daughters (בנים bānı̂ym or בנית bānôt). She thought she had or wished to have a share in the promise, if not by herself personally, yet through her maid. The faith of Sarah had not yet come fully to the birth. Abram yields to the suggestion of his wife, and complies with the custom of the country. Ten years had elapsed since they had entered the land they were to inherit. Impatience at the long delay leads to an invention of their own for obtaining an heir. The contempt of her maid was unjustifiable. But it was the natural consequence of Sarai’s own improper and imprudent step, in giving her to her husband as a concubine. Unwilling, however, to see in herself the occasion of her maid’s insolence, she transfers the blame to her husband, who empowers or reminds her of her power still to deal with her as it pleased her. Hagar, unable to bear the yoke of humiliation, flees from her mistress.

Genesis 16:7-12

The angel of the Lord either represents the Lord, or presents the Lord in angelic form. The Lord manifests himself to Hagar seemingly on account of her relationship to Abram, but in the more distant form of angelic visitation. She herself appears to be a believer in God. The spring of water is a place of refreshment on her journey. She is on the way to Shur, which was before Mizraim as thou goest rewards Asshur 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.

Genesis 16:10

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.

Genesis 16:13-16

God of my vision - (El-roi). Here we have the same divine name as in Ishmael. “Have I even still seen” - continued to live and see the sun after having seen God? Beer-lahai-roi, the well of vision (of God) to the living. To see God and live was an issue contrary to expectation Exodus 33:20. The well is between Kadesh and Bered. The site of the latter has not been ascertained. R. Jonathan gives חוּצא chelûtsā' the Ἔλουσα elousa of Ptolemy, now el-Khulasa, about twelve miles south of Beersheba. Rowland finds the well at Moyle or Muweilah, still further south in the same direction. The birth of Ishmael is in the sixteenth year after Abram’s call, and the eleventh after his arrival in Kenaan.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

8. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid. By the use of this epithet, the angel declares, that she still remained a servant, though she had escaped the hands of her mistress; because liberty is not to be obtained by stealth, nor by flight, but by manumission. Moreover, by this expression, God shows that he approves of civil government, and that the violation of it is inexcusable. The condition of servitude was then hard; and thanks are to be given to the Lord, that this barbarity has been abolished; yet God has declared from heaven his pleasure, that servants should bear the yoke; as also by the mouth of Paul, he does not give servants their freedom, nor deprive their masters of their use; but only commands them to be kindly and liberally treated. (Ephesians 6:5.) It is to be inferred also, from the circumstance of the time, not only that civil government is to be maintained, as matter of necessity, but that lawful authorities are to be obeyed, for conscience’ sake. For although the fugitive Hagar could no longer be compelled to obedience by force, yet her condition was not changed in the sight of God. By the same argument it is proved, that if masters at any time deal too hardly with their servants, or if rulers treat their subjects with unjust asperity, their rigour is still to be endured, nor is there just cause for shaking off the yoke, although they may exercise their power too imperiously. In short, whenever it comes into our mind to defraud any one of his right, or to seek exemption from our proper calling, let the voice of the angel sound in our ears, as if God would draw us back, by putting his own hand upon us. They who have proudly and tyrannically governed shall one day render their account to God; meanwhile, their asperity is to be borne by their subjects, till God, whose prerogative it is to raise the abject and to relieve the oppressed, shall give them succor. If a comparison be made, the power of magistrates is far more tolerable, than that ancient dominion was. (389) The paternal authority is in its very nature amiable, and worthy of regard. If the flight of Hagar was prohibited by the command of God, much less will he bear with the licentiousness of a people, who rebel against their prince; or with the contumacy of children, who withdraw themselves from obedience to their parents.

Whence camest thou ? He does not inquire, as concerning a doubtful matter, but knowing that no place for subterfuge is left to Hagar, he peremptorily reproves her for her flight; as if he had said, ‘Having deserted thy station, thou shalt profit nothing by thy wandering, since thou canst not escape the hand of God, which had placed thee there.’ It might also be, that he censured her departure from that house, which was then the earthly sanctuary of God. For she was not ignorant that God was there worshipped in a peculiar manner. And although she indirectly charges her mistress with cruelty, by saying that she had fled from her presence; still the angel, to cut off all subterfuges, commands her to return and to humble herself. By which words he first intimates, that the bond of subjection is not dissolved either by the too austere, or by the impotent dominion of rulers; he then retorts the blame of the evil upon Hagar herself, because she had obstinately placed herself in opposition to her mistress, and, forgetful of her own condition, had exalted herself more insolently and boldly than became a handmaid. In short, as she is justly punished for her faults, he commands her to seek a remedy by correcting them. And truly, since nothing is better than, by obedience and patience, to appease the severity of those who are in authority over us; we must more especially labor to bend them to mildness by our humiliation, when we have offended them by our pride.

(389) For this ancient dominion implied slavery. The French translation has it, “ Le droit des magistrats est bien plus tolerable, que n’a point este ceste ancienne domination sur les serfs.” — Ed.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 16

Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 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 ( Genesis 16:1-2 ).

It's a mistake. Not always is it a mistake to hearken unto the voice of your wife but this is the second time it speaks of a man hearkening to the voice of his wife and both of them at this point were mistakes. Now there will be other times when God will say, "Listen to Sarai and hearken unto the voice of Sarai thy wife".

Now Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan ( Genesis 16:3 ),

So Abraham was eighty-five years old.

and gave he her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, she began to despise Sarai ( Genesis 16:3-4 ).

The barrenness, you know, you can always say, "Well, maybe the husband is unable to have children. Maybe there's something defective with him". But when Hagar conceived so readily, obviously now it is Sarai who is barren, the curse of barrenness in that culture and so Hagar despised Sarai.

And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid unto thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: and the LORD judge between me and thee. Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in your hand; do to her as whatever you please. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water [The angel of Jehovah found her by the fountain of water] in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur ( Genesis 16:5-7 ).

Hagar was running back to Egypt. She was getting out of there and going to go back home. But man, to get back home she had to go through that horrible wilderness area. She surely would have perished in trying to return to Egypt. And so she was by this fountain of water.

And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, where did you come from? Where you going? She said, I'm fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai. The angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands ( Genesis 16:8-9 ).

Now she actually at this, she was in wrong in despising Sarai and the Lord is telling her now to return and submit.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; which means God shall hear and because the LORD hath heard thy affliction ( Genesis 16:10-11 ).

So she was probably crying there by the fountain and God heard her cry and He said call your son Ishmael, which means, "the Lord will hear". God will hear.

And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he will dwell in the presence of all his brothers. And she called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, Thou God seest me: and so she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; which is between Kadesh and Bered ( Genesis 16:12-14 ).

So she had made pretty good way down into the desert to Sinai there going near Kadesh. The name of the well is "the well of him that lives and sees me." Beerlahairoi. Beer is well, the well of him that lives and sees me.

And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was eighty-six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram ( Genesis 16:15-16 ).


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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The angel of the LORD and Hagar 16:7-14

This is the first of 48 references to "the angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament. Sometimes, as here, the Angel is deity, and in other places he appears to be an angelic messenger from the Lord.

"The prophetic description of Ishmael as a ’wild ass of a man’ [Genesis 16:12] (RSV) is rather intriguing. The animal referred to is the wild and untamable onager, which roams the desert at will. This figure of speech depicts very accurately the freedom-loving Bedouin moving across vast stretches of land." [Note: Davis, p. 189. Cf. Jeremiah 2:24; Hosea 8:9.]

This prophecy was not an insult or a curse. Ishmael would enjoy the freedom his mother sought. The Lord named Ishmael (Genesis 16:11), whose name means "God hears," and Hagar named the Lord (Genesis 16:13) "the One who sees." These two names constitute a major revelation of God: He hears and He sees. This may be the only instance in Scripture of a human being conferring a name on God.

Abram and Sarai’s action proved to be a source of much difficulty for everyone involved (cf. Abram’s error in going to Egypt, Genesis 12:11-13). God, however, took care of and blessed Ishmael even though he was the fruit of Abram’s presumption. This is another occasion when Abram did not trust God as he should have (cf. Genesis 12:10-20).

"Both Hagar and Mary [the mother of Jesus] stand as examples of women who obediently accepted God’s word and thereby brought blessing to descendants too many to count." [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50, p. 13.]

Paul wrote that this story contains (not is) an allegory (Galatians 4:24). An "allegory" today means a story without factual basis. Paul did not deny the factuality of Genesis 16, but he used this story as the basis for a comparison. "Illustration" or "comparison" would be better words to use. Hagar represents the Mosaic Covenant, and Ishmael is its fruit (slaves). Sarai is the Abrahamic Covenant, and Isaac is its fruit (free sons). Children of the flesh persecute children of the promise (Galatians 4:29).

There is much irony in this story. Barren Sarai lived in a fertile land whereas fertile Hagar ended up living in a barren land. The Egyptians, to whom the attacked Hagar fled for freedom, later enslaved the attacker, Sarai’s descendants.

Resorting to fleshly means rather than waiting for God to provide what He has promised always creates problems. This story also shows that human failure does not frustrate God’s plans ultimately.

"If we have made mistakes which have led us into sin, the primary condition of restoration is complete submission to the will of God, whatever that may involve." [Note: Thomas, p. 149.]

When in great distress, people should pray because God is aware of their needs and will fulfill His promises to them.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid,.... He calls her by her name, which might surprise her, and describes her by her character and condition, in order to check her pride, and put her in mind of her duty to her mistress; and to suggest to her, that she ought to have been not where she was, but in the house of her mistress, and doing her service:

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

      7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.   8 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.   9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

      Here is the first mention we have in scripture of an angel's appearance. Hagar was a type of the law, which was given by the disposition of angels; but the world to come is not put in subjection to them,Hebrews 2:5. Observe,

      I. How the angel arrested her in her flight, Genesis 16:7; Genesis 16:7. It should seem, she was making towards her own country; for she was in the way to Shur, which lay towards Egypt. It were well if our afflictions would make us think of our home, the better country. But Hagar was now out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the angel found her. Note, 1. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way either by conscience or by Providence. 2. God suffers those that are out of the way to wander awhile, that when they see their folly, and what a loss they have brought themselves to, they may be the better disposed to return. Hagar was not stopped till she was in the wilderness, and had set down, weary enough, and glad of clear water to refresh herself with. God brings us into a wilderness, and there meets us, Hosea 2:14.

      II. How he examined her, Genesis 16:8; Genesis 16:8. Observe,

      1. He called her Hagar, Sarai's maid, (1.) As a check to her pride. Though she was Abram's wife, and, as such, was obliged to return, yet he calls her Sarai's maid, to humble her. Note, Though civility teaches us to call others by their highest titles, yet humility and wisdom teach us to call ourselves by the lowest. (2.) As a rebuke to her flight. Sarai's maid ought to be in Sarai's tent, and not wandering in the wilderness and sauntering by a fountain of water. Note, It is good for us often to call to mind what our place and relation are. See Ecclesiastes 10:4.

      2. The questions the angel put to her were proper and very pertinent. (1.) "Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running away both from the duty thou wast bound to and the privileges thou wast blessed with in Abram's tent." Note, It is a great advantage to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have that advantage, yet upon every slight inducement are forward to quit it. (2.) "Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running thyself into sin, in Egypt" (if she return to that people, she will return to their gods), "and into danger, in the wilderness," through which she must travel, Deuteronomy 8:15. Note, Those who are forsaking God and their duty would do well to remember not only whence they have fallen, but whither they are falling. See Jeremiah 2:18, What hast thou to do (with Hagar) in the way of Egypt? John 6:68.

      3. Her answer was honest, and a fair confession: I flee from the face of my mistress. In this, (1.) She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress, and yet, (2.) Excuses it, that it was from the face, of displeasure, of her mistress. Note, Children and servants must be treated with mildness and gentleness, lest we provoke them to take any irregular courses and so become accessory to their sins, which will condemn us, though it will not justify them.

      4. How he sent her back, with suitable and compassionate counsel: "Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand,Genesis 16:9; Genesis 16:9. Go home, and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and beg pardon, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better." He makes no question but she would be welcome, though it does not appear that Abram sent after her. Note, Those that have gone away from their place and duty, when they are convinced of their error, must hasten their return and reformation, how mortifying soever it may be.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 16:8". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.