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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 16:9

Then the angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."
New American Standard Version
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Concordances:
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Dictionaries:
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;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Archaeology and Biblical Study;   Archangel;   Genesis;   Hagar;   Hand;   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;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Abram;   Ishmael;   Encampment at Sinai;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beer-Lahai-Roi;   Genesis;   Hagar;   Ishmael (1);   Mediation;   Mistress;   Trinity;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Judaism;   Laws, Noachian;   Philo Judæus;  
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Every Day Light - Devotion for February 10;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

16:1-25:18 ABRAM AND THE PROMISED HEIR

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.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/genesis-16.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself unto her hands. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, I will greatly multiply thy seed, and it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold thou art with child, and shall bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah hath heard thy affliction."

"And the angel of Jehovah ..." The threefold repetition of this in Genesis 16:9; Genesis 16:10, and Genesis 16:11, is used by critics as an excuse to cast out the last two of these verses as "an interpolation."[13] This is not at all reasonable, for the smoothness of the narrative would be restored completely merely by supplying the words, "Again, the angel of Jehovah said unto her ..." Such a device is used by translators constantly, and there is no good reason why they should not have done so here. Three definite and very important prophecies concerning Hagar were given, and it was imperative that all three be understood as having been given by the angel of Jehovah. That is clearly the reason for the repetition. The message of the angel of Jehovah was:

  1. "Return and submit ..." This is never easy to do; and in Hagar's case it might have been unusually difficult; but she returned and submitted.

  2. "I will multiply thy seed ..." This was fulfilled on a scale that no one in that age could have believed, not even Hagar.

  3. "Thou shalt bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Ishmael ..." This recalls the prophecy of Gabriel to Mary. Only God can name in advance the sex of a child before it is conceived and bestow the name in the manner noted here. We have no patience whatever with the type of critic who finds a "contradiction," no less, in the fact that here Hagar named the child, and that in Genesis 16:15 Abram named him. As a matter of fact, neither Hagar nor Abram named Ishmael, for he was named by God Himself. And there is no problem whatever with the fact that both Hagar and Abram consented to receive the God-given name. (For more, see comments at Genesis 16:12, below).
Copyright Statement
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 16:9". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/genesis-16.html. 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 Job 1:2; 1 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:2. Being spiritual, they are not only moral, but intelligent. They also excel in strength Psalm 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 Psalm 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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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/genesis-16.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter16

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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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/genesis-16.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible


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 BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/genesis-16.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The angel of the LORD and Hagar16:7-14

This is the first of48 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, p189. 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, p13.]

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, p149.]

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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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/genesis-16.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) Submit thyself.—Heb., humble thyself. It is the verb translated dealt hardly in Genesis 16:6. The angel therefore commands her to take the position which Sarai was forcing upon her; and by so doing proves to us that there had been no personal maltreatment. Commentators have taken this notion, not from the Hebrew, but from the English Version.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/genesis-16.html. 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

A Particular Providence As Revealed in the Gospel

Genesis 16:13

God beholds thee individually, whoever thou art. He "calls the by thy name". He sees thee, and understands thee, as He made thee. He knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and thy weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing, and thy day of sorrow. He sympathizes in thy hopes and thy temptations. He interests Himself in all thy anxieties and remembrances, all the risings and fallings of thy spirit. He has numbered the very hairs of thy head and the cubits of thy stature. He compasses thee round and bears thee in his arms; He takes thee up and sets thee down. He notes thy very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon thy hands and thy feet; He hears thy voice, the beating of thy heart, and thy very breathing. Thou dost not love thyself better than He loves thee. Thou canst not shrink from pain more than He dislikes thy bearing it; and if He puts it on thee, it is as thou wilt put it on thyself, if thou art wise, for a greater good afterwards.... What is Prayer of Manasseh, what are we, what am I, that the Son of God should be so mindful of me? What am I, that He should have raised me from almost a devil"s nature to that of an Angel"s? that He should have changed my soul"s original constitution, new-made me, who from my youth up have been a transgressor, and should Himself dwell personally in this very heart of mine, making me His temple? What am I, that God the Holy Ghost should enter into me, and draw up my thoughts heavenward, "with plaints unutterable?"

—J. H. Newman.

The Presence of God

Genesis 16:13

A poor Egyptian slave-girl, Hagar, spoke these words. Her life had become unendurable, and so she ran away into the wilderness, and an angel from God came to her and told her to return. Hagar"s words teach us:—

I. A lesson of God"s watchful Providence. These words of Hagar are a special help to us:—

a. When we are exposed to great temptations.

b. In any time of trouble or sorrow or struggle.

c. In time of prayer.

d. When we have to make difficult decisions in our life.

II. God"s presence ought to be the great joy of our life here, as it will be in our life hereafter. Heaven is simply life in God"s Presence, and the best preparation we can make will be to cultivate the recollection of that Presence now.

—A. G. Mortimer, Stories from Genesis, p127.

References.—XVI:13.—H. Ranken, Christian World Pulpit, 1890, p276. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No85; ibid. vol. xxxi. No1869. XVI.—J. Parker, Adam, Noah, and Abraham, p129. XVII:1.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church"s Lessons, vol. i. p85. A. Martin, Penny Pulpit, No878. XVII:1, 2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No845; ibid. vol. xviii. No1082. XVII:1-9.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Genesis, p117. XVII:5.—J. Morgan, Penny Pulpit, No382.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/edt/genesis-16.html. 1910.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary

ABRAM’S SON ISHMAEL

Genesis 16:1-16

Poor Hagar! What contrasts met in her life! Bought in an Egyptian slave-mart, but destined to be the mother of a great people! She is not the last to suffer from the mistakes and sins of God’s children, but she was abundantly recompensed. Abram did her a great wrong. Human policy will often suggest a course which seems right in our own eyes, but the end is death. How remarkable is the advice given to Hagar by the angel: return and submit! Does not the child of God often seek to evade the cross! “Let me but get away from this intolerable trouble,” we cry. But God meets us. “No stranger He to all our wanderings wild!” We have to take up the cross, and sit down again on the hard stool. Some day we shall be permitted to go out, but not till we have learned our lesson perfectly. In the meanwhile, we are assured that our life shall be prolific in great results. In an outburst of awe and joy, the slave-girl learned that God sees and hears. Note 2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Peter 3:12.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/genesis-16.html. 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

CHAPTER 16 Abraham and Hagar

1. Sarai’s suggestion (Genesis 16:1-3)

2. Abram’s action (Genesis 16:4)

3. Sarai and Hagar (Genesis 16:5-6)

4. Hagar in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7-9)

5. The birth of Ishmael announced (Genesis 16:10-14)

6. Ishmael born (Genesis 16:15-16)

The fifteenth chapter may be called Abram’s faith chapter. The sixteenth is the chapter of unbelief. It was impatience which forced Sarai and Abram to act for themselves. Unbelief is impatience and impatience is unbelief. Faith waits patiently for the Lord, and on the Lord, to act. “He that believeth shall not make haste.” Abram and Sarai attempted to help the Lord to fulfill His promise. What a failure they made of it! On account of it there was great trouble in his house.

But the incident has a deeper meaning. Read Galatians 4:21-31. This gives us the typical meaning and how the Lord overruled even this failure. Sarai represents the covenant of grace; Hagar the law covenant. Hagar was an Egyptian; Sarai a princess. The law brings into bondage, grace makes free.

Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. The next chapter tells us that Abram was ninety and nine years old when the Lord spoke to him again. Thus for thirteen years Abram’s life seems to have been barren of communications from the Lord. What a harvest of the flesh.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/genesis-16.html. 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The previous story makes it evident that the principle of faith is the true philosophy of life. It builds on God and is satisfied with Him. It thus becomes the source of all righteousness. Faith, therefore, is the highest activity of reason.

All this stands out in even more startling vividness by contrast in the story contained in this chapter. Here we have the account of the second deflection from faith in the conduct of Abram. It is a sad one and the issue of the failure continued through the following history. The failure of faith consisted in Abram attempting, at the instigation of Sarai, to further the purposes of God by human cleverness and contrivance. The seed was promised and when there appeared no likelihood of the promise being fulfilled on the human level, there was deflection from the divine line for raising seed through Hagar.

The harvest of this folly Abram began to reap almost immediately in the division of his own household and the bitterness that sprang up therein between Sarai and Hagar, and the ultimate flight of Hagar through Sarai's harsh dealing with her. The far-reaching result is found in the story of the posterity of Ishmael as a constant source of trouble to the posterity of Isaac. Where faith fails, evil is wrought, the issues of which are far-reaching.

There is a very beautiful part to this story, however, in the tenderness of God toward Hagar, the wronged one; and in her recognition of Him and consequent naming of the well in the wilderness by which she had in all probability sunk down exhausted. It was called "Beer-lahai-roi," that is, "The Well of the Living One who seeth Me."

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/genesis-16.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the angel of the Lord said unto her,.... The same angel; though Jarchi thinks that one angel after another was sent, and that at every speech there was a fresh angel; and because this phrase is repeated again and again, some of the Rabbins have fancied there were four angelsF18Bereshit Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 45. fol. 41. 1.) , and others five, but without any reason:

return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands; go back to her, humble thyself before her, acknowledge thy fault, enter into her service again, and be subject to her; do her work and business, bear her corrections and chastisements; and "suffer thyself to be afflicted"F19התעני "te patere affligi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quid si, patere te affligi?" Drusius. , by her, as the word may be rendered; take all patiently from her, which will be much more to thy profit and advantage than to pursue the course thou art in: and the more to encourage her to take his advice, he promises the following things, Genesis 16:10.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/genesis-16.html. 1999.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Planning for God

Like so many after her, Sarai ran out of patience. She thought of a plan to achieve the end God had in mind. In the land of the Chaldees, a woman who could not bear children could give one of her slaves to her husband. Any child born of such a union would be counted as the wife"s child. If the slave began to think of herself as being her mistress" equal, she could treat her again as a slave but not sell her.

Sarai had an Egyptian slave named Hagar. She gave Hagar to Abram. When it was obvious she was with child, Hagar began to treat Sarai in a disrespectful way. Sarai complained to Abram and he put the unruly servant back under her control. Harsh treatment drove Hagar away from the camp. The Angel of the Lord met her at a spring on the way back to Egypt. He directed her to return to the camp and place herself under her mistress. As the angel promised, she bore a son named Ishmael when Abram was eighty-six years old. Ishmael became the father of a vast multitude ().

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/genesis-16.html. 2014.

Geneva Study Bible

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, e Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

(e) God rejects no estate of people in their misery, but sends them comfort.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/genesis-16.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Humble thyself. The angel, in God's name, does not blame Sarai; but gives Agar to understand that the fault was wholly on her side. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/genesis-16.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

Return to thy mistress, and, submit thyself under her hands. The counsel was given in kindness as well as wisdom; for, by continuing to penetrate further into the wilderness, she must inevitably have perished, and all her prospects of maternity been blasted. These circumstances were sufficient to lead her to ponder over the perils of her wayward course; while the fore-shadowing of her son's great destiny, the accomplishment of which, however, depended upon her maintaining a connection with Abram's family, was held out as an inducement for her immediately to retrace her steps to Hebron. The whole tenor of the communication was calculated to soothe and animate.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-16.html. 1871-8.

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

THE TOKEN OF THE COVENANT

Our lessons are grouping themselves around the great facts of Scripture as we proceed, and while we are omitting nothing essential, emphasis is laid on the strategic points. In this lesson the point is the token of the covenant God made with Abram, but there are other thoughts leading up to and giving occasion for it.

SARAI AND HAGAR (Genesis 16:1-6)

The incident we now approach is not creditable to Abram or his wife, but there is an explanation of it. At least ten years had elapsed since God promised a seed to Abram (compare Genesis 12:12 with Genesis 16:16), and yet the promise had not been realized. Abram had been a monogamist until now, but concubinage was the custom, and the idea impressed Sarai that the delay in the promise might mean a fulfillment of it in another way. Might it be that they should help God to fulfill it? A wise teacher has said that human expediency to give effect to divine promises continues still one of the most dangerous reefs on which the lives of God’s people are wrecked. The result might have been foreseen so far as Hagar’s treatment of Sarai is concerned (Genesis 16:4), but the latter’s unfairness towards her husband does nothing to redeem her previous improper conduct. Abram’s action (Genesis 16:6) will be differently judged by different people, but seems consistent with the original purpose to accept of Hagar not as on equality of wifehood with Sarai, or even as his concubine, but as a supplementary concubine of his wife.

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD (Genesis 16:7-14)

It is not an angel of the Lord here brought before us, but The Angel, an expression always referring to the second Person of the Trinity. He assumes the divine prerogative at (Genesis 16:10, and is identified as God at (Genesis 16:13. It is no objection to say that it is only Hagar who thus identifies Him, not only because she must have had evidence of His identity, but because the inspired record in no way contradicts her. While the Angel is Jehovah, it is remarkable that in the name Angel, which means “messenger” or “one sent,” there is implied a distinction in the Godhead. There must be one who sends if there is one sent, and since the Father is never sent but always sends, the conclusion is that “The Angel of the LORD” must be God the Son.

Identify on the map “the way to Shur” (Genesis 16:7) and observe that Hagar was departing in the direction of her own land. Ishmael means “God heareth.” Why was he to be thus called (Genesis 16:11)? What character and experience are prophesied of him (see RV)? Where was he to dwell? “In the presence of his brethren” seems to mean “over against” or “to the east of” his brethren.

THE COVENANT RENEWED (Genesis 17:1-8)

Abram’s disobedience or unbelief as illustrated in the matter of Hagar kept him out of fellowship with God for fourteen years or more. (Compare the first verse of this chapter with the last of the preceding one.) What takes place after so long a time? With what new name does God choose to introduce Himself?

The Hebrew here is El Shaddai. El means might or power, and Shaddai means a shedder forth of bounty. The name depicts God as the all-bountiful One and comes as His revelation of Himself to Abram just when the latter needed to learn that the strength of God is made perfect in human weakness. Abram sought to obtain by his own energy what God only could give him, and having learned his lesson and being ready to give himself to God, God is ready to give Himself to Abram and make him fruitful. He puts something into Abram which at once changes him from Abram to Abraham something of His own nature.

But what is required of Abram, however, before this (Genesis 17:1)? He must be perfect, not in the sense of sinlessness, impossible to mortal, but in that of doing the whole will of God as it is known to him. And on that condition what promise is renewed (Genesis 17:2)? It is not as though the covenant of chapter 15 had been abrogated, for “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29), but that now the first step is to be taken in its fulfillment. What new attitude, physically considered, is now assumed by Abram in his intercourse with God (Genesis 17:3)? What new name is given him, and its meaning (Genesis 17:5)? How does the promise of Genesis 17:5 read in the Revised Version?

Compare the promise as more fully outlined in Genesis 17:6-8 for features additional to those previously revealed. What does God say He will make of him? And what shall come out of him? Have either of these things been said before? What did God say He would establish, and with whom, and for how long? What is new here? A father of many nations indeed has God made Abraham, if we consider his offspring not only in the line of Isaac, but of Ishmael, to say nothing of the children born to him by Keturah, subsequently to come before us.

These nations include the Jews, Arabians, Turks, Egyptians, Afghans, Moroccans, Algerians, and we know not how may more. But we are not to understand the covenant as established with all of these but only with the Jews of Israel, as descendants of Isaac. Isaac is the seed of Abraham in mind here, and of course his antitype, Jesus Christ, is the seed ultimately in mind. Keeping this latter point in view, therefore, the seed includes more than Israel after the flesh, since it takes in all who believe on Jesus Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles (Galatians 3:29). Peculiar privileges belong to each, but their origin is the same.

THE COVENANT TOKEN (Genesis 17:9-14)

It is in dispute whether circumcision was original with Abraham and his descendants, or had been a custom in other nations, though of course for other reasons in their case. Nevertheless, the rainbow was chosen to be the sign of the covenant with Noah though it may have existed before, so the prior existence of circumcision does not render it less fit to be the sign of the covenant with Abraham, or less significant. It was the fit symbol of that removal of the old man and that renewal of nature which qualified Abraham to be the parent of the holy seed. To what extent was it to be carried out among the males? What was the penalty for its omission (Genesis 17:14)? This cutting off of the people from the covenant did not mean physical death, but exclusion from all their blessings and salvation, an even more serious judgment, since in the end it denoted the endless destruction and total ruin of the man who despised God’s covenant. To despise or reject the sign was to despise and reject the covenant itself (see Genesis 17:5, last clause). A serious thought for the professing Christian who neglects to observe both parts of the obligation in Romans 10:9-10.

THE PROMISE CONCERNING SARAH (Genesis 17:15-27)

How is the name of Sarai changed at this point (Genesis 17:15)? God had never promised she should be a mother, and Ishmael, now thirteen years old, had doubtless been recognized through the whole encampment as his father’s heir. But now what distinct promise does God give concerning her (Genesis 17:16)? How is it received by Abraham (Genesis 17:17)? This laughter of Abraham was the exultation of joy and not the smile of unbelief. In this connection note that Isaac means “laughter,” and also that it is with him, and not Ishmael, that the covenant is to be established everlastingly.

Are you not pleased that Abraham should have thought of Ishmael as he did (Genesis 17:18)? Ishmael as an Arab of the desert, with his descendants, does not make much of a future among the nations of the earth until we consider him as the ancestor of Mohammed. It is estimated the he holds one hundred and fifty million of the inhabitants of the world subject to his spiritual sway, which indicates that Ishmael still lifts his head aloft among the great founders of empires, and in the moral sphere greater than them all.

QUESTIONS

1. How do God’s people sometimes wreck their lives, as illustrated in this lesson?

2. How does this lesson afford another foreshadowing of the doctrine of the Trinity?

3. Give the meaning of the name Almighty God.

4. Name some of the nations proceeding from Abraham.

5. Who does “the seed” of Abraham include?

6. How does this lesson impress us with the importance of confessing Christ?

7. Where in this lesson have we a kind of parallel to Luke 24:41?

8. What distinguished descendant of Ishmael can you name?

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/genesis-16.html. 1897-1910.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Abram"s Domestic Life

Genesis 15 and Genesis 16

I take these two chapters together, as completing one view of Abram"s domestic life. It may be well to take notice that, up to this point, everything has gone on in regular order, with the exception of one great and solemn event. We have found just what we might have looked for: the growth of the population, the spreading out of families and tribes into distant places, a little invention, and the beginnings of discovery and progress. There has been nothing unnatural in the history. As we might have expected, domestic life has been carefully and vividly brought under notice. We have had family lists and registers in abundance, for, in truth, there was little else to talk about in those early days. The talk was of the children. To have the quiver full of such arrows was to be blessed of God in the most acceptable way; not to have children was to have great disappointment and distress. Abram had many children in promise, but not one in reality; a joy which he himself could bear, but his wife did not accept the position with so glad a readiness. And out of this want of faith came grief, grief of her own making, but not wholly limited to herself. Want of faith always brings grief. It leads to meddlesomeness, and suspicion, and jealousy; and jealousy is a precipice over which men topple into the pit. Jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Its root is in suspicion. It suspects motives; it suspects actions; it suspects innocence itself: then it grows; it sees things that have no existence; it looks out under the eyebrows stealthily; it listens for unusual noises; it mistakes and misinterprets the ordinary signs and movements of life; and all the while it is killing the heart that nurses it. Have pity upon people that are afflicted with jealousy. They make you suffer, but they suffer more themselves. Oh, the dreams they have! The nightmare, terrible as hell, when the serpent rears itself at the bedside and shoots out its empoisoned fang, and coils its infinite length around their resting-place so that they cannot escape. It was so that Sarai dreamed by night, and in the daytime her heart was cruel towards Hagar. It all came from want of faith. She had no deep trust in God. And, observe, if it be not true for ever, that as the religious life goes down the evil powers set themselves up in awful mastery in the heart. O, my friend, keep fast hold of God, for when thy trust goes there is no more peace for thy poor life.

Sarai was so cruel that Hagar fled away from her. Sarai imagined that Hagar despised her. It was all fancy. How fancy tortures us! It turns the green branches of spring into serpents; it curdles and rots the milk of human kindness; it turns the child"s sweet laugh into a mocking noise; it finds hell everywhere! Beware of thine imaginings, my friend, my brother, my sister—beware! One wrong turn, and there is nothing for thee but cloud and storm, and weary aching of heart.

The angel of the Lord sent Hagar back again, knowing that "what cannot be cured must be endured." Besides, submission itself, though so hard, may be so accepted as to become useful in the mellowing and strengthening of character. The angel did not say, "Fight it out and let the strong one win." He advised submission, and this is the first instance in which such advice is given in the Scriptures. It is a great Christian law, we know, but it is early to find it in Genesis! "Submit yourselves one to another for the Lord"s sake," is a lesson which reads well in church; but Hagar heard it not under a Gothic roof, half-chanted by surpliced priest, but "by a fountain of water in the wilderness, in the way to Shur,"—she the only hearer, the angel the priest of God! A good church, too, in which to learn the lesson of submission. I see Hagar taking a draught of the fountain, and trudging home again on weary feet; going back to work among the sharp thorns, and to have words keen as stings thrown at her all the day long. A sorry fate, you say, to be pointed out by an angel! But wait. You do not know all. Who could bear all the ills of any one human life without having some help, some light, some hope? A wonderful word was spoken to the woman—"I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude." As if he had said—"If thou didst know thy destiny, thou wouldst think little of Sarai"s mocking; it is but a momentary pain; bear it with the heroism of silent patience." And, truly, this same angel speaks to us all. He says, "If you walk in the way of the Lord you shall have blessing after sorrow, as the flowers bloom after the rain; persecution you cannot escape, nor slander, nor cruel words; but your light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. One hour in heaven will banish every sad thought of earth; submit, be patient, and return not evil for evil." Oh, listen to the angel; it is God"s angel; it is God himself!

And now Hagar"s days went with a new speed. Sarai mocked as before, but Hagar heard the angel"s voice. The words of the angel became a kind of refrain in the melancholy music of her outer life: "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly; the Lord hath heard thy affliction"; these words never cease, and, under their influence, all taunts and sneers and bitter maledictions lost their effect. We, too, might have refrains still tenderer, the recurrence of which would refine and ennoble all coarse and cruel words. Thus: "Fear thou not, for I am with thee"; "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"; "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper"; "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Ten thousand such promises are to be found in the Holy Word. Choose your own; take the one that fits your woe best, and if you be in Christ fear not to use it when the bitter wind blows fiercely. Hagar left her house in overwhelming distress; she went back to her sufferings with a new hope Our sufferings are so different when we take them at the Lord"s hand, and endure them because he tells us to do so. We cannot triumph and rejoice in suffering merely on its own account. It is impossible to like pain simply because it is pain. But take the suffering at God"s bidding; say, This is the cup of the Lord and I must drink it for his sake; it is a burden chosen for me by my Father in heaven; then you will sing with a new and tenderer emphasis,

In the seventeenth chapter we read the renewal of the covenant which the Almighty made with Abram, with a clear statement of the terms upon which the covenant was based. Thirteen years at least had come and gone since the promise was given the first time. Thirteen years of waiting! Thirteen years of mortification for Sarai! Thirteen years of discipline for Abram and Hagar and Ishmael! They would have killed some of us: thirteen days are to us eternity. The name Abram which signifies "Exalted father," now becomes Abraham, father of a multitude, and the limited name Sarai (my princess) becomes Sarah, princess; the limited becoming the unlimited. Mark how this renewal of the covenant turns upon the consecration of children. Hitherto we have to do with grown-up people, but now we are brought face to face with little ones. We have hardly had a child at all as yet in this long history. One wonders what notice God will take of young life; will he say, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," or will he shut them out of his view until they become great men? Is a child beneath God"s notice?

"Is it much

Beautiful, too, is Christian baptism when regarded as the expansion of the idea of circumcision. It well befits a tenderer law; circumcision was severe; baptism is gentle: circumcision was limited to men-children; baptism is administered to all: circumcision was established in one tribe, or family, or line of descent; baptism is the universal rite,—Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Song of Solomon, and of the Holy Ghost. So we go from law to grace; from Moses to the Lamb; from the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, to the quiet and holy Zion.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/genesis-16.html. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 16:1. God had promised Abraham a son, but had not said that he should be born of Sarah. Hence his wife having no hope in herself, almost compelled him to receive Hagar to his bed, not considering the painful consequences likely to ensue.

Genesis 16:2. I may obtain children by her. It being a customary law that a patriarch must have children, a dotal maid was often given with the bride, that in case of failure of issue, the maid might bear children for her mistress. Pharaoh, it is presumed, had given this maid to Sarah as an apology for his error in having designs against the wife of the princely stranger.

Genesis 16:7. The angel of the Lord found her by a fountain. The Messiah, who here reveals the secrets of providence with regard to the Ishmaelites in future ages, receives from Hagar the appellation of God, and divine worship. He spake to her, as he had done to Abraham; “I will multiply thy seed.” The angel even dictated the name of Ishmael; that is, heard of God, to certify to Hagar that her prayer was heard.

Genesis 16:9. Return to thy mistress. God, who is here for the first time called an Angel, addresses Hagar as a servant, and not as the second wife of Abraham. God indeed has often blessed the children of concubines, but good coming out of evil does not diminish the fault.

Genesis 16:12. His hand will be against every man. In Ishmael’s race, or rather, in the Arabians or Saracens, this prophecy has been strikingly accomplished. No candid man who reads the history of that nation, can refuse assent to its truth. Follow them in the bloody career of conquest, cruelty, and tyranny to the Mogul empire, through all India, through Ethiopia and the isles, and in all the richer districts of western Africa. See them scourge the Arian church to the gates of Vienna. Alas, and is this natural religion!

Genesis 16:13. Have I here also looked after him that seeth me? This place is difficult to translate. The LXX read, I have seen him plainly who appeared to me: Jehovah the Angel. Others turn it, that she saw the backward parts of the Angel, as Moses, Exodus 33. Our Dr. Lightfoot’s reading is preferable. Thou art a God of vision; for she said, did I here also look for a vision? The name of the well called Beer-lahai-roi, or “well where I plainly saw him,” apparently confirms the reading of the Seventy. This well, and indeed all other places where God had appeared to cheer and encourage his servants, by enlarging the promises of the covenant, became favourite retreats, and places where the patriarchs often worshipped. Isaac dwelt near this well, and Jacob built an altar at Bethel.

Genesis 16:15. Abram called his name Ishmael; that is, God heard thy affliction, and helped and saved thee: Hagar therefore gave thanks to God.

REFLECTIONS.

Was Sarah barren; and did she attribute her situation to the restraining hand of God? Let all christian families, so circumstanced, learn to ascribe the lack of children to the same cause. By submission to his wise and holy will, he can give them a name and a blessing better than the enjoyment of children, who sometimes prove the greatest crosses to their parents.

Was Sarah a woman so distinguished for her beauty, that two kings endeavoured to obtain her for a wife; and did the Lord see it meet to check all propensity to glory in her beauty, by the recollection of her barrenness? We see then the wise and gracious hand of God in directing our crosses to a sanctified end. The Lord in all his chastisements seeks our good.

Did Hagar, after conception, suffer herself to be elated with the idea that she should now be the favourite wife of the patriarch, and that her child should be the heir of all his wealth? Let the sinner learn not to be exalted in the day of prosperity, for in one moment our empty boasting may receive a blast. Self-knowledge is the most useful study for a man flattered by the world. He should ever remember that he is but sinful dust, and should never exalt himself in his own sufficiency, lest the wicked deride him in his fall.

Did Hagar also behave with insolence to her mistress, who had been the cause of her elevation? Let us learn to be grateful to our benefactors, though their motives may not have been altogether pure in doing us good: for ingratitude is a sin which God has often punished with the strongest marks of abhorrence.

Did the Lord, notwithstanding, approach this woman when she fled from her mistress; and give her counsel and comfort in the day of trouble? Then let all strangers, exiles, and wanderers, yea all families in like circumstances, be careful to take no rash and hasty steps. Let them seek God by weeping and supplication, and he will surely guide them in the way they ought to go. It is better for a servant who may find himself harshly treated, patiently to suffer a little, and especially when he is faulty, than rashly to rush into greater calamities. But let the backslider also, who has wandered from God and his people, hear this voice which commanded Hagar immediately to return.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-16.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 16:9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

Ver. 9. Return to thy mistress.] When now she had smarted, she is in case to be counselled. There is great skill in the choice of a fit time for admonition. It is not to give a man a purge in a fever-fit.

Submit thyself.] Heb., Afflict thyself, or suffer thyself to be afflicted or humbled under her hands. The like counsel is given us all by St James, "Be afflicted, and weep, and mourn," &c, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he will lift you up" [James 4:9-10]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-16.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Hagar 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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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/genesis-16.html. 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Hagar and Ishmael

"The Angel of the LORD" is the form in which the Lord Jesus appears in the Old Testament, that is, before His coming as Man on earth. He is Yahweh, the LORD. He follows Hagar and finds her on the way to Sur, that is the way to Egypt, the land where she comes from. He calls her by her true name: "Sarai's maid."

The questions He asks are meant for her. He knows her well and knows everything about her (cf. Jn 4:29). Through His questions He wants to remind her of where she comes from and make her see where she is going. She comes from a place of blessing and is on her way to destruction. It will be a great humiliation to return to Sarai, but it will be the best choice.

As for the child that she will bear, the LORD also makes an announcement concerning him. She must give him the name "Ishmael", which means "God hears". In his name he will carry with him the constant memory of God. Will he live by that? The LORD also makes an announcement on this subject. He will be "a wild donkey" (Gen 16:12). His character will not match his name. Untied, free, without taking anyone into account, the boy will develop. He will show in his life that he is a son of Hagar.

In a symbolic sense it means that he will be an animal of burden, that is a donkey, that will throw his burden off. He is a picture of Israel under the law, which takes no account of that law. The result is that all chase away and repress Israel (Deu 28:25; 33).

Thankful for His looking after her – she did not look for Him, but He for her – she calls him "a God who sees". She acknowledges the grace He has shown her. The place where she has spoken with the LORD is called "Beer-lahai-roi", meaning "the (or: well) of the Living One looking at me" or "the pit (or: well) of the Living One revealing Himself". Here we have a picture of the Word of God, for therein God reveals Himself, in it He shows Himself. This well is mentioned twice more (Gen 24:62; Gen 25:11). Later God also reveals Himself in the Lord Jesus at a well to a woman who is actually fleeing (Jn 4:6-7; 25-26).

Hagar has come to know God as the God Who hears – that is how she had to call her son – and the God Who sees. To know God as the God Who hears and sees is a great encouragement for the faith that is put to the test.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 16:9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kng/genesis-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Return of Hagar and the Birth of Ishmael

v. 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. The providence of the Lord was watching over this erring child. The great Angel of the Lord, the Son of God as He often appeared in the Old Testament, went out and found her by a spring of water near Shur, on the way to Egypt, her old home.

v. 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. From the entire story it is apparent that the angel speaking with Hagar is not an ordinary, created angel, but the Son of God, who even in the Old Testament was near His people and proved a very effective help to the patriarchs of Israel. Upon His calling Hagar by name and demanding an account of her coming and going, the slave gave a truthful answer. She herself was probably a believer in the true God, as a member of Abram's home congregation.

v. 9. And the Angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. The Lord having brought Hagar to a sense of her real position in the house of Abram, namely, that she was Sarai's maid, not Abram's wife, now bids her return to her duty, to humble herself under her mistress's hand.

v. 10. And the Angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. First the call to duty, then the gracious promise, one which was especially welcome to the Oriental mother, and ought to be to the mothers of all time.

v. 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.

v. 12. 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. Because the fruit of her body was the seed of Abram, Hagar was to return to her mistress, and for the sake of his father the promise of innumerable progeny is given. The very name of her son is given her, namely, Ishmael, "God hears," because the Lord had heeded the cry of her misery and distress. This son should, moreover, unlike his mother, be free from the oppression of men, as free as the wild ass of the deserts, wild-roving and untamable; and his descendants would be characterized by the ceaseless feuds between themselves and with their neighbors, as they dwelt in the presence of their brethren, of the children of Israel, to whom they were a constant menace and challenge. To this day the Ishmaelites are in unimpaired, free possession of the great peninsula lying between the Euphrates, the Isthmus of Suez, and the Red Sea, whence they have spread over wide districts in North Africa and Southern Asia.

v. 13. 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?

v. 14. Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. Hagar realized that it was no ordinary angel that had spoken with her, as her confession shows, for she calls Him: Thou art a God that sees me; for His all-seeing eye had not overlooked the helpless and forsaken, even in that remote corner of the desert. She had experienced the goodness and mercy of the Lord: she had had the privilege of seeing and speaking with Him that had looked after her and protected her. The incident even gave a name to the spring in the desert, since it was afterward known as "the well of Him that lives and sees me. " It is located in the wilderness, south of Beersheba.

v. 15. And Hagar bare Abram a son; and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

v. 16. And Abram was fourscore and six yearn old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram. To the son which Hagar bore after her return to his house, Abram, then eighty-six years old, gave the name Ishmael, the mother undoubtedly having given him an account of the occurrence in the desert which caused her to return. Thus the places and the times which remind us of special acts of God's goodness and mercy are written in the memories of the believers, and ever and again cause them to break forth in prayers of thankfulness.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/genesis-16.html. 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             FIFTH SECTION

Abram’s Concession to Sarai’s Impatience. Abram and Hagar. Hagar’s Flight. The Angel of the Lord. Hagar’s Return, and Ishmael’s Birth

  Genesis 16:1-16

1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife [in the face of the previous promise], bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar [flight, fugitive]. 2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing; I pay thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain [be builded], children by hen And 3 Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 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.

4And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes 5 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 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee [is good in thine eyes]. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

7And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur [rocky. Josephus: Pelusium. Gesenius: Suez. Keil: Dschïfar]. 8And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence earnest 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 [bow] thyself under her hands 10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be [cannot be] numbered for multitude 11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a Song of Solomon, and shalt call his name Ishmael12[God will hear]; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction [distress]. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every Prayer of Manasseh, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren—[far and wide in a free country]. 13And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me [of true seeing]: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that [peculiarly] seeth me? 14Wherefore the well was called, Beer-lahai-roi [well of the life of seeing, or vision]; behold, it is between Kadesh [consecrated] and Bered [hail, gravel-like hail?].

15And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

PRELIMINARY REMARK

For the difficulties growing out of the sexual relations in the history of the Patriarchs, see the Introduction, p80.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. According to Knobel, this section is a Jehovistic enlargement of a brief Elohistic original narrative. But the narrative bears upon its face a complete and living unity.

2. Sarai’s Fanatical Self-denial ( Genesis 16:1-4). Bare him no children. Not even yet, although he had already received ( Genesis 15) the solemn assurance of the great promise. She was barren in Genesis 11:30, and remained so after Genesis 15:2. The childless state of Abram’s house was its great sorrow, and the more Song of Solomon, since it was in perpetual opposition to the calling, destination, and faith of Abram, and was a constant trial of his faith. Sarai herself, moreover, the consort of Abram, came gradually more and more to appear as a hindrance to the fulfilment of the divine promise, and as Abram, according to Genesis 15, had fixed his eye upon his head servant, Eliezer of Damascus, so now, Sarai fixes her eye upon her head maiden,[FN1] Hagar the Egyptian. Hagar was probably added to the household of Abram during his residence in Egypt ( Genesis 12:10). She manifestly possessed a prominent place in his household, and appears to have brought to that position, not only mental gifts, but also an inward participation in the faith of the household.—The Lord hath restrained me from bearing.[FN2] (The mother’s womb closed—a figurative description of the appointed barrenness). The barrenness, also, is traced back to the highest causality, the purpose of Jehovah ( Genesis 29:31; Genesis 30:32; Psalm 127:3; Isaiah 66:9). The sexual relations, and the declarations in regard to them, are sanctified by their ultimate end, their spiritual reference. The dejection, at least, the sorrow, breaks out in the words of Sarai, also, as they had in the utterance of Abram, Genesis 15:3.—Go in unto. Euphemistic explanation of the sexual connection.—It may be that I may obtain (be builded) by her. As to the connection between בית,בן,בנה, see the lexicons. To be built, is to become a house; to become a house, is to obtain children, a family. Hagar should enlarge Sarai: Hagar’s child should be her child (see Genesis 30:3). The concubine, viewed in the light of this reason, for which she is chosen, is not so much the concubine of the husband, as supplementary concubine of the wife. The moral idea of monogamy shines clearly through this obscurity in its manifestation, and so far this, “possession of concubines” (as Knobel expresses it) must be distinguished from the later polygamy, which appeared among the Jews. Sarai practises an act of heroic self-denial, but still, in her womanly and fanatical excitement, anticipates her destiny as Eve had done, and carries even the patriarch away with her alluring hope. The writer intimates how nobly generous she was in her error. This greatness clouded even the clear-sightedness of Abram.[FN3] The narrator brings also into prominence the extenuating fact, that they had been already ten years in Canaan, waiting in vain for the heir of Canaan.—When she saw that she had conceived. “The unfruitful Hannah received the like treatment with Sarai, from the second wife of her husband ( 1 Samuel 1:6). It is still thus, to-day, in eastern lands (see Lane: ‘Manners and Customs,’ i. p198). The Hebrew regards barrenness as a great evil and a divine punishment ( Genesis 19:31; Genesis 30:1; Genesis 30:23; Leviticus 20:20), and fruitfulness as a great good and a divine blessing ( Genesis 21:6; Genesis 24:60; Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 7:14). The orientals regard these things in the same light still (see Volney: ‘Travels,’ ii. p359; Malcolm’s ‘History of Persia;’ and Winer: Real-wörterbuch, art. Kinder).” Knobel. Hagar, however, had not the position of a second wife, and erred, when in her disposition she assumed this position, instead of recognizing her subordination to her mistress. This subordination was assumed by Abram, and therefore he does not seem to have noticed her haughtiness and pride.[FN4]

3. Sarai’s Displeasure and Hagar’s Flight ( Genesis 16:5-6).—My wrong be upon thee. Precisely, wrong in an objective sense, wrong which I suffer. Sarai, in her indignation against the pride and insolence of Hagar, believed that Abram looked with approbation upon it, and therefore expresses herself as if offended.[FN5] The overbent bow flies back with violence. This is the back-stroke of her own eager, overstrained course. Still, her words are against Abram; the consequences of her wrong should fall upon him; she would leave his conduct to the judgment of Jehovah, more as an appeal to his con-science, than as a decided condemnation.[FN6]Behold thy maid is in thy hand. Abram adheres firmly to the original standpoint. He regards Hagar still as the servant, and the one who fulfils the part of Sarai, and so far justifies himself against Sarai. But this justification is turned now into the severe censure and affliction of Hagar, and this is the result of the wrong position into which he has allowed himself to be drawn.—Sarai dealt hardly with her. How, precisely, we are not told. Doubtless, through the harsh thrusting her back into the mere position and service of a slave. Hagar believed that she had grown above such a position, and flees. The proud, unyielding passion of the Ishmaelite for freedom, shows its characteristic feature in their ancestress. Some have ventured so far, as to suppose that Abram must have hastened after her, and brought her back, full of honor.

4. The intervention on the part of the Angel of Jehovah, and Hagar’s return ( [The expression מַלְאַךְ יְהוָֹה appears here for the first time. While the Angel of Jehovah is Jehovah himself, it is remarkable, that in the very meaning of the name, as messenger, or one who is sent, there is implied a distinction of persons in the Godhead. There must be one who sends, whose message he bears.—A. G.][FN7] That this Angel is identical with Jehovah, is placed beyond question in Genesis 16:13-14. The disposition of Hagar, helpless, forsaken, with all her pride, still believing in God, warned by her own conscience, makes it altogether fitting that the Angel of Jehovah should appear to her, i.e., Jehovah himself, in his condescension—manifesting himself as the Angel.—She had found rest, by a fountain in the wilderness; and here, in her helplessness, self-reflection, and repentance, she gains the disposition or fitness for the vision. It was by the fountain in the way to Shur. “Shur, now Dschïfar, is the northwestern part of the desert of Arabia, bordering upon Egypt (comp. Exodus 15:22; and Tuch: in der deutschen morgenländ. Zeitschrift, i. p175).” Keil. ( Genesis 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Samuel 27:8). A waste stretch of land, of five or six days’ journey, lying between Palestine and Egypt (see Knobel, p158). Her location was thus upon the old, worn path, leading from Hebron by Beersheba to Egypt. The respect which she enjoyed agrees with her personal, inward worth, as to her character and faith, but at the same time tends to the proper estimate of Ishmael, who, as the child of Abram, could not be left undistinguishable among the heathen. The Angel of the incarnation, even, could not permit that Hagar, in an erroneous zeal to become his future mother, should go on his own account into helpless sorrow. His first address sounds as the voice of her own awakened conscience: Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? Truly, out of a wilfully sundered relation of duty and piety, and out of the house of blessing. [The angel brings her to a sense of her true relation: Sarai’s maid, not Abram’s wife.—A. G.]—And whither goest thou? indeed, wilfully into guilt, disgrace, and sorrow. Her answer testifies to the oppression which she had experienced, but also to the voice of her own conscience.—From the face of my mistress, Sarai.—Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself. [Submit, humble thyself; the same word as that by which Sarai’s harsh-dealing is described.—A. G.] The command to return to duty comes first, then the promise. It carries the joyous sound of an innumerable progeny—the tribes of Ishmael.—Ishmael, because the Lord hath heard. Misery sighs; the sighs ascend to God; hence misery itself, if not sent as a curse, is a voiceless prayer to God. But this is true especially of the misery of Hagar, who had learned to pray in the house of Abram. “According to the later writers, it was the custom that the mother should name the child ( Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25; Genesis 19:37 ff; Genesis 29:32 ff; Genesis 30:6 ff; Genesis 38:3 ff.).; but the Elohist allows the child to be named only by the father ( Genesis 5:3; Genesis 16:15; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 21:3; comp. Genesis 15:18).” Knobel. This distinction is obviously far-fetched. It is only on special occasions that the mother is referred to as giving the name to the child. In Genesis 38:3-4, the father and mother are alternately concerned in giving the name. Abram himself afterwards appropriates the maternal naming of Ishmael.—And he will be a wild man (wild-ass man). The limitation of the promise is connected with the promise itself. Hagar must be cured of the proud delusion, that she is destined to become the mother of the believing people of Abram, and that therefore the hope of Abram depends upon her personal self-destination; a supposition which doubtless had taken firm possession of her mind, through the presupposition of Sarai herself. The image of the wild ass is not chosen in a contemptuous sense. “The figure of the פֶּרֶא, onager, in the desert, free, wild-roving and untamable animal, poetically described in Job 39:5-8, designates, in a striking manner, the Bedouin Arabs with their unrestrained love of freedom, as upon camel (Delûl) or horse, with spear in hand, they ride over the desert, noisy, hardy, frugal, delighting in the varied beauties of nature, and despising life in towns and cities:” and the words, his hand will be against every Prayer of Manasseh, and every man’s hand against him, describe the ceaseless feuds among themselves and with their neighbors, in which the Ishmaelites live.” Keil. Compare the characteristics of Esau, Genesis 27:40. For the description of the Arabs in the books of travels, see Knobel, p158.[FN8] Knobel thinks that here also the prophetic image is drawn after the descendants (the free sons of the desert), and finds besides that the promises ( Genesis 17:20; Genesis 21:20,) “have a more favorable sound.” If this were true, it would be only the other side of the same figure. Hagar must know, above all other things, that Ishmael could not appropriate to himself the inheritance of blessing. This is intimated in the words, In the presence of all his brethren. He will thus have brethren, but shall dwell in the presence of all, a free man. Keil remarks, that עַל־פְּנֵי signifies primarily, eastward, according to Genesis 25:9, but that there is more in the terms than a mere geographical notice, to wit, that Ishmael shall dwell independently, in the presence of all the descendants of Abram. But history has abundantly confirmed this promise. “Until to-day the Ishmaelites are in unimpaired, free possession of the great peninsula lying between the Euphrates, the isthmus of Suez, and the Red Sea, from whence they have spread over wide districts in North Africa and Southern Asia” (comp. Delitzsch, p377 ff.)[FN9]And she called the name of the Lord (Jehovah). The naming f God by Hagar (אֵל־רֳאִי) has been variously interpreted. Hengstenberg, with Tuch, finds the explanation in the farther named well, “well of the life of seeing,” or “vision,” i.e. where a person has seen the face of God, and remains alive. Delitzsch holds this to be a verbal impossibility. We add, that the supposition as to the reality in this explanation, which appears also in Keil, is incorrect. We must distinguish between the patriarchal and legal periods. Of the legal period it is said: thou canst not see my face, for no man shall see me and live ( Exodus 33:20); that was true of Moses, so far as he was the mediator of his sinful people (see Exodus 33:13). The prejudice in Israel, that no one could see the revelation of God and live ( Judges 13:22), took its origin from these words. But the sense of the words was, that the manifestation of God in the midst of the sinful people of Israel, and even for Moses, so far as he was the representative of the people, would be fatal. Hence the regulation requiring darkness in the holy of holies. But of Moses, viewed in and for himself, it is said: The Lord spake with him face to face ( Exodus 33:11). Moses, in and for himself, stood upon the patriarchal ground, but as the mediator of the people, he stood upon the ground of the law, and must first, through the sight of the grace of the Lord, be prepared for the sight of his glory ( Exodus 33:19). It is an error to confuse the two economies, patriarchal and legal. Here the Angel of the Lord reveals himself, there the law is ordained through the Angel. Here, those wearied of life, go in peace to their fathers, there death is the wages of sin. Here one sees God in the reality of true vision, there God retires into the darkness of the Holy of Holies. It is still a question, however, whether רֳאִי should mean, the one seeing my person (the participle from ראה with the suffix of the first person) as Hofmann, Baumgarten, and Delitzsch explain after the Chaldee: “thou art a God of sight, whose all-seeing eye will not overlook the helpless and forsaken, even in the most remote corner of the desert.” The meaning of the name Moriah ( Genesis 22:2; Genesis 22:8; Genesis 22:14) appears to be in favor of this reference of the seeing, to God. But here, also, the seeing of Jehovah, was perceived from the appearance of Jehovah, i.e. from his becoming seen (or visible). Keil quotes against the interpretation of Hofmann the expression רֹאֵנוּ ( Isaiah 29:15) and רֹאָנִי ( Isaiah 47:10), as a designation of the one seeing—who sees me. Thus: רֳאִי in pauseרֹאִי is a substantive, and designates the sight, the vision. Gesenius, Keil, and others: “God has manifested himself to her as a God of vision, who can be seen of the actual, most perfect sight, in his angel.”—For she said, Have I also looked after him. Do I see him still. This is not said in the sense of the popular judgment of the legal period: Am I actually still seeing, i.e. in the land of the living, after I have seen Jehovah? (Kiel, Knobel, etc.); but, what I now see in this wretched desert, is that still to be regarded as seeing, after I have seen the Angel of the Lord? (= the glory of the Lord?)[FN10] This is a true, and in the highest degree, real characterizing of the glorious seeing in the condition of the vision (“I have seen thy throne, O Lord, from afar”). It is at the same time, in the highest degree natural, as Hagar expresses the contrast between the two conditions, that of the ordinary seeing and that of the highest seeing (vision).—Wherefore the well was called. Thus not the well of the life of seeing or life of vision (Hengstenberg, Keil), but where the life = the life-giver—quickener, manifests himself, who grants the vision.—Between Kadesh and Bered. “Although Bered is not mentioned elsewhere, Rowland has still, with great probability, pointed out the well of Hagar, mentioned again ( Genesis 24:62; Genesis 25, 11), in the fountain Ain Kadesh, lying in the camping-ground of the caravans moving from Syria to Sinai southward from Beersheba, Moyle, or Moilchi, Muweilch (Robinson: Palestine), which the Arabians call Moilahhi (or Mai-lahhi) Hadjar; who show there also a rocky dwelling, Beit-Hadjar (see Rowland, in Ritter’sErdkunde, xiv. p1086). Bered must lie to the west of this.” Keil.

5. Hagar’s Return ( Genesis 16:15-16). There are two points which must still be noticed here. First, that Abram receives the name Ishmael, with which, of course, the Revelation -reception of Hagar is expressed; and secondly, the age of Abram, which is of importance in view of the next recurring revelation of Jehovah, as showing the lapse of time between them.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

See the Exegetical paragraphs.

1. Sarai’s character: noble generosity, self-denial, the female friend still more than the sister or wife of Abram, but woman-like, and in a fanatical way anticipating the patience of faith (see 1 Peter 3:6).

2. The moral motive or impulse of seeking the heir of blessing, made availing to an erroneous and selfish degree, is here torn away from its connection with the love impulse or motive, and exalted above it in importance (see the Introduction, p81).

3. This substitution of the maid for the mistress must, however, be distinguished from polygamy in its peculiar sense. Hagar, on the contrary, regards herself—in the sense of polygamy, as standing with Sarai, and as the favored, fruitful wife, exalts herself above her. The shadow of polygamy resting upon patriarchal monogamy. Isaac’s marriage free from this. It has the purest New Testament form. Rebecca appears, indeed, to have exercised a certain predominant influence, as the wife often does this in the Christian marriage of modern times.

4. Abram’s wrong position between Sarai and Hagar—the result of his yielding to the fanaticism of Sarai.[FN11]

5. The Angel of the Lord ( Genesis 12). The voice of the Angel and the voice of the awakened conscience one, and yet distinct.

6. The words of the Angel leading to conversion: 1. Clear description: Hagar, Sarai’s maid; 2. Whence earnest thou? 3. Whither wilt thou go? The beginning of conversion itself: simple, pure, clear knowledge.

7. Obligation and promises are not to be separated in the kingdom of God, for it is throughout a moral region. But the form changes according to the circumstances—now the higher (evangelical) promises and obligations, now the lower (preparatory) obligations and promises.

Genesis 16:10. Gerlach: A blessing in its external form greater even than that promised to Abram, Genesis 15:5. Still, even in the feebler splendor, we should recognize the great promised blessing of the father of believers. “Arabia, whose population consists to a large extent of Ishmaelites, is a living fountain of men whose streams for thousands of years have poured themselves far and wide to the east and west. Before Mohammed, its tribes were found in all border-Asia, in the East Indies as early as the middle ages; and in all Northern Africa it is the cradle of all the wandering hordes. Along the whole Indian Ocean, down to Molucca, they had their settlements in the middle ages; they spread along the coast to Mozambique; their caravans crossed India to China; and in Europe they peopled Southern Spain, and ruled it for seven hundred years.” Ritter.

8. Hagar’s satisfaction with the future of her Song of Solomon, a sign of her humiliation.[FN12] The picture of Ishmael here the image of a scion of Abram and the maid (Goethe: “From my father comes the bodily stature, the bearing of the higher life; from my mother the joyful disposition and love of pleasure.” See Lange: Vermischte Schriften, i. p156.) The relation between ancestors and their descendants. The law of life which lies at the ground of the contrast between the son of the maid and the son of the free ( John 1:13). The discord in the offspring of misalliances. Ed. Pöpping: “Travels in Chili, Peru, etc.” p139. On the color. These mixed progenies reward the dark mother with contempt, the white father, with aversion. “A large part of the Bedouins still lead a robber-life. They justify themselves in it, upon the ground of the hard treatment of Ishmael, their father, who, driven out of his paternal inheritance, received the desert for his possession, with the permission to take wherever he could find.” Gerlach. “The Arabian’s land, according to their assumed right, reaches as far as they are free to go.” Ritter.

9. The importance of the Arabs in history. Ishmael. God hears. The strong, world-historical “wild-ass,” springs out of the mercy of God towards the misery of Hagar. His hand against every man: this is true of the spiritual Ishmael, Mohammedanism, in its relation to other religions. It stands in a fanatical polemic relation.—The Arabians have never been overcome by any of the great world-conquerors, while they have made great and world-wide conquests.

10. Hagar’s expression in regard to her vision. The divine vision a look into the eternal world. Actual sight in the world of sense is no more sight, when compared with this.

11. The living God is a God of human vision, because he is a God of divine revelation.

12. The well of the living God, in which he makes men to see (the true seeing) a symbol of the gospel of the kingdom of God, of the Church in the desert of the world.

13. Hagar’s return laid the foundation for the world-historical dignity and honor of her son Ishmael.—Ishmael, also, must return to Abram’s house.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Genesis 16:1-4. The fanatical anticipation of men, grasping after their destination, and its results, a judgment in favor of the more patient waiting and expectation: 1. In the history of Sarai; 2. the history of Eve; 3. in the history of the Church (the mediæval anticipation of the kingdom of glory).—The perils of the husband in his relations to the wife: 1. Her fanaticism (Sarai); 2. her sensuality (Hagar).—Sarai’s indignation: the reaction from fanatical, over-strained zeal.

Genesis 16:4. Hagar’s pride: the exaltation which we experience, is easily destroyed if we are so disposed, through self-glorying.—The wrong position of Abram the result of his conduct not originating in himself.

Genesis 16:7. The Angel of the Lord; or the most wretched in the kingdom of God, enjoy the highest revelations of his mercy.—The Angel of the Lord as an angel of conversion: 1. His address; 2. his question, Whence; 3. his question, Whither; 4. his instruction; 5. his promises; 6. the extent and order in his promises.—Hagar’s experience, that sight, is no more sight after the vision.—Man beholds by faith, because God looks upon him in grace.—At the wells in the desert.—Hagar’s return.—The perpetuation of the experience of Hagar, in the name Ishmael.—Abram eighty-six years old.—Age no security against folly.—God turns the follies of believers to their good.—Ishmael’s importance in history (field for missions in the East).

Starke: Genesis 16:2. That was an abuse of the ruling power over her maid, and of the power of marriage which Sarai had over the body of her husband ( 1 Corinthians 7:3). Sarai, as well as Abram, was concerned in the sin, hence the defenders of concubinage and polygamy have no ground upon which to stand here.—(Foreign, and especially unbelieving servants of strange religions, may often work great injury to a master or a government).—We must not do evil that good may come ( Romans 3:8).—Although a man may counsel with his wife, and follow her counsel, it must not be done to go into evil.—Lange: See, fellow-christian, what one’s own will and choice will do for a man! It enjoins often a greater denial than God requires of him.—Cramer: Genesis 16:4. It is a common fault, that the morals of many are changed by their elevation to honor, and that prosperity brings pride ( Proverbs 30:21-23).—Kindness is quite generally rewarded by ingratitude. Genesis 16:7. A proof that the Angel of the Lord was the Son of God.

Genesis 16:5. It is a common course with men to roll their guilt upon others.—Lange: Nothing is more injurious to the quiet comfort of marriage, and of the whole household, and to the training of children, than polygamy: it is impossible, therefore, that it should be in accordance with the law of nature.—The Same: Ishmael is the first of those, to whom God has assigned their name before their birth. After him there are five others: Isaac ( Genesis 17:19), Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:9), Josiah ( 1 Kings 13:2), Cyrus ( Isaiah 45:1)? and John ( Luke 1:13). Lastly, Jesus, the Saviour, is the seventh ( Matthew 1:21).—Luther: The positions in life are very unlike. Therefore we should remember and hold to this consolation, which the Angel shows: lo, thou art a servant, a maid, poor, etc. Let this be for thy comfort, that thy God looks alike upon masters and servants, rich and poor, sinners and saints.—Cramer: It is according to the ordinance of God, that one should be lord, another servant, etc. ( 1 Corinthians 7:10).—Bibl. Tub.: Thou hast sinned, humble thyself, take cheerfully the chastisement; nothing is more wholesome than that which will bow our proud spirits into humility ( 2 Samuel 24:10; 2 Samuel 24:14).

Genesis 16:14. He who not only holds Hagar in life, but is also the life itself ( John 11:25; Deuteronomy 32:46), the living God ( Deuteronomy 5:26; Psalm 42:3, etc.).—In this God we shall find the true living springs of all good and mercy ( Psalm 36:9; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Isaiah 55:1).

Lisco: Sinful helping of ourselves.—Man must not only leave the end to God, but also the means ( Romans 11:36).

Genesis 16:7. The (not one) Angel of the Lord, the uncreated Angel of the Covenant ( Malachi 3:1).

Genesis 16:13. These words designate the reality of that revelation made to her and for her good.—The breach of the divine ordinance soon avenges itself, for the unnatural relation in which the slave had been placed by her mistress herself, prepared for the mistress the most vexatious grief.—Gerlach: The Angel of the Lord, is the divine revealer of God, the leader of the patriarchs ( Genesis 48:16); the one who calls and animates Moses ( Exodus 3:2); the leader of the people through the wilderness ( Exodus 14:19, etc.; Isaiah 63:9); the champion of the Israelites in Canaan ( Joshua 5:13); and still farther, the leader and ruler of the covenant-people ( Judges 2:1 ff; Judges 6:11; Judges 13:13); then he who in Isaiah is the Angel of his face or presence ( Isaiah 63:9); in Daniel, Michael (and by whom Gabriel was sent to the prophet, Daniel 10:13 ?) in Zechariah, measures the new building of Jerusalem ( Genesis 2:1); and in Malachi is the Angel of the Covenant ( Genesis 3:1).—Calwer, Handbuch: Mohammed is a son of Ishmael, and Abram’ is thus, according to the flesh, the ancestor of Islam.—The Arabian, even now, grounds upon this passage, in his pride and delusion, a claim that the rights of primogeniture belong to Ishmael instead of Isaac, and asserts his own right to lands and goods, so far as it pleases him.—Vengeance for blood rules in him, and in many cases, also, the work of the robber is seen all along his path.

Genesis 16:12. In the presence of all his brethren: the Israelites, Midianites, Edomites, and the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descended from Lot.—Schröder: Genesis 16:7. The Angel of the Lord finds Hagar; that presupposes he had sought her ( Deuteronomy 32:10).—God meets thee in thy desert; he comes to thee in thy conscience; he kindles in thee the sparks into a flame, and comes to thy help in his grace (Berleb. Bibel).—Islamism occupies incontestably the place of a middle link between revelation and heathenism; as even the Koran calls the Ishmaelites, an intermediate nation (Ziegler: it names it thus in another sense, however).—God tries us in such changes: comfort follows sorrow; hope succeeds to despondency; and life to death. (Portraiture of the Arabian, of the wild-ass. The Arabian = son of the morning— Judges 6:3; Judges 6:33; Judges 8:10).

Genesis 16:16. Moses records the age of Abram, that we might know how long he had to wait for Isaac the promised Song of Solomon, whom Sarai should bear (Calvin).—Passavant: Impatience.

Genesis 16:1-6. Ah, should God grant us our own way, permit us to order our present, to arrange our future, to adorn our houses, without consulting with him, it would be no good and joyful thing to us. Whoever has, as to his way, separated himself from him, and sought afar from him, without his Wisdom of Solomon, happiness, salvation, life, acts unwisely, wickedly. His light is obscure, his step uncertain, the ground trembles beneath him, and his lights (lamps) are soon extinguished in darkness.—The woman has learned, in Abram’s house, to recognize the God over all gods.—Schwenke: Genesis 16:7. She believes that her departure from the house of Abram would determine him to hasten after her and bring her back, etc. She sits down by the fountain, vainly waiting, until Abram should come to lead her home. Her pride is broken.—The call of the Angel.—That was the call of the good shepherd, who would bring back the wandering sheep. Thus even now the two peoples who received the promise, the descendants of Ishmael and Israel, stand as the monument of the divine veracity, as peculiar and even singular instances; guarding with the greatest care their nationality, practising their old customs and usages, and preserving, in their exclusiveness, their spiritual strength (destination?)

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Here, of course, her slave, bond-woman.—A. G.]

FN#2 - , shut me up.—A. G.]

FN#3 - Abram yields to the suggestion of Sarai without opposition, because, as the prophet Malachi says, ii15, he sought the seed promised by God. Keil, p152.—A. G.]

FN#4 - And it was this apparent indifference which probably was the source of Sarai’s sense of injury. She was led from it to suspect that the affections of her husband were transferred.—A. G.]

FN#5 - She felt that Abram ought to have redressed her wrong—ought to have seen and rebuked the insolence of the bond-woman.—A. G.]

FN#6 - The appeal is hasty and passionate—springing from a mind smarting under the sense of injury—and not calm and reverential.—A. G.]

FN#7 - The phraseology indicates to us a certain inherent plurality within the essence of the one only God, of which we have had previous indications, Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22. Jacobus, p277.]

FN#8 - All the modern travellers speak of these same qualities as still existing among the Arabs.—A. G.]

FN#9 - Kalisch remarks in substance: “Every addition to our knowledge of Arabia and its inhabitants, confirms more strongly the biblical statements. While they have carried their arms beyond their native tracts, and ascended more than a hundred thrones, they were never subjected to the Persian Empire. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings had only transitory power over small portions of their tribes. Here the ambition of Alexander the Great and his successors received an insuperable check, and a Roman expedition, in the time of Augustus, totally failed. The Bedouins have remained essentially unaltered since the time of the Hebrews and the Greeks.”—A. G.]

FN#10 - Amidst the variety of versions of these phrases, the general sense is obvious. There is a recognition of the gracious and quickening presence of God revealed to her, and a devout wonder that she should have been favored with such a vision. If we render the name which Hagar gives to Jehovah, as the Hebrew seems to demand, “Thou art a God of vision, or visibility,” i.e. who hast revealed thyself, then the reason for this name is given in the fact, that she had enjoyed this vision. This would be true, whether the surprise she expresses was because she survived the sight (vision), or because she here enjoyed such a vision at all. This fact also gives the name to the well—not the well of the living one seeing me, but of the living—and of course, life-giving, who here revealed himself.—It is true, that the Heb. ראי takes a different pointing in the 14 th verse, from that which it bears in the phrase rendered, “Thou God seest me;” but the sense given above seems, on the whole, most consistent, and is one which the words will bear.—A.G.]

FN#11 - A thousand volumes written against polygamy, would not lead to a clearer, fuller conviction, of the evils of that practice, than the story under review, Bush, Notes, p259.—A. G.]

FN#12 - This appears, too, in the answer which she makes to the question of the angel: Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai.—A. G.]

Copyright Statement
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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-16.html. 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

HUMAN EFFORT TO ACCOMPLISH GOD'S PROMISE

Though Abram was a man of faith, Sarai his wife had not borne children, and she weakened his faith by making a mere fleshly suggestion that he should use Sarai's bondmaid, Hagar, by whom to bear a child for Sarai (v.2). Abram's experience with the Lord in chapter 15 ought to have strengthened him to realize that God's promise was sure even though they had to wait so long for its fulfilment. As to the fulfilling of the promise, Abram did not have to resort to a means, not only merely human, but morally wrong. But he listened to the voice of Sarai rather than undividedly listening to the voice of God.

Sarai should surely have realized that a child born in this way would not be hers at all. Sarai could never be attached to the child in the same way that his mother would be. In fact, her giving her maid to Abram is expressed in verse 3 as giving her to Abram "as his wife." Therefore the child could not possibly belong to Sarai. Hagar knew this, and when she had conceived she despised Sarai because Hagar had achieved what Sarai could not. What could Sarai do now? She becomes so distressed that she blames Abram for her dilemma: "My wrong be upon you" (v.15). How much better it would have been if she had accepted the blame for her own mistake and humbled herself before the Lord to ask His forgiveness.

In blaming Abram for the situation that arose after Hagar's conception, Sarai asks that the Lord should judge between her and Abram, no doubt because she felt that Hagar was virtually robbing her of her husband. Abram did not remind her that the whole matter was her suggestion, but he made it clear to her that he had no intention of considering Hagar his wife. He tells Sarai that Hagar is her maid and she may do with her as she pleases. Sarai took advantage of this permission from Abram, and made life hard for Hagar, as countless numbers of employers have kept their employees in virtual misery by their cruel oppression. Understandably, Hagar became a runaway, not knowing where she was going, but going anyway.

But the Lord still had a good and kindly interest in Hagar. The angel of the Lord comes to her in her lonely distress as she is by a spring of water. At least she could find water, but it was a different matter to find food and shelter. The angel asked her where she had come from and where she would go. She could answer the first, but had no answer for the second. Though fleeing from her mistress, where could a pregnant woman go, specially when having no relatives or friends to contact?

There was only one course open to her, as the angel tells her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand." She was not only to return, but to cease from despising her mistress, and instead submit to her. A wrong attitude had made it hard for her: to change her attitude into one of submission would of course make Sarai's attitude more favorable toward her.

Then Hagar, though a bondmaid, is given the promise that the Lord would multiply her descendants so greatly that they would be more than could be counted. This is true: all of Ishmael's family (of Arabic descent) who have ever lived and are living today cannot possibly be numbered.

In these verses where the angel of the Lord is mentioned (vs.7,9,10) the angel is clearly the Lord Himself, for it is He who multiplies Abram's posterity. The term "angel" is used to signify a messenger, and Malachi 3:1 speaks of "the Lord whom you seek" as "the messenger of the covenant."

Though Hagar was not to be the mother of God's promised child to Abram, yet the Lord is interested in her and concerned about her and her expected child. He tells her that she is to name the child "Ishmael," meaning "God will hear" (v.11). However, the character of the boy would be consistent with the fact of his being born from a union of contrary parents, the father a free man but the mother a slave. Ishmael would be figuratively "a wild donkey of a man," self-willed and rebellious (v.12). He would be contentious, his hand against all other men, and of course they would therefore be against him. This had been one of the characteristics of the Arabs from that time, and their animosity will culminate in the violent attack of the king of the north against Israel in the tribulation period (Daniel 11:40). But it will be God's sovereign way of teaching Israel a lesson they sorely need (Isaiah 10:5-6). Consider also verse 12 of the same chapter. Abram learned by experience, and all this history teaches us that a wrong union leads to trouble and sorrow.

Added to this is the interesting statement, "he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." This is an intended contrast to his father Abram who made a practice of dwelling in the presence of God. Chapter 25:18 also tells us that Ishmael "died in the presence of all his brethren." Legality always places more importance upon the people and the opinions of the people than it does upon God and His word. Even in death a legal minded man does not abandon his desire for men's approval in order to make God the supreme object of his heart.

Hagar was so impressed by this intervention of God that she called Him "the God who sees." "For," she adds, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?" Not that she had seen God personally, but recognized Him in the words He had spoken to her, and was evidently subdued. Perhaps we cannot be fully sure if she was born again, but no-one can ever be the same again after having an interview with the Lord of glory. Usually such an experience either draws one nearer to Him or, if resisted, tends to harden the heart toward Him. The latter case does not seem to be true of Hagar.

The well seems to infer that she was in a good place, for typically it speaks of the refreshment of the living word of God, and this one is Beer-Lahai Roi, which means "the well of Him who sees me." Thus, though Hagar is typical of the legal covenant, it is not necessary to suppose that she was therefore personally without God. No doubt there were many in Old Testament times of whom we can not speak definitely as to their being born again, but we know that this is true even now, when there is fullest reason for a clear, positive knowledge of salvation, since Christ has come and brought eternal redemption through the great sacrifice of Himself The birth of Ishmael is recorded in verse 15 He is called Abram's son, not Sarai's.

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-16.html. 1897-1910.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/genesis-16.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

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!

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. "Concise Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/genesis-16.html. 1706.

C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch

Here we find unbelief casting its dark shadow across the spirit of Abraham, and again turning him aside, for a season, from the path of simple, happy confidence in God. "And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold the Lord hath restrained me from bearing." These words bespeak the usual impatience of unbelief; and Abraham should have treated them accordingly, and waited patiently on the Lord for the accomplishment of His gracious promise. The poor heart naturally prefers anything to the attitude of waiting. It will turn to any expedient — any scheme — any resource, rather than be kept in that posture. It is one thing to believe a promise, at the first, and quite another thing to wait quietly for the accomplishment thereof. We can see this distinction constantly, exemplified in a child. If I promise my child anything, he has no idea of doubting my word; but yet, I can detect the greatest possible restlessness and impatience in reference to the time and manner of accomplishment. And cannot the wisest sage find a true mirror in which to see himself reflected, in the conduct of a child? Truly so. Abraham exhibits faith, in Genesis 15:1-21 and yet he fails is patience, in Genesis 16:1-16. Hence the force and beauty of the apostle's word, in Hebrews 6:1-20, "followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." God makes a promise, faith believes it; hope anticipates it; patience waits quietly for it.

There is such a thing, in the commercial world, as "the present worth" of a bill or promissory note, for if men are called upon to wait for their money, they must he paid for waiting. Now, in faith's world, there is such a things as the present worth of God's promise; and the scale by which that worth is regulated, is the heart's experimental knowledge of God; for according to my estimate of God, will be my estimate of His promise; and moreover, the subdued and patient spirit finds its rich and full reward in waiting upon Him for the accomplishment of all that He has promised.

However, as to Sarah, the real amount of her word to Abraham is this, "the Lord has failed me; it may be, my Egyptian maid will prove a resource for me." Anything but God for a heart under the influence of unbelief. It is often truly marvellous to observe the trifles to which we will betake ourselves, when once we have lost the sense of God's nearness, His infallible faithfulness, and unfailing sufficiency. We lose that calm and well-balanced condition of soul, so essential to the proper testimony of the man of faith; and, just like other people, betake ourselves to any or every expedient, in order to reach the wished-for end, and call that "a laudable use of means."

But it is a bitter thing to take ourselves out of the place of absolute dependence upon God. The consequences must be disastrous. Had Sarah said, 'Nature has failed me, but God is my resource,' how different it would have been! This would have been her proper ground; for nature really had failed her. But, then, it was nature in one shape, and therefore she wished to try nature in another. She had not learnt to look away from nature in every shape. In the judgement of God, and of faith, nature in Hagar was no better than nature in Sarah. Nature, whether old or young, is alike to God; and, therefore, alike to faith; but, ah! we are only in the power of this truth when we are experimentally finding our living centre in God Himself. When the eye is taken off that Glorious Being, we are ready for the meanest device of unbelief. It is only when we are consciously leaning on the only true, the only wise, the living God, that we are enabled to look away from every creature stream. It is not that we shall despise God's instrumentality. By no means. To do so would be recklessness and not faith. Faith values the instrument, not because of itself, but because of Him who uses it. Unbelief looks only at the instrument, and judges of the success of a matter by the apparent efficiency thereof, instead of by the sufficiency of Him who, in grace, uses it. Like Saul, who, when he looked at David, and then looked at the Philistine, said, "thou are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for thou art but a youth." Yet the question in David's heart was not as to whether he was able, but whether Jehovah was able.

The path of faith is a very simple and a very narrow one. It neither deifies the means, on the one hand, nor despises it, on the other. It simply values it, so far as it is evidently God's means, and no further. There is a vast difference between God's using the creature to minister to me, and my using it to shut Him out. This difference is not sufficiently attended to. God used the ravens to minister to Elijah, but Elijah did not use them to exclude God. If the heart be really trusting in God, it will not trouble itself about His means. It waits on Him, in the sweet Assurance that by what means soever He pleases, He will bless, He will minister, He will provide.

Now, in the case before us, in this chapter, it is evident that Hagar was not God's instrument for the accomplishment of His promise to Abraham. He had promised a son, no doubt, but He had not said that this son would be Hagar's; and, in point of fact, we find from the narrative, that both Abraham and Sarah "multiplied their sorrow," by having recourse to Hagar; for "when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes." This was but the beginning of those multiplied sorrows, which flowed from hastening after nature's resources. Sarah's dignity was trampled down by an Egyptian bond-woman, and she found herself in the place of weakness and contempt. The only true place of dignity and power is the place of felt weakness and dependence. There is no one so entirely independent of all around, as the man who is really walking by faith, and waiting only upon God; but the moment a child of God makes himself a debtor to nature or the world, he loses his dignity, and will speedily be made to feel his loss. It is no easy task to estimate the loss sustained by diverging, in the smallest measure, from the path of faith. No doubt, all those who walk in that path will find trial and exercise; but one thing is certain, that the blessings and joys which peculiarly belong to them are infinitely more than a counterpoise; whereas, when they turn aside, they have to encounter far deeper trial, and nought but that.

"And Sarai said, My wrong be upon thee." When we act wrong, we are, oft-times, prone to lay the blame on some one else. Sarah was only reaping the fruit of her own proposal, and yet she says to Abraham, "My wrong be upon thee;" and then, with Abraham's permission, she seeks to get rid of the trial which her own impatience had brought upon her. "But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarah dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face." This will not do. "The bond-woman" cannot be got rid of by hard treatment. When we make mistakes, and find ourselves called upon to encounter the results thereof, we cannot counteract those results by carrying ourselves with a high hand. We frequently try this method, but we are sure to make matters worse thereby. If we have done wrong, we should humble ourselves and confess the wrong, and wait on God for deliverance. But there was nothing like this manifested in Sarah's case. Quite the reverse. There is no sense of having done wrong; and, so far from waiting on God for deliverance, she seeks to deliver herself in her own way. However, it will always be found that every effort which we make to rectify our errors, previous to the full confession thereof, only tends to render our path more difficult. Thus Hagar had to return, and give birth to her son, which son proved to be not the child of promise at all, but a very great trial to Abraham and his house, as we shall see in the sequel.

Now, we should view all this in a double aspect: first, as teaching us a direct practical principle of much value; and secondly, in a doctrinal point of view. And, first, as to the direct, practical teaching, we may learn that when, through the unbelief of our hearts, we make mistakes, it is not all in a moment, nor yet by our own devices, we can remedy them. Things must take their course. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." This is an unalterable principle, meeting us, again and again, on the page of inspiration, and also on the page of our personal history. Grace forgives the sin and restores the soul, but that which is sown must be reaped. Abraham and Sarah had to endure the presence of the bond-woman and her son for a number of years, and, then, get rid of them in God's way. There is peculiar blessedness in leaving ourselves in God's hands. Had Abraham and Sarah done so, on the present occasion, they would never have been troubled with the presence of the bond-woman and her son; but, having made themselves debtors to nature, they had to endure the consequences. But, alas! we are often "like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke," when it would be our exceeding comfort to "behave and quiet ourselves as a child that is weaned of his mother." No two figures can be more opposite than a stubborn bullock and a weaned child. The former represents person senselessly struggling under the yoke of circumstances, and rendering his yoke all the more galling by his efforts to get rid of it; the latter represents one meekly bowing his hand to everything, and rendering his portion all the sweeter, by entire subjection of spirit.

And, now, as to the doctrinal view of this chapter. We are authorised to look at Hagar and her son, as figures of the covenant of works, and all who are thereby brought into bondage. (Galatians 4:22-25) "The flesh" is, in this important passage, contrasted with "promise;" and thus we not only get the divine idea as to what the term "flesh" implies, but also as to Abraham's effort to obtain the seed by means of Hagar, instead of resting in God's "promise." The two covenants are allegorised by Hagar and Sarah, and are diametrically opposite the one to the other. The one gendering to bondage, inasmuch as it raised the question as to man's competency "to do" and "not to do," and made life entirely dependent upon that competency. "The man that doeth these things shall live in them." This was the Hagar-covenant. But the Sarah-covenant reveals God as the God of promise, which promise is entirely independent of man, and founded upon God's willingness and ability to fulfil it. When God makes a promise, there is no "if' attached thereto. He makes it unconditionally, and is resolved to fulfil it; and faith rests in Him, in perfect liberty of heart. It needs no effort of nature to reach the accomplishment of A divine promise. Here was, precisely, where Abraham and Sarah failed. They made an effort of nature to reach a certain end, which end was absolutely secured by a promise of God. This is the grand mistake of unbelief. By its restless activity, it raises a hazy mist around the soul, which hinders the beams of the divine glory from reaching. "He could there do no mighty works, because of their unbelief." One great characteristic virtue of faith is, that it ever leaves the platform clear for God to show Himself; and truly, when He shows Himself, man must take the place of a happy worshipper.

The error into which the Galatians allowed themselves to be drawn, was the addition of something of nature to what Christ had already accomplished for them by the cross. The gospel which had been preached to them, and which they had received, was the simple presentation of God's absolute, unqualified, and unconditional grace. "Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth crucified among them." This was not merely promise divinely made, but promise divinely and most gloriously accomplished. A crucified Christ settled everything, in reference both to God's claims and man's necessities. But the false teachers upset all this, or sought to upset it, by saying, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." This, as the apostle teaches them, was, in reality, "making Christ of none effect." Christ must either be a whole Saviour, or no Saviour at all. the moment a man says, "except ye he this or that, ye cannot be saved," he totally subverts Christianity ; for in Christianity I find God coming down to me, just as I am, a lost, guilty, self-destroyed sinner; and coming, moreover, with a full remission of all my sins, and a full salvation from my lost estate, all perfectly wrought by Himself on the cross.

Hence, therefore, a man who tells me, "you must be so and so, in order to be saved," robs the cross of all its glory, and robs me of all my peace. If salvation depends upon our being or doing ought, we shall, inevitably, be lost. Thank God, it does not; for the great fundamental principle of the gospel is, that God is ALL — man is NOTHING. It is not a mixture of God and man. It is all of God. The peace of the gospel does not repose, in part, on Christ's work;, and, in part, on man's work; it reposes wholly on Christ's work, because that work is perfect — perfect for ever; and it renders all who put their trust in it as perfect as itself.

Under the law, God, as it were, stood still to see what man could do; but, in the gospel, God is seen acting, and as for man, he has but to "stand still and see the salvation of God." This being so, the inspired apostle hesitates not to say to the Galatians, "Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by law, (en nomo,) ye are fallen from grace." If man has anything to do in the matter, God is shut out; and if God is shut out, there can be no salvation, for it is impossible that man can work out a salvation by that which proves him a lost creature; and then if it be a question of grace, it must be all grace. It cannot be half grace, half law. The two covenants are perfectly distinct. It cannot be half Sarah and half Hagar. It must be either the one or the other. If it be Hagar, God has nothing to do with it; and if it be Sarah, man has nothing to do with it. Thus it stands throughout. The law addresses man, tests him, sees what he is really worth, proves him a ruin, and puts him under the curse; and not only puts him under it, but keeps him there, so long as he is occupied with it so long as he is alive. "The law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth;" but when he is dead, its dominion necessarily ceases, so far as he is concerned, though it still remains in full force to curse every living man.

The gospel, on the contrary, assuming man to be lost ruined, dead, reveals God as He is — the Saviour of the lost — the Pardoner of the guilty — the Quickener of the dead. It reveals Him, not as exacting ought from man; (for what could be expected from one who has died a bankrupt) but as exhibiting His own independent grace in redemption. This makes a material difference and will account for the extraordinary strength of the language employed in the Epistle to the Galatians: "I marvel" — "Who hath bewitched you" — "I am afraid of you" — "I stand in doubt of you" — "I would they were even cut off that trouble you." This is the language of the Holy Ghost, who knows the value of a full Christ, and a full salvation; and who also knows how essential the knowledge of both is to a lost sinner. We have no such language as this in any other epistle; not even in that to the Corinthians, although there were some of the grossest disorders to be corrected amongst them. all human failure and error can be corrected by bringing in God's grace; but the Galatians, like Abraham in this chapter, were going away from God, and returning to the flesh. What remedy could be devised for this? How can yon correct an error which consists in departing from that which alone can correct anything? To fall from grace, is to get back under the law, from which nothing can ever be reaped but "the curse." May the Lord establish our hearts in His own most excellent grace!

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Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/nfp/genesis-16.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And the angel of Yahweh said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit yourself to her hands.” ’

That is the human side. She must acknowledge her status and do what is right accordingly. But in return her future is guaranteed.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/genesis-16.html. 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Sarah has no children, so she hits on a plan of which we have other examples (Genesis 30:3; Genesis 30:9). She hands over Hagar to Abraham, that the maid may compensate for the deficiency of her mistress. The maid is the wife's peculiar property, and therefore not, like ordinary slaves, at the master's disposal. Nor, presumably, would Abraham's child by one of his slaves have been a legitimate son. It is through the connexion between mistress and maid that Hagar's child can be reckoned as Sarah's. Hagar succeeds, and shows in her bearing the contempt of an Eastern woman for the barren. Stung by her maid's insolence, Sarah turns upon Abraham and hotly demands redress for a "wrong" she had herself invited. He meekly abandons the maid, who had now a claim on his protection, to the vindictiveness of his unreasonable wife, who handles Hagar so harshly that she is driven to escape. But Yahweh's angel finds her by a well in the desert. He appears in visible form, and at first she is unaware of His nature. He knows her name and her situation, He recognises the injustice that has justified her flight (Genesis 16:11). He comforts her with the promise of a son, who shall dwell in the desert with all the wild ass's splendid freedom (Job 39:5-8), boldly confronting all his neighbours and scorning alliance with them. The angel vanishes, and there bursts on Hagar a sense of His Divine nature. God is normally invisible, the sight of Him brings death, she has seen Him and lives (Judges 6:23; Judges 13:22 f.); He, too, has seen her and marked her wrongs. Hence the well bears its name, Beer-lahai-roi. Genesis 16:15 f. gives P's account of Ishmael's birth when his father was eighty-six.

Genesis 16:1. Hagar probably means "flight," and the name may have suggested the story. It is used for the Hagarenes or Hagarites (E. of Gilead) (Psalms 83:6, 1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 27:31). The rendering "Egyptian" is probably correct, though Winckler and others have thought Hagar belonged to a N. Arabian land called Musri.

Genesis 16:7. the angel of the Lord: originally, when there was a Divine manifestation, the Deity Himself was thought to appear; when this was felt to be objectionable, His angel was substituted. But the language vacillates between identification with Yahweh and distinction from Him; cf. Exodus 23:20-23, Judges 2:1; Judges 6:11-23; Judges 13:3-23.—Shut: may be a border fortress at NE of Egypt.

Genesis 16:12. The author sketches the character of the Bedouin. Ishmael is "a wild ass of a man," unbroken by servitude, disdaining the yoke of civilisation. What it is among animals Ishmael will be among men.

Genesis 16:13 b, Apparently corrupt. Read, with Wellhausen, "Have I seen God and lived after my seeing." (‘ĕlohîm for hătom and wâ'ehi before ahărç). El roi, "god of seeing" means presumably God who is seen, as well as God who sees.

Genesis 16:14. Beer-lahai-roi (p. 100) seems to mean, "The well of the living one who seeth me" (mg.). Michaelis suggested that we should read lehi, "jaw-bone" (cf. Judges 15:15-20). Wellhausen suggested further that "roi" was an obsolete name of an animal, probably an antelope, and supposed that the name "Lehi-roi," "antelope's jawbone," was originally given to a series of rocky teeth near the well, and that a misunderstanding of the name gave rise to the story.—Kadesh: Genesis 14:7*.—Bored: unknown. The well is perhaps ‘Ain-Muw-eileh, 12 miles W. of Kadesh.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-16.html. 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Gen . Dealt hardly.] Heb. Afflicted her. The word is too strong to indicate merely the employment of sharp and reproachful expressions; acts of oppression are intended.

Gen . The angel of the Lord.] This remarkable title occurs here for the first time in the O.T. Here it is evidently to be understood of God Himself. (Gen 16:13.) God, who is Himself invisible, visited her under the appearance of an angel, the Angel of the Covenant—the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity who has ever manifested God to men. Alford regards this identity as probable, but not to be held as an ascertained fact:—"We know who it is that is the shining out of the Father's glory, and the expressed stamp of His Deity (Heb 1:3), even the Divine Word, who is the Declaration of the Father to man. (Joh 1:18; Joh 14:9.) But the more we feel this in our hearts, the more lightly and reverently should such thoughts be touched. It has not pleased God positively to declare to us that it was the Divine Son who was present in these Divine appearances, and therefore we should not on our parts positively declare, nor build systems upon it." Shur. "Hagar seems to have made her way towards Egypt, as if aiming to return thither. Her route lay from Hebron, through the wilderness of Shur, which stretched from the south-west corner of Palestine to the head of the Red Sea. There is a caravan road through this wilderness or desert to this day." (Jacobus.)

Gen . Submit thyself.] Heb. Humble, or afflict thyself. This is the same word which occurs in Gen 16:6, and is there rendered "dealt hardly with."

Gen . I will multiply thy seed exceedingly.] Heb. Multiplying, I will multiply thy seed. Thus the Angel claims to be God.

Gen . A son.] "The hope of a Hebrew household lay in the son, as the representative of the family name, and the protector and perpetuator of the family line. A daughter was held in small estimation among the Orientals." (Jacobus.) Ishmael. Heb. God will hear; or as it is interpreted immediately, God hath heard. The L

XX. has, God hath given heed to thy affliction. The Chal. Hath received thy prayer. Targ. Jon. Thine affliction is revealed before the Lord. This is the first instance of a name being given by Divine direction before birth.

Gen . A wild man.] Heb. A wild ass man. Targ. Onk. A wild ass among men. "The raving fierceness of the wild ass of the desert is described. (Job 6:5; Job 24:5; Job 39:5; Job 39:8; Psa 104:11; Isa 32:14.) The A.V., by omitting the central word in the sentence, loses altogether the point in the prophecy." (Alford.) His hand will be against every man, and, every man's hand against him. As this could not be literally true of any individual man, we must have here the prophetic description of a race. The Ishmaelites (whose representatives are the modern Arabs) were and still are noted for their frequent quarrels amongst themselves. One of their national proverbs is, "In the desert everyone is everyone's enemy." And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. The Heb. for "dwell" signifies "to dwell in tents." This is still the manner of life of a portion of the Arab tribes. In the presence of is interpreted by Delitzsch as rather meaning to the east of, but Kalisch, and other commentators, render as in the text, and understand it as describing "the wide and almost indefinite extent of territories through which the Bedouins roam, so that they seem to be everywhere before the eyes of their brethren." (Alford.)

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Gen

PROVIDENCE AND THE OUTCAST

Hagar chooses rather to brave the dangers of the wilderness than to remain any longer under the tyranny of her mistress. She undertakes a wild journey, insensible to the real dangers which lay before her. The extremity of her misery is God's opportunity. His Providence interfered to comfort and console—that Providence which does not desert even the outcast and the miserable.

I. Providence finds them. "And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness. (Gen .) God brought help to this fugitive and outcast by the ministry of an angel, and He still interferes on behalf of such though the agencies of His Providence are unseen.

1. There are occasions in human life when the Providence of God specially manifests itself. The care and concern of God for His creatures is watchful and constant. Infinite power cannot be wearied, nor can infinite skill pause in its designs through perplexity. The action of God towards His creatures never intermits. But from our point of view, there are times when God's providential interference is distinctly manifest. This happens usually in the season of great trouble, when we are driven to our wits' end. When all human resources fail we obtain a more distinct view of the operation of God. By the checks to our happiness in this life we are taught that there is a Power above us. Providence is sure to find us at some time or other of our lives.

2. That Providence finds us for a purpose of mercy. Hagar was now at her worst estate, in the most lonely and miserable condition, on the point of perishing in the wilderness. God revealed Himself, not as the lightning's flash reveals the awfulness of a shipwreck, but in order to show His tenderness and compassion. He had "heard her affliction," and sent His angel to comfort and console. In all our wanderings God finds us to the end that He might bring us back to Himself.

3. That Providence is minute in its care and knowledge. The angel calls Hagar by name; asks her questions, not for information, but to draw out her honest reply, and to produce the feeling that she was specially cared for. (Gen .) We think of all the departments of Providence as classes of things and persons over which God exercises care and dominion. It is a necessity of our mind to view the subject in this way, for our knowledge of individuals and particulars is limited. For the convenience of our thought we include much in our words, but the impressions made upon our minds are thereby less vivid. There is no such infirmity with infinite knowledge. God is under no necessity to conceive of persons and things as great wholes, but knows perfectly and intimately all the parts of which they are composed. He calleth the stars by their names. It is difficult for us to believe in this special knowledge and care of God for us, His dominion being so wide and long, extending over all time and space. Hence the necessity of revealed religion to teach us that God's government over all His creatures is not a heartless routine, but proceeds upon an exact knowledge of the condition and wants of each. Without this faith we should feel ourselves but at the mercy of a ponderous machine, whose wheels would crush us if we could not get out of their way. Man, in his misery, might utter a complaint against ruthless force, but could appeal to no heart of compassion, nor behold an eye of regard and pity turned upon him. God's voice must be heard within the soul in tones of mercy, or else the greatness of His majesty would make us afraid. As the telescope shows us God's attention to the infinitely great, so the microscope shows us His care for the infinitely small. It is one of the purposes of revelation to teach us the personal interest which God takes in us. Hence Christ is the Shepherd "who calleth His own sheep by name." (Joh 10:3.)

II. Providence teaches them. All the ways of God with men are for the purpose of enlightening them with the light of the living. They are intended to impart to us, not that kind of knowledge which satisfies curiosity, but that which is needful to correct our sinful courses, and to teach us our duty.

1. Lessons of reproof. "And He said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence comest thou? and whither wilt thou go?" (Gen .) Thus the folly of our own ways is brought home to us, and the dark suggestion of a future, hiding in it unknown troubles, is forced upon our mind. "Whither wilt thou go?" When the past and the future like two gulfs overwhelm us, then is the time to give ear to God if haply we may hear some words of mercy and hope. In all God's reproofs of our way wardness and folly, conscience approves. "And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai." However we may be pained at them, or rebel against them, we know that the chidings of God are just and right, and that sin must end in our destruction.

2. Lessons of instruction and guidance. Hagar was told to return to her mistress and submit herself under her hands. (Gen .) Thus it is only in the humble ways of duty that we can fulfil God's pleasure and serve Him. If we have quitted the place of duty, or the place of religious privileges, we must return. Though in such a lot there is much that is unpleasant, and that we would gladly avoid, yet this is our calling of God, and we forsake it at our peril. The Church of God is a home for the lonely and the wanderer.

III. Providence inspires hope in them. Hagar was informed by the Angel that she should be the mother of a numerous race, which was destined to act an important part in the history of mankind. The very name of the son which was to be born to her was to preserve the memory of God's gracious dealings with her. (Gen .) God cannot impart to us the future in the present, but He gives us what is next to it, that principle of hope which links the present with the future. Thus our soul is sustained amidst the varied trials of life, and we are kept in the attitude of waiting upon God. Without hope in the future, Providence would be a dark enigma. We take refuge in the thought of that goodness which God has laid up for us when we are oppressed by the apparent exceptions to His goodness here. All are not called to the same kind of destiny to which Hagar was appointed. It is given but to the few to act the part of principals in the affairs of human history. But God deals with all so as to give them an interest in the future. No soul can listen to God's voice and obey His will without being inspired by an unquenchable hope which gives it an interest in all that eternal ages shall unfold.

1. The lowest and most despised have some purpose of Providence to serve. God has His plan concerning them also, and they are needed to work out the great designs of His will. They are called to answer some wise and worthy end. God does not design that the life of any creature made in His own image should be aimless. The thought that we have some Divine purpose to serve should inspire us with the hope that a great future is reserved for us. Until God's plan concerning the human race is completed it is impossible for us to estimate the real importance of single lives, however humble they may be in the ordinary view of mankind.

2. All who have consciously felt the action of a Divine Providence have some memorial of God's goodness. Hagar was commanded to give her son a name which was ever to preserve the memory of God's compassion in her misery. If we have been made to feel that there is a Divine Providence over our lives, we can recount such instances. God has heard our affliction, and calls us to the inheritance of a noble future. The Angel of the Covenant met Hagar and announced the destined purpose of her life; and Christ now meets the sinner, apprehends him as He did St. Paul, so that he, too, may apprehend the purpose of his calling.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

Gen . The Lord finds sinners when they lose themselves.

Egypt, to which Hagar was fleeing, was the representative of the world kingdom. The Angel of the Covenant still arrests sinners while they are on their way to join His enemies. Thus Saul was met while he was bent on his journey to persecute the saints.

Christ often finds human souls, and brings them to Himself, when this world becomes a desert to them and no earthly hope is left.

Abram and his wife were of the family of God—the Church that then was. The Church has, through mistaken zeal, persecuted men and made them outcasts and wanderers. But this cannot shut such out from the Divine mercy and regard.

There are junctures in our lives where God's Providence manifestly crosses our path. It is as if an angel met us. In the wilderness the fugitive meets with a better friend. She wanders on in her solitary way, weary of the heat and toil of travel, and half repenting of the hasty step she had taken. At last she sits down beside one of the fountains of water which, with their little spots of freshness around them, form the grateful resting places for the worn and fainting traveller in the desert, as the burning sun beats upon his aching head, or the shades of evening invite his exhausted limbs to rest. There, as she meditates at leisure and alone, the excitement of angry strife having passed away, many bitter thoughts crowd upon her mind. The pride which sustained her is gone, and her spirit is mortified and tamed. She cannot now find support in justifying herself and blaming others. Her heart is beginning to yearn towards the home in which she has dwelt so long in peace, and which, for all that had passed, might still, through God's mercy, and the mutual forgiveness and forbearance of His erring servants, have proved to her a refuge of holy tranquillity and repose. While feelings like these are swelling her bosom and dimming her eye, a heavenly stranger unexpectedly stands beside her, and a heavenly voice reaches her ear. Trained in the household of one familiar with such divine fellowship, Hagar easily recognises the Angel of the Lord; the Being of whose visits she has heard her master speak.—(Candlish.)

The angel of the Lord finds Hagar; that pre-supposes he had sought her (Deu ). God meets thee in thy desert; He comes to thee in thy conscience; He kindles in thee the sparks into a flame, and comes to thy help in His grace.—(Lange.)

Gen . When Hagar found her name familiarly called by One who knew her state and occupation, and the purposes of her mind, she must have been impressed that the voice which had spoken to her was more than mortal. When we hear a voice within telling us what we are, and convincing us of the folly of going on in our own way, we know that God has spoken to us.

In calling Hagar "Sarai's maid," he seems tacitly to disallow of the marriage, and to lead her mind back to that humble character which she had formerly sustained. The questions put to her were close, but tender, and such as were fitly addressed to a person fleeing from trouble. The first might be answered, and was answered: "I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai." But with respect to the last, she is silent. We know our present grievances, and so can tell "whence we came" much better than our future lot, or "whither we are going." In many cases, if the truth were spoken, the answer would be, From bad to worse. At present this poor young woman seems to have been actuated by mere natural principles, those of fleeing from misery. In all her trouble there appears nothing like true religion, or committing her way to the Lord: yet she is sought out of Him whom she sought not.—(Fuller.)

By nature we are homeless, and wandering in uncertainty; it is a turning point in our moral history when we can put the question to ourselves, From whence have we come, and whither are we going. Like the prodigal, we have left our Father's house, and we can have no true peace or joy till we return thither.

When God's light shines in upon us, conscience answers faithfully; and though we may be alarmed, yet we need not be dismayed; for that light, though revealing, is kindly.

God never questions us to increase the misery of our condition, but to bring us back to Himself.

She recognises her old and true relation to her "mistress Sarai." This would indicate some softening of her spirit, left, as she was, to her reflection, and cast out upon that dreary desert alone, and now also met by the Covenant Angel, who was ready to counsel her, and to do her good. If her heart was now humbled so as to own her mistress, and cease her proud boasting over her, why might she not return? She would probably have perished on the route of weariness and thirst.—(Jacobus.)

Gen . The injunction of the angel to Hagar was to return and submit. The reason was, that she had done wrong in despising her mistress, and by her exposure in endangering the fruit of her womb, and now she must be humbled for it. Hard as this might appear, it was the counsel of wisdom and mercy. A connection with the people of God, with all their faults, is preferable to the best of this world where God is unknown. If we have done wrong, whatever temptations or provocations we have met with, the only way to peace and happiness is to retrace our footsteps in repentance and submission.—(Bush.)

Religion does not place us above the duties arising from the social relationships of human life.

It is in the humble ways of duty that we can best glorify God. It is enough if we are faithful in that which is least. We should resist the temptation of seeking large places and occasions in which to do our duty.

The angel, in commanding Hagar to return to duty, virtually promised her support and favour under it. All God's commands are really promises to those who obey them. Therefore, we should not hesitate to follow at God's command, though the prospect may seem uninviting.

Abram was to become a blessing to Hagar as he had been to Lot (ch. 12). It is best for us to dwell with those whom God has appointed to minister to us spiritual good.

The household of God on earth is not perfect. The operations of divine grace are here complicated with human passion and infirmity. Still, this is the place of our greatest safety, and where our souls can thrive best.

The Angel of the Covenant is still inviting wanderers home—calling them out of the wilderness of this world into His own chosen family. It is when we are toiling and labouring for very vanity, with nothing but the wildest chances before us, that He invites us to come to Him.

God's favourable time for speaking to our souls often is in the time of our affliction, when the desert is about us, and every other voice is hushed.

When God appears, it is not for the end that He might gratify our curiosity, but to instruct us in the humble tasks of duty.

Gen . In God's gracious dealings with mankind comfort follows counsel.

The angel-speaker here adopts a style suited only to the Deity, and for Hagar's encouragement, gives her grounds to expect a portion of Abram's blessing, of which she must often have heard—viz., a numerous offspring. This was the prompting of Divine benignity; for it is clear that the language of absolute authority might have been used without any intermingling of gracious promises; but God delights rather to win than to compel the hearts of His people into the ways of obedience.—(Bush.)

It was in God's plan to increase the family of Abram in the Iśhmael branch for Abram's sake. This son is to be trained in the family of the patriarch in order to be capable of obtaining the measure of blessing reserved for him. Here is a memorial in his very name of that Divine interposition to which his life, first and last, would be due. And whether Hagar distinctly prayed to God or not, He heard her groans and sighs, and came to her relief for the Covenant's sake.—(Jacobus.)

This is the first instance of a name given by Divine direction before birth, though many such instances occur hereafter. It is remarkable that God is not said to have heard her prayer, for it does not appear that she had yet called upon His name. She merely sat bewailing herself, as not knowing what to do. Yet, lo, the ear of mercy is open to what we may term the silent voice of affliction itself. The groans of the prisoner are heard of God, not only theirs who cry unto Him, but, in many cases, theirs who do not. See a parallel case (Gen ).—(Bush.)

God is pleased with such memorials as cause us to remember His mercy.

Gen . Nations of the most diverse character owe their origin alike to the will of Providence.

Those nations which have become the plagues of mankind may yet boast of manifest instances of God's mercy.

The descendants of Ishmael have been for ages the enemies and tormentors of the Church of God. They have oppressed its children and retarded its progress. Thus the worldly policy of Abram has spread itself out disastrously in human history.

He will be a wild ass which is fierce, untractable, and untameable. And such by nature is every mother's child of us (Job ) "a wild ass's colt." An ass is none of the wisest of creatures, much less an ass's colt; least of all, a wild ass's colt. Lo, such is man.—(Trapp.)

Their character drawn by the pen of inspiration (Job ), exactly corresponds with this view of their dispositions and conduct. Savage and stubborn as the wild ass, which inhabits the same wilderness, they go forth on the horse or the dromedary, with inconceivable swiftness in quest of their prey. Initiated in the trade of a robber from their earliest years, they know no other employment; they choose it as the business of their life, and prosecute it with unwearied activity. They start before the dawn to invade the village or the caravan; make their attack with desperate courage and surprising rapidity; and plunging instantly into the desert, escape from the vengeance of their enemies. Provoked by their continual insults, the nations of ancient and modern times have often invaded their country with powerful armies, determined to extirpate, or, at least, to subdue them to their yoke; but they always return baffled and disappointed. The savage freebooters, disdaining every idea of submission, with invincible patience and resolution maintained their independence; and they have transmitted it unimpared to the present times. In spite of all their enemies can do to restrain them, they continue to dwell in the presence of all their brethren, and to assert their right to insult and plunder everyone they meet with on the borders or within the limits of their domains.—(Paxton.)

Every addition to our knowledge of Arabia and its inhabitants confirms more strongly the Biblical statements. These Ishmaelites became formidable in history under the name of Saracens. They marched out to curb the world to their dominion, and to force the nations to their faith; they inundated Persia, the districts east of the Caspian Sea and India; they carried their victorious arms into Syria and Egypt and the interior of Africa; they occupied Spain and Portugal, Sicily and Sardinia, and have beyond their native tracts ascended more than a hundred thrones. Although they sent presents of incense to Persia, and of cattle to Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, they were never subjected to the Persian empire. They are expressly mentioned as independent allies. Nor had the Assyrian and Babylonian kings more than transitory power over small portions of their tribes. Here the ambition of Alexander the Great and of his successors received an insuperable check, and a Roman expedition in the time of Augustus totally failed. The Bedouins have remained essentially unaltered since the time of the Hebrews and the Greeks.—(Kalisch.)

God has provided that the separate existence and persistent characteristics of some nations shall be a standing witness to the truth of the early records of Revelation. The Bible has rich evidence in the external facts of human life, as well as in the native excellence and force of its spiritual truths. For upwards of four thousand years has this prophetic voice been made audible to mankind in the history of this people. How lasting is the Word of God!

Those of an alien faith and nation may still be our brethren, for they too can speak of mercies from a common Father.

Before the eyes of civilised nations God has provided evidences of His faithfulness through many generations.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/genesis-16.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

Reader! I entreat you to remark with me, the peculiarity of the expression. The angel doth not promise in another's name, as would certainly have been the case had he been a created angel, but in his own. He saith, I will multiply thy seed, etc. And who then could this be but the Angel of the Covenant, even the Lord Jesus Christ. See Malachi 3:1. It is very gratifying to the true believer in Jesus, to discover the Lord in places where we least expected him.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/genesis-16.html. 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/genesis-16.html. 1857.

Scofield's Reference Notes

angel (See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4").

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Genesis 16:9". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/genesis-16.html. 1917.

The Biblical Illustrator

BIRTH OF ISHMAEL

Genesis 16:1-16

IN this unpretending chapter we have laid bare to us the origin of one of the most striking facts in the history of religion: namely, that from the one person of Abram have sprung Christianity and that religion which has been and still is its most formidable rival and enemy, Mohammedanism. To Ishmael, the son of Abram, the Arab tribes are proud to trace their pedigree. Through him they claim Abram as their father, and affirm that they are his truest representatives, the sons of his first-born. In Mohammed, the Arabian, they see the fulfilment of the blessing of Abram, and they have succeeded in persuading a large part of the world to believe along with them. Little did Sarah think when she persuaded Abram to take Hagar that she was originating a rivalry which has run with keenest animosity through all ages and which oceans of blood have not quenched. The domestic rivalry and petty womanish spites and resentments so candidly depicted in this chapter, have actually thrown on the world from that day to this one of its darkest and least hopeful shadows. The blood of our own countrymen, it may be of our own kindred, will yet flow in this unappeasable quarrel. So great a matter does a little fire kindle. So lasting and disastrous are the issues of even slight divergences from pure simplicity.

It is instructive to observe how long this matter of obtaining an heir for Abram occupies the stage of sacred history and in how many aspects it is shown. The stage is rapidly cleared of whatever else might naturally have invited attention, and interest is concentrated on the heir that is to be. The risks run by the appointed mother, the doubts of the father, the surrender now of the mother’s rights, -all this is trivial if it concerned only one household, important only when you view it as significant for the race. It was thus men were taught thoughtfully to brood upon the future and to believe that, though Divine, blessing and salvation would spring from earth: man was to co-operate with God, to recognise himself as capable of uniting with God in the highest of all purposes. At the same time, this long and continually deferred expectation of Abram was the simple means adopted by God to convince men once for all that the promised seed is not of nature but of grace, that it is God who sends all effectual and determining blessing, and that we must learn to adapt ourselves to His ways and wait upon Him.

The first man, then, whose religious experience and growth are recorded for us at any length, has this one thing to learn, to trust God’s word and wait for it. In this everything is included. But gradually it appears to us all that this is the great difficulty, to wait; to let God take His own time to bless us. It is hard to believe in God’s perfect love and care when we are receiving no present comfort or peace; hard to believe we shall indeed be sanctified when we seem to be abandoned to sinful habit; hard, to pass all through life with some pain, or some crushing trouble, or some harassing anxiety, or some unsatisfied craving. It is easy to start with faith, most trying to endure patiently to the end. It is thus God educates His children. Compelled to wait for some crowning gift, we cannot but study God’s ways, It is thus we are forced to look below the surface of life to its hidden meanings and to construe God’s dealings with ourselves apart from the experience of other men. It is thus we are taught actually to loosen our hold of things temporal and to lay hold on what is spiritual and real. He who leaves himself in God’s hand will one day declare that the pains and sorrows he suffered were trifling in comparison with what he has won from them.

But Sarah could not wait. She seems to have fixed ten years as the period during which she would wait; but at the expiry of this term she considered herself justified in helping forward God’s tardy providence by steps of her own. One cannot severely blame her. When our hearts are set upon some definite blessing things seem to move too slowly, and we can scarcely refrain from urging them on without too scrupulously enquiring into the character of our methods. We are willing to wait for a certain time, but beyond that we must take the matter into our own hand. This incident shows, what all life shows, that whatever be the boon you seek, you do yourself an injury if you cease to seek it in the best possible form and manner, and decline upon some lower thing which you can secure by some easy stratagem of your own.

The device suggested by Sarah was so common that the wonder is that it had not long before been tried. Jealousy or instinctive reluctance may have prevented her from putting it in force. She might no doubt have understood that God, always working out His purposes in consistency with all that is most honourable and pure in human conduct, requires of no one to swerve a hair’s-breadth from the highest ideal of what a human life should be, and that just in proportion as we seek the best gifts and the most upright and pure path to them does God find it easy to bless us. But in her case it was difficult to continue in this belief; and at length she resolved to adopt the easy and obvious means of obtaining an heir. It was unbelieving and foolish, but not more so than our adoption of practices common in our day and in our business which we know are not the best, but which we nevertheless make use of to obtain our ends because the most righteous means possible do not seem workable in our circumstances. Are you not conscious that you have sometimes used a means of effecting your purpose, which you would shrink from using habitually, but which you do not scruple to use to tide you over a difficulty, an extraordinary device for an extraordinary emergency, a Hagar brought in for a season to serve a purpose, not a Sarah accepted from God and cherished as an eternal helpmeet. It is against this we are here warned. From a Hagar can at the best spring only an Ishmael, while in order to obtain the blessing God intends we must betake ourselves to God’s barren-looking means.

The evil consequences of Sarah’s scheme were apparent first of all in the tool she made use of Agur the son of Jakeh says: "For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear. For a servant when he reigneth, and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married, and a handmaid that is heir to her mistress." Naturally this half-heathen girl, when she found that her son would probably inherit all Abram’s possessions, forgot herself, and looked down on her present, nominal mistress. A flood of new fancies possessed her vacant mind and her whole demeanour becomes insulting to Sarah. The slave-girl could not be expected to sympathise with the purpose which Abram and Sarah had in view when they made use of her. They had calculated on finding only the unquestioning, mechanical obedience of the slave, even while raising her practically to the dignity of a wife. They had fancied that even to the deepest feelings of her woman’s heart, even in maternal hopes, she would be plastic in their hands, their mere passive instrument. But they have entirely miscalculated. The slave has feelings as quick and tender as their own, a life and a destiny as tenaciously clung to as their God-appointed destiny. Instead of simplifying their life they have merely added to it another source of complexity and annoyance. It is the common fate of all who use others to satisfy their own desires and purposes. The instruments they use are never so soulless and passive as it is wished. If persons cannot serve you without deteriorating in their own character, you have no right to ask them to serve you. To use human beings as if they were soulless machines is to neglect radical laws and to inflict the most serious injury on our fellow-men. Mistresses who do not treat their servants with consideration, recognising that they are as truly women as themselves, with all a woman’s hopes and feelings, and with a life of their own to live, are committing a grievous wrong, and evil will come of it.

In such an emergency as now arose in Abram’s household, character shows itself clearly. Sarah’s vexation at the success of her own scheme, her recrimination and appeal for strange justice, her unjustifiable treatment of Hagar, Abram’s Bedouin disregard of the jealousies of the women’s tent, his Gallio-like repudiation of judgment in such quarrels, his regretful vexation and shame that through such follies, mistakes, and wranglings, . God had to find a channel for His promise to flow-all this discloses the painful ferment into which Abram’s household was thrown. Sarah’s attempt to rid herself with a high hand of the consequences of her scheme was signally unsuccessful. In the same inconsiderate spirit in which she had put Hagar in her place, she now forces her to flee, and fancies that she has now rid herself and her household of all the disagreeable consequences of her experiment. She is grievously mistaken. The slave comes back upon her hands, and comes back with the promise of a son who should be a continual trouble to all about him. All through Ishmael’s boyhood Abram and Sarah had painfully to reap the fruits of what they had sown. We only make matters worse when we endeavour by injustice and harshness to crush out the consequences of wrong-doing. The difficulties into which sin has brought us can only be effectually overcome by sincere contrition and humiliation. It is not all in a moment nor by one happy stroke you can rectify the sin or mistake of a moment. If by your wise devices you have begotten young Ishmaels, if something is every day grieving you and saying to you, "This comes of your careless inconsiderate conduct in the past," then see that in your vexation there is real penitence and not a mere indignant resentment against circumstances or against other people, and see that you are not actually continuing the fault which first gave birth to your present sorrow and entanglement. When Hagar fled from her mistress she naturally took the way to her old country. Instinctively her feet carried her to the land of her birth. And as she crossed the desert country where Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia meet, she halted by a fountain, spent with her flight and awed by the solitude and stillness of the desert. Her proud spirit is broken and tamed, the fond memories of her adopted home and all its customs and ways and familiar faces and occupations, overtake her when she pauses and her heart reacts from the first excitement of hasty purpose and reckless execution. To whom could she go in Egypt? Was there one there who would remember the little slave girl or who would care to show her a kindness? Has she not acted madly in fleeing from her only protectors? The desolation around her depicts her own condition. No motion stirs as far as her eye can reach, no bird flies, no leaf trembles, no cloud floats over the scorching sun, no sound breaks the death-like quiet; she feels as if in a tomb, severed from all life, forgotten of all. Her spirit is breaking under this sense of desolation, when suddenly her heart stands still as she hears a voice utter her own name "Hagar, Sarai’s maid." As readily as every other person when God speaks to them, does Hagar recognise Who it is who has followed her into this blank solitude. In her circumstances to hear the voice of God left no room for disobedience. The voice of God made audible through the actual circumstances of our daily life acquires a force and an authority we never attached to it otherwise.

Probably, too, Hagar would have gone back to Abram’s tents at the bidding of a less authoritative voice than this. Already she was softening and repenting. She but needed some one to say, "Go back." You may often make it easier for a proud man to do a right thing by giving him a timely word. Frequently men stand in the position of Hagar, knowing the course they ought to adopt and yet hesitating to adopt it until it is made easy to them by a wise and friendly word.

In the promise of a son which was here given to Hagar and the prediction concerning his destiny, while there was enough to teach both her and Abram that he was not to be the heir of the promise, there was also much to gratify a mother’s pride and be to Hagar a source of continual satisfaction. The son was to bear a name which should commemorate God’s remembrance of her in her desolation. As often as she murmured it over the babe or called it to the child or uttered it in sharp remonstrance to the refractory boy, she was still reminded that she had a helper in God who had heard and would hear her. The prediction regarding the child has been strikingly fulfilled in his descendants; the three characteristics by which they are distinguished being precisely those here mentioned. "He will be a wild man," literally, "a wild ass among men," reminding us of the description of this animal in Job: "Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwelling. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Like the zebra that cannot be domesticated, the Arab scorns the comforts of civilised life, and adheres to the primitive dress, food, and mode of life, delighting in the sensation of freedom, scouring the deserts, sufficient with his horse and spear for every emergency. His hand also is against every man, looking on all as his natural enemies or as his natural prey; in continual feud of tribe against tribe and of the whole race against all of different blood and different customs. And yet he "dwells in the presence of his brethren"; though so warlike a temper would bode his destruction and has certainly destroyed other races, this Ishmaelite stock continues in its own lands with an uninterrupted history. In the words of an authoritative writer: "They have roved like the moving sands of their deserts; but their race has been rooted while the individual wandered. That race has neither been dissipated by conquest, nor lost by migration, nor confounded with the blood of other countries. They have continued to dwell in the presence of all their brethren, a distinct nation, wearing upon the whole the same features and aspects which prophecy first impressed upon them."

What struck Hagar most about this interview was God’s presence with her in this remote solitude. She awakened to the consciousness that duty, hope, God, are ubiquitous, universal, carried in the human breast, not confined to any place. Her hopes, her haughtiness, her sorrows, her flight, were known. The feeling possessed her which was afterwards expressed by the Psalmist: "Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Thou tellest my wanderings; put Thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?" Even here where I thought to have escaped every eye, have I been following and at length found Him that seeth me. As truly and even more perceptibly than in Abram’s tents, God is with her here in the desert. To evade duty, to leave responsibility behind us, is impossible. In all places we are God’s children, bound to accept the responsibilities of our nature. In all places God is with us, not only to point out our duty but to give us the feeling that in adhering to duty we adhere to Him, and that it is because He values us that He presses duty upon us. With Him is no respect of persons. the servant is in his sight as vivid a personality as the mistress, and God appears not to the overbearing mistress but to the overborne servant.

Happy they who when God has thus met them and sent them back on their own footsteps, a long and weary return, have still been so filled with a sense of God’s love in caring for them through all their errors, that they obey and return. All round about His people does God encamp, all round about His flock does the faithful Shepherd watch and drive back upon the fold each wanderer. Not only to those who are consciously seeking Him does God reveal Himself, but often to us at the very. farthest point of our wandering, at our extremity, when another day’s journey would land us in a region from which there is no return. When our regrets for the past become intolerably poignant and bitter; when we see a waste of years behind us barren as the sand of the desert, with nothing done but what should but cannot be undone; when the heart is stupefied with the sense of its madness and of the irretrievable loss it has sustained, or when we look to the future and are persuaded little can grow up in it out of such a past, when we see that all that would have prepared us for it has been lightly thrown aside or spent recklessly for nought, when our hearts fail us, this is God besetting us behind and before. And may He grant us strength to pray, "Show me Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day."

The quiet glow of hopefulness with which Hagar returned to Abram’s encampment should possess the spirit of every one of us. Hagar’s prospects were not in all respects inviting. She knew the kind of treatment she was likely to receive at the hands of Sarah. She was to be a bondwoman still. But God had persuaded her of His care and had given her a hope large enough to fill her heart. That hope was to be fulfilled by a return to the home she had fled from, by a humbling and painful experience. There is no person for whom God has not similar encouragement. Frequently persons forget that God is in their life, fulfilling His purposes. They flee from what is painful; they lose their bearings in life and know not which way to turn; they do not fancy there is help for them in God. Yet God is with them; by these very circumstances that reduce them to desolateness and despair He leads them to hope in Him. Each one of us has a place in His purpose; and that place we shall find not by fleeing from what is distressing but by submitting ourselves cheerfully to what He appoints. God’s purpose is real, and life is real, meant to accomplish not our present passing pleasure, but lasting good in conformity with God’s purpose. Be sure that when you are bidden back to duties that seem those of a slave, you are bidden to them by God, Whose purposes are worthy of Himself and Whose purposes include you and all that concerns you.

There are, I think, few truths more animating than this which is here taught us, that God has a purpose with each of us; that however insignificant we seem, however friendless, however hardly used, however ousted even from our natural place in this world’s households, God has a place for us; that however we lose our way in life we are not lost from His eye; that even when we do not think of choosing Him He in His Divine, all-embracing love chooses us, and throws about us bonds from which we cannot escape. Of Hagar many were complacently thinking it was no great matter if she were lost, and some might consider themselves righteous because they said she deserved whatever mishap might befall her. But not so God. Of some of us, it may be, others may think no great blank would be made by our loss; but God’s compassion and care and purpose comprehend the least worthy. The very hairs of your head are all numbered by Him. Nothing is so trivial and insignificant as to escape His attention, nothing so intractable that He cannot use it for good. Trust in Him, obey Him, and your life will yet be useful and happy.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 16:9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-16.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Genesis 16:7-12

Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou?
--

Providence and the outcast

I. PROVIDENCE FINDS THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.

1. There are occasions in human life when the providence of God specially manifests itself.

2. Providence finds us for a purpose of mercy.

3. Providence is minute in its care and knowledge.

II. PROVIDENCE TEACHES THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.

1. Lessons of reproof.

2. Lessons of instruction and guidance.

III. PROVIDENCE INSPIRES HOPE IN THE OUTCAST AND MISERABLE.

1. The lowest and most despised have some purpose of Providence to serve.

2. All who have consciously felt the action of a Divine Providence have some memorial of God’s goodness. (T. H. Leale.)

The angel’s message to Hagar

In this very gracious appearance of the angel to Hagar, it is possible, I think, to detect a two-fold design. Through her connection with Abram, this handmaid had been providentially elevated into a position which carried on the one hand duties, and on the other honour.

1. In the first place, it was her present duty to return and place herself again under the heavy hand of Sarai, in order that Abram’s son might be born and nurtured in Abram’s home. This, therefore, was the hard command, which in the first instance the angel was commissioned to deliver. God’s revelations commonly attach themselves to the working of men’s own minds. It is impossible not to suspect that, as she sat to rest after her hasty flight, Hagar’s conscience was already whispering words like these before the angel appeared: “Return to thy mistress and submit thyself!” But if any such feeling worked dimly in her own mind, it would certainly have failed to send her back, had it not been sharpened by this imperative command from heaven. On the other side, God graciously encouraged Hagar to such an unwelcome duty, by revealing the honours which her relationship to Abram would bring along with it. When God blesses any man, that blessing proves itself like the consecrating oil on the Jewish high priest: it flows from the head down to the skirts of the garment. In recompense for a mistress’s cruelty, Hagar was to become the ancestress of a mighty race, which for countless generations has ever since dwelt in the presence of all its brethren. (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Hagar in the wilderness

I. HAGAR’S DISTRESS. Affliction and solitude often give persons time to think, and arouse a desire to pray. Misery is a voiceless prayer, which God understands.

II. GOD’S MESSENGER. An appearance of the Lord at Hagar’s time of need and distress.

III. GOD’S MESSAGE.

1. A rebuke.

2. A command.

3. A promise.

CONCLUSION: We see then in this narrative a valuable lesson as to God’s Providence, and the way in which God is personally interested in the welfare and destinies of men. Moreover, the narrative suggests a kind of parable of God’s grace. We may see in it the principles of God’s dealing with sinful and sorrowing men.

1. He sees their misery and sin.

2. He visits them in their distress.

3. He hears their prayers. (W. S. Smith, B. D.)

Lessons

1. Christ was the angel of Jehovah sent to the Church in old times. As here (Isaiah 63:1-19; Matthew 3:2).

2. God finds sinners usually when they lose themselves.

3. God’s finding of them is usually when souls are brought to great extremity.

4. God sometimes meets sinners when they are flying to his enemies (Genesis 16:7).

5. God will have order and relations owned when sinners’ servants may reject them. Sarai’s maid.

6. God expostulates in displeasure with sinners for being where they should not be, leaving the place of calling and flying to other places. Here, servants, learn your duties.

7. Souls, when God expostulates with them, are brought to acknowledge their errors and sins (Genesis 16:8).

8. God counsels sinners in His way when He bath convinced them. Return.

9. God will have domestic order maintained and servants to submit to governors, and suffer sorrow, rather than sin, and leave their places (Genesis 16:9; 1 Peter 3:18). (G. Hughes, B. D.)

Hater in the wilderness

We have here a dramatic incident in the early Hebrew history. An Egyptian handmaid belonging to Sarai, the wife of Abram, was found by the angel of the Lord near a fountain of water in the wilderness. The angel’s greeting is a recognition; he names her and defines her in three words: “Hagar, Sarai’s maid!” he says, and the girl hears the searching voice and looks up to see a face of commanding majesty and sweetness. “Whence camest thou?” the angel demands. Was not the question superfluous? Do not the words already addressed to her show that the angel needed no information? If he knew her name and knew that she was Sarai’s maid, he knew whence she had come. But questions are often wisely asked, less for the benefit of the questioner than of the questioned. For many a man, drifting on in a course of evil conduct that he has never stopped to define, it would be a good thing if someone, by a pointed question, could, get him to say out, in plain words, just what he is doing. If he would only honestly state it to himself, he would shrink from it with horror. Always when one is going in questionable ways it is well to pause and put the thing he is doing into a clear proposition. I am engaged in some business transaction and a good angel stands by my path and asks me, “What are you doing?” If the operation, though nominally legitimate, is really fraudulent, and if I, though sometimes a little too eager for profits, am not an ingrained rascal, it may be good for me to have the question put to me in just that way. For, on reflection, I shall be forced to answer: “I am endeavouring to get the money of my neighbour without giving him a fair equivalent.” And, having been brought to put the matter into such plain words, I shall be forced, if I am not a rascal, to withdraw from the operation. Not only for clearing away the haze that often obscures an unworthy purpose, but also for removing the fog in which good purposes are sometimes involved, a pointed question may serve us. There are those whose intention to do right, to live the highest life, is rather nebulous. There are men who really mean to be the servants of Christ, but they have never said so, even to themselves. Their intention lies there, cloudy, crepuscular, in their mental horizon, but it is there. It influences their lives, not seldom; it ought to have far more power over them than it has, and would have, if it could only get from themselves a frank and clear statement. If some question could be put that would lead them to say right out in words what they mean to be--to objectify their purpose in language, so that they could look at it and understand it--the process would be most salutary. There is a deceitfulness of sin that sometimes hides from a man his own deepest and purest purposes; and if these could in some way be clearly discovered to himself, it would be a great service to him. Whether a man is good or bad at heart it is well for him to know the truth about himself; and any question, whether it come from the lips of angel or of mortal, that helps him to a clear self-revelation, is no doubt divinely spoken. Hater answered the angel’s question, “Whence earnest thou?” honestly. “I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai,” she said. The girl was running away from home. It was a home by no means perfect, according to our standards, from which she was bent on escaping. But this home from which she had gone forth, in spite of all the enormities wrought into its structure, was about the best dwelling place on the earth in that day. She was turning her back on a better society, a purer life, a larger opportunity than she could find anywhere else in the world. This was the fact to which the angel’s question, “Whence earnest thou?” at once recalled her. But this was not all. There was another question. “Whither wilt thou go?” the voice demanded, Hagar was going down to Egypt. And what was there in Egypt that could give her peace? It was a land of darkness and moral degradation; a land where the soul of man was held in hopeless subjection to the things of sense. This, then, is the simple fact that the angel’s questions bring into the light of the girl’s consciousness. Hagar was running away from the household of Abram, friend of God, and she was going down to Egypt. She was leaving a very light place, for a very dark one. Behind her were perplexities and discomforts, but great hopes also, and inspiring associations; before her was no relief for her trouble and no hope for her future. It was more than doubtful whether she would ever reach Egypt; she was far more likely to wander in the wilderness and perish by the way; but the goal, if she reached it, showed no prize worth striving for. It furnishes us a pertinent analogy. For there are other wanderers, in other wildernesses, to whom some good angel might well put the questions that Hagar heard by the fountain Lahai-roi, “Whence camest thou, and whither wilt thou go?” I suppose that I may be speaking to some whose feet are pressing the shifting sands of the wide wilderness of doubt. Their religious beliefs are in an unsettled and chaotic condition. They are only certain of one thing, and that is that they are not certain of anything. They are agnostics. Now there are subjects on which most of us can well afford to be agnostics. An agnostic is one who does not know. Well, there are quite a number of things that I do not know, and it seems to me the part of wisdom to say so. There are not a few subjects concerning which the Lord of light has seen fit to leave us in darkness. But while there are subjects of this nature, about which we do well to confess our ignorance, there are other subjects of which faith ought to give us a strong assurance. Agnosticism does well for certain outlying districts of our thought, but not for the great central tracts of religious belief and feeling. The navigator may acknowledge without shame that he does not know the boundaries or the channels of those Polar seas where man has never sailed; but you would not take passage with a captain who declared that he knew nothing of the way out of the harbour where his vessel lay, and nothing of the way into the port to which you wanted to go, and did not even know whether there were any such port. Just so in the religious life. All wise men know that there is much that they do not know; it is the beginning of wisdom to discern the limitations of knowledge; but the theory that all is uncertainty in the religious realm; that there is no sure word of promise, no steadfast anchor of the soul, no charted channels, no headlands of hope, no knowledge of a port beyond seas, is a bewildering, benumbing, deadening theory; out of it comes nothing but apathy and despair. This land of doubt is a wilderness, treeless, verdureless, shelterless, a dry and thirsty land where no water is. This is a truth--if it is a truth--that admits of no argument. It is a fact of experience; if none of you know that it is true, then it is true for none of you; if any of you do know it, you do not need to have it proved; the simple statement of it is enough. To all such wanderers, I bring the question of the angel to Hagar in the wilderness, “Whence camest thou?” You were not always in this wilderness; whence did you come? Do you not look back to a home from which your thought has wandered, a house of faith in which you once abode in confidence and peace? I am speaking now in parables, remember; it is not of the literal home where your father and mother dwelt of which I am speaking, but rather of that edifice of sacred thoughts and firm persuasions and earnest purposes and joyful hopes in which your soul was sheltered and comforted in the days of your childhood. Was there not for you, in those earlier days, a spiritual tabernacle of this sort, a house not made with hands, in which you found protection and peace? Was there not, I ask you, in the Christian faith of that past time, not only a comfort and a solace, but an inspiration, an invigoration, a bracing energy that you do not find in the dim and dismal negations of the present time? O wanderer, astray in the bleak wilderness of doubt, whence camest thou? But this is not the only question. “Whither wilt thou go?” Tarry here you cannot: here is no continuing city. Agnosticism is not the end, barren and profitless as it is. The road that you are travelling leads down to Egypt,--to “a land of darkness as darkness itself, and where the light is as darkness.” You have turned away from the old faith of Christian Theism, and there is nowhere for you to go but to Pantheism or to Atheism. And these are only different names for the same benighted land. There is no light in either of them. They will not satisfy your heart. They will not satisfy your imagination. They will not satisfy your reason. And if the mental darkness into which they conduct us is so dense, what shall we say of the moral darkness in which they envelop us; of the blotting from our sky of every star of hope; of the quenching of that torch of Bible truth by which our feet are guided through this land of shadows; of the extinguishment of our faith in the infinite love of God, which is the inspiration of all our holiest endeavours? No, my friend, I tell you truly, you who have lost your hold on the great spiritual verities and are wandering in the wilderness of spiritual doubt, you cannot tarry where you are; you must go further; and every step you go in the path that you are now travelling takes you nearer to a region where there is no ray of light or hope, a land of darkness and of the shadow of death. Can you not see, is it not clear, that you would better turn your face toward the spiritual home from which you have been wandering? Perhaps the old spiritual house in which your youth was nurtured may need enlargement in its intellectual part. Enlarge it, then l There is room on its strong foundations to build a house of faith large enough for the amplest intelligence. If there are gloomy corners in it into which the light ought to be let, let in the light! If there are chinks through which the bitter winds of a fatalistic dogmatism blow, stop them! If there are poisonous vines that have fastened on its walls, strip them off! It is the faith that we cherish, and not its flaws, nor its parasites. It is a precious faith, a glorious hope, a mighty inspiration that the old Bible offers still to those who will take it in its simplicity and rest in its strong assurances. (Washington Gladden, D. D.)

Nature and office of angels

1. 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. 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 do not grow old or die. They are not a race, and have not a body in the ordinary sense of the term.

2. 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).

3. The angel of Jehovah. This phrase is specially 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 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 1:1; 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. (Prof. J. G. Murphy.)

Hagar

1. In the story of Hagar and her slave-wifehood we have an emblem of the Mosaic Dispensation, which God interposed parenthetically during the long waiting of His Church for the coming of Christ (Romans 5:20; Galatians 3:19).

2. “Hagar is a symbol of the expedients we make use of to win for ourselves what God seems unwilling to bestow--expedients not always glaringly sinful, but, though customary, yet not the best possible. And this episode warns us that from a Hagar can at best spring an Ishmael” (Dods).

3. This narrative solemnly calls us to guard against two apparently opposite sins which Abram and Sarai committed in the matter of Hagar, and which often meet still as temptations to the believer--the sin of distrust, and that of presumption.

4. In the appearance of the Angel of Jehovah to Hagar we have a beautiful example of God’s tenderness towards the erring, and of His gracious readiness to forgive.

5. From Hagar’s subsequent submission to her mistress we learn that while it is not in nature to rejoice in trial and persecution on their own account, yet so soon as we become persuaded that it is the Lord’s will that we drink of this cup, and that there will be an abundant recompense hereafter, it does become possible for us to “glory in tribulations also.”

6. Let us write upon our hearts this name of the Lord: “Thou God seest me.” To do this is the sum of all religion, the centre of all security, and the source of all happiness. The God who sees us, and who permits us to look upon Himself, is the Angel of the Covenant, our Divine and Human Redeemer. May our eyes meet His every day! (Charles Jerdan, M. A., LL. B.)

The angel’s questions

In calling Hagar “Sarai’s maid,” he seems tacitly to disallow of the marriage, and to lead her mind back to that humble character which she had formerly sustained. The questions put to her were close, but tender, and such as were fitly addressed to a person fleeing from trouble. The first might be answered, and was answered: “I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.” But with respect to the last, she is silent. We know our present grievances, and so can tell “whence we came,” much better than our future lot, or “whither we are going.” In many cases, if the truth were spoken, the answer would be, from bad to worse. At present, this poor young woman seems to have been actuated by mere natural principles, those of fleeing from misery. In all her trouble, there appears nothing like true religion, or committing her way to the Lord: yet she is sought out of Him whom she sought not. (A. Fuller.)

Submission enjoined

The angel did not say “fight it out and let the strong one win.” He advised submission, and this is the first instance in which such advice is given in the Scriptures. It is a great Christian law we know, but it is early to find it in Genesis! “Submit yourselves one to another for the Lord’s sake,” is a lesson which reads well in the church; but Hagar heard it not under a Gothic roof, half-chanted by surpliced priest, but” by a fountain of water in the wilderness, in the way of Shur,”--she the only hearer, the angel the priest of God! A good church, too, in which to learn the lesson of submission. I see Hagar taking a draught of the fountain, and trudging home again on weary feet; going back to work among the sharp thorns, and to have words keen as stings thrown at her all the day long. A sorry fate, you say, to be pointed out by an angel! But wait. You do not know all. Who could bear all the ills of any one human life without having some help, some light, some hope? A wonderful word was spoken to the woman--“I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” As if he had said--“If thou didst know thy destiny, thou wouldst think little of Sarai’s mocking; it is but a momentary pain; bear it with the heroism of silent patience.” And, truly, this same angel speaks to us all. He says, “If you will walk in the way of the Lord you shall have blessing after sorrow, as the flowers bloom after the rain; persecution you cannot escape, nor slander, nor cruel words; but your light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. One hour in heaven will banish every sad thought of earth; submit, be patient, and return not evil for evil.” Oh, listen to the angel; it is God’s angel: it is God Himself. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Water in the desert

The following extract from Mr. Burleigh’s graphic account of the march of the British columns from Korti to Metammeh and the Nile, gives a picture of the deprivation of water in the desert, which plainly shows what our soldiers have had to endure in this particular. “We started about three a.m., and succeeded in reaching Abu Halfa Wells at noon. We had turned into a ravine in the Galif range to get to the springs. Our first sight of them was dreadfully disappointing. At the foot of a low ledge of rock near a clustering of dying down palms in a black basin of mud lay a little pool of pea-green water, covered with scum. The pool was not more than 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, and a sounding taken with a pole showed it was not over 10 inches deep. The murmur of satisfaction with which we were prepared to greet the blessed water died away in our throats, and we all sadly gathered around the soupy substance that was to serve horse and man for drinking purposes. Inwardly many of us vowed never again, if we lived, to grumble again at the quality of the London supply. Our guide excitedly shouted there was water enough for all, and that it was of excellent quality. Slipping down from his camel he made for a hole three or four feet deep, in which lay, limpid and cool, ten or twenty gallons of good-looking water. A stern sense of duty had impelled Colonel Barrow to place guards over the pool and this well hole, so that the apparently scant supply might be equally distributed, and our guide was driven off. He went, however, but a few feet away, and began digging a hole in the sandy gravel with his hands, and soon unearthed a flow of muddy water. Then it was our faces all brightened, for surely the little watercourse was full of hidden drink. Pannikins, canteens, water bottles, and horse buckets were soon at work, and the men took their turn at dipping and drinking the greenish liquid. The taste was not unpleasant, in spite of its old turtle-soupish appearance and consistency. Before all, it was water, and we drank large draughts until our thirst was quenched. The horses received two bucketfuls each, which they quaffed even more greedily than ourselves. Had we given ten to each animal I believe they would have swallowed every drop and whinnied for more. The clear water in the well was left untouched for the sick, and we found that as we drew from the pool, and reduced its depth a few inches, that quite pellucid springs began to flow in, refilling it almost as rapidly as we used it. The steady drain and the constant dipping into our own tank disturbed the mud, so that in a short time the green tinge merged into brown, and ultimately into black, such as you see in the London gutters after heavy rain. With an unquestioning faith in its virtues we continued to drink the thickened water, inwardly blessing the Arabs for not having poisoned the wells by throwing dead cattle into the pool. That afternoon and night the whole force had abundance of beverage, and coffee and tea flowed once more around our bivouac fires.”

God’s presence with His people

“I have read,” says an old divine, “of a company of poor Christians who were banished into some remote part, and one standing by, seeing them pass along, said that it was a very sad condition those poor people were in, to be thus hurried from the society of men, and made companions with the beasts of the field. ‘True,’ said another, ‘it were a sad condition indeed if they were carried to a place where they should not find their God; but let them be of good cheer, God goes along with them, and will exhibit the comforts of His presence whithersoever they go. God’s presence with His people is a spring that never fails.’”

The beautiful man

A little boy, the only child of a poor woman, one day fell into the fire by accident, during his mother’s absence from the cottage, and was so badly burned that he died after a few hours’ suffering. The clergyman of the parish did not hear of the accident until the child was dead. He went, however, to try and console and comfort the mother. To his great surprise he found her very calm and patient and resigned. After a little conversation she told him how that God had sent her wonderful comfort. She had been weeping bitterly as she knelt beside her child’s cot, when suddenly the boy exclaimed, “Mother, don’t cry; don’t you see the beautiful man who is standing there and waiting for me?” She told the clergyman that she thought it must have been the Lord Jesus. The angels in heaven care for, wait upon, and minister unto Christ’s people below.

Goodness of God in affliction

A Sunday school teacher with the movable alphabet put together the sentence, “The Lord is good to all,” and required his class to repeat it. One little fellow refused. The teacher asked his reason. He said because it was not true. “God is not good to father nor to me. He has taken my little brother away, and father is home crying about it.” The teacher explained that God in love had taken the little brother to a better home, and would take him and his father to join him if they loved the Saviour. The child said, “Oh, I’ll go and tell father,” and at once ran to him with his lesson and comfort. It consoled and benefited both father and child.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 16:9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-16.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

BIRTH OF ISHMAEL

Genesis 16:1-16

IN this unpretending chapter we have laid bare to us the origin of one of the most striking facts in the history of religion: namely, that from the one person of Abram have sprung Christianity and that religion which has been and still is its most formidable rival and enemy, Mohammedanism. To Ishmael, the son of Abram, the Arab tribes are proud to trace their pedigree. Through him they claim Abram as their father, and affirm that they are his truest representatives, the sons of his first-born. In Mohammed, the Arabian, they see the fulfilment of the blessing of Abram, and they have succeeded in persuading a large part of the world to believe along with them. Little did Sarah think when she persuaded Abram to take Hagar that she was originating a rivalry which has run with keenest animosity through all ages and which oceans of blood have not quenched. The domestic rivalry and petty womanish spites and resentments so candidly depicted in this chapter, have actually thrown on the world from that day to this one of its darkest and least hopeful shadows. The blood of our own countrymen, it may be of our own kindred, will yet flow in this unappeasable quarrel. So great a matter does a little fire kindle. So lasting and disastrous are the issues of even slight divergences from pure simplicity.

It is instructive to observe how long this matter of obtaining an heir for Abram occupies the stage of sacred history and in how many aspects it is shown. The stage is rapidly cleared of whatever else might naturally have invited attention, and interest is concentrated on the heir that is to be. The risks run by the appointed mother, the doubts of the father, the surrender now of the mother’s rights, -all this is trivial if it concerned only one household, important only when you view it as significant for the race. It was thus men were taught thoughtfully to brood upon the future and to believe that, though Divine, blessing and salvation would spring from earth: man was to co-operate with God, to recognise himself as capable of uniting with God in the highest of all purposes. At the same time, this long and continually deferred expectation of Abram was the simple means adopted by God to convince men once for all that the promised seed is not of nature but of grace, that it is God who sends all effectual and determining blessing, and that we must learn to adapt ourselves to His ways and wait upon Him.

The first man, then, whose religious experience and growth are recorded for us at any length, has this one thing to learn, to trust God’s word and wait for it. In this everything is included. But gradually it appears to us all that this is the great difficulty, to wait; to let God take His own time to bless us. It is hard to believe in God’s perfect love and care when we are receiving no present comfort or peace; hard to believe we shall indeed be sanctified when we seem to be abandoned to sinful habit; hard, to pass all through life with some pain, or some crushing trouble, or some harassing anxiety, or some unsatisfied craving. It is easy to start with faith, most trying to endure patiently to the end. It is thus God educates His children. Compelled to wait for some crowning gift, we cannot but study God’s ways, It is thus we are forced to look below the surface of life to its hidden meanings and to construe God’s dealings with ourselves apart from the experience of other men. It is thus we are taught actually to loosen our hold of things temporal and to lay hold on what is spiritual and real. He who leaves himself in God’s hand will one day declare that the pains and sorrows he suffered were trifling in comparison with what he has won from them.

But Sarah could not wait. She seems to have fixed ten years as the period during which she would wait; but at the expiry of this term she considered herself justified in helping forward God’s tardy providence by steps of her own. One cannot severely blame her. When our hearts are set upon some definite blessing things seem to move too slowly, and we can scarcely refrain from urging them on without too scrupulously enquiring into the character of our methods. We are willing to wait for a certain time, but beyond that we must take the matter into our own hand. This incident shows, what all life shows, that whatever be the boon you seek, you do yourself an injury if you cease to seek it in the best possible form and manner, and decline upon some lower thing which you can secure by some easy stratagem of your own.

The device suggested by Sarah was so common that the wonder is that it had not long before been tried. Jealousy or instinctive reluctance may have prevented her from putting it in force. She might no doubt have understood that God, always working out His purposes in consistency with all that is most honourable and pure in human conduct, requires of no one to swerve a hair’s-breadth from the highest ideal of what a human life should be, and that just in proportion as we seek the best gifts and the most upright and pure path to them does God find it easy to bless us. But in her case it was difficult to continue in this belief; and at length she resolved to adopt the easy and obvious means of obtaining an heir. It was unbelieving and foolish, but not more so than our adoption of practices common in our day and in our business which we know are not the best, but which we nevertheless make use of to obtain our ends because the most righteous means possible do not seem workable in our circumstances. Are you not conscious that you have sometimes used a means of effecting your purpose, which you would shrink from using habitually, but which you do not scruple to use to tide you over a difficulty, an extraordinary device for an extraordinary emergency, a Hagar brought in for a season to serve a purpose, not a Sarah accepted from God and cherished as an eternal helpmeet. It is against this we are here warned. From a Hagar can at the best spring only an Ishmael, while in order to obtain the blessing God intends we must betake ourselves to God’s barren-looking means.

The evil consequences of Sarah’s scheme were apparent first of all in the tool she made use of Agur the son of Jakeh says: "For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear. For a servant when he reigneth, and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married, and a handmaid that is heir to her mistress." Naturally this half-heathen girl, when she found that her son would probably inherit all Abram’s possessions, forgot herself, and looked down on her present, nominal mistress. A flood of new fancies possessed her vacant mind and her whole demeanour becomes insulting to Sarah. The slave-girl could not be expected to sympathise with the purpose which Abram and Sarah had in view when they made use of her. They had calculated on finding only the unquestioning, mechanical obedience of the slave, even while raising her practically to the dignity of a wife. They had fancied that even to the deepest feelings of her woman’s heart, even in maternal hopes, she would be plastic in their hands, their mere passive instrument. But they have entirely miscalculated. The slave has feelings as quick and tender as their own, a life and a destiny as tenaciously clung to as their God-appointed destiny. Instead of simplifying their life they have merely added to it another source of complexity and annoyance. It is the common fate of all who use others to satisfy their own desires and purposes. The instruments they use are never so soulless and passive as it is wished. If persons cannot serve you without deteriorating in their own character, you have no right to ask them to serve you. To use human beings as if they were soulless machines is to neglect radical laws and to inflict the most serious injury on our fellow-men. Mistresses who do not treat their servants with consideration, recognising that they are as truly women as themselves, with all a woman’s hopes and feelings, and with a life of their own to live, are committing a grievous wrong, and evil will come of it.

In such an emergency as now arose in Abram’s household, character shows itself clearly. Sarah’s vexation at the success of her own scheme, her recrimination and appeal for strange justice, her unjustifiable treatment of Hagar, Abram’s Bedouin disregard of the jealousies of the women’s tent, his Gallio-like repudiation of judgment in such quarrels, his regretful vexation and shame that through such follies, mistakes, and wranglings, . God had to find a channel for His promise to flow-all this discloses the painful ferment into which Abram’s household was thrown. Sarah’s attempt to rid herself with a high hand of the consequences of her scheme was signally unsuccessful. In the same inconsiderate spirit in which she had put Hagar in her place, she now forces her to flee, and fancies that she has now rid herself and her household of all the disagreeable consequences of her experiment. She is grievously mistaken. The slave comes back upon her hands, and comes back with the promise of a son who should be a continual trouble to all about him. All through Ishmael’s boyhood Abram and Sarah had painfully to reap the fruits of what they had sown. We only make matters worse when we endeavour by injustice and harshness to crush out the consequences of wrong-doing. The difficulties into which sin has brought us can only be effectually overcome by sincere contrition and humiliation. It is not all in a moment nor by one happy stroke you can rectify the sin or mistake of a moment. If by your wise devices you have begotten young Ishmaels, if something is every day grieving you and saying to you, "This comes of your careless inconsiderate conduct in the past," then see that in your vexation there is real penitence and not a mere indignant resentment against circumstances or against other people, and see that you are not actually continuing the fault which first gave birth to your present sorrow and entanglement. When Hagar fled from her mistress she naturally took the way to her old country. Instinctively her feet carried her to the land of her birth. And as she crossed the desert country where Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia meet, she halted by a fountain, spent with her flight and awed by the solitude and stillness of the desert. Her proud spirit is broken and tamed, the fond memories of her adopted home and all its customs and ways and familiar faces and occupations, overtake her when she pauses and her heart reacts from the first excitement of hasty purpose and reckless execution. To whom could she go in Egypt? Was there one there who would remember the little slave girl or who would care to show her a kindness? Has she not acted madly in fleeing from her only protectors? The desolation around her depicts her own condition. No motion stirs as far as her eye can reach, no bird flies, no leaf trembles, no cloud floats over the scorching sun, no sound breaks the death-like quiet; she feels as if in a tomb, severed from all life, forgotten of all. Her spirit is breaking under this sense of desolation, when suddenly her heart stands still as she hears a voice utter her own name "Hagar, Sarai’s maid." As readily as every other person when God speaks to them, does Hagar recognise Who it is who has followed her into this blank solitude. In her circumstances to hear the voice of God left no room for disobedience. The voice of God made audible through the actual circumstances of our daily life acquires a force and an authority we never attached to it otherwise.

Probably, too, Hagar would have gone back to Abram’s tents at the bidding of a less authoritative voice than this. Already she was softening and repenting. She but needed some one to say, "Go back." You may often make it easier for a proud man to do a right thing by giving him a timely word. Frequently men stand in the position of Hagar, knowing the course they ought to adopt and yet hesitating to adopt it until it is made easy to them by a wise and friendly word.

In the promise of a son which was here given to Hagar and the prediction concerning his destiny, while there was enough to teach both her and Abram that he was not to be the heir of the promise, there was also much to gratify a mother’s pride and be to Hagar a source of continual satisfaction. The son was to bear a name which should commemorate God’s remembrance of her in her desolation. As often as she murmured it over the babe or called it to the child or uttered it in sharp remonstrance to the refractory boy, she was still reminded that she had a helper in God who had heard and would hear her. The prediction regarding the child has been strikingly fulfilled in his descendants; the three characteristics by which they are distinguished being precisely those here mentioned. "He will be a wild man," literally, "a wild ass among men," reminding us of the description of this animal in Job: "Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwelling. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Like the zebra that cannot be domesticated, the Arab scorns the comforts of civilised life, and adheres to the primitive dress, food, and mode of life, delighting in the sensation of freedom, scouring the deserts, sufficient with his horse and spear for every emergency. His hand also is against every man, looking on all as his natural enemies or as his natural prey; in continual feud of tribe against tribe and of the whole race against all of different blood and different customs. And yet he "dwells in the presence of his brethren"; though so warlike a temper would bode his destruction and has certainly destroyed other races, this Ishmaelite stock continues in its own lands with an uninterrupted history. In the words of an authoritative writer: "They have roved like the moving sands of their deserts; but their race has been rooted while the individual wandered. That race has neither been dissipated by conquest, nor lost by migration, nor confounded with the blood of other countries. They have continued to dwell in the presence of all their brethren, a distinct nation, wearing upon the whole the same features and aspects which prophecy first impressed upon them."

What struck Hagar most about this interview was God’s presence with her in this remote solitude. She awakened to the consciousness that duty, hope, God, are ubiquitous, universal, carried in the human breast, not confined to any place. Her hopes, her haughtiness, her sorrows, her flight, were known. The feeling possessed her which was afterwards expressed by the Psalmist: "Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Thou tellest my wanderings; put Thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?" Even here where I thought to have escaped every eye, have I been following and at length found Him that seeth me. As truly and even more perceptibly than in Abram’s tents, God is with her here in the desert. To evade duty, to leave responsibility behind us, is impossible. In all places we are God’s children, bound to accept the responsibilities of our nature. In all places God is with us, not only to point out our duty but to give us the feeling that in adhering to duty we adhere to Him, and that it is because He values us that He presses duty upon us. With Him is no respect of persons. the servant is in his sight as vivid a personality as the mistress, and God appears not to the overbearing mistress but to the overborne servant.

Happy they who when God has thus met them and sent them back on their own footsteps, a long and weary return, have still been so filled with a sense of God’s love in caring for them through all their errors, that they obey and return. All round about His people does God encamp, all round about His flock does the faithful Shepherd watch and drive back upon the fold each wanderer. Not only to those who are consciously seeking Him does God reveal Himself, but often to us at the very. farthest point of our wandering, at our extremity, when another day’s journey would land us in a region from which there is no return. When our regrets for the past become intolerably poignant and bitter; when we see a waste of years behind us barren as the sand of the desert, with nothing done but what should but cannot be undone; when the heart is stupefied with the sense of its madness and of the irretrievable loss it has sustained, or when we look to the future and are persuaded little can grow up in it out of such a past, when we see that all that would have prepared us for it has been lightly thrown aside or spent recklessly for nought, when our hearts fail us, this is God besetting us behind and before. And may He grant us strength to pray, "Show me Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day."

The quiet glow of hopefulness with which Hagar returned to Abram’s encampment should possess the spirit of every one of us. Hagar’s prospects were not in all respects inviting. She knew the kind of treatment she was likely to receive at the hands of Sarah. She was to be a bondwoman still. But God had persuaded her of His care and had given her a hope large enough to fill her heart. That hope was to be fulfilled by a return to the home she had fled from, by a humbling and painful experience. There is no person for whom God has not similar encouragement. Frequently persons forget that God is in their life, fulfilling His purposes. They flee from what is painful; they lose their bearings in life and know not which way to turn; they do not fancy there is help for them in God. Yet God is with them; by these very circumstances that reduce them to desolateness and despair He leads them to hope in Him. Each one of us has a place in His purpose; and that place we shall find not by fleeing from what is distressing but by submitting ourselves cheerfully to what He appoints. God’s purpose is real, and life is real, meant to accomplish not our present passing pleasure, but lasting good in conformity with God’s purpose. Be sure that when you are bidden back to duties that seem those of a slave, you are bidden to them by God, Whose purposes are worthy of Himself and Whose purposes include you and all that concerns you.

There are, I think, few truths more animating than this which is here taught us, that God has a purpose with each of us; that however insignificant we seem, however friendless, however hardly used, however ousted even from our natural place in this world’s households, God has a place for us; that however we lose our way in life we are not lost from His eye; that even when we do not think of choosing Him He in His Divine, all-embracing love chooses us, and throws about us bonds from which we cannot escape. Of Hagar many were complacently thinking it was no great matter if she were lost, and some might consider themselves righteous because they said she deserved whatever mishap might befall her. But not so God. Of some of us, it may be, others may think no great blank would be made by our loss; but God’s compassion and care and purpose comprehend the least worthy. The very hairs of your head are all numbered by Him. Nothing is so trivial and insignificant as to escape His attention, nothing so intractable that He cannot use it for good. Trust in Him, obey Him, and your life will yet be useful and happy.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/genesis-16.html.

The Pulpit Commentaries

EXPOSITION

Genesis 16:7

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, for the reasons chiefly

1. The Maleach Jehovah explicitly identifies himself with Jehovah (Genesis 16:10) 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; 6:15, 6:20-23; 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; 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.,' 6.7, 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.

Genesis 16:8

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 16:9

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 (Philemon 1:6); its meaning obviously is that she should meekly resign herself to the ungracious and oppressive treatment of her mistress—under her hands.

Genesis 16:10

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.

Genesis 16:11

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 1:1-22 :24; Exodus 3:7).

Genesis 16:12

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, Ezekiel 36:38). 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".

Genesis 16:13

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 Maleach 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).

Genesis 16:14

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

Genesis 16:15

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.

Genesis 16:16

And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 16:7

The capture of the runaway, or Hagar and the angel of the Lord.

I. THE FUGITIVE ARRESTED.

1. The agent of her capture. The angel of Jehovah (vide Exposition), whose appearance to Hagar at this particular juncture was doubtless—

2. The place of her capture.

II. THE FOUNDLING INTERROGATED.

1. The question of the angel.

2. The answer of Hagar.

III. THE WANDERER DIRECTED.

1. To return to Abram's house. The tent of Sarai, though to Hagar's quick Southern blood a place of humiliation, was nevertheless for her the true place of safety, both physically and spiritually. The first counsel that God's word and spirit give to those who flee from duty, forsake the company of saints, and venture out upon perilous and sinful courses is "to stand in the ways, and ask for the old paths" (Jeremiah 6:16).

2. To submit to Sarah's yoke. Her alliance with the patriarch could not in God's sight alter her original position as a slave. Though soon to be the mother of Abram's seed, she was still a bondwoman, whose duty was submission, however galling to her hot blood, and however unreasonable it might seem in the case of one whose child might yet inherit Canaan. God's people are required to abide in those stations in life in which they have been called, until they can be honorably released from them (1 Corinthians 7:20-22), and to endure those afflictions which God in his providence may impose, rather than impetuously and sinfully endeavor to escape from them (Matthew 16:24).

IV. THE DISCONSOLATE COMFORTED.

1. The richness of the offered consolation.

2. The efficacy of the offered consolation.

See in the angel's appearance to Hagar—

1. An adumbration of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. An illustration of God's care of those who are within his Church.

3. An indication of the kind of people that most attract the Divine notice and compassion.

4. A revelation of the tenderness with which he deals with sinners.

5. A proclamation of God's gracious readiness to forgive the erring.

HOMILIES BY W. ROBERTS

Genesis 16:7

Wells in the wilderness.

1. God provides them for the rest and refreshment of pilgrims.

2. God visits them to meet with wear), and afflicted pilgrims.

3. God dispenses from them life and hope to all repenting and believing pilgrims. Compare with the angel of Jehovah and Hagar at the fountain of Shur, Christ and the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well (John 4:6).—W.

Genesis 16:7-13

Glimpses of the Godhead.

1. Divine condescension. God visits men as the angel visited Hagar.

2. Divine omniscience. God knows men as the angel knew Hagar.

3. Divine compassion. God pities and comforts men as the angel did Hagar.

4. Divine wisdom. God instructs men as the angel directed Hagar.

5. Divine grace. God pardons and accepts men as the angel did Hagar.—W.

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

Genesis 16:8

God pleading with wanderers.

"Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?" She knew not, cared not. Undisciplined, smarting under effects of her own willfulness (Genesis 16:4), she thought only of escaping pain—a type of those weary, yet unconverted (cf. Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 5:3). But God saw her. The Shepherd sought her (cf. Genesis 3:9; Luke 15:9). Though not of the chosen race, and having no claim upon his care, of his own mercy he calls her (cf. Psalms 145:9; Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:5). The angel of the Lord; in Genesis 16:13 called the Lord; the messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1)—sent to carry out the Father's purpose (of. John 3:17; Luke 4:18). The same who speaks in the voice of awakened conscience, that he may give peace (cf. Matthew 11:28). "Hagar, Sarai's maid," expresses God's full knowledge of her (cf. Exodus 33:12; John 10:3). The name distinguishes the individual. She a stranger, a slave, a fugitive; yet God's eye upon her; all her life before him (cf. Psalms 139:1-4). A word for those following their own ways, feeling as if hidden in the multitude. Nothing glaring in their lives; men see nothing to find fault with; will God? (cf. Psalms 94:7). He knows thee altogether; thy whole life, the selfishness underlying a fair profession, the unconfessed motives, the little duplicities, the love of worldly things; or it may be thy spiritual pride and self-trusting. He sees thee through. But wilt thou seek to escape the thought of him? For what does he search thee out? Is it not to bring thee to peace? A word of comfort to him who is cast down because of weakness in faith, little progress, want of spirituality. He sees all (cf. Luke 19:5). Not as man—men see the failures; God Sees the battle, the longing desire for better things, the prayers (Psalms 28:1; Psalms 130:1), the searching of heart, the sorrow because of failure. Even in the wilderness he is present to help (Galatians 6:9).

I. "WHENCE CAMEST THOU?" Is the wilderness better than the home thou hast left? (cf. Isaiah 5:4). Thou hast left safety and plenty (cf. Numbers 21:5), impatient of God's discipline. A goodly possession was thine—the place of a child (1 John 3:1), the right always to pray (Luke 18:1; John 15:7; Hebrews 4:16; James 4:2), the promise of guidance (Psalms 32:8; Isaiah 30:21). For what hast thou given up all this? Is thy present lot better? In deepest love these questions are asked. God pleads by providence (Psalms 119:67), by the entering of the word (Psalms 119:130; Hebrews 4:12), by the "still small voice" of the Holy Spirit.

II. "WHITHER WILT THOU GO?" How many have never really considered. Hast thou renounced thy heavenly portion? God forbid. Then is thy life heavenward? Are thy sins blotted out? Hast thou accepted the free gift of salvation? I am not sure of that. And why not? Is it not that thou hast not cared enough to entertain the question as a practical one? (cf. Ezekiel 20:49; Ezekiel 33:32). Meanwhile thou art not standing still. The day of grace is passing away (cf. Jeremiah 8:20). Still Christ pleads (Revelation 3:20). But day by day the ear becomes more dull, and the aims and habits of life more hard to change. "Return," was the Lord's word to Hagar. Take again thy place in God's family (cf. Luke 15:20). Fear not to bear thy cross. There is a welcome and joy in heaven over every returning wanderer.—M.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-16.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
submit
Ecclesiastes 10:4; Ephesians 5:21; 6:5,6; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18-25; 5:5,6
Reciprocal: Genesis 16:13 - called;  Genesis 21:17 - the angel;  Genesis 22:11 - angel;  1 Timothy 6:1 - count;  Titus 2:5 - keepers;  Hebrews 13:17 - submit

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/genesis-16.html.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

And the angel said, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand — Go home and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better.

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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
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/genesis-16.html. 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9.Return’ submit — The only way to attain the true freedom and independence. The word rendered submit thyself is the Hithpael form of the verb rendered dealt hardly in Genesis 16:6. עני, rendered affliction in Genesis 16:11, is from the same root. The sense is: Go back, and allow thyself to be afflicted under the hands of thy mistress. Her reward for such self-humiliation is announced in the next three verses.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 16:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/genesis-16.html. 1874-1909.