by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScriptTable Of Contents:

Genesis 16:1-2 Genesis 16:10-12
Genesis 16:3-4 Genesis 16:13
Genesis 16:5-6 Genesis 16:14
Genesis 16:7-8 Genesis 16:15-16
Genesis 16:9  


GENESIS 16:1-6       (Sarah gives her maid Hagar to Abraham)

16:1:1-2      Abraham must have told Sarah that he had been promised an heir through his own seed (15:4).   By then Sarah was way past normal child-bearing, and she blamed her failure to produce an heir to the LORD’s intervention.  But there was a custom that allowed a woman to give her serving maid to her husband, and as the child was born she received the baby into her lap, and it was counted as her own.  Sarah’s maid was a slave girl she may have bought in Egypt (12:10). 

16:3-4   By then Abraham was 85 (after ten years in Canaan, 12:4).  So far the inability to have a child could be a genetic deficiency in either Abraham or in Sarai.   But when Hagar was obviously pregnant, she must have made some remark about Abraham being virile enough, but Sarai was a barren old woman.

16:5-6   When Sarah complained about this insulting remark,  Abraham told her the Egyptian slave-woman was in her power.   Abraham had Ishmael as his heir; so Sarah could do what she wanted.   We don’t know what Sarah did to deal so harshly with Hagar, but it made her decide to run away back to her home in Egypt.


GENESIS 16:7-16    (Hagar Returns to her Mistress, and bears Ishmael)

16:7-8    Here the angel of the LORD must have been a name for the Son of God himself (16:13, as in 22:11, 14-15; Exodus 3:2, 6).    He found her in the wilderness half  way back to her home in Egypt (16:3).   As in the case of Adam (3:9) and  Cain (4:9,10), the questions the LORD asked were not to gain information but to help the person face the situation.

16:9   If Hagar had gone on her way the baby in her womb would have been born in Egypt, but she was told to go back to Sarai and submit to her mistress. 

16:10-12   To encourage her,  Hagar was promised an innumerable offspring, as had been promised to Abraham  (see 15:5).   The child must be called Ishmael (God hears) as a reminder of her prayer being heard.   The name “wild ass of a man” is not as rude as it sounds.  Arabs viewed the wild asses of the desert as having great stamina, courage,  and speed.   And Ishmael would certainly have to fight like them to establish his tribe as the founder of  the Arab people (see BOOKS, Ishmael the Arab). 

16:13   Having experienced the fact that God (el is a shorter form of eloah, elohim) had seen and found her as a fugitive pregnant slave, she addressed the LORD as elroi (the God who sees).  But even more astonishing was that she had seen the Lord God alive before her and she had not been immediately destroyed.   The LORD was similarly seen face to face by Abraham(17:1; 18:1, 22), Isaac (26:2, 24) and Jacob (32:30).   The New Testament will explain that “no one has ever seen God (the Father).  It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart who has made him known (John 1:18).  

16:14  The spring where Hagar saw the LORD was later made into a well and named beer lahai roi (the well of the living one who sees me).  Kadesh was 50 miles, 80 km, as the crow flies south of Beersheba.   So Hagar had traveled alone carrying the baby in her womb over 75 miles, 120 km, which was at least a  four day journey before she was found by the LORD.

16:15-16  Having returned another four day journey back to Abraham and Sarah in Hebron, her son was born and she named him Ishmael,  as she was told by the LORD (16:11).  Abraham was then 86 years old.   This meant that Ishmael remained the legal heir of Abraham for 14 years till the unexpected  birth of Isaac.   

Later we learn that Sarah insisted on Ishmael being disinherited and sent away into the Negeb.  There Hagar got Ishmael  married to one of her own Egyptian women (21:21).  He then moved further east into Arabia, and he was the father of twelve tribal sheikhs (25:12-18).   In time all the Arab people were united under his name as bene Ishmael (for a reconstruction of their story see BOOKS, Ishmael the Arab). 

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