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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Genesis 16

 

 

Verses 1-16

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.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 16:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/genesis-16.html. 2005.

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