Genesis Chapter 16

By this point in Genesis, Abram has been promised that he would have a child, even though his wife has been unable to have children. This chapter begins:

1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 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.
3 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.

Sarai gave Hagar to Abram as his second wife, so that they would be able to have children. I don’t know what the lifestyle of this time was, but I believe that Sarai received inspiration or a commandment from God to do this so that the promises given to Abraham would be fulfilled. My understanding is that any children that Hagar had would belong to Sarai because Hagar was her handmaid.

4 And 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. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

I think that there are two reasons for Hagar to have been “despised in her eyes”. First is that she could have been upset that she had become pregnant due to being made to be with Abram. Second is that once she realized she was pregnant, she did not want to give up her rights to her own child to Sarai. I think that it may have been the second reason for her. At this point I am sure the whole thing was probably a bit difficult for Sarai, since the desire to bear children is a natural thing in women. This probably only added to the sadness and difficulty of Sarai’s life at the time. I am sure that the experience was also quite difficult for Hagar, because this was her life and her child that were being forever altered by this. Sarai told Abram of the situation and he told her to deal with it as she wanted and so she did just that. Hagar ran away as a result.

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.
10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
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.
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.
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?
14 Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar was found by an angel. She told the angel that she was running away, and the angel commanded her to go back to Sarai and submit herself to her. The angel told her that the son she would bear would be called Ishmael and that from him she would have a multitude of posterity. She was promised that Ishmael would be a man much like a nomad. This visit from the angel, was a tender mercy of the Lord and it showed Hagar that God knew her and saw her. She was not alone and she was capable of doing what was commanded of her. I believe that we are all known to God and we don’t need to feel alone and afraid. He will help us and guide us in his paths and if we are willing, he will use us to accomplish his will.

15 And 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.

Hagar returned just as she was commanded, and then she had a son called Ishmael. Eventually, Ishmael did have a great number of posterity and this promise given to Hagar was fulfilled. I really believe that no matter what station we have in life or where we live or how humble our circumstances may be, that the Lord knows each and every one of us. I believe that he will not give us a commandment that we cannot obey. He is a loving Father in Heaven and He will help us to learn and grow to be the best we can be.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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