Genesis Chapter 16


Sarai gives Hagar to Abram. (Verse 1-3.)

Hagar’s misbehaviour to Sarai. (Verse 4-6.)

The Angel commands Hagar to return, The promise to her Birth of Ishmael. (Verse 7-16.)

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

[Gen 11:30, 16:1]

“handmaid…Egyptian” – Abram probably got this maid while he was down in Egypt in 12:16

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.

[Gen 3:17,30:2-3,9 Jud 13:2, Luke 1:7]

Abram’s mistake was “hearkening to the voice” of his wife, rather than to God!

Study Question

Who else made this same mistake in Gen. 3:17?

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.

[Gen 12:4-5, Gal 4:24-15]


Ten is the number of trial and testing with God and just as the time is expiring Sarah becomes impatient and leads Abraham into sin just as Eve did with Adam in the Garden. (See verse 5)

The fact that Hagar was an Egyptian is mentioned twice for us to remind us that she was not a part of what God had promised to Abram.

The promise was through Sarai not Hagar. Hagar was not with Abram when God made his promise of children through Sarai. Once again we turn to the words of Saul of Tarsus in his letter to the believers in Rome where he said,

“For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all the children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh (Hagar’s descendants), these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise (Sarah’s descendants) are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.” Romans 9:6-9

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.

[Prov 30:21,23]

[despised-she looked down on her]

Hagar despised her mistress, Sarai, because she could bear children while Sarai could not

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.


Sarai recognized her sin and her drawing Abram into it with her and ultimately the whole world has suffered because of her and her impatience.

One wrong did not justify another, and Sarai’s sin against Hagar was not justified because Hagar now despised her because of her bareness.

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.

[Gen 25:18, ,Ex 15:22]

“in the way to Shur” – Hagar was heading back to Egypt  – “the angel of the LORD” – this is an OT appearance of Jesus Christ.  Jesus often appeared in the OT as the angel of the Lord – you will notice that he speaks as God (vs. 10 – “I will multiply….”) and yet refers to the Lord as another person (vs. 11) – ie. Christ is referring to the Father.  We know for sure that this “angel of the Lord” must be God from the comments made by Hagar in verse 13, and yet it cannot be God the Father. (See John 1:18)

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.

[whence-where did you come from]

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

[Titus 2:9]

Hagar was commanded to “submit” – something she had not done in vs. 4

Gentiles prior to the dispensation of grace were to submit themselves to Israel, for salvation at that time was of the Jews, as it will be again in the kingdom but today Israel is an enemy of the cross.

Israel will be judged for her rebellion during the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble which shall come upon her for seven years of tribulation such as she has never seen, but praise God all of Israel that endures unto the end of that time will be saved and enter into her long awaited kingdom.

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

[Gen 25:12]

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.

[Ex 3:7,9 Luke 1:13,31]

[Ishmael – God hears]

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.

[He shall dwell-He shall prosper]

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 Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

[Gen 24:62,25:11]

“Beer-lahai-roi” is the Hebrew word that means “Thou God seest me” or  “well of a living (One) my seer”.]

The world has felt the brunt of this prophecy throughout the ages and will see only more of wildness of Ishmael until the return of the Redeemer. It is time for Jews and Gentiles to come together in Christ and only then can they begin to put away their prejudices.

15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

[Gal 4:22]

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

[Gen 12:4, 16:3]

[“fourscore and six years” = 86 years, as a “score” equals 20.]

Just because Hagar’s descendants are not the children of the promise does not exclude them from salvation which is free to all who will call upon Christ. God is not a respecter of persons. God has elected Israel’s descendants for a specific purpose to bring the word of God (oracles as Paul calls them) to the world.

The Jews were not chosen for salvation as some claim. This wrong interpretation of Scripture has kept billions of souls from coming to God because of prejudices and hatred as well.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710

Verse 1-3 – Sarai, no longer expecting to have children herself, proposed to Abram to take another wife, whose children she might; her slave, whose children would be her property. This was done without asking counsel of the Lord. Unbelief worked, God’s almighty power was forgotten. It was a bad example, and a source of manifold uneasiness. In every relation and situation in life there is some cross for us to bear: much of the exercise of faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord’s time, and using only those means which he appoints for the removal of the cross. Foul temptations may have very fair pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible. Fleshly wisdom puts us out of God’s way. This would not be the case, if we would ask counsel of God by his word and by prayer, before we attempt that which is doubtful.

Verse 4-6 – Abram’s unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it patiently, 1st Peter 2:20.

Verse 7-16 – 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!