The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on Genesis

Genesis chapter 16

written by
Kraig J. Rice

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Genesis chapter sixteen
  Chapter 16- Hagar and Ishmael
  Gen. 16:1 - 4 Abram and Sarai decide to help God
  Gen. 16:5 - 6 Hagar was mistreated
  Hagar was loved by God
  The Angel of the Lord
  Gen. 16:15 - 16 The birth of Ishmael
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A devotional commentary is different from an exegetical commentary. In a devotional commentary like this one I can give the application of a verse rather than just the interpretation of a verse.

The hardest thing for us as humans to do
is to believe that
God can take care of everything WITHOUT our help

Genesis Chapter 16
Hagar and Ishmael

Abram and Sarai decide to help God:
"Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an 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. 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. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes"
(Genesis 16:1-4).

Do you really think that the great God of the Universe, Who created the earth and the stars, needed any help with the birth of a baby? I think not. God's people do NOT have to help God.

Hagar was probably a young Egyptian slave, who they purchased in Egypt, to help the aging Sarai who was 75 years old or so at the time. Sarai was childless so she loaned Hagar to Abram to be his concubine for awhile. If a child was born, Abram and Sarai would adopt the child to be their own. Adopting a child that was parented by Abram would be much easier than adopting a child from a total stranger. Who would the child belong to? According to the custom of the day, any child of a female slave would belong to the owner of the female slave
(Genesis 30:3). In other words, Sarai would own Hagar and Ishmael. Sarai's child would be born by a substitute mother.

There was drama in the household. Two women were in love with the same man? It appeared that Hagar usurped Sarai's place as Abram's wife and she used Ishmael as leverage with Abram (as his only son) to try to secure their freedom and get some wealth for herself and her son. In other words, Hagar was in and Sarai was out- it was a classic power struggle. Abram must have gotten tired of all of the fighting, bickering, jealousy, animosity, and more, continuously going on in his home. This is a similar plot that is incorporated today into some "soap opera" shows for American television.

Have you ever wondered why God does not tell you everything that He is accomplishing in the plan for your life? Well, there might be certain drawbacks in God revealing His will to a person- the person might try to help God in some way that is counter-productive. Or, the person might jump ahead of God in their own timing rather than waiting on God's timing. If a person gets ahead of God (the Light) then he or she walks in their own shadow. Sometimes it is hard to see where you are going when you do that. Hagar did not have to have a child by Abram and a lot of grief and drama could have been avoided if they had only waited longer for God to eventually move. One of the abc's of Christian discipleship is delay does not mean denial.

But, sometimes, a person may jump ahead of God's timing. Is all lost when you or I do that? No. There is no adverse circumstance that God cannot handle when we come to Him in faith asking Him to do so. He is a BIG God and is ALL POWERFUL.

Hagar was mistreated:
"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. 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"
(Genesis 16:5-6).

It appears that one of the first things that Sarai did was to blame her husband. But was it not Sarai's idea in the first place to let Hagar have a baby by Abram? Today, many marriage counselors have to deal with problems that take place between a husband and wife. Wiser choices have to be made in any relationship.

A woman in any relationship always thinks about security and Sarai was no different. What was she thinking? Since Abram was old, and if he should die, who would get his inheritance? The oldest son inherited the birthright. This means that Ishmael would get it and Hagar would be blessed by it but Sarai would not. Why did not Hagar get any inheritance from Abram? Hagar was a concubine. A concubine in those days was a minor wife. She had the function of a wife but did not have the legal privileges. So Sarai asked Abram for legal protection. In essence, Sarai was saying, "my wrong is your responsibility." Abram advised her to deal with the problem any way that she saw fit. That was advice from a smart husband! But, Sarai treated Hagar unkindly and Hagar decided to be a runaway slave. Sometimes, today, God's people may be mean and unkind to someone, but running away is not always the best solution. God has ways of working out problems between individuals who love the Lord.

Hagar was loved by God:
"And the Angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 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." Then the Angel of the Lord said:
"Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the Angel of the Lord said unto her: I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 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. 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"
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? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
(Genesis 16:7-14).

Hagar was loved by the Lord. Every person on this earth is loved by the Lord. Everyone is called to repentance.

Who was the Angel of the Lord?
When Moses, the writer of Genesis, used the title "The Angel of the Lord" he was referring to Jesus Christ (the preincarnate Christ- the second Person of the Godhead) Who took a body at certain times during the Old Testament to have fellowship with those who He created. He appeared to certain folks as is recorded in the bible book of Genesis:
(Genesis 16:7-13, 22:11-15, 31:11-13). He appeared to Moses
(Exodus 3:1-6), to Balaam (Numbers 22:22-35), to Gideon (Judges 2:4, 5:23, 6:12-21),
to Samson's parents (Judges 13:3-21), to David (2 Samuel 24:16), and to others
(1 Kings 19:7), (2 Kings 1:3-15, 19:35), (1 Chronicles 21:12-30),
(Psalm 34:7, 35:5-6), (Isaiah 37:36), (Zechariah 1:11-12, 3:1,5-6, 12:8).

The bible says that no man has ever seen God at any time so how can the Angel of the Lord be the preincarnate Christ?
(John 1:18). This verse simply means that God the Father was never seen in bodily form. The Apostle John well understood the fact that Jesus Christ was divine and the Second Person of the godhead (holy trinity) and he knew that Christ was the Angel of the Covenant.

"And Hagar bare Abram a son- and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram"
(Genesis 16:15-16).

The birth of Ishmael
The name Ishmael means "asked of God" or "God hears." He was Abram's son by Hagar, the Egyptian slave. As Hagar prayed and asked God to give her a son, so we can pray and ask God to meet our petitions. We can ask God because He is a God Who hears.

Ishmael became an unwanted child to Sarai. Was his birth a mistake? God loves every person on this earth and there are no mistakes with Him. Satan may lie to us and try to convince us that there are throw away children, children who have no value, or unborn children who do not deserve to live. But we can see from these verses of scripture that God loved Ishmael and had a wonderful plan for his life. God placed value on him. God places value on your child also- your child is loved by God and has great value to Him.

  • My web page against abortion

    How did Ishmael turn out? God had a plan for Ishmael and many of his descendants loved the Lord. As an adult he was known as a nomad- living in the desert with other roaving desert wanderers. Ishmael's original descendants were considered to be "the obedient of God". Eventually, he became the father of the Arabs. Isaac is one of the fathers of the Israelites (the modern day Hebrews). These two individuals were brothers- each from the family lineage of Shem. So these two groups of peoples (the Arabs and the Hebrews) now in the Middle East are blood related. Unfortunately, there is often conflict between them. Where and when did the Arab hatred for the Hebrews begin? One can blame the devil for that. It appears that Adolph Hitler sent "missionaries of hate" to Arab leaders with promises of wealth and fame if they would teach their followers to hate the Hebrews as much as he did. Demon possessed Hitler set in motion his plan to play off these two brothers (Arabs and Hebrews) against themselves- the more they killed each other, the fewer would be left for Hitler to exterminate in the end as he only wanted the Aryan race to inherit his universal third reich. But Satan himself hates the Hebrews because they are a people under covenant with God. So, there is conflict in the middle east and in other parts of the world between the Arabs and Hebrews. I guess my question is: where in the world are the peace makers today who can keep these two brothers from fighting with each other? Let us do all we can to be peace makers today in that regards. Jesus said:
    "Blessed are the peacemakers- for they shall be called the children of God"
    (Matthew 5:9).

    God was called "Thou God seest me" or "the God who sees me." God also sees everything that you and I do- nothing escapes His attention. Beer-lahai-roi means "well of the living and seeing God" or "well of the Living One who sees me."

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