Genesis 16:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 16:6, NIV: "Your slave is in your hands,' Abram said. 'Do with her whatever you think best.' Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her."

Genesis 16:6, ESV: "But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her."

Genesis 16:6, KJV: "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 16:6, NASB: "But Abram said to Sarai, 'Look, your slave woman is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.' So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence."

Genesis 16:6, NLT: "Abram replied, 'Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.' Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away."

Genesis 16:6, CSB: "Abram replied to Sarai, "Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her." Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her."

What does Genesis 16:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The text suggests Sarai was requesting Abram settle the question of whether Hagar was still bound under Sarai by a servant-master authority. Sarai was the one who had given Hagar to be Abram's wife in hopes of getting a child for herself. Sarai did not, apparently, anticipate that Abram's new wife would come to look on her mistress with contempt. When Sarai came to Abram to hold him responsible for this imbalance in power, Abram gave Sarai exactly what she wanted. He tells Sarai to do to Hagar as she pleases and makes it clear that the woman is still under Sarai's full authority.

Abram might not have anticipated how harsh Sarai's response to Hagar would be. Scripture doesn't specifically reveal all the emotions in play. Perhaps Abram was feeling guilty for agreeing to the plan in the first place. Sarai certainly seems to be holding over his head that he "embraced" this woman, even though it was at her urging. In addition, Sarai was likely stung with grief and jealousy that another woman had so easily become the bearer of Abram's child, something she had always hoped to be. Even worse, this woman had become smug and contemptuous of her.

Whatever the feelings, Sarai seems to have unleashed them on Hagar by dealing harshly with her. Hagar ran, possibly even fearing for her life.