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Genesis chapter 16

New International Version

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;
2 so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.
4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, 'You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.'
6 Your slave is in your hands,' Abram said. 'Do with her whatever you think best.' Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.
8 And he said, 'Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?' 'I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,' she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, 'Go back to your mistress and submit to her.' 10 The angel added, 'I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.'
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: 'You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.'
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.' 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
English Standard Version

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” 6 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.
7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
King James Version

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.
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.
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 Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
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.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not borne him a child, but she had an Egyptian slave woman whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please have relations with my slave woman; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And so after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave woman, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 Then he had relations with Hagar, and she conceived; and when Hagar became aware that she had conceived, her mistress was insignificant in her sight. 5 So Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done to me be upon you! I put my slave woman into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was insignificant in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me.' 6 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.
7 Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, 'Hagar, Sarai’s slave woman, from where have you come, and where are you going?' And she said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.' 9 So the angel of the LORD said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.' 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.'
11 The angel of the LORD said to her further, 'Behold, you are pregnant, And you will give birth to a son; And you shall name him Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.
12 But he will be a wild donkey of a man; His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live in defiance of all his brothers.'
13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are a God who sees me'; for she said, 'Have I even seen Him here and lived after He saw me?' 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore a son to Abram; and Abram named his son, to whom Hagar gave birth, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.
New Living Translation

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, 'The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.' And Abram agreed with Sarai's proposal. 3 So Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
4 So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, 'This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she's pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who's wrong--you or me!'
6 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.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.
8 The angel said to her, 'Hagar, Sarai's servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?' 'I'm running away from my mistress, Sarai,' she replied.
9 The angel of the LORD said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.' 10 Then he added, 'I will give you more descendants than you can count.'
11 And the angel also said, 'You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means 'God hears'), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.'
13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, 'You are the God who sees me.' She also said, 'Have I truly seen the One who sees me?' 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means 'well of the Living One who sees me'). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Abram's wife Sarai had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, "Since the LORD has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family." And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife for him. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan ten years. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became contemptible to her. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and when she saw that she was pregnant, I became contemptible to her. May the LORD judge between me and you."
6 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.
7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
8 He said, "Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She replied, "I'm running away from my mistress Sarai."
9 The angel of the LORD said to her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority." 10 The angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count."
11 The angel of the LORD said to her, "You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard your cry of affliction. 12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives."
13 So she named the LORD who spoke to her: "You are El-roi," for she said, "In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?" 14 That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram's son, and Abram named his son (whom Hagar bore) Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

What does Genesis chapter 16 mean?

Genesis 16 continues to follow the life of one of Israel's greatest patriarchs: Abram, who will soon be renamed Abraham. To this point, Abram and his wife Sarai are still childless, despite Abram being well over seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4). In fact, at this point in the narrative, Abram is pushing ninety (Genesis 16:16)! In the prior chapter, Abram has voiced his concerns to God about the situation, and God has responded with a dramatic demonstration of His intentions.

For all these many years, Abram has resisted following the normal practices of his day. Abram and Sarai were wealthy. They had many servants. Abram could have taken many wives. He chose, instead, to wait for God to fulfill the promise of children through his barren wife Sarai. Until now. With Abram in his mid-80s, Sarai has apparently become tired of waiting. In her eyes, it is time to go to plan B: giving her Egyptian servant girl Hagar to Abram, in order to finally obtain a child. Apparently, if a wife was unable to bear children, it was considered appropriate for her to give a servant to her husband, as another wife, with the understanding that any children born to that servant would rightfully become the child of the original wife. In a disappointing moment of faithlessness, Abram agrees, and Hagar quickly becomes pregnant.

Then the plan unravels. Hagar, elevated from slave to wife and now birth mother, begins to treat her mistress Sarai with contempt. Perhaps Hagar wondered what she and Abram need Sarai for. Perhaps she resented the idea that her child would belong to Sarai. In any case, the dynamic changes. Sarai's feelings about her plan change, as well. She makes it clear to Abram that she holds him responsible for this conflict! And, she demands that he make clear that Sarai remains in authority over Hagar. Again, Abram agrees. With that approval, Sarai deals harshly with Hagar, so harshly that Hagar runs off into the wilderness alone, maybe fearful for her life.

God, however, will not allow Hagar and her child to be discarded so easily. The angel of the Lord, perhaps Yahweh Himself, finds Hagar resting at a spring along a road leading back to her homeland of Egypt. He gives to Hagar a command and a promise.

First, the angel of the Lord tells Hagar to return and submit to Sarai. Then He reveals that she will bear a son, Ishmael, and that his offspring will become so numerous as to be uncountable. However, he will be a "wild donkey" of a man and his life—and the lives of his descendants—will be marked by conflict with everyone. In spite of this mixed news, Hagar is astonished and grateful that God has heard her. The name of her son, Ishmael, means "God hears." She names the Lord who heard her cry and came to her the "God of seeing" and names the well Beer-lahai-roi, "well of the living One who sees."

Hagar returns to Abram and Sarai, and Ishmael is born. While God has given a guarantee of blessing to Hagar and Ishamel, this boy is not the child of the promise. This was not how God planned to accomplish His will, and the son born from Abram's second wife is not the fulfillment of the Lord's vows to Abram. Another 13 years will pass before God will fully reveal His plan to Abram, giving he and Sarai their long-awaited son.