OceanSide church of Christ

 Previous Return to list of Genesis Next 


Genesis 16

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 16


A.   Go In Unto My Maid

B.    An Ill-Conceived Conception

C.   The Battle Begins:  Sarai vs Hagar


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 16:  Genesis 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.


Why this verse:  The passage reveals three things to us:  1) Sarai’s doubts, 2) Sarai’s plan, and 3) Abram’s compliance.  These three things would culminate in the birth of a son.  This child would bring hardship to Abram and his descendants for years to come.


III.       The Outline of Genesis 16


i.               The Plan (Gen. 16:1-4a)

ii.              The Pain (Gen. 16:4b-6)

iii.            The Promise (Gen. 16:7-14)

iv.            The Parturition (Gen. 16:15-16)


IV.        The Lessons of Genesis 17


A.   All Ishmaelites are a mix of the Hebrews and the Egyptians (Gen. 16:1).


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


B.    Sarah formed her own plans whereby she could have children instead of consulting the Lord about the situation (Gen. 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.


1.     We have no record of God’s having communicated directly with Sarai at this point.  All her information came from Abram.

2.     Abram had been promised a seed from his “own bowels,” but God had not specifically told him that Sarai would bear the son.

3.     They should have consulted with God before taking matters into their own hands.

C.   This is the first time that we read of a slave being given to a husband as a “second wife” (Gen. 16:3).


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.


D.   When God’s plans are not followed, problems often ensue.  One problem that can develop involves strained relationships (Gen. 16:4).


And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived:  and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.


1.     What was a mistress/slave relationship became a competition between two wives.

2.     The example of Amnon and Tamar.

a.     David’s son, Amnon, loved Tamar the sister of Absalom (II Sam. 13:1).

b.    Instead of requesting her hand in marriage, he forced Tamar to lie with him (II Sam. 13:14).

c.    The result was his hatred of Tamar (II Sam. 13:15).


Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her.  And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.


3.     Ill-conceived plans can come back to us with evil consequences (See Haman, Esther 5:14; 7:10).


So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.  Then was the king’s wrath pacified.


E.    When our plans backfire, we often try to lay the blame on others (Gen. 16:5).


And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee…


1.     There are two “takes” on this statement:

a.     The way Sarai had been treated by Hagar was the fault of Abram (i.e., Thou art the cause of it).

b.    Sarai wished the same affliction upon Abram as she had received from Hagar (i.e., May the injury done to me return upon thee!).

2.     She seems to invoke the judgment of God to determine which one of them had committed the worst offense.


F.     In conflicts, the least guilty can sometimes receive the most severe consequences (Gen. 16:6).


But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, they maid is in thy hand; do with her as it pleaseth thee.  And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.



1.     The three accomplices:

a.     Sarai originated the plan.

b.    Abram complied with it.

c.    Hagar despised Sarai when she conceived.

2.     The three actions:

a.     Abram passes the buck back to Sarai.  This is somewhat shocking in light of v. 3.  Hagar was given to Abram “to be his wife.”

b.    Sarah deals harshly with Hagar.  This may have involved a beating.

c.    All Hagar can do it flee.


G.   The prophecy concerning Ishmael and his descendants (Gen. 16:10-12).

1.     “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for a multitude.”

2.     “Behold, thou art with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael.”

3.     “And he will be a wild man” (…depicts most aptly “the Bedouin’s boundless love of freedom as he rides about in the desert, sword in hand, upon his camel or horse, hardy, frugal, reveling in the varied beauty of nature, and despising town life in every form” (Keil,  ).

4.     “His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.”  “Ishmael’s descendants have been the source of countless wars and strife, affecting virtually everyone.  Neither Ishmael nor his descendants could get along with others for very long” (Genesis, Bob Winton, 101).

5.     “He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”  “That race has neither been dissipated by conquest, nor lost by migration, nor confounded with the blood of other countries.  They have continued to dwell in the presence of their brethren, a distinct nation, wearing upon the whole the same factors and aspects which this prophecy first impressed upon them” (The Book of Genesis, Marcus Dods, p. 151 as quoted by Coffman, p. 221, as quoted by Winton, p. 101).


H.   Hagar acknowledged God’s providential care and named the well Beer-lahai-roi, “the well of the living one who seeth me” (Gen. 16:13-14).


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 Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.


I.     “Abram’s age is given as 96 at the time of Ishmael’s birth.  It was another 13 years before God appeared to him again, when he was 99 years old, and made the specific promise of the intended son to be born of Sarai.  During the intervene-ing years he and Sarai would have to live with the situation which they had brought upon themselves.  He probably thought that Ishamael was the promised seed, and even spoke of this with the Lord” (Winton, 102).


J.    This is the first time that we encounter “the angel of the Lord” (gen. 16:7).  In verse 13, we learn that this angel is God.  And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me…