Genesis 16:7-16

Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”

The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.”

10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”

11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”

14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

Hagar had started home to Egypt, but the journey through the wilderness was bound to be too much for her. Consequently, the “Angel of the Lord” met her and constrained her to return to Abram. This is the first occurrence of this phrase in the Bible, and the context indicates (v. 13) that this “angel” was indeed God Himself, that is, another preincarnate appearance of the Messiah. 

Ishmael (meaning “God hears” ) would, by his name, always remind his mother how the God of Abram (not her old gods in Egypt, to which she had started to return) had met her need. She even named the well where the Angel of Jehovah had spoken to her “the well of the Living One who seeith me” (Beer-lahai-roi), and called God by the name El Roi (“the God who sees”).

God also foretold the nature of her son, that he would be, literally, “a wild ass of a man,” one who would be perpetually in conflict with others, dwelling “against the face of his brethren.” — Morris, pages 330-331.


The consequence …—since it concerns sexual sin and hence the issue of patrimony—is … centered in the son of the union, Ishmael, and his descendants—specifically, that he/they would be like a wild donkey (i.e. uncontrollable and fractious), with especial animosity (such being the sense of “to the east”—i.e., in rebellion/enmity) towards his brothers in the line of Promise, Israel. Throughout the Bible, accordingly, the Ishmaelites—i.e., the Arabs—are represented as being in continual opposition to Israel and their assertion of ownership and dominion of the land of Israel (cf. Psalm 83:6; Nehemiah 6:1)—as is also the case in post-biblical history up to the present day. Thus, for example, the great rabbinic authority Maimonides writes in his famous Letter to Yemen, concerning the state of affairs between Jews and Arabs in the twelfth century: “We prefer peace with them [i.e., the Ishmaelites], yet they prefer strife and warfare with us, as David said, (Woe is me … for I dwell among the tents of Kedar [and Ismaelite/Arab tribe; cf. Genesis 25:13] …;) I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war (Psalm 120:5-7).” It is essential to note, as it bears upon the present Jewish-Arab “conflict,” that this enmity is declaratively established by God in verse 12, the implication being that only God Himself (and not diplomacy) can remove it—as he does, exclusively and completely, in Christ. Wechsler, pages 192-193.

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