King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 16

Sarai gives Hagar to Abram. (1-3) Hagar’s misbehaviour to Sarai. (4-6) The Angel commands Hagar to return, The promise to her Birth of Ishmael. (7-16)

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Sarai gives Hagar to Abram

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.

Hagar’s misbehaviour to Sarai

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 thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

The promise to her Birth of Ishmael

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. May have. Heb. “may be built up,” a metaphorical expression: so God is said to have built up houses for the Egyptian midwives. Ex. i. 21. M.

Ver. 3. Ten years after she was 65; which shews that she might reasonably conclude she would now have no children herself; and as she knew God had promised Abram a son, she thought he might follow the custom of those times, and have him by a second wife. Abram shewed no eagerness on this matter, but only yielded to his wife’s petition, deprecanti, being well aware of the inconveniences of polygamy, which Sarai had soon reason to observe. This is the first time we read of polygamy since the deluge; but it is not mentioned as any thing singular or unlawful. This was a matter in which God could dispense; but it was never left to the disposal of any man. Hence, when Luther and his associates ventured to dispense with the Landgrave of Hesse, to keep two wives at once, he required him to keep it a secret, being ashamed of his own conduct. He still maintained it was a thing indifferent, even in the law of grace, though Christ has so expressly condemned it. See præp 62, 65. The practice, so common of late in this country, of marrying again after a bill of divorce has been passed, is no less contrary to the Catholic doctrine, which allows only a separation of the parties from bed and board, in cases of adultery; but never of a second marriage, while both the parties are living. 1 Cor. vii. S. Aug. de adult. conj. i. de C. D. xvi. 25, 38. and other fathers. H. — It was never lawful for one woman to have two husbands. W. — To wife. Plurality of wives, though contrary to the primitive institution of marriage, Gen. ii. 24. was by divine dispensation allowed to the patriarchs; which allowance seems to have continued during the time of the law of Moses. But Christ our Lord reduced marriage to its primitive institution. S. Matt. xix.

Ver. 5. Despiseth. Few bear prosperity in a proper manner! — And thee. Sarai things it is the duty of her husband to restrain the insolence of Agar. She commits her cause to God, and does not seek revenge. M.

Ver. 6. Afflicted her, as she now resented even a moderate correction. H.

Ver. 7. In the desert; omitted in Heb. being a repetition of in the wilderness. C.

Ver. 9. Humble thyself. The angel, in God’s name, does not blame Sarai; but gives Agar to understand that the fault was wholly on her side. H.

Ver. 11. Ismael, means “God hath heard” the groans and distress of Agar. C.

Ver. 12. Wild. Heb. like a wild ass, not to be tamed or subdued. The Saracens or Arabs, have almost all along maintained their independence. — Over against, ready to fight, without any dread of any one. C.

Ver. 13. Thou the God. She had imagined before that she was talking to some man; but perceiving, at parting, that it was some superior being, she invoked him thus. —The hinder parts, as Moses did afterwards. Ex. xxxiii. to let us know, that we cannot fully comprehend the nature of an angel, much less of God. Hebrew may be: “what! have I seen (do I live) after He has seen me.” The Hebrews generally supposed, that death would presently overtake the person who had seen the Lord or his angel. Jud. vi. 22. Ex. xxxii. 20. C.

Ver. 15. Agar being returned home, and having obtained pardon. — Ismael, as the angel had foretold; an honour shewn to very few; such as Isaac, Solomon, Jesus, &c. H.