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Genesis Chapter 16
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Birth of Ishmael
16:1 Abram's wife Sarai had not borne him any children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl by the name of Hagar.
16:2 Sarai said to Abram, 'God has kept me from having children. Come to my slave, and hopefully I will have sons through her.' Abram heeded Sarai.
16:3 After Abram had lived in Canaan for ten years, his wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian her slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.
16:4 [Abram] came to her, and she conceived. When she realized that she was pregnant, she looked at her mistress with contempt.
16:5 Sarai said to Abram, 'It's all your fault! I myself placed my slave in your arms! Now that she sees herself pregnant, she looks at me with disrespect. Let God judge between me and you!'
16:6 Abram replied to Sarai, 'Your slave is in your hands. Do with her as you see fit.' Sarai abused her, and [Hagar] ran away from her.
16:7 An angel of God encountered her by a spring in the desert, in the oasis on the road to Shur.
16:8 [The angel] said, 'Hagar, maid of Sarai! From where are you coming, and where are you going?'

'I am running away from my mistress, Sarai,' she replied.

16:9 The angel of God said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her.'
16:10 [Another] angel said in God's name, 'I will grant you many descendants. They will be so many that they will be uncountable.'
16:11 [Still another] angel of God said to her, 'You are pregnant, and will give birth to a son. You must name him Ishmael, for God has heard your prayer.
16:12 He will be a rebel. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him. Still, he will dwell undisturbed near all his brothers.'
16:13 [Hagar] gave a name to God who had spoken to her, [saying], 'You are a Vision God,' for she said, 'Didn't I [still] see here after my vision?'
16:14 She therefore named the oasis, 'Oasis to Life my Vision' (Be'er LaChai Ro'i). It is between Kadesh and Bered.
16:15 Hagar bore Abram's son. Abram gave the name Ishmael to his son, who had been born to Hagar.
16:16 He was 86 years old when Hagar bore his son Ishmael.



Commentary:

Come
  Denoting intimacy, as in biyah (Ibn Janach).

I will have sons
  Or, 'I will be built up.'

ten years
  That is, when Abraham was 85 years old; see Genesis 12:4. This, then, was in the year 2033.

in your arms
  Literally, 'in your bosom,' or 'in your lap.'

oasis
  Eyin in Hebrew, as distinguished from eyn ha-mayim which we translate as well or spring.

road to Shur
  This was a well known road to Egypt, some 50 miles south of the Mediterranean coast. It is obvious that Hagar was returning to Egypt, her homeland (cf. Genesis 16:1).

The Targum translates Shur as Chagra, a city on the border of the Holy Land, possibly on the 'River of Egypt' (Wadi el Arish, see Genesis 15:18). This would place it near the present Al Qusayma, approximately 100 miles southwest of Hebron. The name Shur is still found in the area in such places as Jebel es-Sur in the et-Tih desert.

Josephus identifies Shur with Pelusium on the Mediterranean coast near Egypt (Antiquities 6:7:3). Saadia Gaon states that it is Jifar. Also see note on Genesis 16:14.

The angel therefore encountered Hagar just as she was leaving the Holy Land.

Another
  Cf. Rashi on Genesis 16:9

in God's name
  Literally, 'An angel of God said to her,' but obviously it was God making the promise, and not the angel (cf. Radak; Rashi on Genesis 18:10).

Ishmael
  Yishmael in Hebrew, literally, 'God will hear.'

prayer
  (Targum). Literally, 'suffering'.

rebel
  (Targum; cf. Ibn Ezra). Pereh Adam in Hebrew. Pereh is a wild donkey (cf. Isaiah 32:14, Hosea 8:9, Job 6:5, 11:12, 24:5) and hence, it can be translated, 'a wild donkey of a man' (Targum Yonathan; Ramban). Rashi interprets it to mean an 'outdoor man' or 'a man who will live in Paran.'

dwell undisturbed
  See note on Genesis 14:13. Cf. Targum Yonathan.

near all his brothers
  Or, 'He will dwell over all his brothers,' (cf. Rashi).

gave a name...
  Or, 'prayed to God' (Targum).

Vision God
  Or, 'God of vision' (Ibn Ezra).

Didn't I...
  (cf. Targum; Rashi). Or, 'Wasn't I able to see after my vision?' or 'Did I not have a vision after He saw me?' (Ibn Ezra).

Oasis to Life my Vision
  Or 'Well of the lifegiving vision,' (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah); 'Well of the vision of the Living One' (Rashi; Targum); or 'Well to the Living One who sees me' (Ibn Ezra). Ibn Ezra identifies this with Zimum (or in other versions, Zimzum), where the Arabs hold an annual festival. This is Zemzem near Mecca. According to this, however, Hagar headed into the Arabian Peninsula rather than toward Egypt.

Kadesh
  See note on Genesis 14:7.

Bered
  Or Bared. The Targum renders this Chagra, the same as it does for Shur; see note on Genesis 16:7. Targum Yonathan, however, has Chalutzah. Kadesh and Bered were some 20 miles apart, and the oasis was between them on the Shur Road.

86 years old
  See note on Genesis 16:3. This was the year 2034.





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