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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 16


1 Abram's wife Sarai had borne him no children. She had, however, an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.


Sarai said to Abram: "The LORD has kept me from bearing children. Have intercourse, then, with my maid; perhaps I shall have sons through her." Abram heeded Sarai's request.


Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his concubine.


He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. When she became aware of her pregnancy, she looked on her mistress with disdain.


So Sarai said to Abram: "You are responsible for this outrage against me. I myself gave my maid to your embrace; but ever since she became aware of her pregnancy, she has been looking on me with disdain. May the LORD decide between you and me!"


Abram told Sarai: "Your maid is in your power. Do to her whatever you please." Sarai then abused her so much that Hagar ran away from her.


2 The LORD'S messenger found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,


and he asked, "Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She answered, "I am running away from my mistress, Sarai."


But the LORD'S messenger told her: "Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.


I will make your descendants so numerous," added the LORD'S messenger, "that they will be too many to count.


3 Besides," the LORD'S messenger said to her: "You are now pregnant and shall bear a son; you shall name him Ishmael, For the LORD has heard you, God has answered you.


He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him; In opposition to all his kin shall he encamp."


4 To the LORD who spoke to her she gave a name, saying, "You are the God of Vision"; she meant, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after my vision?"


5 That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.


Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael.


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



1 [1-6] Sarah's actions are all in keeping with the laws of the time, as known from ancient extra-biblical sources.

2 [7] The LORD'S messenger: a manifestation of God in human form; therefore in Genesis 16:13 the messenger is identified with the Lord himself.

3 [11] Ishmael: in Hebrew the name means "God has heard."

4 [13] The God of Vision: In Hebrew, el-roi; hence the name of the spring. Remained alive: for the ancient notion that a person died on seeing God, cf Genesis 32:31; Exodus 20:19; Deut 4:33; Judges 13:22.

5 [14] Beer-lahai-roi: probably "the well of living sight," i.e., the well where one can see (God) and yet live.

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