Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 16-18
Genesis 16:1-6 NKJV Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.” So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.
16:1–6. Sarai was barren so by all human calculations the heir of the promise could not come through her at all. This set in motion some dubious activities by Abram and Sarai. Abram learned, however, that God’s promise was not to be fulfilled in this way.
In the legal custom of that day, a barren woman could give her maid to her husband as a wife, and the child born of that union was regarded as the first wife’s child. If the husband said to the slave wife’s son, “You are my son,” then he was the adopted son and heir. So Sarai’s suggestion was unobjectionable according to the customs of that time. But God often repudiates social customs.
Sarai’s plan, with Abram’s approval, turned sour, however, after the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, became pregnant. Hagar began to despise Sarai. Both women may have wondered what would become of Abram’s seed. Would Hagar have it? Because of the conflict between the women, Sarai blamed Abram for the problem. He told her to handle it in whatever way she wished. Sarai then mistreated (‘ānâh; see comment on this word in 15:13) Hagar so that she fled (16:6).
Now Abram, who like Adam followed the wrong advice of his wife (3:17), was caught weakly in the middle. Genesis 17:1-6 (KJV) And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations
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