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Genesis 16:13-16

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 16:13
  • Genesis 16:14
  • Genesis 16:15
  • Genesis 16:16

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.


Genesis chapter 16 contains the events of the birth of Ishmael. Abram and Sarai still had not conceived a child, a decade had passed. Sarai suggests that Abram have a child with Sarai’s servant Hagar. When Hagar does get pregnant, Hagar despises Sarai and is treated harshly in return. So, Hagar runs away, but an angel of the Lord speaks to her and tells her to return and submit to Sarai. Hagar has a son and they name him Ishmael. This chapter shows that God’s plans are bigger than the plans of humans.


Hagar recognized the angel to be God. She returned and bore a son to Abram. They named him Ishmael.

Hagar realized she had been privileged to a divine encounter; she called God by a title. You are a God who sees(Hebrew El Roi), which means “God who sees me.” God sees everything. God knew Hagar and was watching over her. It appears that Hagar concluded she was speaking directly to God and not an angel. Verse 10 tells us she was speaking to “the angel of the Lord” and now verse 13 tells us that the LORD spoke to her. Many believe that both these statements can be true because the messenger of God who appeared to Hagar was Jesus appearing in the form of a human but prior to actually becoming human by being born of Mary.

Hagar realizes she has seen God and says “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” In other words, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” The idea that one who saw God could not survive is quite frequent in scripture (Genesis 32:30; Exodus 19:21, 33:20; Judges 6:22-23, 13:22-23).

By calling the well Beer-lahai-roi, Hagar was saying, “now I have seen the God who sees me.” Literally, this means, “well of the living One that sees me” (Genesis 24:62, 25:11).

Hagar obeyed the angel and returned to Abram’s household and Hagar bore Abram a son. Abram and Sarai accepted Hagar back into their home. God’s promise that Abram would bear a son from his body has now come true. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. It was customary for the father to name the children (Genesis 5:3, 21:3). By naming Ishmael, Abram publicly acknowledges him as his son. We can deduce that Hagar told Abram and Sarai about her encounter with God at the oasis, since Abram named her son Ishmael. By this Abram validates her encounter. This could also be why Sarai apparently allowed her return.

Abram was 75 when God first called him and promised to make him a great nation (Genesis 24:4). Ishmael was born 11 years after Abram settled in the land of Canaan at the time when he was eighty-six years old.

The Apostle Paul compares the child from Hagar to the Law given on Mount Sinai. Hagar and Ishmael’s story will become an illustration that the efforts of man cannot produce the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God can only come from the power of God, which will be illustrated by the miraculous birth of Isaac by Sarai. The same can be said for obeying rules. Obeying rules does not create righteousness in the sight of God. Only receiving the free gift offered by God through Jesus creates righteousness in God’s sight.  (Galatians 4:21-5:1).

Biblical Text

13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

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