Genesis 16:6
But Abram said to Sarai, Behold, your maid is in your hand; do to her as it pleases you. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
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(6) Sarai dealt hardly with her.—The verb is translated afflicted in Exodus 1:11 and Isaiah 60:14; its more exact meaning is, Sarai humbled her, that is, reduced her to her original condition. It was quite right that as Hagar had abused her elevation, Abram should make her yield to Sarai all due respect and submission; but in making her resume her old position as a slave, Sarai was possibly dealing unkindly with her (but see on Genesis 16:9). In running away Hagar not only showed the untamable love of freedom which Ishmael inherited from her, but apparently was repeating the act from which she had her name.

Genesis 16:6. Thy maid is in thy hand — Though she was his wife, he would not countenance her in any thing disrespectful to Sarai. Those who would keep up peace and love must return soft answers to hard accusations; husbands and wives particularly should endeavour not to be both angry together. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her — Making her to serve with rigour; she fled from her face — She not only avoided her wrath for the present, but totally deserted her service.16:4-6 Abram's unhappy marriage to Hagar very soon made a great deal of mischief. We may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this case, Passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause. Hagar forgot that she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it patiently, 1Pe 2:20.A Mizrite handmaid. - Hagar was probably obtained, ten years before, during their sojourn in Egypt. "The Lord hath restrained me." It was natural to the ancient mind to recognize the power and will of God in all things. "I shall be builded by her," אבנה 'ı̂bāneh, built as the foundation of a house, by the addition of sons or daughters (בנים bānı̂ym or בנית bānôt). She thought she had or wished to have a share in the promise, if not by herself personally, yet through her maid. The faith of Sarah had not yet come fully to the birth. Abram yields to the suggestion of his wife, and complies with the custom of the country. Ten years had elapsed since they had entered the land they were to inherit. Impatience at the long delay leads to an invention of their own for obtaining an heir. The contempt of her maid was unjustifiable. But it was the natural consequence of Sarai's own improper and imprudent step, in giving her to her husband as a concubine. Unwilling, however, to see in herself the occasion of her maid's insolence, she transfers the blame to her husband, who empowers or reminds her of her power still to deal with her as it pleased her. Hagar, unable to bear the yoke of humiliation, flees from her mistress.5. And Sarai said … My wrong be upon thee—Bursts of temper, or blows, as the original may bear, took place till at length Hagar, perceiving the hopelessness of maintaining the unequal strife, resolved to escape from what had become to her in reality, as well as in name, a house of bondage. Thy maid is in thine hand, i.e. subject to thy power and authority, as the phrase is taken, Genesis 24:10 39:4,6,8 Num 31:49. For though she be my concubine, yet she is thy inferior; and therefore if she exalt herself above her measure, I give thee power to exercise thy authority over her. But whether this was not one of Abram’s infirmities, to give up his second wife into the hands of the first, may well be questioned. Use whatsoever power God hath given thee over her; for we must not think that Abram gave her power of life and death over her, especially now when she was with child. Therefore here, as often elsewhere, the general words must be limited from the nature of the thing, and from other texts of Scripture, which forbid cruelty even to our servants.

And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, either by imposing labours upon her above her strength, or by grievous stripes which she could not bear,

she fled from her face, contrary to God’s command, Ecclesiastes 10:4, and to the laws of justice, because both her person and the fruit of her body were not her own, but Abram’s right in possession. But Abram said unto Sarai,.... In a meek, mild and gentle manner:

behold, thy maid is in thine hand; though Hagar was Abram's secondary wife he still considers her as Sarai's maid, and as subject to her, and allows her to exercise authority over her; for he still retained the same love and affection for Sarai, his first and lawful wife, and showed the same respect he ever did, and supported her in her honour and dignity:

do to her as it pleaseth thee: not giving her liberty to take away her life, nor even to use her cruelly, but to deal with her as a mistress might lawfully do with a servant, or however exercise that power which a first wife had over a second: perhaps Abram, in complaisance to Sarai, gave her too large a commission, and left it too much in her power to distress Hagar; and it might have been more correct to have heard both sides, and judged between them, and used his own authority, by reproving and correcting as he saw meet; had she been only Sarai's maid and not his wife, it would have been less exceptionable; however, for peace sake, he gave leave to Sarai to do as she would:

and when Sarai dealt hardly with her; or afflicted her (m), not only with words but with blows, as some think, and unmercifully beat her, and laid hard service upon her she was not able to go through, especially in her circumstances; though it may be she only chastised her in such a manner as a mistress may chastise her maid, since the angel seems to approve of what she did, Genesis 16:9; which her proud spirit not being able to bear:

she fled from her face; which was set against her, and was full of wrath and fury: she deserted her service, quitted Abram's house though with child by him; unmindful of the various relations she stood in, which should have obliged her to have kept her place, and especially until she had made proper remonstrances of her ill usage, and could have no redress; but, unable to bear the treatment she met with, meditated a flight into her own country, Egypt, for by what follows it appears she steered her course that way; this flight of hers was agreeable to her name, for Hagar in the Arabic language signifies to "flee", hence the flight of Mahomet is called the Hegira.

(m) "eam affligeret", Tigurine version, Schmidt; "afflixit eam", Fagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.

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.
6. in thy hand] Abram replies, with forbearance, that Hagar is under Sarai’s authority. Whether this is a formal transference of Hagar back into the power of Sarai, after she had become, as a concubine, the property of Abram, is not explained.

dealt hardly] The same word as that rendered “afflict” (Genesis 15:13). Here it evidently means “persecute,” “ill-treat.”

fled] The character of Hagar is depicted as high-spirited and courageous, as well as independent. There is no evidence that her conduct was insolent.Verse 6. - But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand (regarding her still as one of Sarai's servants, though elevated to the rank of secondary wife to himself); do to her as it pleaseth thee. Literally, the good in thine eyes; in which conduct of the patriarch may be seen perhaps

(1) an evidence of his peaceful disposition in doing violence to his feelings as a husband in order to restore harmony to his disquieted household (Calvin), and

(2) a proof that he had already found out his mistake in expecting the promised seed through Hagar (Calvin); but also

(3) an indication of weakness in yielding to Sarai's passionate invective (Willet, Bush), and

(4) an unjustifiable wrong inflicted on the future mother of his child (Candlish). And when Sarai dealt hardly with her - (literally, afflicted) her by thrusting her back into the condition of a slave (Lange, Candlish); though probably by stripes or maltreatment of some sort in addition (Ainsworth, Bush) - she fled from her face.

CHAPTER 16:7-16 In Genesis 15:18-21 this divine revelation is described as the making of a covenant (בּרית, from בּרה to cut, lit., the bond concluded by cutting up the sacrificial animals), and the substance of this covenant is embraced in the promise, that God would give that land to the seed of Abram, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates. The river (נהר) of Egypt is the Nile, and not the brook (נחל) of Egypt (Numbers 34:5), i.e., the boundary stream Rhinocorura, Wady el Arish. According to the oratorical character of the promise, the two large rivers, the Nile and the Euphrates, are mentioned as the boundaries within which the seed of Abram would possess the promised land, the exact limits of which are more minutely described in the list of the tribes who were then in possession. Ten tribes are mentioned between the southern border of the land and the extreme north, "to convey the impression of universality without exception, of unqualified completeness, the symbol of which is the number ten" (Delitzsch). In other passages we find sometimes seven tribes mentioned (Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10), at other times six (Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 23:23; Deuteronomy 20:17), at others five (Exodus 13:5), at others again only two (Genesis 13:7); whilst occasionally they are all included in the common name of Canaanites (Genesis 12:6). The absence of the Hivites is striking here, since they are not omitted from any other list where as many as five or seven tribes are mentioned. Out of the eleven descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:15-18) the names of four only are given here; the others are included in the common name of the Canaanites. On the other hand, four tribes are given, whose descent from Canaan is very improbable. The origin of the Kenites cannot be determined. According to Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11, Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses, was a Kenite. His being called Midianite (Numbers 10:29) does not prove that he was descended from Midian (Genesis 25:2), but is to be accounted for from the fact that he dwelt in the land of Midian, or among the Midianites (Exodus 2:15). This branch of the Kenites went with the Israelites to Canaan, into the wilderness of Judah (Judges 1:16), and dwelt even in Saul's time among the Amalekites on the southern border of Judah (1 Samuel 15:6), and in the same towns with members of the tribe of Judah (1 Samuel 30:29). There is nothing either in this passage, or in Numbers 24:21-22, to compel us to distinguish these Midianitish Kenites from those of Canaan. The Philistines also were not Canaanites, and yet their territory was assigned to the Israelites. And just as the Philistines had forced their way into the land, so the Kenites may have taken possession of certain tracts of the country. All that can be inferred from the two passages is, that there were Kenites outside Midian, who were to be exterminated by the Israelites. On the Kenizzites, all that can be affirmed with certainty is, that the name is neither to be traced to the Edomitish Kenaz (Genesis 36:15, Genesis 36:42), nor to be identified with the Kenezite Jephunneh, the father of Caleb of Judah (Numbers 32:12; Joshua 14:6 : see my Comm. on Joshua, p. 356, Eng. tr.). - The Kadmonites are never mentioned again, and their origin cannot be determined. On the Perizzites see Genesis 13:7; on the Rephaims, Genesis 14:5; and on the other names, Genesis 10:15-16.
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