Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
Abram and Sarai are still waiting!
God had made Abram promises and sealed them with a covenant agreement, yet 10 years later Abram is still waiting to see the promises fulfilled. It no longer is just his personal fulfillment and security that is at stake, it now seems as if God’s purposes and a blessing to the whole world is at stake.
Plan B (16:1-6):
o Have you ever had an occasion when you acted out of frustration and impatience, and later came to regret it?
o Who does Sarai blame for her inability to bear a child? Is she right?
o What is the relationship between Sarai and Hagar?
o What is Sarai’s solution to the problem of her inability to bear a child for Abram? How does she hope to be “built up” or literally, “sonned up”?
o How does Sarai’s solution change the relationships in the family? Is she “built up”, as she hoped?
“While the Bible from the beginning implicitly regards lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage as God’s intention and thus regards polygamy as in principle not the best thing, neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament prohibits it.” John Goldingay
o In 16:5, Sarai uses a very strong word that is best translated as “violence” or “outrage”. Who does she express anger and resentment toward? Who does she blame? Is she right?
“What is Abram to do? Abraham is a hero on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and a wimp on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today is Tuesday. Caught between the two women in his life, he throws up his hands and points out that Sarah is Hagar’s boss; it’s her problem, and she has the authority to deal with it.” John Goldingay
A son, Ishmael (16:7-16):
Angel of the LORD = Yahweh’s Aide, the LORD’s Messenger
o How does Hagar respond to her problems? Have you ever responded similarly to a difficult situation?
o What questions does the angel ask Hagar? How does she answer those questions?
o Is it fair that the LORD orders Hagar to return to Sarai? What are the blessings in God’s plan and directive?
“Given the significance of names in Genesis, we are not surprised that the aide then gives her unborn son his name, but it is with some chutzpah that he does so. “Ishmael” means “God listens” or “God pays heed.” Once again, you cannot second-guess God. God pursues Hagar who has escaped from ill-treatment and tells her to go back for more, and God calls that “paying heed to her ill-treatment”? So what would it be like to ignore her ill-treatment? Paradoxically, it would be to let her return to Egypt and disappear from the story. It would be not to make the kind of promise God goes on to make in declaring she will have numerous progeny. God has not taken her away from ill-treatment and has rather sent her back for more, but has made it worthwhile. When you meet Hagar in heaven, I don’t think she will be complaining about the aide’s message.” John Goldingay
o Hagar, in turn, names God! El-roi = the God who sees me. How does Hagar explain this name? What did she learn about God in this situation?
Beer Lahai Roi = the Well of the Living One Who Looks for Me.
o What are the long-term results of Sarai’s taking the situation into her own hands?
o How might you depend on God to help you deal with situations in the coming week to avoid bitterness and blame, or running away and avoidance?
o In what situations might using the name, El-roi, The God Who Sees Me, be helpful and meaningful?
o What does Genesis 16 reveal about us as human beings?
o What does Genesis 16 reveal about God?
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997