Summary of passage: Since Sarai had had no children, she told Abram to sleep with her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, so she could have a family through her (as was the custom the child would be considered Sarai’s). Abram agreed and after 10 years of living in Canaan after Egypt Hagar conceived.
Hagar began to despise Sarai (perhaps resentment or now she wants to usurp Sarai’s position since she is carrying an heir or pain that the child will not be considered hers) and Sarai (like woman do) blamed her husband. Sarai says let God be the judge.
Abram tells Sarai that she can do what she wants with Hagar since Hagar is her servant. Sarai, acting out of her anger and not God’s love, mistreated her and Sarai fled.
3a) Since she herself couldn’t have children she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to stand in her place and give Abram the promised children from God.
b) Genesis 15:4: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”
c) Their faith was in they believed Abram would have a legitimate heir from his body but their unbelief came in believing Sarai would be the mother. Based on both Sarai’s and Abram’s actions, neither believed Sarai could have a child.
4a) Immediate: the dissension, anger, contention, and mistrust that arose between Sarai and Hagar so much so that Hagar fled.
Long-term: Hagar’s son, Ishmael, would be the father of the Arabs–those that surround Israel today and are the founders of Islam (Genesis 16:15). After Isaac was born, the true son of Sarai, Sarai became jealous of Ishmael and drove both Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:8-20). Ishmael’s daughter would marry Abram’s grandson, Esau (Genesis 36:3).
Today: Ishmael is the father of all Arabs so the entire conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere stems from this one sin where Abram and Sarai tried to help God out, resulting in “sibling rivalry” between Jews and Arabs all throughout history and to this day.
b) In the same way as Sarai and Abram did and Jacob did when he stole Esau’s blessing and Moses did when he murdered the Egyptian. We come up with human solutions that are often sinful (taking another woman outside of the covenant of marriage even though it may be accepted by society) that we think will yield God’s promised results. And they never do.
Faith is all that is required. And patience for God to work. If we remember God doesn’t need our help, we’d all be better off.
c) Personal Question. My answer: This is a hard one because I cannot see the long-term effects of my choices it seems. I do know I am very impatient and very opinionated and most of the time I speak before I should when I get angry when it would have been better if I had said nothing at all. Or I act hastily and then regret my decision. This is seen in the little things of my life.
Conclusions: Do you think Sarai wondered if she were good enough to have a son? She obviously had low self-esteem or not enough faith (probably both) in order to offer up her maidservant to her husband. Yet it shows the love she must have had for Abram; she loved him enough in order to give him a promised child not through her. How many of us women would do that today?
This mistake I think we all make: we get impatient and don’t trust God enough to set things right (or we have a mistaken idea of what ‘right’ is). In this instance though, it was a grave mistake. A child is a human being and messing around with God’s HUGE promise of creating nations had ramifications that changed history and last until this day.
Personal sin always affects those around you (and others not so close) and invades your relationships. The profound consequences of the sin here of Abram and Sarai should be a lesson for us all.
End Note: Apparently, back then Hagar would actually have sat on Sarai’s lap as Abram inseminated her to symbolically show that the child would be Sarai’s upon its birth and that Sarai was only the surrogate mother. No wonder Hagar was upset!
I was appalled when Sarai blamed Abram for her “suffering” in verse 5. It was her idea, not Abram’s! He was probably only trying to appease her! Which was true: Abram did appease Sarai–the problem was he shouldn’t have.
As the man and head of the family, Abram should not have agreed to Sarai’s plan so in some sense she does have a right to blame him. He should have been “logical” when Sarai was “too emotional” to think straight. (Sound familiar?) He should have had the faith to wait on God when she didn’t.
Same goes for allowing Sarai to mistreat Hagar (verse 6). I totally disagree with this. As the head, Abram should have dealt with Hagar since Sarai was blinded by emotion. Again, Abram deferred to his wife, which only caused more conflict and strife.