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Genesis 16:1-16

Hemeneutics Spring 2013
by

Sarah Boyd

on 25 February 2013

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Transcript of Genesis 16:1-16

Genesis 16:1-16 By: Andrew Bays
Cody Blust
Sarah Boyd "World Behind" the text "World Within" the text Andrew Andrew Andrew Andrew Sarah -The Theological context of this world is one in which God speaks to Abram in a divine call. God calls, Abram responds.
-The expression used in Genesis 15, "'The word of the Lord came,' is common in the prophets, only occurs here in the Pentateuch." (Fretheim 444) This makes the word that Abram receives significant.
-This is a culture in which covenants are taken seriously to the people involved because the consequences of breaking them are severe.
-Shame associated with childlessness in that culture. (Fretheim 451)
-Sarai believes theologically that she must have done something amoral to be punished like this. (Fretheim 451)
-Giving Hagar to Abram as a wife was not a wrong thing to do. It was a common practice in that culture at that time.
(Fretheim 452) Genre/Rhetorical function-Narrative; the rhetorical function is to take a look at, “a highly dysfunctional family system in which individuals- both male and female- are caught up in swirls of dissension beyond their own making or ability to control.” (Fretheim 451).

Literary Setting = God had called Abram to leave his home and move to a land that was far away. Abram obeys and then finds himself at a crossroads because he is getting older and he is still childless and without an heir. Genesis 15 is a moment of reassurance for Abram when God appears to him in a vision and makes a covenant with him.
In Genesis 17, God makes another covenant with Abram (name now changed to Abraham). This is the covenant of circumcision, and God also promises that Sarai (now Sarah) will give birth to Abraham’s son named Isaac.


Literary Structure = v. 1 – Situation introduced
v. 2a –Sarai tells Abram her plan
v. 2b – Abram agrees
v. 3-4 – Plan carried out successfully
v. 5 – Sarai accuses Abram
v. 6a – Abram responds
v. 6b – Hagar flees
v. 7-8a – The Angel of the Lord finds Hagar and speaks to her
v. 8b – Hagar responds
v. 9-10 – The Angel of the Lord instructs Hagar
v. 11-12 – The Angel of the Lord makes a promise to Hagar
v. 13-14 – Hagar speaks
v. 15-16 – Conclusion/ Results Sarah Sarah Sarah Cody Cody Cody Cody Cody The World portrayed in the text The world in which we live through the lens of this text "World in Front" of the text Challenge/Invitation of the narrative v. 2 -The perspective of people in Old Testament times is, “that Yahweh is the ultimate source behind all of life’s experiences, from exhilarating, to the annoying and depressing. And in most cases moral analysis is not required.” (Hamilton 444). This does not imply that God was upset with Abram and Sarai, only that He is responsible for what takes place in their life. Sarai’s choice to give her maidservant to Abram shows us that she either believed that her barrenness would be permanent or that she did not want to wait to find out if her circumstances would change. Her choice was culturally acceptable at the time and also throughout other cultures in similar time periods. v. 3 – In this verse of scripture it is meant that Hagar is forced to be brought together with Abram and be another wife to him. The Hebrew word we find in Genesis to describe the word wife, “issa,” is the same word, “pilges,” that is used to describe concubine. This is inconsistent with the rest of the Old Testament because that doesn’t happen anywhere else. Scholars believe that Hagar did not “despise” Sarai as Sarai seems to suggest in the scripture, but that Hagar felt a feeling of superiority because she was on equal standing with Sarai in relation to Abram as his wife, but could also bear children for him. v. 4 – The crisis in verse 4 and this whole situation has been described as, “a highly dysfunctional family system.” (Fretheim 451). This has been discussed throughout the years and much blame is given to the males of these narrative because “the story occurs in a patriarchal system.” (Fretheim 451). v. 5 – Sarai blames Abram for what takes places because “it was within his power to stop this kind of treatment of Sarai and his to settle now.”(Fretheim 452). This blame lands on him because they live in a patriarchal system in which the power to decide falls upon the male and he wanted to have children and not wait because he was not certain of God’s divine intervention. She maintains her innocence and wants God to be the judge between them because she believes it was out of her control. Verse 6- Abraham gives Sarai his favor regarding what happens to Hagar, unconcerned with how the outcome might affect her. (Fretheim 1994, 452) Abraham also labels her, either calling her slave or her. (Hamilton 1990, 448) Sarai does not seek reconciliation with Hagar but mistreats her. Sarai acts strongly with her. This is a comparison the author makes referring to the future mistreatment of the Israelites by the Egyptians. Deuteronomy 26:6-7; Exodus 1:11-12. (Fretheim 1994, 452) In this situation the roles of oppressor and oppressed are switched. (Hamilton 1990, 448) Verse 7- In this passage the angel of the Lord is a messenger; God in human form. He should not be confused with the later angelic beings. (Fretheim 1994, 452) The road to Shur is near the southern boundary of Canaan. (Hamilton 1990, 451) Hagar is going home to Egypt (Fretheim 1994, 452) She believes she can find more freedom in Egypt than with God's holy people. (Hamilton 1990, 451) Verse 8- The questions that the Lord asks of Hagar are intended to invite her into conversation with Him rather than reducing her to silence. (Fretheim 1994, 453) He solicits information about Hagar's origin and destiny. (Hamilton 1990, 452) In Hagar's response she cannot envision the future. She can only speak of her past as Sarai's slave. (Fretheim 1994, 452) She does not even respond to the second question. She is either wandering aimlessly in the wilderness or does not want to tell Him that she is going home to Egypt. (Hamilton 1990, 452) Verse 9- Hagar is told to return and submit to Sarai. She will not find salvation from being freed from Abraham and Sarai. (Fretheim 1994, 452) Verse 10: Genesis 12:2, 13:16, 15:5, and 16:10 all share a similar theme of the quantity of Abram’s descendants. Abram doubts God will provide him an heir on many occasions, and each time he speaks to God, Abram iss shown through different analogies how numerous his descendants will be. In 12:2 we see Abrams descendants being described in number like a great nation. In this analogy a great nation is meant represent an Innumerable amount of people. God is showing Abram that not only will he have an heir, but his descendants will be so great it will be hard to count them all. In 13:16 we see the future nation of Israel described as being like the dust of the field. This is reassuring Abram that he will have a descendant by his own body, and that their number will be like the dust meaning too large of a number for anyone but God to count. We see a very similar analogy in God using the stars. The stars like the dust are essentially innumerable. No one could possibly hope to count all of the stars or the dust of the earth. These two analogies are again God assuring Abram almost like he is a small child telling Abram that he will do what he said he will do. The 10th verse of Chapter 16 shares this message, but is much vaguer with the concept. The angel does not use an analogy this time he just bluntly says that Abram will have many descendants. Although blunt the message is clear you will have descendants, lots of them. Ishmael or Yishmael in the Hebrew means “God will hear.” (Baker, 41, 53) Ishmael's name is a direct relation to an event during Hagar’s pregnancy. At one point Hagar is running from Sarai, and was greeted by an Angel of the Lord. The Lord heard Hagar’s statement of running from Sarai, and God hears her in the wilderness, and he answers her. Verse 12 says a few things about the future of Ishmael and his descendants. First it says that he will be like a wild donkey which according to Hamilton means “ The wild ass is the onager, whose habitat is in waste places suggesting a desert , a nomadic life style…”( Hamilton, 454). Secondly it says that” his hand will be against everyone” Genesis 16:12. Hamilton says “Her child will be involved with belligerent forces and neighbors.” (Hamilton, 454) Meaning that Ishmael and his descendants will always be fighting in some way. Verse 13 says that Hagar calls the LORD “The God who sees me” where as in verse 7 the author simply states that an angel of the LORD visited Hagar. According to Hamilton the angel of the LORD was “a visual manifestation of Yahweh.” (Hamilton, 451) This makes sense to later hear Hagar that it actually was God she saw. Hagar’s understanding is that God sees her in all she does. It is reasonable to assume that Hagar learned what she knows from Abram. The meaning of names and places usually represent things that happened at that place between man and God. The names usually reflected the power of God in some way. The world portrayed in the text is a world in which continuing the family name through the patriarch was very important. This simple fact is what caused this whole situation because it is a cultural standard. A situation like shows us that this is a world that is full of anxiety because of their worry over not being able to have a child of their own. When Sarai takes action it shows that this is a world of impatience, more specifically, with God. This couple of Abram and Sarai decided to not wait patiently for God to work as He had promised, but decided instead to take matters into their own hands. Soon after, there is a situation between Sarai and Hagar that shows the hatred in this world displayed and also a jealousy because Hagar can have children for Abram but Sarai cannot. When it comes time to place blame or make decisions in this narrative, Abram is the one who is held responsible because this is a world in which the patriarch dominates the culture. The world portrayed in this text is also one in which God speaks personally to His people. One point of contact that we can draw between the world in the text and our world today is the idea of impatience with God. This is something that Sarai and Abram struggled with because of the demands of their culture. The demands of our culture also influence us to want and demands things as soon as we desire it. Another point of contact between these two worlds is jealousy over relationships. Sarai becomes jealous of Hagar and her relationship with Abram after she can have a child with him and Sarai cannot. This in Sarai’s mind puts Hagar over her in social standing. We have these problems of jealousy in our world today as well in relationships, jobs, and many other areas of life that affect us on a daily basis. The world in front of the text is world in which Abram would have relied on God to provide a son for him instead of trying to take matters into his own hands with Hagar. Abram would have had full faith in God which means that he would not have fathered Ishmael. Abram and Sarai would have had their heir they would have done it in God’s timing though not their own. The relationship between God and Abram and Sarai would have been a relationship of trust in the commitment that God made with Abram in the covenant. The Challenge of this text is to rely in God and his promises. We always desire things to happen on our time. God does things not when we want something, but when we need what he has to give us. We live in a society that is all about getting what we want as soon as possible. We want things when we want them, and not when we need them. This passage shows us and challenges us to be patient when we ask God for something because he will give them to us when we need them not when we want them.This passage shows us and challenges us to be patient when we ask God for something because he will give them to us when we need them not when we want them. We are also challenged to take care of the poor and needy. Proverbs 14:31 says “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” We are honoring God most when we are taking care of the poor. In Matthew we are told to take care of the poor and widowed. We must be wary though we need to do these things for the right intentions. We need to not do these deeds for others to see, but where only God can see them because our reward will be with him in Heaven. Bibliography
Baker , Warren . The Complete Word Study Old Testament. Chattanooga TN: AMG Publishers, 1994. 41,53. Print.

Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Vol. 1. Atlanta: John Knox, 1982. Print.

Coleson, Joseph E. "Genesis 1-11." New Beacon Bible Commentary. 2013 ed. Vol. 1. Kansas City: Beacon Hill., 2013. 114-23. Print.

Freitheim, Terence. "Genesis." The New Interpreter's Bible: General Articles & Introduction, Commentary, & Reflections for Each Book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books in Twelve Volums. By Leander E. Keck. Vol. 1. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994. 319-71. Print.

Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1990. Print.
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