Genesis 16:1 - 5
MSG - 1 Sarai, Abram's wife, hadn't yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, "God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her." Abram agreed to do what Sarai said. 3 So Sarai, Abram's wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.
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Abraham found favor with God, which led God to call him in Genesis 12. However, he was still an imperfect human being with free will. The Bible records multiple instances where he told half-truths in order to protect or benefit himself by representing Sarah as his sister, rather than his wife (even though, she was, in fact, also his half-sister). In addition, he showed impatience with the slowness which he felt God (from his perspective) was exhibiting in fulfilling His promises in Genesis 12 to make Abraham's descendants into a great nation. It was this impatience (apparently combined with doubt on the part of both himself and Sarah -- despite God's promises to him -- that a couple as old as they were could conceive a child) that caused Sarah (in Genesis 16) to suggest to Abraham that he father a child with her slave Hagar, and that also caused Abraham to yield to that suggestion. It is my opinion that God did not intervene to stop Abraham from having a child with Hagar because He knew (even if Abraham did not believe it) that Abraham and Sarah would indeed have a child of their own as the fulfillment of God's promise. And God still promised to bless Abraham and Hagar's son, Ishmael (Genesis 16:11-12 and Genesis 17:20-21). In the same way (Genesis 29), God allowed Abraham's grandson Jacob to have children by four different women (two of whom were his wives, and two of whom were his wives' servants). And it was from a child (Judah) of his wife Leah, rather than of Jacob's "favorite" wife Rachel, that the Messiah was eventually descended.
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