Chapter VI: The Promise of Salvation
Genesis 16 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 16:1-15. Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bare him no children: and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, Jehovah hath restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray thee, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Jehovah judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes. And Sarai dealt hardly with her, and she fled from her face.
And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, whence camest thou? and whither goest thou? And she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah hath heard thy affliction. And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren. And she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore
the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Abraham and Sarah did not doubt God's promise of a son, but as yet their faith in the all-creativeness and all-power of God was weak. The spiritual child (Isaac) is brought forth only through faith.
What does Hagar represent in man? What is the significance of the contention between Sarah and Hagar?
Abraham took Sarah's maid Hagar and had a son by her. The name Hagar means "wanderer," "fugitive," "to flee one's country." Metaphysically Hagar represents the natural or animal soul in man, which is a servant to the higher, more spiritual soul represented by Sarah. The thoughts of the animal soul are not lifted up to a very high plane and are therefore likely to be sensual, selfish, or unholy, which reacts to produce a state of fear or uncertainty (wanderer). This sensual must give way to the spiritual. It cannot stand in the presence of the Christ Truth but flees before it. In development from the lower to the higher there is often a seeming contention between the spiritual and physical. (Sarah cast out Hagar.)
Why was Ishmael not recognized by Jehovah as an heir of the promise?
Hagar's son, being the fruit of the union of faith with natural will and affection on a lower plane of expression, was not recognized by Jehovah as an heir of the promise.
There is an important lesson in this for everyone who is growing in faith and seeking to bring forth the fruits of Spirit according to the promise. No true spiritual demonstration is made unless the divine law is recognized and obeyed. When we try to demonstrate
through our own personal will and effort, we find that we fall short.
Paul gives us an interpretation of this allegory in Gal. 4:21-31. He calls Sarah the freewoman and Hagar the bondmaid. We who are born of Spirit in the Christ consciousness are sons of the freewoman and the "children of promise." Those born of the bond-maid (the outer or material) are of the flesh and are cast out from the inheritance of Spirit.
What does Beer-lahai-roi represent?
Beer-lahai-roi ("the well of the living one who seeth me," "the well of the vision of life") was the name of "a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur," where the angel met Hagar when she fled from Sarah. Beer-lahai-roi represents the recognition by the individual that his life is divine, is spiritual ("the well of the living one that seeth me"), and is for the whole man. Even the outer or physical man and the human side of the soul are sustained by the life of God, "the living one." It was beside this well that the Lord met Hagar and instructed her to return to Sarah, and also blessed her son Ishmael, who was yet to be born. Ishmael refers to the outer or flesh consciousness. Isaac (who later lived by this well) symbolizes divine sonship. When it is understood that there is but one life and that it is everywhere present in its fullness, the entire man will be lifted up into eternal life.
Beer-lahai-roi also symbolizes God as the guiding light of both the inner and the outer man (the well of the vision of life).
The name Bered means "strew," "scatter," "seeding." Bered represents the sowing of ideas (seed thoughts) in the mind that the individual may begin
to act on them consciously and make them fruitful.
(For Shur and Kadesh see interpretation of Gen. 20:1.)
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Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 151-156: Genesis 17 Mysteries of Genesis