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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 16

 

CHAPTER XVI

 

Ver. 2.  May have.  Heb. "may be built up," a metaphorical expression: so God is said to have built up houses for the Egyptian midwives.  Ex. i. 21.  M.

 

Ver. 3.  Ten years after she was 65; which shews that she might reasonably conclude she would now have no children herself; and as she knew God had promised Abram a son, she thought he might follow the custom of those times, and have him by a second wife.  Abram shewed no eagerness on this matter, but only yielded to his wife's petition, deprecanti, being well aware of the inconveniences of polygamy, which Sarai had soon reason to observe.  This is the first time we read of polygamy since the deluge; but it is not mentioned as any thing singular or unlawful.  This was a matter in which God could dispense; but it was never left to the disposal of any man.  Hence, when Luther and his associates ventured to dispense with the Landgrave of Hesse, to keep two wives at once, he required him to keep it a secret, being ashamed of his own conduct.  He still maintained it was a thing indifferent, even in the law of grace, though Christ has so expressly condemned it.  See præp 62, 65.  The practice, so common of late in this country, of marrying again after a bill of divorce has been passed, is no less contrary to the Catholic doctrine, which allows only a separation of the parties from bed and board, in cases of adultery; but never of a second marriage, while both the parties are living.  1 Cor. vii. S. Aug. de adult. conj. i. de C. D. xvi. 25, 38. and other fathers.  H. --- It was never lawful for one woman to have two husbands.  W. --- To wife.  Plurality of wives, though contrary to the primitive institution of marriage, Gen. ii. 24. was by divine dispensation allowed to the patriarchs; which allowance seems to have continued during the time of the law of Moses.  But Christ our Lord reduced marriage to its primitive institution.  S. Matt. xix.

 

Ver. 5.  Despiseth.  Few bear prosperity in a proper manner! --- And thee.  Sarai things it is the duty of her husband to restrain the insolence of Agar.  She commits her cause to God, and does not seek revenge.  M.

 

Ver. 6.  Afflicted her, as she now resented even a moderate correction.  H.

 

Ver. 7.  In the desert; omitted in Heb. being a repetition of in the wilderness.  C.

 

Ver. 9.  Humble thyself.  The angel, in God's name, does not blame Sarai; but gives Agar to understand that the fault was wholly on her side.  H.

 

Ver. 11.  Ismael, means "God hath heard" the groans and distress of Agar.  C.

 

Ver. 12.  Wild.  Heb. like a wild ass, not to be tamed or subdued.  The Saracens or Arabs, have almost all along maintained their independence. --- Over against, ready to fight, without any dread of any one.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  Thou the God.  She had imagined before that she was talking to some man; but perceiving, at parting, that it was some superior being, she invoked him thus. ---The hinder parts, as Moses did afterwards.  Ex. xxxiii. to let us know, that we cannot fully comprehend the nature of an angel, much less of God.  Hebrew may be: "what! have I seen (do I live) after He has seen me."  The Hebrews generally supposed, that death would presently overtake the person who had seen the Lord or his angel.  Jud. vi. 22. Ex. xxxii. 20.  C.

 

Ver. 15.  Agar being returned home, and having obtained pardon. --- Ismael, as the angel had foretold; an honour shewn to very few; such as Isaac, Solomon, Jesus, &c.  H.

 

 








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