I hear that it’s not safe for women to have children after the age of 40. Sarai is not only too old to have a baby safely, she’s too old to get pregnant. So why did You tell Abram that he was going to get Sarai pregnant? How is that gonna work?
It has been ten years since God had promised Abram a child (Gen 16:3).
“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai” (Gen 16:1-2).
“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 have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face” (Gen 16:4-6).
“So Hagar took off into the wilderness and an angel came and visited her. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael1; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen 16:11-12).
The angel also told Hagar to return to Sarai and do as she was told because God would be with her (Gen 16:7-10). Abram was 86 years old at this time (Gen 16:16).
Some believe that the angel of the Lord is the Holy Ghost, so Hagar was not communicating with just an angel, but God Himself. This is possible, yet God has said that if you see His face you’ll die (Ex 33:20).
The people were under the Code of Hammurabi at this time, and according to Law 145: If a man takes a wife and she does not present him with children and he sets his face to take a concubine, that man may take a concubine and bring her into his house.
And Law 146: If a man takes a wife and she gives to her husband a maidservant and she bears children, and afterward that maid servant would take rank with her mistress; because she was born children her mistress may not sell her for money, but she may reduce her to bondage and count her among the female slaves.
1 Lit. Wild donkey of a man. Ishmael was a roamer, a nomad.