B'resheet 16:1-2 Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the L-RD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Hagar - They probably acquired Hagar when they went to Egypt. Her name means, "flight".
Gen 12:16 Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
It was the custom of the day that a woman who was unable to have children would give her maid to her husband in order to claim the maid's children as her own.
Sarai wanted to "help G-d out". She did not believe it was possible for her to have children so she came up with a plan to fulfill G-d's prophecy on her own. Often we rush ahead of G-d and want to do things our own way instead of waiting on the L-rd and His perfect timing.
Elaine here: I can't imagine doing this. This just blows my mind. How could Sarai, childless or not, have suggested her husband be intimate with another woman?
Abram listened to the voice of Sarai - I doubt we are given the entire conversation between Abram and Sarai. But Abram sure doesn't seem to need a lot of convincing. Adam was the same way. He did not voice any objections when Havah (Eve) offered him the forbidden fruit.
This does not mean G-d was happy with this because this kind of thing caused many problems. Not only as far as peace in Abram home but as far as peace in generations to come. We are still experiencing the effects of this decision on a daily basis.
B'resheet 16:3-6 And after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms; but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the L-RD judge between you and me." But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight." So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.
Despised in her sight - Does this mean that Hagar looked down on Sarai because she was able to get pregnant and Sarai was not? Or it is that she hates the fact that she really did not have a say in the matter in the first place and now her baby will be considered another woman's baby? Would she like to have Sarai out of the way so that she could be the lady of the house? Does she think she is better than Sarai? Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.
May the wrong done me - Notice that Sarai realizes what she did was wrong. However, she lashes out at Abram and blamed him when her plan failed to go the way she wanted it to. Instead of attacking Abram she should have admitted her error.
Abram does not seem to want to take any responsibility. He gives Sarai a free hand in dealing with Hagar.
Here Hagar lives up to her name "flight". She flees from Sarai. She did not have a right to do this, as she was a slave.