11 For the third time in this section (also vv. 9, 10) a verse begins with the brief phrase: The angel of Yahweh said to her. Perhaps this repetition reinforces the fact that Hagar too is the recipient of a divine revelation. She is not hallucinating under the duress of a nightmare or the hot midday sun of the wilderness. The word of the Lord can come to Hagar in the wilderness as it did to Moses (Exod. 3:1), to Elijah (1 K. 19:4), and to John the Baptist (Luke 3:2). At no time does Hagar respond.
Hagar already knows she is pregnant. Her flaunting that pregnancy before barren Sarai is the cause of her downfall. The novel information given to her now is that she is carrying a male, and that this child is to be named Ishmael. That name is then defined: Yahweh has been attentive to your humiliation.
Scholars have long been puzzled by the fact that the theophoric part of Ishmael’s name—ʾēl—is replaced in the etymology of that name with Yahweh. Would not consistency demand that either the name be “Ishmaiah,” or that the etymology read: “God (El) has been attentive to your humiliation”—even in the Yahwist’s account?
Dahood has responded to this question by producing the following translation: “For Yahweh has heard you, El has answered you.” But to arrive at this translation Dahood has to (1) read MT kî šāmaʿ as kî yišmāʿ; (2) read the preposition ʾel as the divine name ʾēl; (3) emend MT ʿonyēḵ, “your humiliation,” to ʿanāyāḵā, “he has answered you.” O. Loretz makes an equally strained attempt to explain Gen. 16:11. He does not resort, as does Dahood, to Northwest Semitic philology, repointing, and redivision. Instead, he suggests that in the Ur-form of the text it was El who spoke to Hagar in the wilderness. A redactor subsequently inserted “the angel of Yahweh” to rid the story of unwholesome Canaanite ideas (the god El). After this change the etymology was provided as a kind of insignificant correction to the text.
Both Dahood’s appeal to Ugaritic philology and Loretz’s attempt to unravel the story form critically seem unnecessary. The OT provides at least one good instance of an X plus El name being explained with a phrase using the tetragrammaton: 1 Sam. 1:20—“She called his name Samuel [šemûʾēl], for she said, ‘I have asked him of Yahweh.’ ”
16:11 Although not referring to the same people, biblical names beginning with i/j [Hb y] are extremely common in archaeological texts from the ancient Near East of the early second millennium b.c., the time of the patriarchs. They diminish in frequency sharply after that time. Such names include Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. According to W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “If the stories had been invented in much later times, such as those of the Babylonian Exile, the use of such names would have been most unlikely since they had little or no currency in that era.”
11. And shalt bear a son. The angel explains what he had briefly said respecting her seed; namely, that it should not be capable of being numbered on account of its multitude; and he commences with Ishmael, who was to be its head and origin. Although we shall afterwards see that he was a reprobate, yet an honourable name is granted to him, to mark the temporal benefit of which Ishmael became a partaker, as being a son of Abram. For I thus explain the passage, God intended that a monument of the paternal kindness, with which he embraced the whole house of Abram, should endure to posterity. For although the covenant of eternal life did not belong to Ishmael; yet, that he might not be entirely without favour, God constituted him the father of a great and famous people. And thus we see that, with respect to this present life, the goodness of God extended itself to the seed of Abram according to the flesh. But if God intended the name of Ishmael [which signifies God will hear] to be a perpetual memorial of his temporal benefits; he will by no means bear with our ingratitude, if we do not celebrate his celestial and everlasting mercies, even unto death.
The Lord hath heard thy affliction. We do not read that Hagar, in her difficulties, had recourse to prayer; and we are rather left to conjecture, from the words of Moses, that when she was stupified by her sufferings, the angel came of his own accord. It is therefore to be observed, that there are two ways in which God looks down upon men, for the purpose of helping them; either when they, as suppliants, implore his aid; or when he, even unasked, succours them in their afflictions. He is indeed especially said to hearken to them who, by prayers, invoke him as their Deliverer. Yet, sometimes, when men lie mute, and because of their stupor, do not direct their wishes to him, he is said to listen to their miseries. That this latter mode of hearing was fulfilled towards Hagar, is probable, because God freely met her wandering through the desert. Moreover, because God frequently deprives unbelievers of his help, until they are worn away with slow disease, or else suffers them to be suddenly destroyed; let none of us give indulgence to our own sloth; but being admonished by the sense of our evils, let us seek him without delay. In the meantime, however, it is of no small avail to the confirmation of our faith, that our prayers will never be despised by the Lord, seeing that he anticipates even the slothful and the stupid, with his help; and if he is present to those who seek him not, much more will he be propitious to the pious desires of his own people.
Ver. 11.—And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael. “God shall hear,” or, “Whom God hears.” the first instance of the naming of a child before its birth (cf. afterwards ch. 17:19; 1 Kings 13:2; 1 Chron. 22:9; Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:13). Because the Lord hath heard thy affliction Τῇ ταπεινώσει σου (LXX.), “thy prayer” (Chaldee), of which there is no mention, though men’s miseries are said to cry when men themselves are mute (Calvin; cf. Exod. 1:14; 3:7).
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 28). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Calvin, J., & King, J. (2010). Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Vol. 1, pp. 433–434). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.