Beer Lahai Roi is a place first mentioned in Genesis 16. God had promised Abram children, but it had been years and still no children had come. Abram’s wife, Sarai, suggests that Abram take Sarai’s slave girl Hagar and have a child with her. In the thinking of the day, the slave girl would have the child for her mistress. (We see the same sort of thinking with Jacob and his wives and their slave women in Genesis 30.)
The plan is successful, and Hagar conceives. However, as might be expected, strife and jealousy ensue. Hagar feels prideful, and Sarai blames Abram. Abram tells Sarai to deal with the situation however she sees fit. So she mistreats Hagar, and Hagar runs away, fleeing into the desert. Then we read of the origin of Beer Lahai Roi as a place name:
“The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’
“‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered.
“Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her. . . . I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’
“The angel of the LORD also said to her:
‘You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery. . . .’
“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered” (Genesis 16:7–14).
Beer Lahai Roi literally mans “the well of him that lives and sees me” or “the well of the vision of life.” Regardless of the exact translation, Hagar named the location thus because the Living God saw her situation and intervened to give her hope and comfort.
The same location is mentioned two other times as the place where Isaac was living. Genesis 24:62 says, “Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev,” and Genesis 25:11 adds, “After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.”
When Moses recorded the incident involving Hagar and the angel, it was more than 400 years later. Apparently, the well was still known to people in Moses’ day, and it went by the same name. The use of the name Beer Lahai Roi would have illustrated to the Hebrews that Abram and his family had been active in the land of Canaan long before the exodus and that God, through Moses, was simply bringing the people back in fulfillment of His promise to Abram. He is the Living God who saw the plight of the Egyptian slave Hagar, and He also saw the plight of the Israelites when they were enslaved in Egypt.
Beer Lahai Roi can also be a reminder to us that the Living God sees our plight. When we were enslaved by sin and under the sentence of death, He saw us—that is, He knew our condition and had pity. El Roi, the God Who Sees, has done everything necessary to save us, coming to us in a manger, which led to a cross and a glorious resurrection.