The Names of God – El-Roi

This is the fourth post in our series on the names of God.

God has revealed His names and titles which describe His character perfectly. God always acts in accordance with His description of Himself. Studying the names of God is helping us form right convictions about who God is, since they are God’s revelation of His character.

The name El-Roi appears only once in the Bible, and it comes from an unlikely source. This name comes from Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid of Sarah who also became Abraham’s wife. The sixteenth chapter of Genesis records Abraham’s sin of marrying Hagar. The family trouble that came from this union caused Hagar to run away. God saw Hagar by a spring in the wilderness and asked why she was in the wilderness. She said she was running away from Sarai her mistress. The Lord commanded Hagar to return to Sarai, and He sent her with the promise that He would multiply her seed.

Hagar’s response to this encounter is in Genesis 16:13-14: “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ Therefore, the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.” “God of seeing” is a translation of El-Roi, which means “God who sees.”[1]

Hagar also named the place Beer-lahai-roi as a memorial of this event. Beer-lahai-roi means “well of a living (One), my seer.”[2] God commanded Hagar to name her child Ishmael, which means “God who hears.”[3] El-Roi not only saw Hagar, but He heard her distress. He acted compassionately by giving her confidence of her child’s future. He also gave her son’s name as a memorial for her. Each time she said Ishmael’s name it would be a reminder that the Lord heard her prayers.

Although El-Roi only appears once in the Bible, Proverbs 15:3 explains it well, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Believers serve El-Roi, the God who sees. He is not a distant God, who does not care about the needs of His people. He sees each need, every good work, all distress, and each sin. He hears every one of our prayers. Christians can confidently say, as Hagar did, “You are a God of seeing… who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).

[1] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 53.

[2] James Strong, “883. BEER-LAHAI-ROI,” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).

[3] Herbert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible: A Unique Classification of All Scripture Designations of the Three Persons of the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), 11.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version ®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.