I would like to know the meaning of the Hebrew word for “wife” within the context of Genesis 16:3. The reason I ask is because some Bible commentaries suggest that Hagar was not granted the status of a wife in a legal sense, even though it was customary for a man to have more than one wife.
NIV COMMENTARY: After Abram slept with Hagar and conceived, not only Sarai (v.5) but also Abram still talks about Hagar as Sarai's servant (v.6), not as his (new) wife. Furthermore, the narrator continues to call Sarai "her mistress" (v.4). The phrase "to be his wife" in verse 3 is merely a euphemism for sexual intercourse. That is clear from the phrase that immediately follows it as well as from the original request (v.2). The context makes it clear that Hagar remained the slave not of Abraham, but of Sarai. All throughout Genesis we find Sarai addressed as Abraham's wife many times (11:29,31; 12:5,17,18,20; 13:1; 16:1,3; 17:15,19; 18:9,10; 20:2,7,11,12,14,18; 23:3,19) by the narrator, by Abraham, or by God himself. Hagar is never called the wife of Abraham, whether by Abraham, or by Sarah, or by God and only once by the narrator in the above discussed verse 16:3.
NIV NOTES: The custom refered to in verse 2 is well known in history and for instance in Babylonian law a wife was entitled to get children from her husband through her slave, without any idea that the slave would receive the status of a legal wife. In the Bible the same custom is employed again by Abraham's grandson Jacob with Lea and Rachel, his wives, and their maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah (Gen. 29:31 - 30:23). Source: https://www.answering-islam.org/BibleCom/gen16-3.html
ESV Notes: Hagar’s status, within Abram’s household is changed from servant to wife, although this does not place her on a par with Sarai (see note on 25:5-6). While the OT records occasions when particular individuals have more than one wife, such instances are almost always fraught with complications and difficulties. The taking of multiple wives is never encouraged in the Bible (see 2:24; Deut. 17:17) and usually arises out of peculiar circumstances.
NLT Notes: By custom, a barren woman could give her servant to her husband as a slave-wife; the child born to that union was considered the wife’s child, and could be adopted as the heir. Sarai’s suggestion, unobjectionable by custom, set a problematic human plan in motion. God’s promises would be fulfilled by faith
To say that Hagar was a concubine seems to me to be entirely different to saying (as it does in Genesis 16:3) that she was Abram’s wife. Is the Hebrew for “to be his wife” simply a euphemism for sexual intercourse? Or does the use of the Hebrew word “wife” mean something more? I am not asking for the reason behind Sarai giving her maidservant to Abram, but for the meaning behind the use of “wife” in Genesis 16:3.