Introducing…Hagar

Hagar was a woman that I learn more and more about each time I read her stories in Genesis.  I felt bad for her.  She was an Egyptian slave who was just doing what her mistress Sarai told her to do, but she always seemed to get the wrath of Sarai when exactly what Sarai wanted to happen DID happen.  Let me start at the beginning.

The first mention of Hagar is in Genesis 16.  We learn that Sarai, the wife of Abram, was unable to conceive a child.  She had an Egyptian slave named Hagar, and she told Abram since she could not conceive a child, that he should take Hagar as his wife, so that she could bear a child for him.   Abram did and Hagar became pregnant.   This is exactly what Sarai wanted, but when it actually happened, Hagar began to despise her.  Sarai complained to Abram, and he told her to deal with her own slave.  So she did.  She mistreated Hagar so much that Hagar ran away.  An angel of the Lord found her and asked her why she was running away.  She told the angel that her mistress Sarai mistreated her.  The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her, and her descendants would be blessed.  Her baby son would be named Ishmael and his descendants would be increased in numbers too many to count.  So she returned to Sarai.

She isn’t mentioned again until after the birth of Sarah’s son, Isaac.   It is said that her son, Ishmael was mocking, so she told Abraham to send her and the boy away.  So the next day, Abraham sent away Hagar and Ishmael with a skin of water and some food.  She wandered with her son into the Desert of Beersheeba.   When they ran out of water, she put her son under a bush and went off crying.  She did not want to watch her son die.   God heard Ishmael crying, so he found Hagar and told her not to be afraid.  God intended to make him into a great nation.  She opened her eyes and saw a well of water.  She refilled the skin and gave her son a drink.  They lived in the desert, and Ishmael became an archer.  God was with them as he grew.

It’s not clear how she became a slave to Sarai.   Maybe she was purchased as a slave at some point since Abram had a lot of money and possessions.   At some point, Sarai must have had some confidence in Hagar to promote her to being her maidservant.  She trusted her enough to be a surrogate mother.  Maybe at times, she even loved her.  Hagar did come to believe in the God of her masters and followed and obeyed him.   She learned through her experiences from God that he always provides for his children.  Hagar’s story is a powerful life lesson.  In her times of greatest need, she found security and provision in the Lord.

4 Comments

  1. With respect, I’d like to caution condoning what God has not condoned in His Word, and condemning what He has not condemned. It was Sarah’s children who were blessed to become God’s people, not Hagar’s. The only reproach I find in this story is that Abraham and Sarah did not trust God to give them children.

    The way this story has been taught to me, Sarai wanted to honor Abram with a son and heir, and when she found she could not, she gave Hagar to him, hoping Hagar would do what she could not. When Hagar succeeded in getting pregnant, she despised the woman who had raised her to an honored position. So, Sarai goes to Abram, rightfully angry, and he gives her permission to discipline Hagar as she pleases. Hagar, being bitter, runs away, avoiding her just discipline. God sends her back. Her affliction was that she bore a child that Abram should have trusted God for. God blessed Ishmael’s descendants because he was Abram’s son, but it was Isaac’s descendants who were God’s people. Hagar did not raise her son to respect his father, nor his brother, and she did not return and submit herself to Sarah fully.

  2. Genesis 16:11 “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. ”

    God told her to return to Sarai and submit to her because she ran away, but God also sympathize w/ her. And Hagar had to have returned. The Bible says Abraham named the child Ishmael, although the name was reveled to Hagar.
    In regards to Ishmael’s “blessing”, who knows why God blesses who He blesses. I didn’t read anywhere that explained why God made Ishmael’s descendants so numerous.

  3. didn’t God tell Abraham that through him nations would be blessed? …doesnt that “explain” why Ishmael’s decendants were so numerous; he was Abraham’s son…. i could be misquoting what God told Abraham but yea….. ?

  4. Maybe. I think that explains Isaac’s blessings, but I’m hesitant to say that explains Ishmael’s. I don’t think it directly says Ishmael was blessed because of Abraham, and although Ishmael was Abraham’s son, he was somewhat illegitimate because of how he came to be. But that’s open for interpretation.


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