Categories: Abraham and Sarah, Women in the Bible, Women in the Early Church
- Hagar is in two chapters in Genesis, 16 and 21.
- Hagar is Sarah's Egyptian maid.
- Hagar is single, poor, a slave, young, and potentially fertile. In totally human terms, she has what Sarah lacks.
- Hagar is silent when Sarah gives her to Abraham "to be his wife." She is bound to perform whatever is asked of her.
- Hagar gets pregnant with ease.
- "When she [Hagar] saw that she had conceived, her mistress was slight in her eyes."
- Suddenly, Hagar realizes that the promise would be fulfilled through her. She is no longer no one special; she is, had become, indeed, someone very important.
- When she was pregnant, Hagar had a new vision of Sarah.
- Sarah complained to Abraham: "May the wrong done to me be upon you! I gave my maid to your embrace but when she saw that she had conceived, then I was slight in her eyes. May the Lord judge between you and me."
- The word usually translated, as the "wrong done to me" would be better translated as, "The outrage done to me is your responsibility."
- While Sarah and Abraham argue, Hagar is only an instrument in her masters' lives. She is at the mercy of their whims.
- Hagar represents the oppressed, the disenfranchised. She the first servant mentioned in the Bible who suffers, which is a pristine foreshadowing of the suffering servant.
- Responding to Sarah, Abraham immediately abandons Hagar by saying, "Your servant is in your hands, do with her whatever you think best."
- Sarah "afflicted her. And Hagar fled from her" into the wilderness.
- She chooses almost certain death over Sarah's abuse.
- On the way to Egypt, she stopped at a spring along the southern border of Canaan.
- There, an angel of the Lord asks, "Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?"
- For the first time, she speaks. "I am running away from my mistress, Sarah."
- The angel has a message for her: "Return unto your mistress and submit to her." These commands are harsh.
- Following the commands, the angel gives promises: "I will increase your descendants so that they will be too numerous to count."
- Then he gives her a birth announcement. She will give birth to a son and will name him Ishmael, because "God has heard your cry."
- Ishmael's name will forever memorialize her plight, her need of God's help, and God's response.
- Like Abraham, the father of God's people, Hagar was given difficult commands, followed by promises of innumerable descendants.
- She is the first person to be visited by a divine messenger and the first to be given a birth announcement.
- Unlike Abraham, who simply did what God commanded without comment, Hagar bursts forth with a cry of joy and praise.
- She "calls the name of the Lord who had spoken to her. You are the God of seeing."
- Hagar actually names the Lord. There is no other place in the Bible where this happens.
- Hagar says, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?"
- Mostly, this is Hagar's way of saying, "Regardless of what other people may call You, for me You are a God of seeing, who saw me in my distress, who came to my aid."
- "Hagar bore Abraham a son" and Abraham named him, "Ishmael," thereby legitimizing him. But, Sarah is conspicuously absent.
- At Isaac's weaning celebration, Sarah watches Ishmael with Isaac.
- She then tells Abraham to "cast out the slave woman and her son." The words "cast out" could be construed as a statement of divorce. She wants them gone.
- This is a virtual death sentence for them. Any person wandering around alone was considered as good as condemned. There was simply no way to survive alone in that society.
- Abraham is "greatly distressed and very displeased" with Sarah's request, not because of Hagar, but because it involved his son.
- God, however, endorses Sarah's plan and tells Abraham not to be troubled. His promise to Hagar will be fulfilled.
- Once again, Abraham is obedient. He begins early the next morning and provides supplies for Hagar and her son.
- Hagar is limited by what she can carry. She was given a skin of water, which is about 30 pounds of water.
- And off they go wandering into the desert of Beersheba, moving in a southeasterly direction towards Northern Arabia.
- Not surprisingly, the water runs out and the threat of death looms large.
- Hagar places her son under a bush; at least he will die in the shade.
- She moves some distance away so she will not be tormented by his last sighs. But she remains close enough and weeps freely, by herself, emphasizing her loneliness and isolation.
- "God hears," and he calls out to Hagar.
- He opens her eyes, and she sees a well that she hadn't noticed before.
- Though Hagar's story essentially ends at this point, her descendants do not. In 1 Chronicles, the Hagarites war against Saul. Later on the Israelites defeat them: "And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand. For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God" (1 Chron. 5:21-22). Clearly this was no small force.
- Without a doubt, God's promises to Hagar were fulfilled.