This is a continuation of a series of short bogs on Hagar, the maidservant (slave) in the House of Abraham and mother of Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael.
To provide some background, let look at the marriage of Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) and how they journeyed from Ur in Mesopotamia through Egypt to Canaan.
The history of Mesopotamia is full of ups and downs. Even until today Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), has been a conqueror and subject to conquest. When Abram and Sarai left Ur, the loose conglomeration of city states in Mesopotamia we being attacked by the Hittites from the northeast. Abram took his family and migrated to Haran (in modern-day Turkey.) From there, they were directed by God to go to Canaan. During a plague, they went on to Egypt where Abram most likely acquired Hagar as a part of a bride price for Sarai. They then returned to Canaan.
The marriage of Abram and Sarai was probably not a love match, like Romeo and Juliet. Marriages were arranged for purposes of politics, family preservation and economics. The most important role of a wife, especially for a patriarch, was to provide an heir. In this role, Sarai was a failure, she was barren.
In an effort to provide Abram an heir, Sarai provided her maidservant, Hagar to Abram. They came together, resulting in Abram’s firstborn son, Ishmael.
Even though she was in the house of the Patriarch, Hagar was still a slave. It is most likely that she saw her status as much lower than it had been in the House of Pharaoh. So she would probably have jumped at the chance to share Abram’s bed.
Until the birth of Isaac to Sarah (Sarai), Hagar’s status would have been highly elevated. This, understandably, would have caused a great deal of jealousy on the part of Sarah. Hagar’s actions, being protected by Abraham (Abram), would have aggravated the tensions between the two women. (I’d not have wanted to be in Abraham’s shoes!)
When Isaac was born of Sarah (fulfilling God’s promise), Hagar felt threatened. She also had legitimate reason to fear for the life of Ishmael. Although Ishmael was the firstborn, he was still an illegitimate son.
Hagar took Ishmael and attempted to return to Egypt. God’s angel convinced her to return to Abraham’s House where she again enjoyed the protection of the Patriarch.
Eventually, Sarah forced Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham demonstrated his love for his son and the protection of Hagar by providing them with water and food. Still, their chances of survival in the desert were slim.
Again, God intervened, saving Hagar and her son. He even promised that Ishmael would become the father of nations. (We’ll explore this in a future blog.)
It appears from Biblical accounts that Hagar had become a follower of the true God.
As a woman of faith, Hagar, remained true to her God. God provided for her and was true to His promises to her.
This has parallels to another unwed mother, Mary, who also kept her faith.
Alive in The Word