Hagar and Abraham …
Well, now we come to a real tear-jerker. Look at the picture (above). What you see is Hagar, a lovely young Egyptian woman, watching over her son Ishmael and his descendants, the Arabs - cousins of the Jews. So how did all this come about ? Well, you see, Abraham was the forefather of both the Jews and the Arabs. Abraham’s wife, Sarah (then called Sarai) was infertile – unable to give him an heir and learning to live with the fact that she would never be a mother. Abraham was a pretty wealthy guy – but he had no children. Then the Lord God promised Abraham that he would make him the forefather of a mighty nation, but Sarai really did not quite hold out much hope of her playing any part in that promise – she just laughed. So, feeling sorry for Abraham one day, she suggested that he conceive a baby with Hagar, her lovely young Egyptian hand-maiden, and take her for his wife. Abraham did all this, and their child was called Ishmael. However, things already started getting a little testy when Hagar was pregnant. She began to despise Abraham’s wife Sarai, who obviously did not want to be moved out of the limelight and have Hagar replace her. Sarai complained to Abraham who basically said “It was your idea Sarai … you deal with it”. So, to quote the bible exactly: “Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her”. (Genesis 16:6) I imagine this “Cat fight” was not done much justice by the author of Genesis, but we can probably imagine what happened. Anyhow, pretty soon poor Hagar winds up near a spring in the desert – abandoned by her husband Abraham and chased away like some “common tramp” by Sarai. A this point, an Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar and promises that if Hagar returns and humbles herself, her descendants will be too numerous to count. As well though, the Angel says to her that her son Ishmael (from whom the Arabs are descended ) “will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers” … anyone left who doubts biblical prophesy ?
Anyhow, soon Ishmael (whom obviously Abraham must have loved dearly being his first and only son) turns 14 – in those days that makes him a young man. God now delivers on his promise to Abraham and Sarah and she gives birth to Isaac, their first child – and a son. Now the power struggle for the “Heir” to Abraham’s empire starts … culminating at the time Isaac is weaned. Sarah does not want Hagar and Ishmael around anymore and she says to Abraham: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac”. (Genesis 21:10) Could any of you see this problem looming? Any of you ever been there ? Put in modern terms … who is going to win, the wife or the mistress ? Making matters even worse, the mistress had borne him a son who is a teenager and whose dad had loved him dearly and exclusively for some 15 years already.
This is a tough one ! Things sure were complicated back then when men married many wives and one demanded to be the “Queen” … or as in this case, “the Major-domo”. Abraham, as the father of Ishmael and husband of Hagar – at Sarah’s insistence you will recall, should not have allowed Sarah to make him treat them unfairly.
Imagine a soap opera - Let’s call it “The young and the relentless” in which the business tycoon (Hector), has not only one wife (Vicky) but many other wives and many children (sometimes it kind of looks that way) and they are all jockeying for the spot of “Heir apparent” for themselves and their children. What to do ? This could liven up day-time soaps and the plot could keep going for years, maybe even millennia. The script writers should read their bibles … it’s all there !
Anyhow, Abraham asks God for advise and God tells him to put Sarah first and that He (God) will ensure that Hagar’s son Ishmael is also made into a mighty nation – since he is also Abraham’s son. Well, with a heavy heart Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael off with some food and water (personally I think he owed her a little more than this – but I’m not getting into the middle of this age old family feud) and Sarah has got her way. So, before we go any further … any of you ladies been there ? It’s pretty tough to compete (but not impossible as you have seen) against a first wife whom is still loved by her husband. It’s a high risk venture and does not always work out in your favor – even when it seems the odds are in your favor. It’s all just best to leave married guys alone … for your sake, their families sakes and theirs. Of course if we could only impress on them that, as married guys, they should leave you ladies alone … that would be a breakthrough of monumental proportions !
Now, this next part of the story really rips my heart apart. You see, Hagar, so dependent on Abraham for so many years, having borne him his first-born son, and having been there with him all those many years, now suddenly finds herself a divorcée, discarded, abandoned, rejected and left pretty much to her own devices. To quote the bible: “Early in the next morning, Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Her set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba” (Genesis 22:14) Now, Abraham was a very wealthy man – he had Camels, horses, donkeys – you name it! After all that had transpired, giving Hagar the equivalent of all the food and clothing she could carry, custody of Ishmael and sending her off into the desert does not strike me as even remotely fair … but maybe it’s just my old soft heart talking here. I doubt very much that this is what God had in mind, but there was a history of Sarah not obeying God or taking His promises seriously. Anyhow the bible goes on to say: “When the water in the skins was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die” and as she sat there nearby, she began to sob” (Genesis 22:15-16) The boy also started to cry … and why not. Here is a lad and his mommy who were rejected, mistreated, abandoned, chased away – you name it ! Do you want to tell me he didn’t love and miss his dad ? They had no women’s shelters back then you know … this was the harsh desert they were in. Ever been there – alone or with your children ? Sometimes my wife meets women in Internet chat-rooms who are in similar circumstances, I remember one sad case just recently, Angelica was what she called herself. Well Angelica, and all you other ladies out there going through similar circumstances … God is not turning a blind eye to you and your plight, if you have depended on Him till now – now is when you will find He is indeed dependable. If you have not worshipped or acknowledged God, now is a very good time to ask Him to prove that He is real and that He cares about you and your family … but do so very respectfully, after all, He is God ! Ignore God and he will not force His love on you … then you are truly on your own in the midst of your crisis, and that’s not a nice place to be. You see, the story goes on to tell how God rescued Hagar And Ishmael and how He delivered on His promise to make Ishmael into a “mighty nation” – the Arabs
Isaac went on to be the fountainhead of the Jews. Remind me to tell you later how Isaac got married … but until then, it is noteworthy that Ishmael married an Egyptian woman, like his mother, and returned to be at his father’s funeral when Abraham died. As such, he showed love for his father – even in death. There is some evidence that later Abraham did give some “gifts” to Ishmael, but Isaac was left everything he owned – as the sole heir. It’s strange when you realize that Isaac, in turn, had two sons and the youngest went on to claim the father’s birth-right and blessings. Anyhow, try to imagine the hurt that young man Ishmael must have suffered ? Imagine what his mom Hagar endured ? Love so cruelly rejected … ever been there ? Abraham’s own son so cruelly rejected by him ? Ever been there ? My wife has. Ever had one of your siblings favored over you ? It hurts, doesn’t it ? Well now that you know all this, are you surprised that the Arabs and the Jews are still having this endless family feud ? I’m not !
Does God love the Arabs- Ishmael’s offspring ? Yes. Does God love the Jews – Isaac’s offspring ? Yes. Does God love us Christians – an offshoot of the Jewish religion ? Yes. Does it bother God that there is all this animosity and fighting going on ? Yes ! Would He as our Father want all of His children to stop feuding ? Certainly ! Why doesn’t he force the peace ? Now that would mean God must remove all of our free wills – our ability to choose freely between good and evil, and He is not going to do that. Don’t you too wish they would all just stop this crazy age old family feud ? Of course … we sure do too ! Moms and Dads – love your children as equally as you possibly can ! The result in not doing so … by favoring one child over the other, is terrible pain and needless suffering ! Ladies, don’t have an affair with a married man and certainly do not have his children ! Someone is going to get seriously hurt, and it may very likely be you and your children ! Gents, do not abuse the privilege of having a loving wife and children – live up to your God ordained responsibilities !
Anyhow, Abraham and Sarah may not have bothered to look after Hagar and Ishmael, but God did ! In my humble opinion, they had a responsibility to make sure they were well cared for, but they did not act responsibly. Ever suffered as a result of someone else not living up to their responsibilities ? So, you are not sure that God took care of Hagar and Ishmael ? Well, next time you go and gas-up your car, remember who is supplying the Crude-Oil for the gas ! The Arab nations are today much more wealthy than Israel – though not as influential. This is a one family feud to stay out of - or to stay neutral in ... watch the evening news ! All the same, if you ever find yourself and your loved one’s the victims of such unfairness remember that God is not sitting in Heaven covering His eyes or looking the other way – but you had better be sure that you can be counted as part of His family before expecting justice from Him. He is one truly impartial Father whose love can be counted on for ALL His children – even when our earthly fathers (and mothers) fall short of the mark ! However, even though you may have had a great dad, I’ll bet you never saw him take responsibility for all the needy children and families - outside of his family. Then why expect God to take care of those families who thumb their noses at Him ? Abraham and Sarah were part of God’s family – they did not act responsibly, Abraham failed Ishmael as a dad and Hagar as a husband. Hagar and Ishmael were part of God’s family. They depended on God when all seemed so dreadfully unfair and so terribly sad …and so very hopeless - and God helped them !
By the way, in case you make the mistake of blaming God for this terribly sad fiasco, remember one thing: God promised to give Sarah and Abraham a son. Sarah doubted God and suggested that Abraham use Hagar as a surrogate mother (the first use of a surrogate mother in the Bible). This was NOT what God intended to have happen ! If Sarah had simply trusted God and let things unfold God’s way, none of the hurt would have happened – instead she had to do things her way ! Ever been there ? Next time you are tempted to interfere in God’s plans, think about this story. Anyhow, God did help all parties involved and looked after them all. He forgave any of their bad judgement calls – but they have yet to forgive each other. Until they do, this “Family Feud” will be on prime time TV longer than the game-show ever was.