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Hagar Will Bear Abram a Son and the LORD Named Him Ishmael

Sarai bore Abram no children, so she gave Hagar to him. When Hagar was pregnant, she despised her mistress & was mistreated. Hagar fled to the desert.

Genesis Chapter 16

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:1-2a

Children are a blessing from God. It is apparent that Sarai is displeased with the LORD because He has caused her to be barren. She tells her husband Abram that he should sleep with her handmaid Hagar. Probably Hagar was one of the servants that they had acquired when they went down to Egypt during the time of the famine in Canaan. The child of a female slave would then become the property of the slave’s mistress. Sarai reasoned that she could build a family though her maidservant.

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 16:2b-4a

Abram had left the Ur of the Chaldeans when he was 75 years old. His wife Sarai was ten years his junior. The trip along with the stop at Haran to replenish the livestock was approximately a year long. After living in Canaan ten years Sarai was about 76 years old. Both Abram and his wife probably believed that Sarai was beyond child bearing age.

Abram had already demonstrated that he was a great man of faith. The account of Genesis chapter 12 informs us that Abram did not question the LORD when asked to leave his home and country. Abram faithfully obeyed and embarked on a 1,000 mile journey to an unknown land. In Genesis chapter 15, the LORD reassured Abram that he would indeed have a son coming from his own body and that Abram’s offspring would be as innumerable as the stars in the sky. Abram had believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. Yet when Sarai desired to give her handmaiden to him, he did not inquire of the LORD but slept with Hagar to please his wife. The phrase “to be his wife” is merely a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Abram did not take Hagar as his wife but Sarai gave her maidservant to him for the purpose of bearing a child for her.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” Genesis 16:4b-5

Hagar, who was Sarai’s handmaiden, treated her mistress as her inferior and with contempt by reproaching her for her barrenness, as Peninnah did Hannah before the birth of Samuel. Hagar’s actions were not only prideful but ungrateful, since it was because of her mistress that Hagar was given to Abram so that she may conceive. Although the plan to build Sarai’s family though Hagar was her own idea, Sarai shifts the blame to her husband for the mistreatment that she is suffering. Perhaps Sarai thought that it was Abram’s duty to make sure Hagar knew her rightful place in the household. In any case, Sarai believed that her cause is so just that she declared, “May the LORD judge between you and me.”

“Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. Genesis 16:6

Abram did not attempt to mediate between Sarai and Hagar as if they held equal positions in his household; instead he told his wife Sarai to do whatever she thought was best in dealing with her contemptuous slave. Sarai mistreated Hagar. In the original language of Hebrew the intent is that Sarai afflicted Hagar to humble her. Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that Hagar fled from her mistress.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Genesis 16:7-8

It is important to note that the text does not say that an angel found Hagar but records that “The angel of the LORD” found Hagar near a desert spring. The account in Genesis 16:7 is the first time that the Bible records the appearance of “The angel of the LORD.” There is a phenomenon in the Bible which theologians refer to as “The Law of First Mention.” The very first time any significant word or symbol is mentioned in the Bible, Scripture gives that word its most complete and accurate meaning. This not only serves as a “key” in understanding the word’s Biblical concept, but to also provide a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible. The encounter between Hagar and the angel of the LORD will enable us to identify this unique being.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” Genesis 16:9-10

After Hagar answered the angel of the LORD’s questions, he commanded Hagar to go back to her mistress Sarai and submit to her. Then the angel of the LORD said that he would increase Hagar’s descendants. No created being could fulfill that promise. It is also interesting that the language used and the promise made is strikingly similar to the promise of numerous descendants made by the LORD to Abram earlier.

The definition of the “Angel of the LORD” by Louis Goldberg is cited in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology:

“(Hebrew – mal’ak yehwah). Supernatural being who bears a message on behalf of God. In many passages in the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord is identified with God, while in other instances a distinction is made between the Lord and the angel. In general, however, the terms “the angel of the LORD, “ “the LORD,” and “God” are interchangeable.The angel of the Lord is the messenger of both good and evil. He comes to Hagar after she has fled from the abusive Sarai (Genesis 16:7-14) to assure her that God has heard about her misery and that her descendants will be too numerous to count. She names him “You are the God who sees me” (verse 13).”

In chapter 18 of the book of 2 Kings is the record the of Sennacherib king of Assyria whose army attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. In response, Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace.

Although Hezekiah had paid tribute to Sennacherib, the king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. In 2 Kings 18:31-35, the field commander spoke to Hezekiah’s officials and said:

“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

The supreme commander of the Assyrian army purposed to dishearten Hezekiah’s officials. The commander intended to make them fearful, so that they would abandon their king and surrender their fortified city.

In the first verse of chapter 19 of 2 Kings we read: When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord.

We also read in verses 14-19:

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.

“It is true, O Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands. Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Then Isaiah the prophet sent an encouraging message to Hezekiah saying that the LORD, the God of Israel had heard his prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. Isaiah also prophesied that the LORD would defend Jerusalem and save it, for His sake and for the sake of David His servant.

That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. 2 Kings 19:35-36

Although Yahweh declared that He would defend the city, the angel of the LORD executed judgment on behalf of the LORD. He put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in their camp, thereby saving Jerusalem from decimation.

Continuing with Louis Goldberg’s entry on the “Angel of the LORD”:

“The angel of the LORD both commissions and commends God’s servants. The commander of the LORD’s army commissions Joshua to undertake the LORD’s battles for Canaan, just as Moses had been commissioned to confront Pharaoh (Joshua 5:13-15; cf. Exodus 3:5). The angel of the LORD appears to Abraham. He stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and commends him because he has not withheld his only son from God (Genesis 22:11-18). Abraham identifies the angel as God, calling the place The LORD Will Provide.

The angel of the LORD carries out a ministry of reconciliation. He asks how long God will withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah (Zechariah 1:12). The connection between the angel of the LORD and the preincarnate appearance of the Messiah cannot be denied. Manoah meets the angel of the LORD, and declares that he has seen God. The angel accepts worship from Manoah and his wife as no mere angel, and refers to himself as “Wonderful, “ the same term applied to the coming deliverer in Isaiah 9:6 (Judges 13:9-22). The functions of the angel of the LORD in the Old Testament prefigure the reconciling ministry of Jesus. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the angel of the LORD; the Messiah himself is this person.”

The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He 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 toward all his brothers.” Genesis 16:11-12

Ishmael means God will hear. The son Abram’s concubine will bear will be named Ishmael for the LORD heard Hagar’s misery. The 12 sons of Ishmael, and his Egyptian wife, became princes and progenitors of as many tribes. The region occupied by these Ishmaelites included most of central and northern Arabia.

The wild donkey lived a solitary existence in the desert away from society. Ishmael’s descendents would be free-roaming or nomadic. Bedouins are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arabian ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes, or clans. The Arabic term badawi derives from the word badiyah which means semiarid desert. The term “Bedouin” therefore means, “Those in badiyah” or “Those in the desert.”

All Arabs, following Mohammed’s example, claim descent from Ishmael. … his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him. In an effort by the Muslims to destabilize and take control of more and more territory, everywhere in the civilized world there are Islamic insurgencies and senseless acts of terror. There is no where on earth where Islam has ever brought peace, unless you define peace as the slaughter of all dissenters. Islam cannot bring peace because the god of Islam is Satan himself disguised as the moon god, Allah.

… and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. When the Ummah (the worldwide Muslim community) is not busy slaughtering infidels, it reverts to slaughtering itself. The prophesied hostilities of brother against brother are evidenced by conflicts between different sects of Muslims such as Sunni against Shia, and Sunni and Shia against Sufi.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16:13-14

The angel of the LORD had spoken to Hagar, yet Hagar gave this name to Yahweh who spoke to her, El Roi “You are the God that sees me.” Again the angel of the LORD speaks but is identified as God himself. Hagar’s son will be named “Ishmael” which means “God will hear.” Hagar testifies that not only will God hear our cries and petitions, but He is a God that sees our difficult and troubling circumstances. Hagar had fled to a spring in the desert. After she encountered the angel of the LORD, she and named that well, “Beer Lahai Roi” which means “Well of the Living One who sees me.”

So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. Genesis 16:15-16

Hagar returned at the command of the angel of the LORD, believing the promise that God had made to her. Abram named his son Ishmael according to the command given to Hagar. Since it was the LORD who chose the name, Abram may have believed that Ishmael was the fulfillment of the promise of an heir from his own loins. It would be 13 more years until it would be revealed to Abram that he would father the son of the promise through his wife and not her hand maiden.