The birth of Ishmael (Gen 16:1-16:16)

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children.  She had an Egyptian slave girl whose name was Hagar.  Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that Yahweh has prevented me from bearing children.  Go in to my slave girl.  It may be that I shall obtain children by her.’  Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.  He went in to Hagar, and she conceived.  When she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.  Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you!  I gave my slave girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May Yahweh judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave girl is in your power.  Do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”

The barren Sarai had an Egyptian slave girl named Hagar.  So she went to Abram and said since Yahweh had prevented her from having children that he should have sex with her slave girl so that she might have a child.  After ten years in Canaan, Abram said okay and took Hagar as a wife.  He had intercourse with Hagar and she conceived.  However, Hagar looked with contempt at Sarai.  Sarai complained to Abram, but he said that Hagar was her slave girl so that she could do as she pleases.  Sarai got upset and treated Hagar badly, so that Hagar ran away.  Here we have the first surrogate mother who gets treated harshly. Having a second wife for a righteous man was not a problem.  Thus the first triangle relationship did not end well, especially for Hagar.

”The angel of Yahweh found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  And he said, ‘Hagar, slave girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’  The angel of Yahweh said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’  The angel of Yahweh also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be numbered or counted.’   And the angel of Yahweh said to her, ‘Now you have conceived and shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, for Yahweh has given heed to your affliction.  He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.  And he shall live at odds with all his kinsmen.’   So she named Yahweh who spoke to her, ‘You are  El-roi, a God of vision.’ For she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.  It lies between Kadesh and Bered.  Hagar bore Abram a son. Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.”

Now the angel of Yahweh appeared to Hagar at a spring of water on the way to Shur, near Egypt.  She admitted that she was running away from her mistress Sarai.  This angel of Yahweh told her to return and call her son Ishmael.  Although he will have many descendents, he will be at odds with nearly everyone, including his own family.  Hagar then asked: are you El-roi, the God who sees all and yet I am still alive?  This well between Kadesh and Bered, which this is the only mention became known as Beer-lahai-roi, a living well that sees.  Actually Isaac, the son of Sarai will live at this Beer-lahai-roi.  Hagar bore Abram’s son and called him Ishmael when Abram was 86 years old. Thus we have another name for God. This vision comes to a pregnant woman where she told the name of the person to be born, who will be something special but troublesome.

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