It was the custom of the time that if the man’s wife was barren that another woman could have a child for the wife.
In a desperate attempt to solve the problem of her barrenness, Sarah offered her handmaiden to Abram to conceive a child. This was in accordance with the written Code of Hammurabi in 1700 BC, the law of Mesopotamia at the time of Abram. The child would be delivered on the lap of the first wife so that the child would, symbolically, be hers.
Hagar bore a child for Sarah and Abraham and they named the child Ishmael.
After Sarah and Abraham had a child Isaac as God told them they would. Sarah then asked Abraham to get rid of Hagar and her child Ishmael. So we have the event of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert and God meeting with them.
Hagar means: wandering and Ishmael means: God has hearkened.
Sarai forces Hagar and Ishmael to leave
21:8 The child grew and eventually was weaned, so Abraham threw a tremendous banquet on the very day Isaac was weaned. 9 Nevertheless, when Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian—whom Hagar had borne to Abraham—making fun of Isaac, 10 she told Abraham, “Throw out this slave girl, along with her son, because this slave’s son will never be a co-heir with my son Isaac!”
11 Abraham was very troubled about what was being said about his son, 12 but God told Abraham, “Don’t be troubled about the youth and your slave girl. Pay attention to Sarah in everything she tells you, because your offspring are to be named through Isaac. 13 Nevertheless, I will make the slave girl’s son into a nation, since he, too, is your offspring.”
14 So early the next morning, Abraham got up, took bread and a leather bottle of water, gave them to Hagar, and placed them on her shoulder. He then sent her away, along with the child. She went off and roamed in the Beer-sheba wilderness. 15 Eventually, the water in the leather bottle ran out, so she placed the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat by herself about a distance of a bowshot away, because she kept saying to herself, “I can’t bear to watch the child die!” That’s why she sat a short distance away, crying aloud and weeping.
The LORD Rescues Hagar and Ishmael
17 God heard the boy’s voice, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven. He asked her, “What’s wrong with you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, because God has heard the voice of the youth where he is. 18 Get up! Pick up the youth and grab his hand, because I will make a great nation of his descendants.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So she went, filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He settled in the wilderness and became an expert archer. 21 Later he settled in the desert area of Paran, and his mother chose a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
16:1 Now Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne a child for him. She had an Egyptian servant girl whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai told Abram, “You are well aware that the LORD has prevented me from giving birth to a child. Go have sex with my servant, so that I may possibly bear a son through her.”
Abram listened to Sarai’s suggestion, 3 so Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant, Hagar, and gave her as a wife to her husband Abram. This took place ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan. 4 He had sex with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she realized that she was pregnant, she looked with contempt on her mistress.
5 Then Sarai told Abram, “My suffering is your fault! I gave you my servant so you could have sex with her , and when she discovered that she was pregnant, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!”
6 Abram answered Sarai, “Look, your servant is under your control, so do to her as you wish.” So Sarai dealt so harshly with Hagar that she ran away from Sarai.
7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the desert on the road to Shur. 8 “Hagar, servant of Sarai,” he asked, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?”
She answered, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”
9 The angel of the LORD told her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” 10 The angel of the LORD also told her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, who will be too many to count.
11 “Look, you are pregnant and will give birth to a son,” the angel of the LORD continued to say to her. “You will name him Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your cry of misery. 12 He’ll be a wild donkey of a man. He’ll be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live in conflict with all of his relatives.”
13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are ‘God who sees,’ because I have truly seen the one who looks after me.”
14 That’s why the spring was called, “The Well of the Living One who Looks after Me.” It was between Kadesh and Bered.
15 Hagar eventually gave birth to Abram’s son. Abram named his son whom Hagar bore Ishmael. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael for Abram.
Also read Genesis 16:1-16
Other modules in this unit:
- In the beginning, God created the earth – Undated Past
- The 7 or Seven Days of Creation – Undated Past, Genesis 1:1-3:24
- Adam was the first created man specifically named in Scripture, Genesis 1:26-31 – 2:1-25
- Eve the first woman specifically named in Scripture, Genesis 2:18-25
- Tree of Life, Genesis 3:1-24
- Cain the first human murderer and older brother of Abel – Genesis 4:1-17
- Abel a righteous man, Genesis 4:1-16
- Seth, Genesis 4:25-26
- Enoch did not die, Genesis 5:21-24
- About a 1100 Year gap between birth of Adam and the birth of Noah, Genesis 5:1-32
- Noah built an ark with God’s instructions, Genesis 6:8-22
- The Ark God’s way of saving people from the flood, Genesis 7:1 – 10:32
- The Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9
- 400 years between Noah and Abraham, Genesis 11:10-32
- Abraham the father of nations, Genesis chapters 12:1-20
- Sarah was the wife of Abraham, Genesis 11:29-23:20
- Lot is rescued by Abraham, Genesis 14:1-17
- Melchizedek was the King of Salem, Genesis 14:17-20
- Ishmael the son of Hagar and Abraham, Genesis 16:1-16 – 17:27
- The birth of Isaac Abraham’s son, Genesis 21:1-7
- Hagar an Egyptian slave given to Abraham by the Pharaoh of Egypt, Genesis 21:8-21
- Rebekah married Isaac, Genesis 24:1-67
- Esau the son that Isaac loved, Genesis 25:20-34
- The birth of Jacob the son of Isaac, Genesis 25:20-26
- King Abimelech a local king and Isaac, Genesis 26:1-33
- Questions and Answers – 1-11
- Questions and Answers 12-26
- Genesis Part Two » »
- Time Line for Genesis part one »
- Background Information – The book of Genesis
- Resources – The book of Genesis