The name Hagar means, “stranger” in Hebrew. According to the Old Testament timeline, Hagar lived between 1930 B.C. and 1840 B.C.
Hagar was the handmaid of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Sarah felt she could no longer wait on God’s promise that she and Abraham would have a child as she was passed the age of child-bearing. Sarah gave her hand maiden over to Abraham so that they might have a child through Hager as the surrogate mother. Hagar would bear the child and look after it, but it would actually belong to Sarah and be accepted as the child of Sarah and Abraham.
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After Hagar had conceived she began to despise and taunt Sarah for her barrenness. Sarah complained to Abraham, who told her to do as she would with Hagar. Apparently she was cruel to Hagar.
So much so, that at one point, according to Biblical readings, Hager fled her mistress, Sarah, with the intentions of walking herself back to her own people in Egypt. When Hagar stopped to rest at a spring in the desert on her way back to Shur. The Angel of the LORD came to her and asked, “Hagar, where have you come from, and where are you going?” Hager responded honestly, “I’m running away from Sarah, my owner.” The Angel said, “Go back to your owner, Sarah, and continue to be her bond servant. The LORD will give you a son, who will be called Ishmael, because God has heard your cry for help. God will give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them all. However, your son will live far from his relatives; he will be like a wild man, fighting with everyone, and everyone will always be fighting with him.”
Hager was obedient to the Angel of the LORD, and returned to Abraham’s camp and Sarah’s rule over her. She would be bearing a child who had an important destiny, and rearing that child who would have descendants without number. When Hagar gave birth to her son, he was named Ishmael.
According to the Bible, Sarah’s son Isaac would be born some fourteen years later. However, until then, Hager’s son Ishmael was Abraham’s son and only heir, and Hagar must have had some status in the clan because of that fact. Even after Isaac’s birth, the rivalry between the two women was unresolved. For fourteen years, Ishmael was seen as the future heir of Abraham. He and Hagar had become accustomed to being treated with some respect. However, when Isaac, the child of promise was born, everything changed. Now there arose a question, “Who would be Abraham’s heir: the first-born son, or the son of the principal wife?”
Sarah was going to leave no doubt in the matter. She saw Ishmael as a threat to her son, and the old hostility between the two women reappeared, now with even more spitefulness than ever before. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a great feast to celebrate the occasion; however, Sarah noticed Ishmael mocking her son Isaac. So again she goes to Abraham to complain about Hagar. Sarah insisted that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away from the tribe.
Abraham was not pleased about sending Hagar and his own son Ishmael out into the heat of the open desert, since he believed they had virtually no chance of survival. However, he conceded after God assured him that the child would grow and become a mighty nation. Early in the morning, he sent Hagar off with bread, and a skin of water.
Walking alone in the desert, Hagar and Ishmael soon used up their small supply of water. Hagar saw her son begin to die of thirst, and could not bear to watch. She placed him in the shade of an overhanging bush and went a distance away to wait out his and her own death.
In what she believed were the final moments of her life, she began to weep. However, the Bible tells us that God called out upon hearing Ishmael’s cries. Hager’s eyes were opened, and she saw something she had somehow missed before: a well of fresh water. She refilled the skin and took it to her son, gently enticing the parched lips to open.
She and her son then continued their journey, and Bible timelines tell us that they lived in the wilderness of Paran, where Ishmael grew to manhood. When it came time for Ishmael to choose a wife, Hagar took good care to find him a wife from her own people. God kept his promise for Ishmael grew up brave and strong, and became a great archer in the wilderness. Ishmael lived wild and free in the desert, while Isaac lived in the tents where he had been born.
Isaac and Ishmael met again one day, and remembered that they were brothers. That was on the day they buried their good and faithful father, Abraham, laying him to rest in the quiet shadows of Mamre, where his beloved wife Sarah had already been at rest for many years.
In the New Testament, Paul refers to the Hagar story symbolically to argue the freedom of Christians from the obligations of the law.
- The nations called Moab and Ammon are usually mentioned together because it was brothers by those same names who founded them. These children were born to Lot and his two daughters, after Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim were destroyed by God.
- The city of Damascus of Syria was founded in the second millennium BC.
- The Hyksos kingdom in Egypt was centered in the eastern Nile Delta and Middle Egypt. The word Hyksosmeans “foreign rulers” or “shepherd kings” They were an Asiatic people who invaded the eastern Nile Delta around 1720 B.C.
- The First Intermediate Period of Egypt was a forceful time where the control of Egypt was divided between two conflicting ruling powers. One of those controlling powers ruled from Lower Egypt, and the other from Upper Egypt. This took place between 2200B.C. and 1530 B.C.
- Probable time of the building of the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
- Emigration of Indo-German tribes can be roughly be dated around 2200 B.C.
- Mongolian people began the practice of animal husbandry around 2000 B.C.
- The period from 4000 B.C. to 2000 B.C. is referred to as the Bronze Age.
- The settlement of Japan dates back to around 2200 B.C.
- Emperor Yu, the great colonizer in China, ruled the Tang-Shang Dynasty during 1919 B.C.
- Fu-hi, the Great Benefactor, founded the silk industry, in approximately 2000 B.C.
Main Bible Characters
- Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people.
- Sarah, foremother of the Jewish people.
Isaac, the promised and long-awaited son of Abraham and Sarah
- Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian bondservant.
- Ishmael, the first born son of Abraham, which he had through Hagar.
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