Hagar and Ishmael

Oct 18, 2015

וְשָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם לֹא יָלְדָה לוֹ וְלָהּ שִׁפְחָה מִצְרִית וּשְׁמָהּ הָגָר׃

Sarai, Avram's wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

Genesis 16:1

וְאַבְרָם בֶּן־שְׁמֹנִים שָׁנָה וְשֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים בְּלֶדֶת־הָגָר אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵאל לְאַבְרָם׃

Avram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Avram.

Genesis 16:16

Abram’s wife Sarai realizes that she is barren, and wants her husband to father children. She therefore gives him her handmaid, Hagar, as a surrogate womb. When Hagar quickly gets pregnant, however, she loses respect for her mistress, and Sarai punishes her. Hagar runs away.


At an oasis in the desert, Hagar is met by an angel, who sends her back to submit to her mistress, promising that her child is destined for greatness. In fact, the son she bears is Ishmael, father of the Arab nations.


Hagar names the oasis where she encounters the angel Be’er-lahai-roi, which means “the well of the Living One who sees me”. The Israel Bible cites Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, who points out Hagar came to the realization that one can never run from God’s sight. This is especially evident in the Land of Israel, which the Torah describes as “the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it.” (Deuteronomy 11:12)


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God, through the angel, sent Hagar back to Sarai?


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