Hagar was the servant to Sarai (Sarah) who was the wife of Abraham. God had promised Abraham a family, but as yet he and his wife had no child. Sarah had given up and told her husband to take her handmaiden as his second wife. After a time Hagar learned she was going to have a child. However, this was not an occasion for happiness in the family. Jealousy arose between the two women. Hagar began to despise Sarah and Sarah started to mistreat Hagar to the point that she ran away from home.
She fled into the wilderness and there the Lord found her by a spring of water. God talked to her. He asked her why she was there. When she told him she was running away from her mistress, the Lord told her to return to Sarah and be obedient to her. He told her to name her son Ishmael, and He also told her what sort of person Ishmael would grow up to be. "He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."
Hagar called the name of the Lord "You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees" because God had seen her plight and taken pity on her. The water well she was near would be called the "Well of the One Who Lives and Sees Me".
She did as the Lord commanded and returned home. In due time gave birth to her son, Ishmael. Abraham was eighty-six years old at the time. The child grew up. During all those years Abraham thought Ishmael was going to be his heir, but God appeared to him again and told him that he and Sarah would have a son, Isaac, and Isaac would be the one through whom the blessings would come. Abraham pleaded for Ishmael. God told him Ishmael would indeed be a great man, but not the son of promise. Ishmael's family would become a great nation and he would have twelve sons, princes.
Conditions became worse after the birth of Isaac. One day Sarah saw Ishmael scoffing or making fun and she became angry and told Abraham to send Ishmael and his mother away. This made Abraham very sad because Ishmael was his son also. God told him to listen to his wife Sarah and do as she said. He sent Hagar and Ishmael away, giving them some bread and water for their journey. When the water was used up she put him under a shrub and sat down a short distance from him. She thought they were going to die of thirst.
God heard the voice of the child. An angel spoke to Hagar and reassured her things were going to be alright. Ishmael would grow up and become a great man. She looked again and saw a well of water. She got water for them and they survived.
Ishmael did grow up and his descendants become a great nation of people. He became an archer, a marksman with a bow and arrow. When he was older his mother chose a wife for him, a woman from her homeland, the land of Egypt.
We read again of his descendants in the story of Joseph. The traders who took Joseph into Egypt were Ishmaelites. "Behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry (it) down to Egypt" - (Genesis 37:25).
In the New Testament Paul uses the two women Sarah and Hagar to tell a story about God's dealings with people in different times. Galatians 4:21-31 .
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What does this story
mean to me?
Hagar believed in God in spite of great difficulties in her life. God showed her a way to survive and reassured her of His care for her and her child. Her faith was strengthened and she was able to overcome the trials she was facing.
We may face hard times and become ready to give up, but God is still there faithful to help us through those hard times.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV
You can read about Hagar in
Multiple Choice Test
Hagar - Word Search
Hagar - Crossword Puzzle
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1 Peter 5:6-7 Fill-in the Blanks
Color a picture of Hagar and Ishmael.
Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives
By Phyllis Trible & Letty M. Russell, eds. / Westminster John Knox Press
Moving from ancient and medieval sources to contemporary appropriations of the Sarah and Hagar story, the authors begin with an overview of the three religions---from their scriptural beginnings to their contemporary questions. They then explore how the story was developed after its canonization, in rabbinic interpretations, in the stories of Islam, and in the teachings of the early church fathers. Finally, they present contemporary womanist and feminist perspectives. Timely, relevant, and provocative, this book provides an entree into interreligious discussion and understanding.
In addition to Phyllis Trible and Letty Russell, contributors include Elizabeth A. Clark, Riffat Hassan, Adele Reinhartz, Miriam-Simma Walfish, and Delores Williams.
Phyllis Trible is University Professor of Biblical Studies at Wake Forest University Divinity School and Baldwin Professor Emerita of Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, New York. She is the author of Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narrative and God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality.
Letty M. Russell is Professor Emerita of Theology, Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of the Church and coeditor of Dictionary of Feminist Theologies and Inheriting Our Mothers' Gardens: Feminist Theology in Third World Perspective.
Following God Series: Life Principles from the Women of the Bible, Book 2
By Wayne Barber / Amg Publishers
Study women of the Bible and discover what relevance they have to you - a modern day Christian woman. These women can teach us life lessons on surrender, obedience, rebellion, homelife, and parenting. New to this volume of the "Following God" series, you'll find a discussion on a woman's position before God, and answers to other difficult questions. Characters studied are: Hagar, Lot's Wife, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Abigail, Bathsheba, Jezebel, Elizabeth, The Woman at the Well, Women of the Gospels, and The Submissive Wife.
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Children's Bible Lessons
David & Goliath
3 Brave Boys
Parable of Talents
Paul's 1st Journey
Paul's 2nd Journey
Paul's 3rd Journey
Paul in Rome
Hagar- story 16
"Hagar" by Jan Victors courtesy of
"Hagar and Ishmael by von August Wittig"courtesy of
Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin