Studies in Torah

Genesis 16: Hagar gives birth to Ishmael for Abram; Hagar flees Sarai

Richard AgeePeople find it easy to criticize Sarai and Abram for their impatience in waiting for the son God promised them, but our insight is simply nothing more than hindsight. We aren’t any smarter or more faithful to God than they were.

Abram’s wife, שָׂרַי Sarai (Strong’s lexicon No. H8297), has a unique name. Most people look at the root שַׂר sar (H8269), which means prince or princess in Hebrew and stop there, but there’s even more meaning in her name than that. The furthest root of her name is the Hebrew word שָׂרַט sarat (H8295) which literally means to incise or scratch. From that meaning, we get the word sar for chief, ruler or prince.

When Sarai became impatient and wanted to “help” God fulfill His promise to Abram, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and gave her Egyptian handmaiden to Abram as a wife or a concubine. From that point on, Sarai no longer had any authority over Hagar, this is why Hagar became arrogant and condescending towards Sarai after she had conceived a child with Abram.

The verse says Hagar “despised her mistress” (Gen. 16:4). The Hebrew word that is translated mistress is גְּבֶרֶת gebereth (H1404), which means mistress, lady or queen.

Hagar forgot her place in this family. She forgot that even though she was pregnant with Abram’s child, Sarai was still the first lady of the household.

When Sarai confronted Abram on Hagar’s arrogance, Abram basically divorced Hagar and gave her back to Sarai. That is when Sarai dealt with Hagar “harshly” and humiliated her. Sarai oppressed Hagar so harshly that she fled from Sarai’s house.

As Hagar is sneaking away to return to Egypt, an Angel of the Lord confronts her. The Angel gives Hagar a prophesy that sounds very similar to the prophesy God gave to Abram when he tells Hagar, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count” (Gen. 16:10). God is setting up a story, a struggle that is carrying on to this very day. Hagar’s son was given his name — יִשְׁמָעֵאל Ishmael (H3458), which means God hears — before he was even born.

The Angel tells Hagar in Gen. 16:12:

“He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”

When it says that Ishmael will be a wild man, it doesn’t mean that he will be senile or crazy but more in the sense of untamed and free.

Ishmael and his descendants would also be around to give Isaac and Isaac’s descendants trouble and grief.

The name הָגָר Hagar (H1904) could means sojourner or someone who flees, which is a foreshadow of what happened to Hagar and Ishmael years later.

Why did God allow this to happen? He could have closed up Hagar’s womb just as He closed Sarai’s womb and the entire course of history would be radically different from they are now.

Apostle Paul used as illustrations the two women, Sarai and Hagar, and the covenants God made with their sons, Isaac and Ishmael (Gal. 4:21–31). Once you transgress a covenant, you have no hope, unless Someone better than you steps in with a second, better covenant. That is what Yeshua did. Paul is telling us that the Torah can’t give us salvation, it is a guide on how to live one’s life. Only Yeshua can give salvation.

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.


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