Who Is Hagar?


Who is Hagar?


Hagar according to the Old Testament is the Egyptian handmaid/servant that bore Abraham his first son Ishmael. Hagar is mentioned in the Old Testament and the Jewish Torah by name. In the Islamic tradition of Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca), millions of pilgrims re-enact Hagar's plight in the valley of Mecca when she run between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times in search of water. The story of prophet Ishmael and prophet Ibrahim is also narrated in Quran 37:100-103 but Hagar is not mentioned directly here.


What is narrated in the Old Testament is that Hagar was a woman of Egyptian decent who accompanied Abraham as servant on his return from Egypt to Canaan (Palestine). Abraham had gone to Egypt to escape a severe famine in Canaan. Sarah, Abraham's first wife was childless and in an act of desperation gives her maidservant Hagar as a wife to Abraham so she can bear them a child. This kind of marriage arrangement was common in Abraham's time, where a childless mother can bring another woman in to the household as a second wife in order to obtain a progeny. Hagar is made to accept this arrangement because of her position within Abraham's household and had no say in the matter.

What comes next is God's revelation to Abraham and Hagar as the angel of God appears to them at different times announcing God's promises to both of them. Let's look at the scriptures:



God's promise
to Hagar:



Genesis 16:10 - 11
Genesis 21:17 - 18





God's promise
to Abraham:


Genesis 17: 20
Genesis 21: 12



Genesis 16: 10 -11

The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery."


Genesis 21: 17 - 18
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."


Genesis 17: 20
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation."

 

Genesis 21: 12
"I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."

Other references of Hagar and Ishmael in the Old Testament: (Quoted from New International Version Ā©1984)
- Genesis: 16:15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.
- Genesis: 17:18 - 20 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.
- Genesis: 17:23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.
- Genesis: 17:24 - 25 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen;