Hagar’s Exile and Return
Works of art by Frederick Walker, Jean-François Millet, and Thomas Rowlandson
Commentaries by Zanne Domoney-Lyttle
Bible passage (Revised Standard Version)
16 Now Sarʹai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar; 2and Sarʹai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarʹai. 3So, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarʹai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5And Sarʹai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my maid to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6But Abram said to Sarʹai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarʹai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8And he said, “Hagar, maid of Sarʹai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarʹai.” 9The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” 10The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishʹmael; because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. 12He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “Thou art a God of seeing”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” 14Therefore the well was called Beer-laʹhai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishʹmael. 16Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishʹmael to Abram.