BIBLE STORIES (17) : HAGAR AND ISHMAEL

I did hint a bit about the subject I intend to address here in my last treatise, and it has to do with the chasing of Hagar and her son, Ishmael out of the house of Abraham. I had opined in that blog post, that it isn’t unusual to find a woman who had endured childlessness for years, and had in the meantime taken up others’ children to cater for them, only to become hostile to them once she became a mother, regardless of who is to blame for the turn of events. In the case of Sarah it wasn’t unusual that a situation that led to the banishment of Ishmael (and his mother) from Abraham’s home will find a reason in the mocking of Isaac (Genesis 21:9) on the day he was been weaned, by Ishmael enough to make Sarah demand their expulsion from her house.

So it was, that all of a sudden, Hagar that suited Sarah’s scheming (in asking her husband, Abraham to “… go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. Genesis 16:2) at the time she was childless, was now considered a threat and rival to the “madam of the house”, once she as well became a mother. Abraham, apparently miffed by the turn of events, seeing that the case of Hagar wouldn’t have come up had he had his way in the first place, decided to seek YAHWEH’s face for a way out of the conundrum, seeing that Hagar had long moved from been just a maid in his home to become mother of one of his children. YAHWEH’s response, “… for in Isaac shall thy seed be called (Genesis 21:12)” reechoed HIS earlier stance concerning the state of affairs in Abraham’s house, in asking the latter to hearken to the voice of his wife and accede to her request in ridding the house of Hagar and Ishmael.

ABRAHAM SENDS AWAY HAGAR AND ISHMAEL.
ABRAHAM SENDS AWAY HAGAR AND ISHMAEL.

One lesson I picked from this is the fact that YAHWEH’s will will be done regardless of what we do to help HIM, especially when it seems HE’s taking too long to answer our prayers. Ishmael came as a result of such help, even when YAHWEH continually hammered it into Abraham’s ears that only in that son that will be born by Sarah shall his “seed be called”. I recall Garth Hewitt’s “BLOOD BROTHERS”, where he sang a question asking, “… when will the children of Abraham find their peace?”, in reference to the perennial turmoil in the Middle East by descendants of Abraham, especially between those of Isaac and Ishmael, from whom the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam emanated. A situation that probably wouldn’t have arisen had there been no Ishmael in the equation. The likelihood of events in the Middle East, with millennia old roots in the simple story of siblings (rivalry, which even amongst those from same father and mother could be deadly, when not properly managed, talk more) from separate mothers, leading the world to an apocalyptic end should be something the discerning should greatly consider the next time we feel like helping YAHWEH fulfill his promise(s) to us. Nothing poignantly spells out the height of no love lost amongst the rulers of Middle Eastern countries like when they speak at United Nations General Assembly, when Israel and countries who support them leave when Arab countries seeking their annihilation take the podium to address the world, and vice versa, for instance or worse still at the last Olympics, when an Egyptian martial artist refused to shake the hands of his Israeli opponent and winner of the bout after the match, amongst several other instances that I’d rather not mention now, so as not to bore you.

The only consolation YAHWEH offered Abraham, in asking him to let Hagar go was that HE will also make of Ishmael a nation, “because HE is thy seed” (Genesis 21:13). That was how Hagar and her son, Ishmael were sent away with some bread and a bottle of water, “… and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba”. They soon run out of water and any means of sustenance on the arid land they found themselves, so much so that Hagar had to lay Ishmael under a shrub away from her, saying “Let me not see the death of the child” (Genesis 21:16), while she wept.

HAGAR WEEPS FOR HELP, WHILE ISHMAEL LAY DYING OUT OF EXHAUSTION UNDER A SHRUB.
HAGAR WEEPS FOR HELP, WHILE ISHMAEL LAY DYING OUT OF EXHAUSTION UNDER A SHRUB.

But YAHWEH would have none of that, and soon provided for them a well, right in the middle of the desert, while repeating in her hearing the promise HE’d already made to Abraham concerning Ishmael, to the effect that he will make of “… him a great nation” (Genesis 21:18).

Thereafter, we are told in verse 20, that YAHWEH “… was with the lad (regardless of the condition of his birth); and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness (of Paran), and became an archer”, probably a lucrative business at the time, enough to be considered good enough for the family in Egypt (from where his mother hailed), from where she “… took for him a wife” (Genesis 21:21). Hence, despite the fact that Ishmael wasn’t THE ONE, YAHWEH did not forsake him, but rather charted an alternative path for him and blessed him. Therefore we shouldn’t limit ourselves by the conditions of our birth, no matter how humble; we shouldn’t also refuse to aspire, simply because of our present situation, rather let us look “… unto Yahshua the author and finisher of our faith; (who for the joy that was set before him endured the torture stake, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of YAHWEH” – Hebrews 12:2), to turn our adverse conditions around for good, to the glory of HIS Name, Selah.

‘kovich

REFERENCES:
– Genesis Chapter 21, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000

PICTURE CREDIT:
http://www.obscurecharacters.com
http://www.stephrobbins.com

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2 thoughts on “BIBLE STORIES (17) : HAGAR AND ISHMAEL

  1. I like how you explored the topic. Nice one. One thing that worries me is how the age long hatred between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac degenerated to the deadly extent we’ve today. It successfully crossed over to a sworn hatred between Muslims and Christians today with Muslims being clearly more aggressive and hampering world peace directly and indirectly. It’s quite unfortunate and me thinks the terrible situation will remain like this till the end of the world. Very sad.

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    1. You’re so very right, interestingly the Palestinians (who in all accounts aren’t of the Abraham stock) are the tools used in this proxy war between Israel and their Arab brothers, and like you rightly observed might be the end of us all, in the long predicted apocalypse.

      You can imagine my happiness, though shortlived to see a picture of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Palestinian President Mahmud Abass last week, at the funeral of peacemaker and former Israeli President, Shimon Peres, the latters’ partner of the Oslo Peace Accord, as well as co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.


      (Image Courtesy of http://www.cnn.com)

      It will be naive of me to suggest that much could be made of and from that handshake, but it is good also to be optimistic, that at a time the Arab nations that prop and prompt dissident in the Gaza strip of militant groups, are preoccupied with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism within their boundaries, that Israel and the Palestinians can begin to explore the opportunity this presents to pursue lasting peace.

      When however I remember that it was Shimon Peres that just died, and with him the beacon of peace, or rather of moderate engagements, leaving Israel in the hands of what you may consider “hawks”, it will be difficult to imagine the possibility of peace talks between both groups anytime in the nearest future. But again, many of the Israeli leaders who eventually talked and lived peaceful coexistence with Palestinians, were Generals who fought wars in their younger days against the things they later espoused, another hope that today’s Hawks could just be tomorrow’s Doves.

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