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hagar Summary and Overview

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hagar in Easton's Bible Dictionary

flight, or, according to others, stranger, an Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid (Gen. 16:1; 21:9, 10), whom she gave to Abraham (q.v.) as a secondary wife (16:2). When she was about to become a mother she fled from the cruelty of her mistress, intending apparently to return to her relatives in Egypt, through the desert of Shur, which lay between. Wearied and worn she had reached the place she distinguished by the name of Beer-lahai-roi ("the well of the visible God"), where the angel of the Lord appeared to her. In obedience to the heavenly visitor she returned to the tent of Abraham, where her son Ishmael was born, and where she remained (16) till after the birth of Isaac, the space of fourteen years. Sarah after this began to vent her dissatisfaction both on Hagar and her child. Ishmael's conduct was insulting to Sarah, and she insisted that he and his mother should be dismissed. This was accordingly done, although with reluctance on the part of Abraham (Gen. 21:14). They wandered out into the wilderness, where Ishmael, exhausted with his journey and faint from thirst, seemed about to die. Hagar "lifted up her voice and wept," and the angel of the Lord, as before, appeared unto her, and she was comforted and delivered out of her distresses (Gen. 21:18, 19). Ishmael afterwards established himself in the wilderness of Paran, where he married an Egyptian (Gen. 21:20,21). "Hagar" allegorically represents the Jewish church (Gal. 4:24), in bondage to the ceremonial law; while "Sarah" represents the Christian church, which is free.

hagar in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(flight), an Egyptian woman, the handmaid or slave of Sarah, #Ge 16:1| whom the latter gave as a concubine to Abraham, after he had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan and had no children by Sarah. ch #Ge 16:2,3| (B.C. 1912.) When Hagar saw that she had conceived, "her mistress was despised in her eyes," v. 4, and Sarah, with the anger, we may suppose, of a free woman rather than of a wife, reproached Abraham for the results of her own act. Hagar fled, turning her steps toward her native land through the great wilderness traversed by the Egyptian road. By the fountain in the way to Shur the angel of the Lord found her, charged her to return and submit herself under the hands of her mistress, and delivered the remarkable prophecy respecting her unborn child recorded in vs. 10-12. On her return she gave birth to Ishmael, and Abraham was then eighty-six years old. When Ishmael was about sixteen years old, he was caught by Sarah making sport of her young son Isaac at the festival of his weaning, and Sarah demanded the expulsion of Hagar and her son. She again fled toward Egypt, and when in despair at the want of water, an angel again appeared to her, pointed out a fountain close by, and renewed the former promises to her. #Ge 21:9-21| St. Paul, #Ga 4:25| refers to her as the type of the old covenant of the law.

hagar in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

HA'GAR (flight), an Egyptian woman who lived in the family of Abraham as bond-woman. At Sarah's own suggestion, she became the concubine of Abraham. When she conceived, her mistress was "despised in her eyes." Gen 16:4. In consequence of it, Hagar was harshly treated and fled away from the house of Abraham. She made her way toward Egypt, her native country, through the wilderness of Shur, and while resting herself near a fountain by the wayside she was visited by an angel, who promised her an innumerable seed and a son whose name was to be Ishmael. The angel at the same time directed her to return home and submit herself to her mistress. The place of this manifestation was afterward known as Beer-lahai-roi, "well of the living and seeing [God]." Gen 16:14. We lose sight of Hagar entirely from this time on till the festival of Isaac's weaning. On that occasion Sarah saw Ishmael mocking or making sport of her child. She immediately demanded the banishment of Ishmael and his mother from their home. Abraham was pained by the demand; but being divinely admonished to comply, he rose up early in the morning, and supplying Hagar with bread and a bottle of water sent her and her child away. She found her way to the wilderness of Beer-sheba; but her supply of water was exhausted. Placing the child under one of the shrubs that she might not see it die, she mingled her prayers with its cries. God heard the prayer, and disclosed to her a fountain. She at the same time received again the promise (fulfilled in the Arabs) that Ishmael would be the father of a great nation. Gen 21:9-21. Paul refers to Hagar, Gal 4:25, as a type of the Law and its bondage.

hagar in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Perhaps related to the Arabic hegira, "flight." Genesis 16; Genesis 21; Genesis 25:12. Abram's bond-woman; an Egyptian received into his household during his sojourn in Egypt,. Taken as legal concubine at Sarai's suggestion to raise a seed, in hope of his being the promised heir, when Sarai's age seemingly forbade hope of issue by her. The marriage law was then less definitely recognized than at the beginning, and than subsequently. Lack of faith moved Sarai to suggest, and moved Abram to adopt, a fleshly device instead of waiting the Lord's time and way. It was punished by consequent family disquiet, and the bad example copied by the Ishmaelites has proved morally and physically a curse to the race. Abraham gave up Hagar, in violation of eastern custom, to Sarai's ill usage; so Hagar fled toward her native land Egypt, by the way through the wilderness toward Shur, probably Suez.

The wilderness is identified with the N.E. part of that of Paran, now Al-jifar. The angel of Jehovah reminded her that as "Sarai's maid" she owed her submission, and promised that her son Ishmael should be father of a numerous nation. So she called Jehovah that spoke unto her "Thou God seest me" (Hebrew: "Thou art a God of seeing," a God who allows Himself to be seen), for she said, "Have I also seen (i.e. am I yet living and seeing) here, after seeing (God)?" (Genesis 32:30; Judges 13:22; Exodus 20:19; Exodus 33:20). The adjoining well was named Beer-lahai-roi, "the well of the seeing alive," i.e. at which one saw God and lived.

This explanation involves a change of accents; but the KJV explanation involves a grammatical difficulty; Chald. supports KJV, "Thou art a God of seeing," i.e. the all seeing, from whose eye the helpless is not hidden in the lonely desert, and Beer-lahairoi, "the well of the living One who sees me," i.e. of the ever living omnipresent Providence. In either view the words show Hagar was now no pagan, but had become in some degree a believer in the God of Abraham. Ishmael's mocking at the feast which celebrated Isaac's weaning was the occasion of Sarah's saying, "Cast out this bond-woman and her son, for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son ... Isaac."

As Abram had laughed for joy at the promise of Isaac (Genesis 17:17), and Sarai for incredulity (Genesis 18:12-15), but afterward, at Isaac's birth, for joyful gratitude, so Ishmael in derision and in the spirit of a persecutor, mocking (which contains the germ of persecuting) Isaac's faith in God's promises. Being the elder he prided himself above "him that was born after the Spirit," i.e. by the Spirit-energized promise of God, which made Sarah fruitful out of the course of nature. The history typifies the truth that the spiritual seed of Abraham by promise, Gentile as well as Jewish believers, take the place of the Jews the natural seed, who imagined that to them exclusively belonged the kingdom of God.

Paul expounds Hagar to answer to Sinai and the law, which generates a spirit of "bondage," as Hagar was a bond-woman, and that this must give place to the gospel dispensation and the church of grace, the "Jerusalem which is above." The carnal and legalists shall not be heirs with the free New Testament believers (Galatians 4:22-31). Abraham, at God's command, did what Sarah said, though grievous to him. H. wandered with her child (15 years was childhood when human life was so long, he was old enough to "mock") in the wilderness of Beersheba; the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast him, soon worn out as a growing lad, under a shrub, having previously led him by the hand (for Genesis 21:14 means that Abraham put the bread and bottle, but not also the child, "on her shoulder"; so Genesis 21:18, "hold him in thine hand".)

The lad's own cry, still more than the mother's, brought "the angel of God" (here only in Gen., usually "angel of JEHOVAH"), i.e. GOD, the second Person (Genesis 21:17; Genesis 21:19-20), to his and her help. The child's cry is the more potent with the Omnipotent, just because of its helplessness (Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 41:17-18). God opened her eyes to see water where she had supposed there was only a dry wilderness. In our greatest extremity God has only to open our eyes and we see abundant help near. Real prayer will bring Him to our side (2 Kings 6:17-20; Luke 24:16; Luke 24:31). Hagar "took him a wife out of Egypt," the land of idols and worldliness; untaught by the piety of Abraham and by God's mercy to herself.