Women of the Bible - Hagar A Woman Who Raised a Wild Donkey of a Man by Kathryn Capoccia Young Adults Sunday School Class All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. © Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. I. Introduction A. Prayer Requests B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse
II. Character Profile: Hagar, A Woman Who Raised a Wild Donkey of a Man A. Who Was She? (read GEN 12:16,20; 16:1-16; 21:8-21; 25:12-18; GAL 4:24,25). 1. When Did She Live? In the time of the Patriarchs @1800 B.C. 2. Where Did She Live? GEN 16:1, she had lived in Egypt but had lived in Canaan and other places with Sarah and Abraham after becoming part of their household. 3. What Was Her Name? Hagar, an Egyptian name meaning "flight" or "fugitive" or "immigrant". 4. Who Were Her People? GEN 16:1, she was an Egyptian. If she was given to Abraham as a gift (GEN 12:16) from Pharaoh she would probably been one of the more cultured slaves. a) Egypt was culturally advanced. 1) ACT 7:22 "Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians..." a] literature, astronomy, mathematics (arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry), architecture, and music were subjects for school. b] medical science and dentistry, anatomy, chemistry and embalming techniques were areas of knowledge. 2) metallurgy was practiced- they had gold mines and copper mines, and were familiar with iron and bronze. *this information came from "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands" by Fred H. Wight, Moody press (1953), pg. 113. 3) religious beliefs and practices were firmly established, as were religious festivals. 4) the arts had been raised to great heights: a] the Old Kingdom (2686-2180) produced the pyramids and the Sphinx, elaborate royal temples of granite and alabaster, and statuary in the round that was equal to that of the later Greeks. b] the Middle Kingdom (2180-1551) produced highly developed wisdom literature which stressed right moral character. b) Egypt was stable politically: -again united north and south. - and massive brick forts guarded her borders (along the Sinai) and trade and gold mining interests. *this information came from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia" vol.2, pgs. 236,237. 5. What Did She Do For A Living? GEN 16:1; she was Sarah's maidservant, "shiphchah"- a female servant or slave. a) Egyptian slaves wore a distinctive haircut and bore a stamp of ownership from their masters; Babylonian slaves also were tattooed and wore small tablets around the wrist, ankle or neck. b) slaves became slaves: 1) as war captives (NUM 31:26f; DEU 21:10). Thousands of men, women and children were reduced to servitude as the result of having been taken prisoner during some military conquest. Near Eastern Codes and O.T. law tried to protect these people from brutality (DEU 23:15,16). a] A slave taken to become a wife by a Hebrew soldier was to be treated as a free person (DEU 21:10-14). b] A Hebrew's wife, who was a former slave, could not be sold back into slavery if he was tired or displeased with her. 2) as purchased property: a] slaves could be bought in slave markets (LEV 25:44-46). i] kidnapped foreigners could be sold as slaves. *this brought the death penalty in Israel if the deed were to be revealed (EXO 21:6; DEU 24:7). ii] family members could be sold as slaves to pay a debt (EXO 21:7; NEH 5:5; 2KI 4:1). iii] people could be sold into slavery to repay a theft debt. iv] men and women could sell themselves into slavery (LEV 25:39; DEU 15:12-17). -- such a slave could be redeemed by his relatives or himself when he acquired the money. -- by law in Israel such a person was freed after six years of service with presents of cattle and fruit (DEU 15:12-14). -- by law in Israel a slave who refused his freedom in the seventh year (because he did not want to leave his family or he loved his master) would become a lifelong slave with an awl pierced ear to show his status (DEU 15:17). -- in LEV 25 a Hebrew who was a lifelong slave was to be freed in the year of Jubilee or after fifty years of servitude, whichever came first. b] the price of slaves varied from as little as three shekels to fifty shekels, according to the age and sex of the slave (LEV 27:3-7). i] a young man would cost twenty shekels (see GEN 37:28 for the story of Joseph). ii] the average price was forty shekels (2 MACC 8:11). *Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver (MAT 26:15; 27:3). c] children were sold into slavery under terms of a conditional contract: i] young unmarried Hebrew girls who were sold as slaves by law (EXO 21:11) had to become the wife or concubine of the master or one of his sons when she matured. ii] freedom was to be granted to a Hebrew woman who had been sold as a child if no male member of her master's family wanted her as a wife (EXO 21:11). 3) as gifts from another- non-Hebrew slaves could be received as gifts (GEN 29:24). 4) as an inheritance- non-Hebrew slaves could be passed down from one generation to another (LEV 25:46). 5) as those born into slavery- the children of slaves became the master's property; even if the parents or father was later freed the children remained (EXO 21:4; LEV 25:54). c) Hebrew slaves could be freed: 1) by purchasing their freedom or working out the time of contract. 2) by becoming maimed by their masters (EXO 20-23). 3) by reaching the year of Jubilee (the 50th yr.) d) slaves owned by Hebrews were generally domestic servants or field workers who worked along side the master and his family. *this information came from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible", vol.5, pgs. 454-460; and "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands" by Fred H. Wight, Moody Press (co. 1953), pgs. 290,291. 6. Was She Married? No; she became Abram's concubine later. WHAT IS A CONCUBINE? A concubine is a woman who co-habits with a man or functions as a second wife without the legal standing of a full wife. B. What Did She Do? 1. She Bore A Son To Abram. a) Hagar was given to Abram (GEN 16:3). 1) under the Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian codification of law, the Nuzi Tablets and old Assyrian marriage contracts, a woman could give her maid to her husband as a second wife, a common practice of the time (NIV study notes, pg. 29). 2) Sarai gave Hagar to Abram to acquire a child through her for herself (GEN 16:2). a] Sarai recognized the sovereignty of God over her womb and that He had "prevented her from bearing children" (GEN 16:2). b] Sarai thought that she could make spiritual things happen through fleshly efforts, i.e. have a child through someone else, and everything would be blessed of God. b) Hagar conceived (GEN 16:4). 1) Abram accepted her as a wife and had relations with her. a] he did this to please his wife- because Sarai asked it of him. b] he did this because his faith was weak- he wanted to get the "promised child" of GEN 15, which he had unsuccessfully waited ten years to have with Sarai (GEN 16:3; MAL 2:15). GEN 15:4 "Then the word of the LORD came to him: '...a son coming from your own body will be your heir.'" 2) Hagar forgot her place (GEN 16:4,5). a] She "despised" Sarai (GEN 16:4,5). i] despised means "to be slight," i.e. to hold one in contempt or to treat one with light esteem. -- to be barren was a great grief to Hebrew women and considered a sign of God's disfavor (GEN 30:1; 1SA 1:6; LUK 1:36-58). -- as a fertile woman Hagar may well have seen herself as being superior to Sarai, and thus ridiculed her. b] She "wronged" Sarai (GEN 16:5). i] wronged means "to do evil". ii] as the bearer of Abram's heir she may have thought that she would displace Sarai, and thus treated her with disrespect. PRO 30:21-23 "Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a fool who is full of food, an unloved woman who is married, and a maidservant who displaces her mistress." *Abram's heir would receive a tremendous inheritance: -- Abram was already extremely wealthy I. he had vast herds and flocks (GEN 13:2,7) II. he had 318 trained home-born soldier/slaves (GEN 14:14). III. he lived in tents (GEN 12:8; 18:1). A. tents were probably constructed like modern Bedouin Arab's are: the tent itself was made of a coarse, heavy cloth woven from black goat's hair (which protected from winter winds and were lifted up in summer to allow air circulation). B. in a large encampment the leader's tent was the largest- a wealthy man would have had several tents: one for himself and guests, one for his wives and female servants, and one for his animals. All would be pitched in a circular arrangement around an open space (this allowed flocks to be protected within the circle). C. an Oriental tent is, and probably was, comprised of an oblong divided into two or three rooms by goat hair curtains- the first apartment is the men's/reception room, the next the women's apartment, and the last an apartment for servants or cattle. The roof is one large piece of goat hair fabric held up by poles and tied at its ends with cords fastened to the ground with pegs: the sides are each separate pieces of cloth. D. inside the tent mats of goat hair, straw, or rugs cover the ground; at night carpets or mats are used for bedding. If possible, camel furniture is used for sitting upon. Shoes are removed before entering the tent. E. cooking is done outside the tent, weather permitting; if not, a hole with a stone lip serves as a hearth inside the tent- cooking utensils are placed on the stones over the fire. *this information came from "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands" by Fred H. Wight, Moody Press (1953), pgs.14-17, and "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible", vol.5, pg. 676. -- Abram had been promised an inheritance of the land of Canaan. 3) Hagar ran from Sarai. a] Sarai sought justice. i] she went to Abram to complain (GEN 16:5). GEN 16:5 "Then Sarai said to Abram, 'You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.'" ii] she received a "carte blanche" from Abram to handle it any way she wanted (GEN 16:6). GEN 16:6 "'Your servant is in your hands,' Abram said. 'Do with her whatever you think best.'" -- he gave Hagar back to Sarai. -- he reminded her that as a slave Hagar was hers to do with as she pleased. b] Sarai "treated Hagar harshly" (GEN 16:6). *we are not told what Sarai did to Hagar but "harshly" means "to afflict": i] she apparently reduced Hagar to her former slave status, her legal right. ii] she made life hard for Hagar. -- she could have done this with physical or mental abuse. -- she could have done this through the tasking she gave Hagar. c] Hagar tried to flee (GEN 16:6). i] she was "on the road to Shur" (GEN 16:7) *a bondwoman was lawfully forbidden to run away from her mistress. -- she was on the road that ran from Hebron past Beersheba to Shur (the present Jifar, the north-western portion of the desert of Arabia) and thence on to Egypt, her homeland. -- she was at a spring of water in the wilderness (GEN 16:7). ii] she was ordered to return to Sarai (GEN 16:9). -- "the angel of the LORD" found her by a spring of water in the wilderness (GEN 16:7). WHO WAS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD? Scholars would call this angelic visitation a theophany, a self-manifestation of God because: -He speaks authoritatively as God -He identifies Himself with God -He claims to exercise the prerogatives of God In Joshua chapter five another theophany occurred when Joshua encountered a "man" who called Himself the captain of the LORD'S host and who commanded that Joshua remove his sandals "for the place where you are standing is holy" (JOS 5:15); this was just as God had commanded Moses to do at the "burning bush" in Genesis chapter three (GEN 3:5). See also Judges chapter thirteen for another theophany. *After the incarnation of Christ the angel of the LORD does not appear in scripture- it is inferred that the angel of the LORD is, in fact, a preincarnate appearance of Jesus, the second member of the Trinity. -- the angel of the LORD commanded that Hagar, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." I. "mistress" means "lady", "queen", or "mistress" II. "submit" means "to be bowed down" or "afflicted". -- the angel of the LORD gave her hope (GEN 16:10-12): I. he promised to "greatly multiply her descendants". II. he said she would bear a son called Ishmael, or" God hears" because God had "given heed to her affliction". A. he would be "a wild donkey of a man"- he would be untamable or perhaps would roam the deserts freely like a wild donkey. B. his hand would be against everyone's and everyone's would be against him. C. he would live in hostility toward his brothers or to the east of his brothers. *the enmity between Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, and Jews continues to this day. iii] she recognized that a deity had spoken to her. -- she called Him "You are the God Who sees me" -- she marveled that she had seen God and lived (because there was a belief was that no one could see God and live: see Exodus 33:20 and Judges 13:22). -- the well where she met God was called "Beer Lahi Roi", or "well of the Living One Who sees me" c) she gave birth to her son (GEN 16:15,16). GEN 16:15,16 "So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael." 1) Hagar gave birth. a] she had returned to camp in obedience to God's command and completed her pregnancy term there. b] she probably brought Ishmael forth sitting upon a "birth stool" (lit. "two stones"), a double seated stool used by Egyptian women, which utilizes the force of gravity to enhance the birth process (EXO 1:16). It was customary for a woman in labor to be attended by midwives to assist her delivery (GEN 35:17; EXO 1:19). 2) Abram named him "Ishmael". a] this presupposes that Hagar told Abram everything that the angel of the LORD had told her, including the name of his son, which he obediently used. b] Abram regarded Ishmael as his heir (GEN 17:18), and regarded him thusly until thirteen years later, when Abraham was ninety-nine yrs. old and God appeared to him to announce His conditional covenant to Isaac through Abraham. 3) Abraham circumcised Ishmael when Ishmael was thirteen years old (GEN 17:23). WHAT IS CIRCUMCISION? It is the surgical removal of the foreskin of a male's penis- it signifies total commitment to the Lordship of God and membership in the community of God's people. a] He circumcised Ishmael to obey God (GEN 17:10-14). b] He circumcised Ishmael to include him in God's covenant (GEN 17:14). i] God promised to bless Ishmael and greatly increase his numbers (GEN 17:20). ii] God promised to make him the father of twelve rulers and make him into a great nation (GEN 17:20). *some Arab's still observe circumcision on the 13th birthday of their sons as a ceremonial rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. 2. She Was Cast Out With Her Son. a) Ishmael ridiculed Isaac. 1) Isaac was weaned (GEN 21:8). a] Hebrew children were weaned at two to three years of age (if Isaac was two this would have made Ishmael about sixteen yrs. old). b] Isaac was given a great feast to celebrate the occasion (GEN 21:9). i] the feast would have had special food: -- the best lambs of the flock and stall-fed calves would have been slaughtered and cooked. -- special wine was drunk. -- bread would have been baked and served with olive oil. -- vegetables and fruits would also have been served. -- milk products would probably have been available. ii] the feast might have had special entertainment of dancing and/or music *this information came from "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands" by Fred H. Wight, Moody Press (1953), pgs. 44-54,65,66. 2) Ishmael "was mocking" (lit. "to laugh") (GEN 21:9). GEN 21:9 "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking" *Ishmael was scorning Isaac as the heir of Abraham- WHY WOULD HE DO THIS? GAL 4:29 "At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now." a] Ishmael was persecuting Isaac, the son of the promise. i] Ishmael is spoken of as being of the Old Covenant of Law, not grace, and was therefore not saved, not regenerated, and a slave to sin and to Satan who persecutes the saints (GAL 4:24-28; JOH 8:44). ii] Ishmael was fulfilling the prophetic word concerning him, "he will be a wild donkey of a man" and "his hand will be against his brother". b] Ishmael duplicated Hagar's scornful attitude toward Sarah in his attitude toward Isaac, the true heir. GEN 22:2 "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love..." *Ishmael should have accepted the will of God as Eliezer of Damascus did when he lost Abram's inheritance to Ishmael and Isaac (GEN 15:2; chap. 24). b) Sarah requested that Hagar and Ishmael be expelled (GEN 21:10). GEN 21:10 "...and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'" WHY WOULD SARAH REQUEST SUCH AN ACTION? 1) maternal jealousy may have precipitated this outburst. 2) unresolved resentment about Hagar may have moved Sarah to use this incident as an opportunity to rid herself of her rival. 3) prompting by the Holy Spirit may have moved Sarah to remove Hagar and Ishmael from Abraham and Isaac; as John the Baptist said of himself and Christ, "He must become greater; I must become less" (JOH 3:30). In order for God to deal with Abraham and Isaac as He wished Ishmael and Hagar had to be put out of the way. c) Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away (GEN 21:11-14). 1) Abraham was distressed (lit. "to be bad" i.e. grieved) (GEN 21:11). a] Abraham was concerned for his son. i] Ishmael was his son, whom he loved, and it grieved Abraham to think of losing him. ii] Ishmael had been promised prosperity and blessing and banishment did not seem to fit that. b] Abraham was concerned for legal custom- a man was forbidden from arbitrarily sending away a concubine and her son (from "The NIV Study Bible" notes, pg. 36). 2) Abraham was reassured (GEN 21:12,13). a] God spoke to Abraham. i] He told Abraham to "listen to whatever Sarah tells you" (GEN 21:12). ii] He reminded Abraham that it was to be through Isaac that the covenant promises would be fulfilled. iii] He assured Abraham that He would indeed bless Ishmael, because Ishmael was Abraham's son. -- that meant that Ishmael would surely survive in the desert. -- that meant that God remain faithful to His promises. b] Abraham complied with Sarah's request (GEN 21:14). i] he made preparations for them: -- he gathered some food and a skin of water. -- he set the supplies on Hagar's shoulders. ii] he sent them off early in the morning. *this means that he promptly obeyed God's command, but also that he showed them compassion because they could travel in the cool of the day. 3) they prospered in the desert (GEN 21:14-21). a] God protected them in the wilderness of Beersheba (the wilderness of Beersheba is located in the Negev of Israel). i] He knew of their needs (GEN 21:17-19). -- they had wandered in the desert until their water was gone (GEN 21:14,15). -- they were weeping and waiting to die (GEN 21:16,17) I. Hagar had put her son under the shelter of a shade bush when he could travel no farther (GEN 21:15). II. Hagar could not bear to abandon her son, nor could she bear to be near him to watch him die, so she moved to a place opposite him to wait (GEN 21:16). A. the place was "about a bow shot away" or as far as archers put their targets away from them. B. the weeping she did means "to weep, to bewail, to sob". WHAT SHOULD SHE HAVE BEEN DOING? A WOMAN OF FAITH WOULD HAVE BEEN PRAYING TO GOD AND ASKING FOR HIS INTERVENTION. *It was very selfish of Hagar to have separated herself from her son because she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die" (GEN 21:16). She was thinking of her needs, not her sons'- Ishmael would not have wanted to have died alone. -- God heard the boy crying (not Hagar) *WHY DO YOU THINK THE BOY WAS CRYING? I. the angel of God spoke to Hagar (GEN 21:17,18). A. he spoke from heaven (in GEN 22:11 the angel of the LORD spoke to Abraham from heaven). B. he spoke words of reassurance: GEN 21:17 "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.'" II. the angel ordered her to "lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation" (GEN 21:18). A. she was ordered to continue to care for Ishmael. B. she was given assurance that Ishmael would survive and prosper. ii] God showed Hagar a well of water (GEN 21:19). GEN 21:19 "Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink." -- He "opened up her eyes" so that she could see the well that was there. -- she filled the water skin with water and ministered to Ishmael. b] God was with Ishmael for Abraham's sake. GEN 21:20 "God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer." i] they continued to live in the desert. ii] Ishmael became an archer (lit. "to become much bowman"). -- bows had developed into weapons which were made of glued layers of animal hide and thin layers of wood with tendons and horns of animals which would pull to 100 lbs. and shoot an arrow through most armor. -- a bowman developed his skills through practice from childhood with stronger bows at longer and longer distances until he was proficient. *Esau was also a bowman, hunting game with his bow (GEN 25:27, 27:3). * this information came from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible", vol.1, pgs. 286, 318. c] Hagar got a wife for him from Egypt GEN 21:21 "While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt." WHY? i] they lived in the wilderness of Paran near Egypt: -- this is the large desert that stretches along the southern border of Canaan and along the frontier of Egypt, called et-Tih today. -- the northern edge of the wilderness is Beersheba, the southern part is near the mountains of Horeb, the eastern is by the desert of Shur, and the western is the fringes of the Arabah. *this information came from "the Commentary on the Old Testament" by Keil-Delitszch, vol.1, pgs. 245,246. ii] Hagar was Egyptian. -- she was rooted in Egypt: she always wanted to return to Egypt when faced with a need or crisis. -- her heart had not been touched to value godly things or to seek a believing wife for Ishmael. d] Ishmael headed a family. i] he had sons- twelve sons: GEN 25:13-16 "These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps." ii] he had daughters: -- Mahalath (GEN 28:9). -- Basemath (GEN 36:3). e] Ishmael remained a son of Abraham. i] Ishmael received gifts from Abraham before Abraham's death (these were given in lieu of an inheritance GEN 25:6). ii] Ishmael buried his father with Isaac (GEN 25:9). *Although Ishmael kept his ties to Abraham he never came under the umbrella of the covenant. As Esau was later to be a godless man, outside of the blessings of the covenant though he was a son of Isaac, so Ishmael was outside of the covenant, though he was a son of Abraham. (See also MAT 3:9). GAL 3:7 "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham." GAL 3:9 "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." *Hagar was never considered the wife of Abraham, though she bore his son; Sarah was his wife alone, and it was she and her son who were included in God's covenant to Abraham. Hagar could only raise a child lost under the Law because she herself was outside of the covenant, spiritually insensitive to the things of God. Though she encountered God twice the Scriptures do not say that she was converted by those experiences. Every time she faced a crisis in her life she "tried to go back to Egypt" even as the Israelites would try to do in the Exodus when they rejected God (EXO 16:3; NUM 11:5,18). C. What Can We Learn From Her? 1. A person can miss salvation though he or she be constantly in the presence of a saved person or family, or even have personally encountered God if his or her heart is hard and loves sin. (See Judas in the Gospels or the rich young ruler of MRK 10:17.) 2. Salvation cannot be ascribed to us without our repentance, faith and submission to the lordship of God through Christ. 3. An unsaved person walks by the flesh and can only teach the things of the flesh to others (1CO 2:14). 4. God keeps His promises: He kept His promises to Abraham and He will keep His to us. III. What Fruits of the Spirit Do We See in Her? None. IV. Memory Verses: GAL 3:26 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" GAL 3:29 "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
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