0 Ishmael, Abraham's firstborn son (Genesis 15-16)

Episode 4a: Ishmael, Abraham's firstborn son

(Genesis 15-16)

God's promise to Abraham

15 1 The word of God came to Abraham in a vision, saying, "Don't be afraid, I'm your shield and your great reward."

2 Abraham said, "What will you give me since I am childless?"

4 The word of God said, "A son will come out of your bowels to be your heir. 5 Look at the stars, that's how much seed you're going to have."

6 Abraham believed God. And God counted him righteous for believing him.

7 God said, "I'm God. I brought you from Ur to inherit this land."

8 Abraham said, "How can I know I will inherit it?"

9 God said, "Get a heifer, she goat, and ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a pigeon."

10 So Abraham gathered all the animals God asked for and cut them up into pieces. (Except for the birds, which he didn't chop up.) 11 The dead animals attracted some birds of prey, which Abraham drove away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham.

13 God said to the sleeping Abraham,

Your seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and will serve them for 400 years. 14 I'll judge the nation that they serve. Then they'll leave with lots of possessions. 15 And you'll die at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation they will come back here again.

17 Later that night, there appeared a burning lamp between the pieces of dead animals.

Gerard Hoet (1648-1733)

18 God repeated the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants about giving to them the land of Canaan, saying,

19 To your seed I give this land, from the great river in Egypt to the Euphrates River. 20-21 This includes the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Abraham impregnates Sarah's slave, Hagar

16 1Sarah, Abraham's wife, couldn't have children. But she had a female Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2-3 So Sarah said to Abraham, "God has prevented me from having children. Have sex with Hagar, so I can have children through her." And Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to be his wife.

4 Abraham did as Sarah suggested, had sex with Hagar, and she conceived. But when she realized that she was pregnant, she despised Sarah.

Sarah Presenting Hagar to Abraham by Louis Jean Francois Lagrenee

Sarah forces Hagar to leave

5 Sarah said to Abraham,

It's your fault. I let you have sex with my slave. Then when she conceived, she despised me.

Let God decide which of us is right.

6 Abraham replied, "She's your slave. Do whatever you want with her."

And when Sarah treated her harshly, Hagar ran away.

God sends an angel to retrieve Hagar

7 After Hagar ran away from Sarah, an angel found her by a fountain, and said, 8 "Where did you come from, Hagar, Sarah's slave? And where are you going?"

Hagar said, "I'm running away from my mistress, Sarah."

9 The angel said,

Return to your mistress and submit to her. 10 I'll multiply your seed exceedingly. No one will be able to count all the seed you're going to have.

11 You are pregnant and will have a son. His name will be Ishmael. 12 He will be a wild man. He will fight against everyone, and everyone will fight against him.

Hagar gives birth to Ishmael

15 Hagar bare Abraham a son, Ishmael. 16 He was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.

A few more words about this episode

Sarah, Abraham's wife, couldn't have children (16:1)
Sarah is the first of a long line of barren women who were desperate for children. (In the Bible, it is the women who are barren, never the men.)
He went in unto Hagar, and she conceived. (16:4)

Neither Sarah nor Abraham asked Hagar for permission. Sarah just gave her to Abraham, who then had sex with her. Hagar probably didn't want to have sex with Abraham, or become pregnant with his child. No wonder she despised Sarah!

What the Bible says about polygamy

Is polygamy OK?

Return to your mistress and submit to her. (16:9)
Does the Bible approve of slavery?
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