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Biographical Essay on Hagar

Hagar was born in Egypt and referred to as "Sarah's Egyptian slave-maid," (Comay 248).
She worked for Abraham and Sarah, living in Canaan. When Sarah forced Hagar to move out
with her young son Ishmael, she lived in the forest of Paran under the protection of God.
Abraham was the father to Ishmael, who was originally a child for Sarah and Abraham when she
was unable to bear children.
The main struggle Hagar faced during her life was raising her son on her own. Because
Sarah kicked Hagar and Ishmael out, Hagar had to care for him in the wilderness without many
resources. As one source writes, "She, however, sees herself as a person and, once pregnant, does
not see Sarai as superior..." (Meyers, et al. 88). With the help of G-d, Hagar was able to provide
for Ishmael and eventually find him a wife from Egypt. Still, this challenge was not easy for her
to overcome. During her lifetime, Hagar's main role as a woman of Genesis was to provide Sarah
and Abraham with a son. She gave birth to Ishmael, who was promised a nation by G-d. In the
Hebrew Scriptures, Hagar's story was yet another example of the timeless value of G-d's words
and messages. Without the support and directions of G-d, Hagar would most likely have never
succeeded in raising her son.
Biblical scholars describe Hagar and her story in different ways. One scholar said: "God
called Hagar to be the matriarch of the great nation of the Arabs," (O'Connell-Roussell and
Singer-Towns Hannah). Another comment about her son included: "The future son is vividly
described as an independent, warlike nomad; he personifies his descendants," (Brown, et al. 20).
In my opinion, Hagar and her son were very strong. Hagar faced hardships through her lifetime

but with G-d's guidance, she was able to raise and provide for herself as well as for her son, who
lived in the forest with her. Through the mistakes she made involving Abraham and Sarah, Hagar
was even found her son a wife while living in the forest. She almost gave up; the Bible writes:
"When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went
and sat down opposite of him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, 'Do
not let me look on the death of a child,'" (New Revised Standard Version, Gen. 21.15-16). Then
G-d appears, provides her with a well, and encourages her, saying, "Come, lift up the boy and
hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him," (Gen. 21.18). Hagar found
hope, and with the strength she found from G-d she raised her son. I have a great deal of respect
for her because of her perseverance.
I believe that Hagar had a very strong and beautiful relationship with G-d. G-d and G-d's
angels helped Hagar find her way and do the right thing through her life. When Hagar fled from
Abraham and Sarah, an angel convinced her to return and make amends. When Hagar wanted to
give up on herself and Ishmael, G-d was able to help and restore hope in her. G-d's directions for
her benefitted Hagar greatly, and the overall message of G-d's words being truthful and correct
was present. On another note, I find it surprising that Abraham agreed to have Hagar sent away
with his own son. G-d did confront him and inform him that he was to have another son, but
Ishmael was still his son as well. It is interesting to me that when Abraham learned that Sarah
would bear her own child, he stopped caring for his first son, of at least stopped caring enough to
let him be sent away.

Work Cited
Brown, Raymond E. et al. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall,
1968. Print.
Comay, Joan. Who's Who in the Old Testament, Together with the Apocrypha. Festival Edition
ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. Print.
Genesis. Holy Bible with Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books. New Revised Standard Vers.
New York: American Bible Society, 1989. Print.
Meyers, Carol et al. Women In Scripture: a Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the
Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament. New
York, NY, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.
O'Connell-Roussell, Sheila, and Brian Singer-Towns. Saint Mary's Press Essential Bible
Dictionary. Winona: Saint Mary's, 2005. Print.