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Ishmael's Paran

When Abram and Sarai (who the LORD renamed as Abraham and Sarah - see Abram and Sarai) found themselves childless, Sarai arranged for a surrogate, an Egyptian woman named Hagar, to have a child for her. It marked the beginning of an increasingly complicated lifetime of trouble and animosity between the two women ("when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes") and their descendants to this day.

"16:1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 16:3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes." (Genesis 16:1-4 KJV)

Abram named Hagar's child Ishmael, from the Hebrew name pronounced yish-maw-ale, which means the LORD will hear (a prophetic name, back then, and yet in the future, as we shall read further below).

"16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. 16:16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram." (Genesis 16:15-16 KJV)

Circumcision did not originate with Israelites or Jews - neither yet existed in the time of Abraham. "Israelites" began with the descendants of Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel"; the first Jew was Judah ("Jew" is an abbreviation of "Judah"), one of the sons of Jacob / Israel. The LORD's covenant of circumcision began with two "gentiles" - an Iraqi (i.e. Abraham, who was born in Mesopotamia, in what is today called Iraq) and an Iraqi/Egyptian (i.e. Ishmael, the son of Abraham of Iraq and Hagar of Egypt).

"17:23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 17:24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 17:25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 17:26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son." (Genesis 17:23-26 KJV)

"And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt."

As explained above, Isaac wasn't an Israelite or a Jew either. "Israelites" began with Isaac's son Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel"; the first "Jew" was Judah (the name "Jude" is also an abbreviation of Judah), one of the sons of Isaac's son Jacob / Israel. Isaac was circumcised because he too was a son of Abraham, an "Abrahamite," just as Ishmael was over a decade earlier (note the significance however that Ishmael was born to "Abram and Sarai," while Isaac was born to "Abraham and Sarah."


"21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 21:2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 21:4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 21:5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

21:6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 21:7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age." (Genesis 21:1-7 KJV)

The antagonism between the two women reached its peak when Isaac was weaned. Sarah demanded that Hagar and her son be sent away, which Abraham resisted at first ("the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son") until the LORD told Abraham that all would be well in doing so.

"21:8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. 21:9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 21:10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

21:11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 21:13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed." (Genesis 21:8-13 KJV)

The expulsion was not easy for Hagar, to say the least. Not yet aware that the LORD was watching over her and her son, she believed that she would die out in the desert. It didn't happen; Ishmael's name, which literally meant the LORD will hear, was prophetically fulfilled i.e. "for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is."

"21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

21:15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 21:16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

21:19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink." (Genesis 21:14-19 KJV)

Ishmael settled at first in the wilderness of Paran, which is located about half-way between Abraham's home in what was later known as the land of Israel, and his mother's native land, Egypt - from which Hagar "took him a wife out of the land of Egypt."

"21:20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21:21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt." (Genesis 21:20-21 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) How is Hagar prophetic? (b) How do some people misuse the example of Hagar to commit sin?
(a) See Hagar Today
(b) See The Hagar Excuse

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