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Wednesday, June 20 2012
A Biography Of Abraham: Hagar And Ishmael
"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be"
Abraham is a key ancestor of the royal line of the Messiah ("1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations" Matthew 1:17 KJV; see also Where Is The Messiah's Royal Line?) and yet Abraham himself was a "gentile" (see What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles? to understand what "gentile" actually means) who lived before the "chosen people" existed. The first Israelites were the children of Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" (see Where Jacob Became Israel) and the first Jews were the children of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (see Who Were The First Jews?). As such, the Gospel didn't merely go out to "gentiles" in "New Testament" times, it originated, long before, in people who Israelites and Jews today call "gentiles" - including Abraham, who, as we will read, became the father of many nations. Hence why the LORD told Abraham, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."
"15:1 After these things the word [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?] of the LORD [see Appearances Of The LORD God] came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
The LORD told Abraham of the Exodus, before Jacob / Israel was even born. But notice that the LORD specified that, in referring to the descendants of Abraham who would be in the Exodus, that "thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs." The LORD later specified the boundaries of Israel, and even the tribal territories within the land of Israel. Notice also that, in referring to the land of Israel, the LORD said that He would "give thee this land to inherit it" - not the land of the great river in Babylon that the LORD told Abraham to leave.
"15:7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees [see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan], to give thee this land to inherit it.
Nevertheless, Abraham's "seed" would possess the land "from the river of Egypt" (from which the LORD delivered the Israelites into their own land of "Israel") to "the river Euphrates" (the area from which the LORD delivered Abraham into the promised land of "Israel"). Seed of Abraham would possess all of the land from Egypt to Babylon, but as we will read, the "seed" of Abraham meant all of the nations who were descended from Abraham - that's why the LORD renamed Abraham as "Abraham" - which literally means father of many nations.
"15:17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites [see A History Of Jerusalem: Jebus Of Canaan]." (Genesis 15:17-21 KJV)
"Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael"
The Messianic line originated from Abraham and Sarah; the other lines of Abraham originated from Abraham and his other wives (e.g. Keturah; "25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 25:2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah" Genesis 25:1-2 KJV) and concubines ("25:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country" Genesis 25:6 KJV). Also among the wives and concubines was Hagar, an Egyptian, who still-childless Sarah "gave to her husband Abram to be his wife." It was a decision that Sarah soon regretted - as did Hagar.
"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.
Although she had been used and abused by Abraham and Sarah, and fled from them, pregnant Hagar was not at any time forsaken by the LORD. The LORD commanded her to return, with a promise of great blessing from Him: "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude."
"16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur [for more about "fountains," see How Did The Flood Happen?]. 16:8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?
Hagar returned and gave birth to Ishmael. She remained for the next thirteen years.
"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)
"In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son"
With children being born, the time for Abram's name change to Abraham had come: "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." So too then the covenant of circumcision began, with Abraham and his son Ishmael; Isaac wasn't born yet.
"17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
The covenant of circumcision didn't originate with Israelites or Jews - none existed yet. As commanded by the LORD, the covenant of circumcision began with an immigrant from Iraq and his half-Iraqi, half-Egyptian son.
"17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised [see Circumcision].
Sarai too was then officially given a new name, Sarah, to reflect the royal line that would begin with her, with the promised birth of her son Isaac.
"17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 17:16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
Abraham was circumcised (see Circumcision) at age "ninety years old and nine" and Ishmael was "thirteen years old." Isaac would also be circumcised, after he was born, later.
"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. 17:27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him." (Genesis 17:23-27 KJV)
"And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria"
Isaac was born, exactly as the LORD promised.
"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.
Sarah's tolerance for Hagar and her son Ishmael then ran out. When Ishmael made fun of his little brother, Sarah demanded that Abraham "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." Since "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight," he apparently refused, but the LORD told him to send Hagar and Ishmael away - and that the LORD would look after them.
"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.
So Hagar and Ishmael were sent away. Abraham obviously had faith in the LORD - Hagar was sent into the wilderness alone and with barely enough water to survive the day.
"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.
As He promised, the LORD became a father to Ishmael, "And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer."
"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.
Many years later, when Abraham died, Ishmael returned for his father's funeral at Hebron.
"25:7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost [see Giving Up The Ghost and What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?], and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. 25:9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 25:10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife." (Genesis 25:7-10 KJV)
As the LORD promised, the other "seed" of Abraham prospered and grew. Those of Ishmael inhabited the lands "from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria" - exactly as the LORD promised to Abraham.
"25:12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:
Fact Finder: (a) Why did "gentiles" come to worship the newborn Messiah? (b) What "gentile" wrote two of the major books of the New Testament?
This Day In History, June 20
451: The Battle of Chalons. The Romans under Flavius Aetius fought the forces of Attila the Hun (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars, A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots, A History Of Jerusalem: Hadrian and Simon bar Kokhba and A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).
1214: The University of Oxford received its charter.
1397: The Union of Kalmar united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway under one monarch.
1529: Clement VII and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (see The Holy Roman Empire) signed the Peace of Barcelona; it ended attacks on Rome by the Lutheran armies.
1567: Jews were expelled from Brazil by order of regent Don Henrique.
1624: France and the Netherlands signed a treaty of non-aggression at Compiegne.
1631: The Irish village of Baltimore was sacked by Algerian pirates.
1756: 146 British soldiers in India were captured and imprisoned in a suffocating cell reserved for petty offenders. 120 of them died in what became known as the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta."
1837: King William IV of England died. He was succeeded by his 18 year old niece, Queen Victoria, who remained on the throne for 63 years.
1840: Samuel Morse received a patent for his "telegraph."
1877: Alexander Graham Bell installed the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Bell lived for many years at the nearby city of Brantford, Ontario where the Bell Homestead is today a popular tourist attraction.
1923: Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary leader, was assassinated.
1942: A Japanese submarine shelled Estevan Point, British Columbia, one of the very few direct attacks on North America during the Second World War.
1946: Fred Rose, the only member of the communist party elected to the Canadian Parliament, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to communicate wartime secrets to the USSR. He was exposed as a traitor by Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, who had defected to Canada.
1955: The longest solar eclipse in the 20th century, 7 minutes and 8 seconds. The maximum possible is 7 minutes and 31 seconds.
1963: The U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow.
1972: President Richard Nixon's famous "Watergate" meeting with H.R. Haldeman where 18 minutes of tape were later mysteriously erased.
1979: ABC News (U.S.) correspondent Bill Stewart was shot dead by a Nicaraguan soldier; the murder was recorded and shown around the world, adding to the fall of the CIA-backed regime of Anastasio Somoza.
1992: Czech and Slovak leaders agreed to split Czechoslovakia into 2 separate countries. It had been formed in 1918 after the First World War caused the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire.