It could be said that Hagar and Ishmael present a story of incongruency and paradox.

Is it possible to be born under a curse, while still receiving God’s blessings? Isn’t it incongruent to receive God’s mercy, grace, and blessings, while being under a curse? (Refer Deuteronomy 28:15-68 re curses for disobedience).

Isn’t is confusing, and paradoxical to be blessed, even after or during a curse?

Let’s read the story in Genesis 16:

Hagar and Ishmael

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 

2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 

3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 

4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.”

6 So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 

8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”

9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 

10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 

11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her:

“Behold, you are with child,

And you shall bear a son.

You shall call his name [d]Ishmael,

Because the Lord has heard your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild man;

His hand shall be against every man,

And every man’s hand against him.

And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 

14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 

16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

So what of Hagar and Ishmael? How does one reconcile the discrepancy of: (a) first of all, Hagar has intercourse with Abraham, while neither is she his wife, nor is Abraham being obedient to Yahweh, since Abraham has obeyed his wife, and not Yahweh (b) Hagar births Ishmael, and Yahweh clearly identifies that this is not the child of promise; this is not a child ordained by Yahweh.

Let’s look a bit further on at Genesis 17:

18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 

21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”

So even after Abraham pleads withYahweh to accept Ishmael as the son of promise, some 13 years after the birth of Ishmael, Yahweh does not recant. No. He makes it very clear that:

  1. although Ishmael was the first son, and He will bring blessings upon Ishmael, 
  2. Sarah will bear a son who will be the son of the covenant promises, not Ishmael.


Genesis 21:

5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 

6 And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” 

7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael Depart

8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.

9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.

10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” 

11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. 

13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”

14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 

15 And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 

16 Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.

17 And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 

18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.

 20 So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 

21 He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Although God extended His mercy and grace to Hagar and Ishmael by providing for them, these were situational, time-limited blessings

Although Ishmael went on to become the father of twelve princes who formed the nomadic Arab tribes/nations, the ultimate blessings rested upon his half-brother, Isaac, who went on to father Jacob who then fathered the 12 Hebrew tribes of Israel, the blessings being passed on, and remaining with God’s chosen people, while the Arabic nations went on to form their own religious system, still known as the Moslem and Islamic nations today.

This story can become a study of promises and principles; but it can also become a lesson in how God works.



Deuteronomy 28:15-58

Genesis 16:1-16

Genesis 17:18-21

Genesis 21:5-21


© 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.


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