ISSL Reflections January 9 2022 Genesis 21:8–20 Post 1

This week we turn our attention to Sarah, Ishmael (Hagar’s son), Hagar, Abraham and let us not skip over God and the “angel of God.”

Let us not miss some of the “back story” that brings us to this scene. I invite you to read Genesis 16. There you will find Sarai/Sarah’s concern that she has not given birth to a son by Abraham who will be heir to the covenant God made with Abraham, so she tells Abraham, ““You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” (Genesis 16:2). Abraham follows Sarai’s advice and Hagar gives birth to Ishmael. But even before the birth of Ishmael, Sarai comes to believe Hagar has contempt for her and with Abraham’s permission begins to treat Hagar badly with the result that Hagar runs away. Hagar encounters God by a spring/well and given God’s encouragement and promise of blessing returns to Sarai and Abraham.

Turn now to our reading from Genesis 21. Pay attention to each you encounter there. What do you learn about them and how does it lead you to regard them?

Genesis 21:8-20 (NRSV)

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow.

In a few words how would you characterize each in this narrative?

Are there heroes and villains in this account?

Do you have any thoughts on what moves each to act as they do?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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