Hagar worked as a servant for Abraham and his wife Sarah. Sarah was unable to have children, and as was a common practice of the time, Sarah offered her servant, Hagar, to Abraham in hopes she would conceive. Hagar became pregnant, but Sarah grew jealous and upset about the situation and threw her out of their home. Hagar was alone in the desert when an angel appeared and promised a blessing on her child, naming him Ishmael, which means “God hears.” Hagar responded with, “You are the One who sees me.”
Fourteen years later, Hagar returned to Abraham and Sarah gave birth to her own son. Once again, Sarah forced Hagar and Ishmael to leave. Once again they fled to the desert. Abraham had given them a bottle of water, but soon it was all gone. They were both near death when God again heard their cries and an angel called to Hagar: “Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying.” The angel reminded Hagar of God’s blessing and provided a spring of water. Hagar and Ishmael survived and prospered. Ishmael sired a great nation. Genesis 25:12-18 lists his many descendants that were divided into twelve tribes, and, as God had earlier revealed, “They lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them” (Genesis 25:18).
Here is Hagar’s life story in the Bible:
• Hagar was Sarah’s Egyptian servant
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar. (Genesis 16:1, NIV)
• Hagar was a surrogate for Abraham’s promised son because Sarah could not have children.
So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. (Genesis 16:3-4, NIV)
• She was the mother of Ishmael
So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. (Genesis 16:15, NIV)
• She was sent away by Sarah into the desert
“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. (Genesis 16:6-7, NIV)
• She was promised that she would be the mother of a great nation, paralleling God’s promise to Abraham.
The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” ( Genesis 16:10, NIV)
• She was sent away again by Sarah
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. (Genesis 21:14, NIV)
• God provided for her and her son; they settled in the wilderness
God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. (Genesis 21:20, NIV).
• Hagar found an Egyptian wife for Ishmael
While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. (Genesis 21:21, NIV)