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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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After ten years' residence in the land of Canaan, Abram, by the persuasion of his wife, who had been barren heretofore, and now despaired of bearing children herself when she was seventy-five years old, took, as a second wife, or concubine, her handmaid, Hagar, an Egyptian. When Hagar conceived, she despised her mistress, who dealt hardly with her, Abram giving her up to his wife's discretion; so that she fled toward Egypt from the face of her mistress, but was stopped in her flight by the angel of the Lord, who foretold that she should bear a son called Ishmael, because the Lord heard her affliction, and that his race should be numerous, warlike, and unconquered; a prediction, as seen under the article Arabia, remarkably fulfilled to the present day. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bare Ishmael. When Isaac was weaned, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, who was now about fifteen years of age, offended Sarah by some mockery or ill treatment of Isaac; the original word signifies elsewhere, "to skirmish," or "fight," 2 Samuel 2:14; and St. Paul represents Ishmael as "persecuting" him, Galatians 4:29 . Sarah therefore complained to Abraham, and said, "Cast out this bond-woman and her son, for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight, because of his son Ishmael;" but God approved of Sarah's advice, and again excluded Ishmael from the special covenant of grace: "For in Isaac shall thy seed be called: nevertheless, the son of the bond-woman will I make a nation also, because he is thy seed." God renewed this promise also to Hagar, during her wanderings in the wilderness of Beersheba, when she despaired of support: "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hands, for I will make him a great nation. And God was with the lad, and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and became an archer. And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt." See ABRAHAM and See ISHMAEL .

We do not know when Hagar died. The rabbins say she was Pharaoh's daughter; but Chrysostom asserts that she was one of those slaves which Pharaoh gave to Abraham, Genesis 12:16 . The Chaldee paraphrasts, and many of the Jews, believe Hagar and Keturah to be the same person; but this is not credible. Philo thinks that Hagar embraced Abraham's religion, which is very probable. The Mussulmans and Arabians, who are descended from Ishmael, the son of Hagar, speak mightily in her commendation. They call her in eminency, Mother Hagar, and maintain that she was Abraham's lawful wife; the mother of Ishmael, his eldest son; who, as such, possessed Arabia, which very much exceeds, say they, both in extent and riches, the land of Canaan, which was given to his younger son Isaac.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Hagar'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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