Hagar Week 1 – Suffering Slave?

in her shoes

Welcome welcome welcome everyone!!  Its another exciting week as we start a new series in Mummy Meditations.  Just over 6 weeks ago we finished looking at the character of Sarah, and now we are heading back into Genesis to look more at a secondary character in that story – Sarah’s maid, Hagar.

This week’s verse has been:

“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” Genesis 16:3

who is hagar?

This week in our Mummy Meditations Facebook group we have been grappling with who exactly Hagar is.  We did a bit of a brain dump on the subject and the variety of answers was amazing.  Here is a summary of what we thought we knew:

  • Hagar was a victim
  • She was Egyptian
  • Treated appallingly by her supposed masters
  • Quite a big age difference between her and her new husband Abram
  • Powerless over big decisions in her life
  • Hagar ended up quite bitter
  • Was a bit of trouble maker once she became Abram’s wife

Before I talk more about the situation described in our verse this week, I thought I would do a bit of research and find out how Hagar came to be Sarah’s maid or servant.  According to Jewish historians, Hagar was actually the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time that Abram and Sarah sought refuge there due to famine in their own land (Genesis 12:10).  This was one of the infamous times that Abram tried to pretend Sarah was his sister, so God inflicted disease on the Pharaoh’s household.  This very well may have included Hagar if she was Pharaoh’s daughter.  Historians say that when she saw the miracle God performed to save Sarah she said “It is better to be a slave in Sarah’s house than a princess in my own”.

So Hagar, if this is to be believed, actually CHOSE to put herself in this situation.  Maybe she had gotten to know Sarah a little whilst she was living in Pharaoh’s palace.  Maybe she saw the difference in Sarah because of her relationship with God, and saw the power of God through the miracles He worked for her against the weaknesses of her own Egyptian gods.  What an exciting place to be!!  Hagar actually made the decision to become humble from a place of privilege.  She took the place of a servant, forgoing riches.  Now who does that remind you of???

A difficult situation?

Taking into account what we now know about Hagar I think paints this verse in a different light.  Yes, she is still being put in a compromising situation, but it seems a little less severe when we know she actually chose to serve Sarah willingly.  She would have wanted to stay close and learn from this wise couple who seemed to know the living God well, especially after seeing the blessings they received back in Egypt.  And in that kind of situation you can see her being perhaps a bit more willing to step up and help them, even if it was in ways we can’t understand in our own culture now.  I guess in a way it was a kind of surrogacy situation to help out a couple who seemed infertile.

Looking from the eyes of our own culture we see misuse of trust, abusing of positions, taking away decisions and helplessness.  We see a couple taking matters into their own hands rather than trusting God, and doing something so awful.  But for the culture at the time it perhaps wasn’t quite so big a deal.  They didn’t have IVF or sperm banks or other ways open to them.

I think perhaps too that we look on Hagar as being forced into this.  But if you step into her shoes can you actually see the benefits?  Being a wife rather than a slave would mean a better place in the family and perhaps an inheritance.  Having a son would mean provision for the future.  All of these things were positive for Hagar.  And to top it off it would mean being brought fully into the family of a couple who you knew were walking with the living God and under His blessing.  Maybe Hagar thought being Abram’s wife would bring her closer to God?

More than meets the eye

You know what – a lot of what I have written today is my opinion and just a woman trying to get inside the shoes of another woman.  Maybe you agree with me, maybe you don’t.  But I think we can all agree that there is a lot more to Hagar than meets the eye.  Is she just a suffering slave that had no choice in what happened to her?  I don’t think so.  And I think we are going to learn an awful lot more about Hagar and her real intentions as we go on this journey.

next week

I hope you will carry on learning with us, as next week Naomi leads the discussion on this verse:

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.”  Genesis 16:6

The best way to do this is to join our free Mummy Meditations Facebook group.  There you will find lots of free resources to help you, such as phone lock screens, workbooks and more.  You can also be part of the discussion during the week and share your own thoughts with us all.  Sign up below for more information:

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