Of all women in the Bible, I think the angel visiting Hagar is least appreciated by Christians and Jews.  This is how I summarized the story of Hagar for my daughter.

Hagar with Ishmael in the wilderness
Hagar with Ishmael in the wilderness

Hagar was born in Egypt and was a servant of the prophet Abraham.  Sarai was Abraham’s first wife and they could not have children.  She convinced Abraham that he should marry Hagar and see if they could have a child.  Hagar was soon pregnant.  She gave birth to a baby boy named Ishmael.  Years later, Sarai got pregnant also and had a baby boy named Isaac.  Sarai became jealous of Hagar and Ishmael and convinced Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.   Abraham was very sad, but sent them away.

Hagar and Ishmael went into the wilderness and were running out of food and water.  An angel appeared to Hagar and promised that she would be the mother of a great nation.  The angel helped them find a well of water where Ishmael hit his foot on the ground.  This is called the ZamZam Well.  Muslims travel to Mecca each year in remembrance of this miracle.

I personally find the mistreatment of Hagar by Abraham and Sarah as especially cruel, and I also find the angelic appearance to her incredibly spiritual.  I think this angelic visit is the most under-emphasized angelic story in all of scripture.  I think there is some dissonance when we understand that Arabs are a chosen people of God, just like Israel, which is why it doesn’t get the same “publicity” as other angelic experiences in scripture.

I have a Muslim friend, and I didn’t realize that the pilgrimage to Mecca is a re-creation of the story of Hagar and Ishmael.  It is probably the most important holiday in Islam.  Is that why we downplay this story?  What are your thoughts about Hagar.


(This is part of a series of posts from the children’s book, Women of the Bible, illustrated by my daughter and her cousin.  If you’re unfamiliar with this series, check out my first post.)