Our grandmother Eve decided to trust the crafty serpent instead of her Creator which caused us to fall into a wormhole of good and evil in which we sometimes swim and we sometimes drown. It doesn't help to wonder what the world would have been like had that one decision, by that one person, never been made.
She did it again.
Ten years after Abram and Sarai had settled in the land of Canaan, when childless Sarai was around 76 years old, and her 86 year old husband had waited too long to receive the promise from God of a child, in her impatience and distrust, she offered her maid Hagar to Abram, handing her husband's body to another woman as he handed hers to Pharaoh years before. Like Adam, Abram went along with his doubting wife. This time, instead of death, the world inherited the war between Arab and Arab, Arab and Jew.
It went like this.
"You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children;" said Sarai whose hair had grown white and brittle, and whose skin hung from her body in wrinkled folds like a sleeping garment. "go into my Egyptian slave girl, Hagar; it may be that I shall obtain children by her."
"Are you sure you want me to do this my dear? Remember the ills that befell us when I gave you to Pharaoh?"
"What ills? We left with quite a booty. It will be fine."
Abram did not know if Sarai's motives for making such a proposition were righteous or not.Yet, he had to admit that his longing for his own child had grown greater with every aging year. He wondered if Sarai was correct in thinking that God did not mean that his children would come from Sarai's body. Without consulting with God and without hearing from God whether or not to pursue using a surrogate, Abram cooperated with Sarai's plan.
"Abram, I give you Hagar to be your second wife, that she may give us children." And turning to Hagar she said, "Hagar, you are to receive my husband Abram and bear a child for us."
Hagar was thrilled with this request. No longer would she be scrubbing clothes on rocks, or foraging for food. Ever since she left Egypt and her family, Hagar had been forced to work hard, even on days when she was ill, even on days when she was tired or sad. Her life had never been her own. Sarai had been a hard task master, always telling her when to wake up and when to sleep and when and what she could eat. The prospect of becoming a wife of the master and a mother to his child was thrilling.
Hagar lowered her eyes humbly at this introduction, but her heart was raised high and proud. She replied, "I am your servant master Abram. Do with me what you will."
Abram took Hagar by the hand and together they walked away from Sarah and into his tent. Without a wedding feast or fanfare, without ceremony or sanctification, young brown muscular Hagar and old scratchy Abram joined each other for the sole purpose of bringing new life into their world. They kissed. Each with hope of what he and she could gain from the other. Freedom and honor for her, lust and a child for him.
Abram enthusiastically went into Hagar feeling like a young buck for the first time in decades. So pleasant was this union that Abram sought to repeat it afternoon and evening for several days, but at night he knew to go back to Sarai so they may awake in the loving embrace of two who had grown old together with all of the trials and tribulations life had given them.
After a week of mating, their days returned to normal, Hagar with her chores and Abram managing his estate. He felt stronger and healthier than he had in years. But he was also sensitive to Sarai's feelings remembering the sadness and the loneliness he endured when she was in Pharaoh's bed night after night.
Hagar became emboldened. No longer was she a slave woman. The sight of Sarai annoyed her. After all, wasn't she to be the mother of Abram's child? Certainly motherhood would catapult her in Abram's eyes. Life would be better if Sarai never existed. How could this old useless woman tell her what to do? So much had Hagar vilified Sarai in her mind that she could not bear the sight of her.
This treatment by Hagar, her arrogance, was something that Sarai had not expected.
Sarai announced, "That is enough Abram. If this thing is to happen it will." And she responded to Hagar with malice. Hagar returned to her old position resentfully. She had been born a slave being ordered to do whatever her masters commanded her every waking moment of every day, but never before had she felt so violated as when she gave herself body and soul to her mistress's husband. This was more than mere labor, it was reaching into the core of her being and ripping out her soul for Sarai's personal use and glorification. Morning and night Hagar's thoughts increasingly embittered her until weeks had passed and she missed her period. She waited for the turn of the moon until she was certain that her monthly flow of blood was not coming. When the moon was full for the second time, Hagar was sure that she was with child. With the master's child. Hallelujah. What joy, what revenge she felt. Abram would be the first to know. Perhaps he would honor her and truly love her.
Hagar waited until evening brimming with pride and joy. Yet, the opportunity to tell Abram eluded her.
"Mistress, you should know that I am indeed with child. With your husband and my child."
Those words stabbed Sarai in the heart. They were at once as bitter as bile and as desired as honey. Sarai conjured up the most nonchalant attitude she could, and said, "You may fetch the water now Hagar."
Hagar replied, "I will lie down and rest now." And walked away leaving Sarai speechless and angry.
Sarai walked directly over to Abram in the lower field where he was talking with the shepherd. He saw her approaching him quickly and walked toward her. When they met, Sarai said immediately, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and now that she has conceived, she looks on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!"
Abram faced his furious wife with tenderness and compassion and replied, "Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please." By saying that Abram risked relinquishing his child for Sarai, the child he had longed for, the child of his promise.
Sarai awoke the next morning refreshed. She had been empowered by her husband's words to take full command. She would thoroughly reduce Hagar from wife, to the slave-girl she really was.
The treatment was unbearable to Hagar. The delicious taste of glory and honor lingered in her mouth and she refused to replace it with bitter humility. Being with child Hagar was more sensitive than she had ever known herself to be. She cried more easily, felt outrage more intensively. She tried to find an opportunity to speak with the father of her child and beg him to defend her, but Abram intentionally avoided her which caused her anger to slip into grief and then despair.
As the countenance of Hagar plunged into the abyss of her soul, Sarai's rose. She felt her place. Her cruel demands proved that she was the queen, and not the dark surrogate. Her husband loved her with an enduring love and respect that surpassed physical passion. Abram was hers. The child would be hers too. This woman had come to recognize her place in their little world, and was securely fixed there.
On the morning after a tongue lashing Sarai had given Hagar for neglecting to wash her undergarments, the heat from sun the came earlier and was more intense. She was thirsty and looked for Hagar to bring her fresh figs for breakfast. The slave was no where to be found. She ran looking for Abram and was relieved to find him meeting with the manager of the cattle. He hadn't seen Hagar either. Neither did Abram seem overly concerned. The thrill of anticipation over the birth of his son or daughter had been spoiled by his wife's rancor. If he cared about Hagar's absence at all, he didn't dare express that to Sarai who stormed away.
Sarai continued her fruitless search as her mind whirled in a mixture of glee and anger.
Meanwhile, the angel of the Lord found Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where are you going?" She said, "I am running away from my mistress Sarai." The Angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her." The Angel of the Lord also said to her, "I will greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude." And the Angel of the Lord said to her,
"Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, (God hears) for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin."
So she name the Lord who spoke to her, "You are El-rio, (God who sees) for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing Him?" Therefore the well was called Beerlahai-rio, it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
Hungry Hagar returned slowly to her prison filled with awe of God and filled with child. She could now bear Sarai's wrath knowing that God planned for her to be the matriarch of a nation of people from this little fighter whom she felt kicking the walls of her womb.
Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
"Lord?" Called Perambula to God as together they looked down on this drama.
"Don't you care that Abram and Sarai waited so long for a child and were reduced to finding a surrogate? Did Abram fail you by caving to his wife's request?"
"Perambula, what makes you think this is not exactly what I planned?" Is it my fault that it took them so long?"
"Fret not Perambula, Abram will still be given opportunities to prove his faith. Meanwhile, he has a precious son. Abram lives. He honored his wife, and he did not dishonor Me. Perhaps you too need patience Perambula. Let's go back."
With that, Perambula ascended into the clouds and beyond the atmosphere, glad to be leaving the affairs of men.