It did not take long for trouble to start brewing within the once peaceful home. As soon as Hagar con¬ceived, she began to despise her mistress. Anger flared within Sarai and she immediately blamed Abram for the outcome of her actions. “And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.”‘
By Ruth Rieder
Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.”
Have you ever stopped to ponder the question of how Hagar came to be a part of Abram’s household? To find the answer we must retrace our steps in the Scripture to Genesis 12:10-20.
“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” When God wrote His Word, He did not disguise the character flaws found within the people through whom He chose to work. This particular portion of Scripture reveals the depth of Abram’s self-seeking nature. Severe famine plagued the land; consequently, Abram decided to go down into Egypt to find sustenance.
As their caravan prepared to enter Egypt, Abram asked Sarai to do a very peculiar thing. He knew that the Egyptians liked beautiful women, and even at sixty-five-plus years, Sarai was still a very comely woman. Abram feared the Egyptians would kill him and abduct his wife. In a moment of self-preservation, forgetting the awesome promises of God, he entreated his wife to lie on his behalf. “Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.”
Ever the obedient wife, Sarai acted according to her husband’s request. Sure enough, the princes of Egypt were taken with her beauty and rushed to tell Pharaoh about the latest lovely lady who had traversed their borders. Determined to satisfy his sensual appetite, Pharaoh quickly brought Sarai into his house.
Can you imagine the utter terror she must have felt when she was wrenched from her husband’s arms and forced into a heathen harem? Tormenting thoughts must have plagued Abram as he imagined his beloved wife being ravished by another man. Of course, Pharaoh paid him well for the new addition to his royal residence.
“And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.” Among the many riches Abram received for this fiasco was a young maidservant that in the years to come would wreak havoc in his home. Pharaoh took Sarai and gave Hagar in return.
Notwithstanding, God was in complete control of Sarai’s destiny. She was part of His purpose, and her pining away in the Pharaoh’s palace was not part of the eternal plan. “And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.” Pharaoh summoned Abram and rebuked him for his dishonesty. Sarai was restored and they departed from Egypt.
Unfortunately, as a result of Abram’s desire to protect himself, the seed for adversity had been planted in his home. It was cleverly concealed, just waiting for the proper time to spring forth and bear bitter fruit. Thus entered Hagar into the household of promise.