HAGAR (ha'gar), (Heb, haw-gawr', deriva tion uncertain, perhaps stranger).
(1) Name. A native of Egypt and serrant of Abraham ; but how or when she became an inmate of his family we are not informed. The name Hagar, which is pure Hebrew, signifying stronger, having been probably given her after her arrival, and being the one by which she continued to be designated in the patriarch's household, seems to imply that her connection with it did not take place till long after this family had emigrated to Canaan ; and the presumption is that she was one of the female slaves presented to Abraham by Pharaoh during his visit to Egypt (Gen. xii :i6). But some derive the name from a Hebrew word signifying to flee, and suppose it to have been applied to her from a remarkable incident in her life, to be afterwards mentioned.
(2) Abraham's Concubine. The long con tinued sterility of Sarah suggested to her the idea (not uncommon in the East) of becoming a mother by proxy through her handmaid. whom, with that view, she.gave to Abraham as a second ary wife. (Sec ABRAIIANI ADOPTION ; CONCLY BIN NCO.
The honor of such an alliance and elevation was too great and unexpected for the weak and ill regulated mind of Hagar ; and no sooner did she find herself in a delicate situation, which made her an object of increasing interest and importance to Abraham, than she openly indulged in triumph over her less favored mistress, and showed by her altered behavior a growing habit of disrespect and insolence. The feelings of Sarah were se verely wounded, and she broke out to her husband in loud complaints of the servant's petulance; and Abraham, whose meek and prudent behavior is strikingly contrasted with the violence of his wife, leaves her with unfettered power, as mis tress of his household, to take what steps she pleases to obtain the required redress. In all Oriental states where concubinage is legalized, the principal wife has authority over the rest ; the secondary one, if a slave, retains the former con dition unchanged, and society thus presents the strange anomaly of a woman being at once the menial of her master and the partner of his bed. In like manner Hagar, though taken into the re lation of concubine to Abraham, continued still, being a dotal maidservant, under the absolute power of her mistress, who, after her husband had left her to take her own way in vindication of her dignity as the principal wife, was neither re luctant nor sparing in making the minion reap the fruits of her insolence.
(3) Flight of Hagar. After a time the maid fled from the face of her mistress, starting in the direction of her own country. This route led her to what was afterwards called Shur, through a long tract of sandy uninhabited country, lying on the west of Arabia Petrwa, to the extent of iso miles between Palestine and Egypt. In that lonely region she was sitting by a fountain to replenish her skin-bottle and recruit her wearied limbs, when the angel of the Lord appeared, and in the kindliest manner remonstrated with her on the course she was pursuing, and encouraged her to return by the promise that she would ere long have a son, whom Providence destined to become a great man, and whose wild and irregular features of character would be indelibly impressed on the mighty nation that should spring from him.
(4) Birth of Ishmael. Obedient to the heav enly visitor, and having distinguished the place by the name of Beer-lahai-roi, 'the well of the visible God,' Hagar retraced her steps to the tent of Abraham, where in due time she had a son; and having probably narrated this remarkable inter view to Abraham, that patriarch, as directed by the angel, called the name of the child Ishmael, `God hath heard' (Gen. xvi (5) Birth of Isaac. Fourteen years had elapsed after the birth of Ishmael when an event occurred in the family of Abraham by the ap pearance of the long-promised heir, which entirely changed the prospects of that young man, though nothing materially affecting him took place till the weaning of Isaac, which, as is generally thought, was at the end of his third year. Ishmael was then a lad of seventeen years of age, and being fully capable of understanding his altered relations to the inlnritance, as well as having felt perhaps a sensible diminution of Sarah's affection towards him, it is not wonderful that a disap pointed youth should inconsiderately give vent to his feelings on a festive occasion, when the newly weaned child, clad according to custom with the sacred symbolic robe, which was the badge of the birthright, was formally installed heir of the tribe (see Biblioth. Bibl. vol. i.; Vicasi, Annot. 32; Bush on Gen. xxvii :15). The harmony of the weaning feast was disturbed by Ishmael being dis covered mocking. The Hebrew word ri:14, tsaw khak% though properly signifying 'to laugh,' is quently used to.express strong derision, as in Gen.