A Daily Genesis

Genesis 21:14d-16

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:14d . . And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.[/B]

The wilderness of Beer-sheba is about 50 miles south of Hebron.

The Hebrew word for "wandered about" is from [I]ta'ah[/I] (taw-aw') which means to vacillate. Webster's defines "vacillate" as: to waver in mind, will, or feeling; viz: to hesitate in choice of opinions or courses. (cf. Jas 1:8)

As often as Hagar traveled up and down the land of Palestine with Abraham over the years, she no doubt knew her way around; so she's not blundering through the woods like a lost hiker.

At this point, Hagar is thoroughly rattled and doesn't really know what to do next or even how she and Ishmael are going to survive in a land where no State programs for unemployed single mothers existed. And to top it off; she's a freed slave who now has to make all her own decisions and fend for her child and for herself on her own rather than simply comply with the demands of a master who provided for all her daily necessities.

Slavery has its pluses and minuses; its upsides and its downsides; and it's not always to a slave's benefit to give them their walking papers. There's a provision in the old covenant that allows for a slave to remain a slave for life of their own free will. The law would apply to anyone living as a citizen in the land of Israel, whether Jew or Gentile. (Ex 21:2-6, Lev 24:22)

Many of the slaves that were liberated after the American Civil War found themselves in the throes of instant poverty: unable to either read or to write, with no place to live, and zero prospects for gainful employment. I'm not saying slavery is a good thing. I'm only saying that, all things considered, it might be the better option for some people.

I met guys in the Army who re-enlisted for the security of a steady paycheck, free meals, free health care, paid vacations, and rent-free/mortgage-free accommodations. They had to relinquish a degree of their freedom for those benefits, but in their minds, it was not a bad trade-off.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:15-16 . .When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes, and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought: Let me not look on as the child dies. And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.[/B]

The word "child" is misleading. The Hebrew is [I]yeled[/I] (yeh'-led) which can also mean: a lad. Webster's defines a lad as: a male person; of any age between early boyhood and maturity; viz: boys and/or youths.

Ishmael was hardly what modern Americans might call a child. He was near to eighteen years old at this time; if he was circumcised at fourteen and Isaac was weaned at three. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

One can only guess at the grief in Hagar's heart. Her life had come down to this: a lonely, impoverished, homeless death out in the middle of nowhere. In her distress Hagar had forgotten about 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy the god who sees people and knows their troubles. And she had forgotten all the predictions He made back in Gen 16:10-12 concerning Ishmael's future. There is just no way her yoot can be allowed to die at this time.

When God's people lose confidence in His statements, they usually always get themselves into trouble. If only Hagar had trusted God, she wouldn't have despaired regarding Ishmael's life. He was perfectly safe. Don't you see? He had to live so God could keep His promise to multiply him; and so he could become a wild-burro of a man, and so he could live near the people of Israel like God predicted. So even if Hagar had perished all alone in the wilderness, Ishmael would have gone on to survive without his mother.

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