A Daily Genesis

Genesis 16:9-12

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 16:9 . . And the angel of the Lord said to her: Go back to your mistress, and submit to her harsh treatment.[/B]

That was no doubt the last thing Ms. Hagar would consider doing; even in a pinch. But the Lord had plans for Hagar's baby about which she was unaware up to this point.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 16:10-11 . . And the angel of The Lord said to her: I will greatly increase your offspring, and they shall be too many to count. The angel of Yhvh said to her further: Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for Yhvh has paid heed to your suffering.[/B]

I don't think any of us can possibly imagine just how incredulous Hagar must have been at the stranger's words. He as much as assured her that the pregnancy would go well and she would deliver safely. He even suggested a name for her baby; which the angel predicted would be a boy.

His name, by the way, would be [I]Yishma' [/I]e'l (yish-maw-ale') which means: God will hear; or just simply: God hears; or: God is aware. In other words: God had a sympathetic awareness of Hagar's distress; together with a desire to alleviate it; which is pretty much the definition of compassion.

What a great day for Hagar! She actually met a divine being who cared about her state of affairs and was favorably inclined to do something about it. And every time she called out little Ishmael's name, it would remind her to pray and share her feelings with the god she met on the road to Shur. The angel would make it possible for her to endure Sarai's harsh treatment; so He sent her straight back to it. (cf. Gen 24:40, Gen 48:16, 2Cor 12:7-9)

And besides; though the circumstances weren't perfect, little Ishmael would fare better under his father Abram's kindly patronage and mentoring than among the irreverent polytheists down in Egypt. Abram was also very wealthy, so that Ishmael lacked nothing during the approximately 17 years of his life in Abram's home.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 16:12a . . He shall be an untamed-burro of a man;[/B]

Some people just can't be domesticated-- right fresh out of the womb, they're mustang-defiant to the bone. Poor Hagar. Her boy was going to be difficult.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher and every so often she gets kids in her class-- just little five year olds, and almost always boys --that cannot be controlled. Their parents fear them, and they frighten the other kids. They're demon seeds-- stubborn, strong willed, totally self centered, self absorbed little Czars who see no sense in either doing as they're told or concern for the feelings of others. They are dangerous, and thank God my wife gets them while they're small. Heaven help the teachers who cope with them in the upper grades.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 16:12b . . his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him;[/B]

T.E. Laurence (Laurence of Arabia) discovered for himself the truth of that prediction. After all of Laurence's work to unite the Arabs and lead them in combat to drive the Turks out of Damascus, the various tribes simply could not come to terms upon a central government for managing the city. So the task defaulted to the British; viz: the Arabs won the conflict, but England won the city.

Anyway, Mr. Ishmael was definitely not a team player by nature. This is the kind of guy that supervisors dread. They're defensive, assertive, confrontational; and don't do well in groups-- always generating friction and discontent. It's either their own way, or the highway; and they do not like to be told what to do.

That's not always a bad thing if people like that are channeled into occupations that require rugged individualism. Nowadays these people can be enrolled in sensitivity classes and taught how to be civil. And there are seminars available for those who have to work with difficult people.

Unfortunately, much of the problem is hereditary so it's not an easy thing to make go away. However, it's not impossible for these strong-willed, toxic types to learn a measure of civility and self discipline when they put their minds to it.

Ishmael's personality-- which was engendered by one of the most holy men who ever lived; not by some evil minded career criminal --must have passed along to his progeny because the Arab world has never been famous for uniting and getting along amongst themselves. No one would ever dream of criticizing Abram's parenting skills, but here is a difficult child that came from the old boy's own genes; thus demonstrating again that otherwise good parents can produce a demon seed and shouldn't be blamed for the way the seed ultimately turns out.

Ishmael is well known as the father of the Arab world. But does that mean each individual Arab is a wild burro? No, of course not. Stereotyping and/or profiling, is a very bad thing because it's an oversimplified opinion, and fails to take into account individual qualities. The Arab people as a whole could safely be characterized as Ishmael-ish, but certainly not each and every one.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 16:12c . . He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.[/B]

Ishmael would dwell "alongside" his brethren, but not necessarily amongst them. This was no doubt a portent of the difficulty of uniting Arabs; which has been attempted a number of times with The United Arab Republic, The Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, the Federation of Arab Republics, the Arab Islamic Republic, and the United Arab Emirates.

Probably the religion of Islam has done more to unite Arabs than any political arrangement of the past has managed to do. Unfortunately, Muslims themselves can't even get along all that well and their regional differences have become a major impediment to peace in the Mid East.

I can't lay all the blame for the Mid East's troubles at the door of Arabs; but of one thing I am totally convinced: there is never going to be peace in that part of the world until (1) the religion of Islam is eradicated; and (2) the Arabs' wild-burro personality is neutralized.

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