Ishmael was most likely no Elvis Presley. The teenaged boy taunted his brother Isaac, “Look, the big baby is finally drinking milk from a flask.”

Sarah glared, and then her face reddened. He continued to mock Isaac the four-year-old. “It’s about time, big baby.”

Though it was Sarah’s idea for Abraham to have a child with the Egyptian Hagar, she regretted it now. Years of stress toppled, and Sarah trod to Abraham’s tent. She cast the covering of the door aside and entered. Her weary husband reclined by the succulent meats at his table. With narrowed eyes and a slight flare to her nostrils, her voice raised a pitch. “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”[1]

With dull eyes, he nodded. It grieved him that his son Ishmael would no longer be with them, but he knew in his heart that the two could not reside together. He was not willing, but he sent Hagar and Ishmael with bread and water into the Desert of Beersheba, the vast wasteland south of the border of Canaan.

This is where the definition of trust lies. When God appeared to Abraham and told him that he and Sarah would have a son, and to name him Isaac, he replied, “ And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”[2] Now, Abraham had to believe for Ishmael. Later, he would have to trust God for this same promise for Isaac.

Abraham may have watched the pair trek through the desolate landscape beneath an unyielding beating sun until they disappeared from view.

They consumed the water, and Hagar left Ishmael under a shrub. It was probably the only shade within miles. She departed and went a far distance, “for she thought, I cannot watch the boy die.”[3]

The event happened almost 4,000 years ago, and resonates with a parent’s heart; certainly, no one would want to see his or her child die. However, was there another reason she separated herself from him? Was the shrub big enough for one person and she gave Ishmael what she thought was his best opportunity? Her reasons aren’t wholly known, but the outcome is. 

The account tells about cries uttered in the desert. It’s believed a young man sobbed. Imagine a dry barren land, covered with sand, agonizing heat, and no water or food. Was he repentant? Did he shed tears of remorse? We don’t know for sure, however, God heard the cries and showed Hagar a well. He kept his promise, and her answer was beside her all that time.

Hagar and Ishmael lived in the Desert of Paran, which is thought to be in the Sinai. Later, the Israelites ventured for part of their forty years after the Exodus[4] wandering in the same region. David also lived in Paran after Samuel died.[5]

Hagar chose a wife from Egypt for Ishmael. He became the father of twelve princes, as promised to his father, Abraham, before Isaac was even born.[6]

Are you crying out to HIm? If so, your answer may be right by your side.



[1] Genesis 21:8

[2] Genesis 17:20

[3] Genesis 21:15

[4] Numbers 10:12

[5] 1 Samuel 25:1

[6] Genesis 17:15-20