Gateway to the Classics: Display Item
Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Angel by the Well

Genesis xvi: 1, to xvii: 27.

dropcap image OU remember that Abram's wife, who had journeyed with him from Ur of the Chaldees, and who lived in his tent all those years, was named Sarai. Now Sarai had a maid, a servant that waited on her, whose name was Hagar. She came from the land of Egypt, where were the pyramids and the temples. But Sarai and her maid Hagar had some trouble; they could not agree, and Sarai was so sharp and severe with Hagar, that at last Hagar ran away from Sarai's tent.

She went out into the desert, and took the road that led down to Egypt, her own country, the land from which she had come. On the way she stopped beside a spring of water. There an angel from the Lord met her, and said to her:

"Hagar, are you not the servant of Sarai, Abram's wife? What are you doing here? Where are you going?"


Hagar by the spring of water.

And Hagar said to the angel:

"I am going away from my mistress Sarai, because I do not wish to stay with her and serve her any longer."

Then the angel said to Hagar:

"Go back to your mistress Sarai, and submit to her, for it is better for you than to go away. God knows all your troubles, for he sees you and hears you, and he will help you. By and by you shall have a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, because God has heard you."

The word Ishmael means "God hears." So whenever Hagar should speak her boy's name, she would think "God has heard me."

Then the angel told Hagar that her son Ishmael should be strong and fierce, and that no one should be able to overcome him, or his children, or his descendants, those who should come after him.

So Hagar was comforted, and went back again to serve Sarai.

And afterward the well where she saw the angel was called by a name which means "The well of the Living One who sees me." And after this, Hagar had a son; and as the angel told her, she called his name Ishmael; that is, "God hears." We shall read more about Hagar and Ishmael a little later. After this, while Abram was living near Hebron, the Lord came to him again and spoke to him, while Abram bowed with his face to the ground. God said:

"I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be perfect; and I will make you a father of many nations. And your name shall be changed. You shall no more be called Abram, but Abraham, a word that means "Father of a multitude," because you shall be the father of many nations of people. And your wife's name shall also be changed. She shall no more be called Sarai, but Sarah; that is, "princess." And you and Sarah shall have a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and he shall have sons when he becomes a man, and his descendants, those who spring from him, shall be very many people." So from this time he was no longer Abram, but Abraham, and his wife was called Sarah.