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Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Boy Who Became an Archer

Genesis xxi: 1, to 21.

dropcap image FTER Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, Abraham moved his tent and his camp away from that part of the land, and went to live near a place called Gerar, in the southwest, not far from the Great Sea. And there at last, the child whom God had promised to Abraham and Sarah was born, when Abraham his father was a hundred years old.

They named this child Isaac, as the angel had told them he should be named. And Abraham and Sarah were so happy to have a little boy, that after a time they gave a great feast to all the people, in honor of the little Isaac.

You remember the story about Sarah's maid Hagar, the Egyptian woman, and how she ran away from her mistress, and saw an angel by a well, and afterward came back to Sarah, and had a child whose name was Ishmael (Story Seven). So now there were two boys in Abraham's tent, the older boy, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, and the younger boy, Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah.

Ishmael did not like the little Isaac, and did not treat him kindly. This made his mother Sarah very angry, and she said to her husband:

"I do not wish to have this boy Ishmael growing up with my son Isaac. Send away Hagar and her boy, for they are a trouble to me."

And Abraham felt very sorry to have trouble come between Sarah and Hagar, and between Isaac and Ishmael; for Abraham was a kind and good man, and he was friendly to them all.

But the Lord said to Abraham, "Do not be troubled about Ishmael and his mother. Do as Sarah has asked you to do, and send them away. It is best that Isaac should be left alone in your tent, for he is to receive everything that is yours. I the Lord will take care of Ishmael, and will make a great people of his descendants, those who shall come from him."

So the next morning, Abraham sent Hagar and her boy away, expecting them to go back to the land of Egypt, from which Hagar had come. He gave them some food for the journey, and a bottle of water to drink by the way. The bottles in that country were not like ours, made of glass. They were made from the skin of a goat, sewed tightly together. One of these skin bottles Abraham filled with water, and gave to Hagar.


Hagar goes into the wilderness.

And Hagar went away from Abraham's tent, leading her little boy. But in some way she lost the road, and wandered over the desert, not knowing where she was, until all the water in the bottle was used up; and her poor boy, in the hot sun and the burning sand, had nothing to drink. She thought that he would die of his terrible thirst, and she laid him down under a little bush; and then she went away, for she said to herself:

"I cannot bear to look at my poor boy suffering and dying for want of water."


Hagar and her little boy in the desert.

And just at that moment, while Hagar was crying, and her boy was moaning with thirst, she heard a voice saying to her:

"Hagar, what is your trouble? Do not be afraid. God has heard your cry, and the cry of your child. God will take care of you both, and will make of your boy a great nation of people."

It was the voice of an angel from heaven; and then Hagar looked, and there close at hand was a spring of water in the desert. How glad Hagar was, as she filled the bottle with water, and took it to her suffering boy under the bush!

After this, Hagar did not go down to Egypt. She found a place near this spring, where she lived and brought up her son in the wilderness, far from other people. And God was with Ishmael, and cared for him. And Ishmael grew up in the desert, and learned to shoot with the bow and arrow. He became a wild man, and his children after him grew up to be wild men also. They were the Arabians of the desert, who even to this day have never been ruled by any other people, but wander through the desert and live as they please. So Ishmael came to be the father of many people, and his descendants, the wild Arabians of the desert, are living unto this day in that land, just as the Jews, who are the descendants of Isaac, are living all over the world.