PART XVI: “Conjugal Consortia and Connubial Conflict”
Abram still had no offspring with his marital consort, Sarai. But Sarai had a handmaid, Hagar, from Mitzrayim. Sarai said to Abram: “It is God’s will that I am without any child of my own. Consort, I pray you, with my handmaid. Possibly through a child born of your union I can build up our family.” Abram was mindful of Sarai’s words, acting on this proposal.
It was now 10 annual units (two “lustra,” a Roman would say) following Abram’s arrival in Canaan. Sarai, his marital consort, took Hagar (a woman from Mitzrayim!) to Abram – Sarai’s own husband – to stay with him as his consort. Following marital consummation through conjugal union, Hagar was with child. Knowing how significant it was (how lofty a station… what honor it brought) to carry Abram’s child, Hagar disparagingly found fault with Sarai.
Sarai (rancorously… and just a bit irrationally) said to Abram: “This hurtful wrong, of which I am victim, is all your fault! I all but put my handmaid into your bosom for you! So, now that my maid is with child (‘in a family way’), am I at fault?! God will do justly with us.”
Abram said: “Your maid is in your own hands (probably thinking: ‘just as this situation, this crisis, this family dysfunction is of your own making!’). Do with Hagar as you wish.” Sarai’s handling of Hagar was particularly harsh, and Hagar ran away. A Guardian Spirit, a Prolocutor of God, found Hagar by a natural spring amid arid, sandy wilds, a spring not far from Shur. That Prolocutor said: “Hagar, handmaid of Sarai, how is it that I find you in such a spot? And what will you do now? What is your plan?”
Hagar said: “I am running away from Sarai, my lady and matron.” God’s Prolocutor said to Hagar: “Go back and submit in anguish to Sarai’s castigation.” That Prolocutor of God, that Guardian Spirit, said: “Oh, how I shall multiply your offspring… far too many to count! For thou art with child, carrying a son. You shall call him Ishmail (that is, ‘God is cognizant’), for God has grown cognizant of your anguish, your plight. Your son shall grow up into a wild ass of a man – a “sanguinarius homo indomitus” – living among his kinsfolk, but ominously raising his hand against all, and with all hands against him.”
Hagar, calling upon God cognominally, said: “Thou art ‘God-of-Profound-Insight!” Hagar said also: “Such insight and wisdom you show this handmaid that I, too, am grown conscious of Your ways!” Thus, that spring is known as “Bair-la-Chai-Roi” (that is, “Spring of Living Insight”). It is around Kadaish, in proximity to Barid.
A son was born to Abram by Hagar. “I am naming him Ishmail,” Abram said of his son, born to him by Hagar. At Ishmail’s birth, Abram was 86.