Episode 9 – Hagar & Ishmael

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapter 16

Hagar & Ishmael

‘Hello, it’s me Abram again. Do you remember I told you how God promised me a son one day? He’d made that promise 10 years ago, and here I was – 86 years old and still no sign of a son. To be honest, it looked like Sara never would have any children. God had blessed her with great beauty but He’d also stopped her having children. And now Sara was getting older, and, well … not to put too fine a point on it … she was past childbearing age!’

‘One day, when Sara realised that she wasn’t able to have any children, she came to me with her servant, an Egyptian woman called Hagar. And she told me that because she couldn’t have any children, I should marry Hagar and that any children Hagar had, Sara would see as her own!’

‘To be honest I didn’t really think it through very well. Hagar was a nice woman, and Sara didn’t seem to mind, and it did look like a way of answering God’s promise of a son! (P) And… well – where I lived it was ok to have more than one wife … so I married Hagar. (PAUSE) Big mistake!’

‘You see, within no time at all Hagar became pregnant! She managed to do the one thing Sara couldn’t do in all the years we’d been married.’

‘That’s when I saw what a big mistake I’d made. You see when Hagar realised she was pregnant; she started to look down on Sara. Somehow she seemed to think she was more important than Sara because she was going to give me a baby. And instead of being a good servant she started to ignore Sara and not do her duties!’

‘One day – soon after, Sara came to my tent … she was in a really bad mood!’

‘It’s all your fault Abram! How could you let this happen! I was the one who let you marry Hagar and now that she’s pregnant, she’s treating me as a nobody! The Lord will make you pay for doing this terrible thing to me Abram!’

‘But dearest,’ I replied. ‘She’s your servant … you really ought to deal with the situation in whatever way you think’s best.’

‘That just made things worse! Sara started treating Hagar really badly; paying her back for all the trouble she’d caused. In fact, it wasn’t too surprising when we woke up one morning to find Hagar had run off. Sara had made her life so miserable she didn’t want to stay with us any longer.’

‘Poor Hagar didn’t know what to do. But when she stopped by a desert spring along a dusty road, God came and found her.’

‘Hagar, where’ve you come from, and where’re you going?’

‘I’m running away from my mistress,’ Hagar sobbed.

‘But then the Lord spoke tenderly to Hagar. ‘Return to your mistress and be obedient to her.’’

‘And then He started talking about the child she was going to have. ‘You’re pregnant with a son. When he’s born you are to call him Ishmael, which means ‘God hears’. For I have heard about your misery. This son of yours will be a wild one! Against everyone, and everyone against him! But through him you will have so many descendants that you won’t be able to count them all!’’ 

‘When Hagar realised it was the Lord who was speaking to her, she said, ‘I have seen the one who sees me.’ Later that well where she met the Lord was renamed – ‘the well of the Living One who sees me.’’

‘And so Hagar returned to Sara and me and gave birth to a little son. I called him Ishmael.’

Episode 7 – Abram – down to Egypt

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapter 12

Abram Goes Down to Egypt

‘Hello, my name’s Abram, and I’m married to Sara.’

‘I want to tell you how God gave us something we’d longed for, for many years. We thought we’d get it very quickly, but that wasn’t God’s plan. Yet as we waited, we learnt so many lessons, and especially how we ought to keep trusting God!’

‘I remember it all so well, we thought we were happy in the city of Haran, with lots to do and see. We were near our family and content enough, although my father had died recently. But looking back now, I can see how much we were missing.’ (PAUSE)

‘Sara still gets cross with me when she remembers how she found out that something was happening. One day she heard a commotion outside her room. And as she looked out, there I was rushing around and telling the servants to start packing, saying we were going to leave! It was the first she’d heard about it! I can still remember her voice! ‘Abram! ABRAM! What’s going on? Why are you telling everyone to start packing?’

‘Sara, you’ll never believe it!’  I said.

‘Try me,’ she replied.

‘God spoke with me Sara! He told me that we have to leave this place and go to another country that He’ll show us.’

‘But we’re happy here Abram, why would God want us to leave?

‘Sara, it’s so wonderful. He made me a promise, something we’ve wanted for a very very long time. (P) He promised us – a son.’

Then she got all upset. ‘Oh Abram, please don’t. You know I can’t talk about it anymore. He hasn’t given us any children in all the years we’ve been married. (PAUSE) Did He really promise?’

‘Sara, He promised me that I’ll become the father of a great nation. – – – – – – -He promised to bless me and make me famous, and that I’d be a blessing to others. If anyone curses me, He’s going to curse them, and if anyone blesses me, He’ll bless them. He promised that one day every family on earth would be blessed through me. (PAUSE) But (PAUSE) we have to leave this country and our family and go to the place He’s gonna show us. (P) I can’t be that father if we don’t go.’                                                                                                                                                     

Sara couldn’t believe it. ‘All our married life we’ve wanted children Abram, but God hasn’t let us have any. He’s given us wealth, but what good is wealth when you don’t have any children to leave it to? But now, God really has promised?‘ I nodded. – ‘Time to start packing!’

‘We both thought we’d have the child very soon, but that wasn’t God’s plan. I think what was most important to God was that we loved and obeyed Him. Because over the following years we learnt so much about God, and that even when we couldn’t see the answer, we had to trust Him that He would keep His promise.’

 ‘So we left Haran with our servants, cattle, sheep and shepherds. Oh, and with my nephew Lot who came with us with all his – family, servants, cattle, sheep and shepherds. And we travelled to a beautiful and fertile land called Canaan, which was the place God wanted us to go to!’ (P)

‘Not long after we’d arrived, God appeared to me again and promised that He would give this land to ‘our descendants’. There it was again, His special promise to ‘our descendants’! But I was getting to be an old man now, and Sara, even though she was so beautiful, was also getting older. And we couldn’t have ‘descendants’ to inherit the land if we didn’t have a child. We just had to keep trusting that God would keep His promise and we would have a son.'(P+)

‘I wish I could say that I did always keep trusting God, but Sara often reminds me that when things started to get a little difficult – I failed. You see there was a famine in Canaan- nowhere near enough food and water for us all. And so we made a little – err –  ‘trip’ down to Egypt!

You see, God had told us to go to Canaan. But what was I supposed to do when things started to go wrong in Canaan? There was a famine! The sheep were dying before our eyes. Every day things got worse, more animals died. At night I found it hard to sleep as the sheep bleated for water. I felt I had to take matters into my own hands and find food and water.’

‘Anyway, we’d met a man from Egypt who told us there was plenty of food and water down there. (P) God hadn’t said to leave, but I figured I had to do something.! And as far as I could see, the only way to save the animals, … and us, was to go down to Egypt and stay there until the famine passed. I tried to convince myself God wouldn’t mind – and so we packed up and left.’ (PAUSE)

‘But there was one other slight problem. – Sara!’

‘I’m not saying Sara was a problem, but she’s so beautiful I was afraid that if the Egyptians saw how beautiful she was, they’d kill me so they could take her for themselves. Then where would God’s promises be?’

‘And so to my shame, I asked Sara and my servants to – lie. I told them to tell anyone who asked, that Sara was my … sister, and not my wife. You see, I hoped they’d treat me extra well if they thought she was my sister. But things got out of hand when Pharaoh’s servants saw how beautiful Sara was. And the news of her beauty reached king Pharaoh himself.’

PHARAOH ‘If this woman is so beautiful then bring her to my palace,’ he ordered. ‘Surely all the most beautiful women should belong to me, king Pharaoh. Give her brother Abram riches, but bring the woman to me!’ (P+)

‘They came and took Sara away. They took her to the palace and the royal harem with all of Pharaoh’s other wives.’

‘It’d all gone wrong. Not only had I lost my wife, but with her gone, he’d also lost any hope of a son. (P) And I don’t think God was very happy with me either. I’d disobeyed Him by leaving Canaan, I’d made Sara and my servants tell lies because I was such a coward, and now I’d lost Sara to Pharaoh! (P) But one of the things I have learnt over the years – is that God is a loving and forgiving God and He won’t let His plans fail.’ (PAUSE)

‘The first I heard about it was when armed guards came to take me to Pharaoh.’

PHARAOH ‘What have you done to me?‘ Pharaoh roared!

‘Er … erm … er ..’ I replied.

PHARAOH ‘My family is dying before me eyes, a plague is spreading through my household! And when I tell my wise men to find out why, do you know what they tell me?’

ABRAM ‘Er …er… no?’

PHARAOH ‘They tell me that God, your God, has sent this plague to punish me! Why would your God want to punish me, I ask my wise men? And then, at the fear of losing their heads, they tell me that your God is punishing me because I have taken … another mans wife! Your wife!’

‘You lied to me Abram, and your God is punishing me! How could you let me believe that Sara was your sister and allow me to bring her into my harem? Why didn’t you say she was your wife!’

ABRAM ‘I … um … I. … er.’

PHARAOH ‘Get them out of my sight!’ Pharaoh roared and then turning to his guards. ‘And get them out of my land! Them and their servants and all their belongings, I want them out of here and out of Egypt NOW!’

ABRAM ‘It was all very frightening, armed guards rushed us out of Pharaoh’s presence and hurried us back to our tents. Then they made us pack up as quickly as we could and rushed us and our servants and our animals back over the border into Canaan.’ (P)

‘Looking back on it all now, I’m so ashamed of my behaviour. I wish I’d trusted God and stayed in Canaan. But I’m also glad that when I said sorry to God, He forgave us. (P) But even though I had Sara back, we still didn’t have our promised son!’