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Encyclopedia > Hagar (Bible)
"The dismissal of Hagar", 1612 by Pieter Pietersz Lastman
"The dismissal of Hagar", 1612 by Pieter Pietersz Lastman

Hagar (Hebrew הָגָר "Stranger", Standard Hebrew Hagar, Tiberian Hebrew Hāḡār; Arabic هاجر; Hagar), according to the Abrahamic faiths, was an Egyptian handmaiden (or slave-girl) of Sarah, wife of Abraham. Her story is reported in the Book of Genesis in Judeo-Christian tradition. In Islam, her story is mentioned in the Qur'an (though she is not named) and hadith. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2048x1418, 358 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Hagar (Bible) ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2048x1418, 358 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Hagar (Bible) ... Pieter Lastman (1583 - 1633) was a painter from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. ... “Hebrew” redirects here. ... The Modern Hebrew language is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. ... Tiberian Hebrew is an oral tradition of pronunciation for ancient forms of Hebrew, especially the Hebrew of the Bible, that was given written form by masoretic scholars in the Jewish community at Tiberias in the early middle ages, beginning in the 8th century. ... “Arabic” redirects here. ... An Abrahamic religion (also referred to as desert monotheism) is any religion derived from an ancient Semitic tradition attributed to Abraham, a great patriarch described in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran. ... A handmaiden (or handmaid) is a female assistant (or slave) that waits at hand as a servant or attendant. ... Engraving of Sarah by Hans Collaert from c. ... “Abram” redirects here. ... Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin) is the first book of the Torah (five books of Moses) and hence the first book of the Tanakh, part of the Hebrew Bible; it is also the first book of the Christian Old Testament. ... The Qur’ān [1] (Arabic: ;, literally the recitation; also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Koran, or Al-Quran) is the central religious text of Islam. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


Hagar in the Hebrew Bible

The story of Hagar is found in Genesis 16 and 21. The narrative states that Hagar was an Egyptian servant belonging to Sarah, who, being barren, gave Hagar to her husband Abraham as a concubine, so that he might still have children. She gave birth to a son, whom she named Ishmael. Engraving of Sarah by Hans Collaert from c. ... “Abram” redirects here. ... A swampy marsh area ... Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, by Karel Dujardin Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Standard Tiberian ; Arabic: إسماعيل, Ismāīl) was Abrahams eldest son, born by his wifes handmaiden Hagar. ...

Fourteen years after this, following Sarah and Abraham's repentance Sarah gave birth to Isaac. God commanded Abraham to obey his wife's wishes and expel Hagar and Ishmael into the desert because Ishmael was an illegitimate child and had been born not only out of wedlock, but he was created without the blessing of God. However God promised to make him a great nation, because he was Abraham's seed. Rising early in the morning, therefore, Abraham took bread and a container of water and sent his former consort, Hagar and his son, Ishmael away. Sacrifice of Isaac, a detail from the sarcophagus of the Roman consul Junius Bassus, ca. ...

Hagar intended to return to Egypt, but lost her way, and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. The water in her container failing, she placed Ishmael under one of the trees in the wilderness to cry as she went in search of water a small distance away from him. God ended up rescuing them by showing Hagar a well. Hagar eventually settled in the Desert of Paran. Hebrew   (Standard) Bəʼer ŠévaÊ» Arabic بِئْرْ اَلْسَبْعْ ( ) Name Meaning Well of the Oath(see also) Government City Also Spelled Beer Sheva (officially) District South Population 185,500 (Metro 531,000) (2005) Jurisdiction 54,000 dunams (54 km²) Mayor Yaacov Turner Beersheba (Hebrew romanization Beer Sheva), the largest city in the... The Desert of Paran or Wilderness of Paran, is quite likely the place where the Israelites spent part of their 40 years of wandering around. ...

Hagar in Jewish mysticism

According to Rabbinic lore (midrash) Hagar was a "stranger" whose real name was Keturah as stipulated in the Talmud. By this a pun on Hagar with Hageir meaning "the stranger" is implied, both being spelled the same way in plain Hebrew. Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש; plural midrashim) is a Hebrew word referring to a method of exegesis of a Biblical text. ... The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד) is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history. ...

Hagar is sometimes identified in Jewish mysticism with the succubi Lilith and Naˤmā. The tree of life Kabbalah (קבלה Reception, Standard Hebrew Qabbala, Tiberian Hebrew Qabbālāh; also written variously as Cabala, Cabalah, Cabbala, Cabbalah, Kabala, Kabalah, Kabbala, Qabala, Qabalah) is a religious philosophical system claiming an insight into divine nature. ... For other uses, see Succubus (disambiguation). ... “Lilitu” redirects here. ... Naamah or Naamah (Hebrew: נעמה, meaning pleasant) is a figure in Jewish mysticism and Babylonian mythology. ...

Hagar in the New Testament

Hagar, according to Paul, may symbolize the synagogue, which produces only slaves - the offspring always following the condition of the mother (Galatians 4:24)

Hagar in Islamic traditions

According to Islamic tradition, Hagar was the maiden of Sarah, the wife of the founder of the Abrahamic religions, Ibrahim (Arabic word for Abraham), and the daughter of the Egyptian king, who gifted her to Abraham as a wife, thinking Sarah was his sister.[1] Ishmael's birth to Hagar caused strife between her and Sarah, who was still barren. Abraham brings Hagar and their son to Mecca, where angel Gabriel shows him the Ka'aba.[2] The objective of this journey was to "resettle" rather than "expel" Hagar.[3]

The journey begins in Syria, when Ishmael is still a suckling. Angel Gabriel personally guides them on the journey, and part of the journey happens on a winged steed Al-Buraq. Finally, upon reaching reach the site of the Kaaba, Abraham left Hagar and son Ishmael under a tree and provided them with water.[2] Hagar, learning that God had ordered Abraham to leave her in the desert, respected his decision.[1] Muslims believe that God ordered Abraham to leave Hagar in order to test his obedience to God's commands.[4] Buraq, mistakenly described as Mohammeds horse, was a creature described as being part griffin, eagle and horse. ...

However, soon Hagar ran out of water, and baby Ishmael began to die. Hagar, according to Islamic tradition, panicked and climbed two nearby mountains repeatedly in search for water. After her seventh climb, Ishmael scratched the ground, and water gushed forth from a spring.[2]

Like so many other significant figures in the Quran, Hagar is never mentioned by name in the text. The reader never hears her talking to Abraham. However, the reader lives Hagar's predicament indirectly through the eyes of Abraham. [3]

In Hajj

Hagar's repeated attempts to find water for her son, by running between the hills Safa and Marwa has become a Muslim rite (known as the sa`i, Arabic: سَعِي). During the two Muslim pilgrimages (the Hajj and Umra), pilgrims are required to walk between the two hills seven times in memory of Hagar's quest for water. The rite symbolizes the celebration of motherhood in Islam, as well as leadership of the women.[1] This article is about the Islamic tradition. ... The Umrah or Umra (Arabic: عمرة ) is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. ... Look up mother in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

During the Hajj, many Muslims like to drink from well of Zamzam. According to Islamic tradition the well was God's answer to Hagar's quest for water. Often Muslims will bring back the water, regarding it as sacred, in memory of Hagar. [5] The Well of Zamzam (or the Zamzam Well, or just Zamzam; Arabic: زمزم) is a well located within the Masjid al Haram in Mecca, near the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam. ...

Hagar in popular culture

Hagar appears in volume 4, issues 21-24, of DC Comics' Swamp Thing comic series.

The Scottish artist James Eckford Lauder (1811-1869) painted a large canvas of Hagar. James Eckford Lauder (August 15, 1811 - March 27, 1869), was a notable mid-Victorian Scottish artist, famous for both portraits and historical pictures. ...

"All Aunt Hagar's children" is a book by Edward P. Jones, containing several stories, all featuring Afro American characters. The book clearly addresses matters concerning slavery and oppression in general. Edward P. Jones is an African American author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. ... Wiktionary has related dictionary definitions, such as: slave Slave may refer to: Slavery, where people are owned by others, and live to serve their owners without pay Slave (BDSM), a form of sexual and consenual submission Slave clock, in technology, a clock or timer that synchrnonizes to a master clock...

A character named Hagar is prominently featured in Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon, which features numerous Biblical themes and allusions. For the Louisiana politician, see deLesseps Morrison, Jr. ... For other uses, see Song of Solomon (disambiguation). ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ...

W. C. Handy's song "Aunt Hagar's Blues" immortalizes Hagar as the "mother" of the African Americans: William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician, often known as the Father of the Blues. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ...

Just hear Aunt Hagar's children harmonizin' to that old mournful tune!
It's like choir from on high broke loose!
If the devil brought it, the good Lord sent it right down to me,
Let the congregation join while I sing those lovin' Aunt Hagar's Blues!

William Shakespeare - Merchant of Venice Act II Scene 4 line 40

Shylock. What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring, ha?

The comic strip Viking Hägar the Horrible uses the name, but with an umlaut over the first letter "a". This might be an unintended coincidence. Hägar is not a Viking name. In Scandinavian translations, he is called Hårek or Hagbard. This article is about the comic strip, the sequential art form as published in newspapers and on the Internet. ... For other uses, see Viking (disambiguation). ... Hägar the Horrible is the title and the name of the main character of a syndicated comic strip by Dik Browne, first seen in February 1973 and distributed to 1,900 newspapers in 58 countries, in 13 languages. ... The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the East Germanic languages. ... Translations (Aistrichiuain) is a three-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel written in 1980. ...

The novel The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence has a protagonist named Hagar whose life story loosely imitates that of the biblical Hagar. The Stone Angel, first published in 1964 by McClelland and Stewart, is perhaps the best-known of Margaret Laurences series of novels set in the fictitious town of Manawaka, Manitoba. ... Margaret Laurence (July 18, 1926–January 5, 1987) was a Canadian novelist. ...

Hagar is mentioned briefly in Salman Rushdie's hugely controversial The Satanic Verses, where Mecca is replaced with 'Jahilia', a desert village built on sand and served by Hagar's spring. For the verses known as Satanic Verses, see Satanic Verses. ...

Hagar in contemporary Israel

The story of Hagar's expulsion to the desert has acquired some political connotations in modern Israel, being taken up as a symbol of the massive expulsion and exodus of Palestinians during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, being depicted as such by some Israeli writers and artists. Nakba Day (Arabic: يوم النكبة yawm al-nakba — 15 May)[1] is the annual day of commemoration by Palestinian Arabs of the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. ... The Palestinian flag, adopted in 1948, is a widely recognized modern symbol of the Palestinian people. ... The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, called the War of Independence by Israelis and al Nakba the catastrophe by Arabs, was the first in a series of wars in the Arab-Israeli conflict. ...

It was also the subject of a famous debate on the floor of the Knesset between two women parliamentarians - Shulamit Aloni, founder of Meretz (Civil Rights Movement) and Geulah Cohen of Tehiya (National Awakening Party) - who argued about the right interpretation which the Bible in general and Hagar's story in particular should be given in curriculum of Israeli schools. Type Unicameral Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik, Kadima since May 4, 2006 Deputy Speaker Majalli Wahabi, Kadima since May 4, 2006 Members 120 Political groups Kadima Labour-Meimad Shas Likud Last elections March 28, 2006 Meeting place Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel Web site www. ... Meretz (מרצ, Hebrew: vitality, energy) was an Israeli leftist secular political party. ...

Since the 1970's the custom has arisen of giving the name "Hagar" to newborn female babies. The giving of this name is often taken as a controversial political act, marking the parents as being left-leaning and supporters of reconciliation with the Palestinians and Arab World, and is frowned upon by many, including nationalists and the religious.

The Israeli Women in Black movement has unofficially renamed Jerusalem's Paris Square, where the movement has been holding anti-occupation vigils every Friday since 1988, as "Hagar Square". The name commorates the late Hagar Rublev, a prominent Israeli feminist and peace activist, who was among the founders of these Friday vigils. Women in Black is a world wide organization of women, committed to non - violence and non agression, both as a goal and as a means. ...

A figure for contemporary times

In America, black feminists have read the story of Hagar to reflect their own situation and concerns: "Enslaved, raped, but seen by God, Hagar has been a cherished biblical character in African-American communities" ... "The African-American community has taken Hagar’s story unto itself. Hagar has ‘spoken’ to generation after generation of black women because her story has been validated as true by suffering black people. She and Ishmael together, as family, model many black American families in which a lone woman/mother struggles to hold the family together in spite of the poverty to which ruling class economics consign it. Hagar, like many black women, goes into the wide world to make a living for herself and her child, with only God by her side."[6]


  1. ^ a b c 'Aishah 'Abd al-Rahman, Anthony Calderbank (1999). "Islam and the New Woman/ ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻡ ﻭﺍﻟﻤﺮﺃﺓ ﺍﻟﺠﺪﻳﺪﺓ". Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics (19): 200. 
  2. ^ a b c Firestone, Reuven (1992). "Abraham's Journey to Mecca in Islamic Exegesis: A Form-Critical Study of a Tradition". Studia Islamica (76): 15-18. 
  3. ^ a b Fatani, Afnan H. (2006), "Hajar", in Leaman, Oliver, The Qur'an: an encyclopedia, Great Britain: Routeledge, pp. 234-236
  4. ^ Schussman, Aviva (1998). "The Legitimacy and Nature of Mawid al-Nabī: (Analysis of a Fatwā)". Islamic Law and Society 5 (2): 218. 
  5. ^ Delaney, Carol (August, 1990). "The "hajj": Sacred and Secular". American Ethnologist 17 (3): 515. 
  6. ^ Susanne Scholz, "Gender, Class, and Androcentric Compliance in the Rapes of Enslaved Women in the Hebrew Bible", Lectio Difficilior (European Electronic Journal for Feminist Exegisis), 1/2004 (see especially section "The Story of Hagar (Genesis 16:1-16; 21:9-21)".

See also

  • Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, a book discussing the origins of Islam.
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