Hagar in the Desert of Beersheba

Hagar in the Desert of Beersheba

Sarah was very old, almost as old
as her husband, Abraham.
Her hands looked thin and cold,
hard as the horns of a ram.
Then she filled her tent with laughter
when she gave birth to Isaac,
the Lord’s promise had been kept.
She said her faith had never died,
but for long now it had slept.
Yes, Isaac filled her life with laughter,
but she knew bitterness, grew cold,
when she looked on Hagar, her maid servant,
saw her as a viper, a hyena,
a danger to the fold.
As was the custom of her tribe,
when she thought she could not bear his child,
she had brought her maid servant to her husband’s tent
to be his second wife,
a plan that seemed practical not wild.
Hagar gave birth to Ishmael,
the son of Abraham,
so his seed could flourish,
not be held back by a dam.
Now that Sarah was the mother of Isaac,
she grew vile to Hagar,
told her husband he must send her to the desert,
her son must go with her,
so in what Isaac inherits,
he would have no share.
Abraham was hurt by her command,
though he understood, knew why
Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael
sent out into the desert,
where he knew they would die.
But the Lord made him a promise,
Ishmael would be the father of a nation,
would carry on his seed,
though his heart was wounded,
he would not be left to bleed.
Abraham gave Hagar bread and a skin of water,
tied them in a sack,
to sustain her on her journey,
and strapped it to her back.
Hagar took the hand of Ishmael,
walked out with him to the desert of Beersheba,
where she thought they would die.
She thought her eyes deceived her,
when she ran out of water,
and she saw a figure
that was at first a shimmer in the sky.
Then she saw it was an angel,
he revealed a well of water,
not far from where Ishmael lay,
his eyes blind with dust and tears,
less than an arrow shot away.
Hagar rose to her feet,
led Ishmael to the well.
They drank and quenched their thirst,
knew the future would be harsh,
but they had lived beyond the worst.
Ishmael became an archer,
leader of a tribe of nomads
in the desert of Paran.
Hagar found for him a wife,
an Egyptian woman,
who gave birth to his children,
the seed of Abraham,
so he lived to be a happy man,
though the world grew more grim,
hard as the horns of a ram.
When you feel at your lowest ebb,
remember Hagar in the desert,
when she thought she would die,
how the turn came when she saw a figure
that was at first a shimmer in the sky.
Never abandon hope,
for a well of water may be revealed to your eye.


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