Did Hagar deserve the treatment she received? (Gn 16:6–9) 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”
Genesis 16:6 - 9
NKJV - 6 So Abram said to Sarai, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please." And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence. 7 Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.
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I'm not sure that it would be possible to generalize from this episode with respect to how people are to respond to abuse from another. To me, the primary considerations that prevent such generalization are, first, that, in the society of that time, Hagar was a slave with no legal rights; and, second, that Hagar was apparently not entirely without fault in the situation. After she found that she was pregnant with Abram's child, various translations of Genesis 16:4 say that she treated Sarai with contempt, began to despise Sarai, or treated Sarai hatefully, which would have been especially egregious conduct of a slave toward a master. (Even Abram did not dispute Sarai's right to treat Hagar as she did (Genesis 16:6).) Also, Hagar had an unmistakable, personal command from God to return to Sarai. Although we today have the full revelation of God's word in the Bible, that (to me) would not have the same degree of specificity as the type of command given directly to Hagar by God Himself. In addition, God's direct involvement in the situation would indicate to me that He would continue to watch over Hagar for Abram's sake as the mother of his child (even though Ishmael was not the "child of promise", as Isaac would be). This also would prevent using this situation as a guide to actions in other instances of abuse.
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