The Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael (Gen 21:9-21)

Aron Pinker


The episode of Hagar and Ishmael’s expulsion is reevaluated within the framework of typical reactions of a scorned woman. If it is assumed that Abraham tried to resolve his marital problems by separating Hagar and Ishmael from his household and settling them with their kin Muzrimites, then most of the textual difficulties are naturally resolved. Even if we interpret the Masoretic Text as an identification of Hagar being an Egyptian, nothing in the text compels us to conclude that she intended to return to Egypt on foot. There is biblical evidence that the relations between Ishmael and Isaac (and, perhaps, Abraham) were not severed. The geography of the region supports continued contact between Abraham, Isaac, Hagar, and Ishmael.

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