Thursday, March 19, 2009
Hagar and the Angel of the LORD
Short lesson today, I know you have your Torah chanting lesson with Benjamin, Hagar has run away from Sarai and Abram. Running away was an emotional decision, but not a wise one, it was a long way to Egypt and through rough territory. Hagar was lucky, she found a spring with drinkable water, but she was afraid to leave it as she had almost run out of water in the journey and was seriously dehydrated when she found the spring. Now she had water, but her food was running out. And then the angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a desert spring along the road to Shur.
<= = = Who is the angel of the LORD? In some of the Christian commentaries it says he is a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ like Melchizedek.
Melchizedek, Mashellsedek! If Priest Melchizedek, wasn't Melchizedek, why do you think the scriptures call him Melchizedek? This is going to come up again in just a second, so for the moment let us just say the angel of the LORD is a specific, chosen messenger of God. And in this case, the message was "Hagar, Sarai's servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?" "I am running away from my mistress," Hagar replied.
Then the angel of the LORD said, "Return to your mistress and submit to her authority." The angel added, "I will give you more descendants than you can count." And the angel also said, "You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael, which means "God hears" for the LORD has heard about your misery.
The angel of the LORD continued, "This son of yours will be a wild one--free and untamed as a wild donkey! He will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live at odds with the rest of his brothers."
Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," (El-roi) for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!" Later that well was named Beer-lahairoi, which means “well of the Living One who sees me.” and it can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.
So, it seems Master Cohen, the title angel of the LORD isn't an angel at all, because a created being can hardly give Hagar more descendants than she can count. And Hagar herself refers to him as God. Though this is the first time the phrase is used, we will see this special messenger, this extension of God on earth in a physical manifestation again and again. He often will show up at an important turning point for the Jewish people or as now, at a time of special consequences. The intention of scripture is to cloak his identity, to paint him, like Melchizedek, as mysterious and we should honor that as we collect more information about him as the story unfolds. I promise we will come back to this and Melchizedek as well before our time is complete. Now, let's get back to Ishmael.
So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old at that time.