He Will Be a Wild Ass of a Man

I have lost track of which chapter I am on. I had to reread a couple to figure it out, but we have come to the story of Hagar. The slave girl that dared to name God.

This story picks up where we left off with Abram unhappy that he doesn’t have a proper heir. His wife comes to him and tells him that it is her fault and that she will give him her slave-girl so that he may bed her and produce a child that she will count as hers. Then she notices her slave-girl is with child and is unhappy. She blames the slave-girl for looking on her with contempt (can you blame Hagar) and proceeds to beat her and kick her out.

It is here that Hagar meets and angel of the Lord and eventually God. She is surprised that she is able to see God and live. While visiting with her God tells Hagar that her descendants will number more than the grains of dust on the earth and all that other stuff God has been promising Abram up to this point.

That isn’t all God tells her. He tells her that a son will be born to her and he will be called Ishmael and that Ishmael will be a wild ass of a man. That he will take up against his fellow man and his fellow man will take up against him.

This is again all stuff that I feel I lack the cultural context to understand. From my prospective Hagar is the victim and God does promise her that her descendants will be numerous but then he also issues a sort of curse against her son.

We could say God works in mysterious ways and walk away at this point, but I don’t believe that to be true. We might not understand the workings of God, but that doesn’t make them mysterious. People have spent lifetimes contemplating single passages of the Bible and written commentaries as thick as the Bible itself about those passages. This is one of them.

We know well what it means to be an Abram in life. Abram is a man that has been given everything. He has great wealth, a beautiful wife, the blessing of God, and the promise of a great legacy. We don’t know much what it is like to be a Hagar or an Ishmael, but God makes the same promise to Hagar that he does to Abram. While Abram’s descendants will be enslaved for hundreds of years the son of Hagar will be a wild ass of a man that will raise his hand against every man.

Tonight is a night I am exhausted and I don’t think my mind can try and reach out for the mind of God much more tonight. Therefore, we will leave the problem of Hagar and Ishmael for another day and get some rest.

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