Abraham in Gerar
Abraham decided to move south. He left Hebron, where he had dwelt for
twenty-five years and went to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines.
As he had done in Egypt many years earlier, Abraham again concealed the fact that Sarah was his wife, fearing that the Philistines might want to slay him. Believing that Sarah was Abraham’s sister, King Abimelech of the Philistines had her brought to the palace. But G‑d smote the king and his servants with plagues, so that they would not touch her. As soon as the king found out the cause of his punishment he called Abraham and begged his forgiveness. To make up for his wrong, he gave Abraham and Sarah many gifts. Abraham prayed to G‑d to cure Abimelech and his royal household, and the prayers were answered. Abimelech and his people knew that Abraham was a saintly man, and they begged him to stay in their land. Abraham, agreed, and resided in Gerar for twenty-six years.
G‑d’s promise was fulfilled. When Abraham was one hundred years old and his wife ninety,: Sarah gave birth to a son. Abraham called him Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, making him a party to the holy covenant G‑d had established with Abraham.
As we know, Isaac was not Abraham’s first born, for Hagar had borne him Ishmael thirteen years earlier. But Ishmael had not grown up as his father had hoped. He was inclined towards many things Abraham considered wicked. Ishmael even prayed to idols when he believed himself unobserved.
Sarah observed him and realized that he would have a bad influence upon the young Isaac. She therefore implored Abraham to send Ishmael away. Abraham understood the motive of his wife’s request, but he feared to send his son away
to a place where he might become even worse. However, G‑d told Abraham to do as Sarah had requested, and Abraham then sent Hagar and Ishmael away, providing
them with water and food for the journey.
The Miraculous Well
Hagar and Ishmael lost their way in the wilderness of Beer Sheba and soon ran
out of water. Hagar could not watch the boy’s suffering and put him in the shade
of a bush, while she sat some distance away and cried. An angel then called to
Hagar and assured her that G‑d had seen the suffering of her boy. He would live
and become the father of a mighty nation. And suddenly, Hagar saw a spring nearby.
Hagar and Ishmael were saved from death and continued their journey. G‑d blessed the boy, for he was Abraham’s son. Ishmael grew up into a strong man. He lived on the outskirts of the desert and became a great archer. Ishmael lived his life in his own way. He married and had many children. His children multiplied and became known under the name of Ishmaelites, or Arabs, the people of the desert.