17 December BCE
From My Jewish Learning
Biblical Sarah, Abraham’s wife and the matriarch of the Jewish people, is a strong and independent character. When she cannot have children, Sarah takes the initiative and gives her maid-servant, Hagar, to Abraham so that he can have children through Hagar on Sarah’s behalf.
Hagar becomes pregnant, and Sarah sees that she “is diminished” in Hagar’s eyes (Genesis 16:4). Sarah brings this problem to Abraham, and Abraham, rather than deciding himself what to do, lets Sarah choose how to deal with Hagar, saying: “Here, your slave-woman is in your hands. Do to her what is good in your eyes” (Genesis 16:6).
Sarah abuses Hagar, and Hagar flees. Hagar comes across a spring, where an angel of God appears to her. The angel promises her that her descendants will become a great nation, and he orders her to return to Abraham. Hagar returns and gives birth to a son, Ishmael.
At Isaac’s weaning ceremony, Sarah sees Ishmael “playing” (it is unclear exactly what he was doing) and again, Sarah takes the initiative. She asks Abraham to send Ishmael away. Abraham is reluctant to do so, but God tells him: “Whatever Sarah tells you to do, listen to her” (Genesis 21:12), and he agrees and sends Hagar and her son away.