"Every Man's Hand Against Him"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278

Context: One of the famous stories in the Book of Genesis is the story of Hagar and her child, Ishmael. At the time Abram is more than eighty years old, his wife, Sarai, has not given him any children. She gives her maid, Hagar, to Abram, as his concubine, hoping that Hagar will bear children for Abram. Hagar, an Egyptian girl, conceives a child; in her pride at having bested her mistress, she openly despises Sarai. When the wife complains, Abram tells her to deal as she will with the prideful maiden. When Hagar is given harsh treatment for her despising of Sarai, she runs away into the wilderness, where she is visited by an angel of God, who bids the girl return and submit to Sarai. The angel also promises that Hagar shall be rewarded, for her seed will multiply exceedingly. The angel bids Hagar to name her first-born, who will be a son, Ishmael, which means "God hears." But the angel also tells Hagar that her son will be an outcast among men:

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for the multitude.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shall bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
. . .
And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

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