ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
Meaning: flight, or, according to others, stranger
When she was about to become a mother she fled from the cruelty of her mistress, intending apparently to return to her relatives in Egypt, through the desert of Shur, which lay between. Wearied and worn she had reached the place she distinguished by the name of Beer-lahai-roi (“the well of the visible God”), where the angel of the Lord appeared to her.
Sarah after this began to vent her dissatisfaction both on Hagar and her child. Ishmael’s conduct was insulting to Sarah, and she insisted that he and his mother should be dismissed. This was accordingly done, although with reluctance on the part of Abraham (Genesis 21:14). They wandered out into the wilderness, where Ishmael, exhausted with his journey and faint from thirst, seemed about to die. Hagar “lifted up her voice and wept,” and the angel of the Lord, as before, appeared unto her, and she was comforted and delivered out of her distresses (Genesis 21:18, 19).
Ishmael afterwards established himself in the wilderness of Paran, where he married an Egyptian (Genesis 21:20—21). He had twelve sons, who became the founders of so many Arab tribes or colonies, the Ishmaelites, who spread over the wide desert spaces of Northern Arabia from the Red Sea to the Euphrates (Genesis 37:25, 27-28; 39:1).