“Moreover, the Angel of the LORD said to [Hagar], “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”” Gen. 16:10
Does this promise sound familiar? It should, it is the same promise God made to Abraham in Gen. 12:2, 13:16 and 15:5. So God, true to his promise, will greatly multiply the descendants of Abraham, not just through Sarah, but through Hagar as well. (see Gen. 21:13) While this sounds like it should be a blessing, Hagar’s son with Abraham is Ishmael – the progenitor of the Arab people. Abraham has no idea what the future holds for Israel and the many Arab nations that surround it today.
God is faithful to keep His promises; the problem here is that Abraham did not keep faith in God’s promise that his chosen descendants would come through Sarah. And so by Abraham’s exercise of free will to sleep with Hagar to get a son, he turned God’s promise of many descendants into a curse of sorts.
It is one thing to imagine that history may have treated Israel better without the descendants of Ishmael to contend with; it is quite another when you realize that Hagar probably would not have been there in the first place if Abraham never made his original trip to Egypt to sojourn during the famine in Canaan in Genesis 12. I am referring to a popular belief among prominent rabbis that Hagar was one of the the female servants Abram received from Pharaoh as payment for his wife. (see Gen. 12:16)