Earlier in the story of Abram’s life, Abram and Sarai could not conceive. Sarai thought God might bless a union between her servant Hagar and Abram. Apparently the women were on good terms, otherwise Sarai would not have considered building a family through Hagar. However, once Hagar became pregnant, she felt contempt toward Sarai.
Genesis 16:1-13(NIV), “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said…Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.’ ‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the LORD found Hagar…And he said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants…You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael (Ishmael means God hears), for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.’ She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”
The scriptures are silent respecting the relationship between Sarah and Hagar after Hagar returned. However, fourteen years after the birth of Ishmael, Isaac was born.
Sadly, Ishmael did act meanly toward his younger brother, Isaac. At a feast given in honor of Isaac’s weaning (perhaps at eight years old), Ishmael mocked him. Genesis 21:8-10, “Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” In all probability, the relationship between the two mothers was strained; however, it was the actions of Ishmael toward Isaac which caused the final rupture in their household.