Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vayeira. Guest Post by Harav Eli: The Expulsion of Hagar and ....

Following the birth of Yitzhak, the Torah tells about Avraham expelling his son from Hagar. A simple reading of the Psukim gives the impression that expulsion was of a young child:

1. He is called הילד or הנער. While נער could be used for a wide range of ages (from the 3-months old Moshe to ומשרתו יהושע בן נון נער), the term ילד typically refers to a young child (even though 17-years-old Yosef is also referred to as הילד איננו)

2. At the end of the Parsha the Mal'ach tells Hagar to carry her son. Well, maybe he was dried out and sick. But, it seems Hagar carries the boy even at the beginning of the journey - ויתן אל הגר שם על שכמה ואת הילד וישלחה [although some Meforshim explain this to mean she carried only the bread and water].

3. It says Hagar throws him under the bush, meaning that he wasn't too heavy. [Again, some of the Meforshim say this is not to be taken literally].

4. The end of the parsha - ויהי א' את הנער ויגדל also sounds like he was young at the time

However, the consensus of Chazal and all Meforshim I remember, is that this boy is in fact Yishma'el, although he is not mentioned by his name. At the time of the events Yishmael was at least 16 years old.

Luley Divreihem (in the style of the Ibn Ezra), we might suggest that the boy mentioned here could be a younger (second ?) son of Avraham and Hagar. If it is not Yishmael, that's why the Torah presents this nameless boy, never mentioned before, in such a lengthy description of  בן הגר המצרית אשר ילדה לאברהם. This boy might be of similar age to Yitzchak, or a bit older.

This explains also why Hashem comforts Avraham by saying  וגם את בן האמה לגוי אשימנו. If we're talking about Yishmael, this would have been redundant as Yishmael was already promised a much bigger future: הנה ברכתי אותו והפריתי אותו והרביתי אותו במאוד מאוד שנים עשר נשיאים יוליד ונתתיו לגוי גדול

Furthermore, in next week's parsha we find that Avraham sends away בני הפילגשים plural. Who are they? One Pilegesh we know of is Ktura. The other is Hagar (assuming they are not the same person). But, Yishmael was not sent away - he buried his father together with Yitzchak. So, it seems Hagar had more sons that were sent away.

Yet, as far as I know this (seemingly obvious) Pshat  was not picked up by any Medrash or any of the Meforshim. Why?

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