Hagar had always been carried along by the current of other people’s lives. In Egypt she had been sold as a slave to the highest bidder. Abraham bought her and Sarah took her as her personal servant. They had brought her to Canaan, and then quite unexpectedly, her own body, her womb, had been called into service.
In the harem, Sarah waited. She waited to be called in to King Abimelech, or for someone — Abraham, God? — to come to her rescue. One day dragged into the next, and still nothing. God had said she and Abraham would have a child next year. Now Abraham had ruined everything. But why hadn’t God stopped him?
He was not a coward. No, not in many things. But he had an irrational fear, a foreboding almost, that someone might kill him to get at Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah saw the smoke rise up from the valley, and the acrid smell of sulfur and burning filled the air. Just the day before, Abraham had entertained the three visitors. The Lord had said to Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard.”
It was not her habit to eavesdrop, but when Abraham ran into the tent and said, “Sarah, get out your best flour and bake three loaves of bread, and hurry!,” when she heard him calling the servants to quickly slaughter the calf, she was curious. Who were these men who had appeared out of nowhere, and why was Abraham so eager to entertain them?