Following "why-would-Hagar-go-to-the-desert-to-die", IIRC Abraham was freakishly wealthy and he should be full of Chessed (toward his former wife and his own son), Sarah didn't deny any monetary support to Hagar and God didn't intervene either.

Yet, all Abraham hands to Hagar and his grown-up son (15yo?) after 15 years of marriage is the bread and a bottle of water? What am I missing here?

EDIT: Rashi's answer is unsatisfying in several ways: it has no references, it does not address Hagar, Abraham's knowledge about his son's wickedness is mentioned nowhere, and more.

PS: @Dov provoked me to pose this question

  • Are you familiar with Rashi's answer? Are you seeking alternatives?
    – robev
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:29
  • Lol sorry for the provocation :-)
    – Dov
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:30
  • @robev Thanks, edited.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:33
  • @Dov so move it here, I'll upvote it.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:34
  • I will, but I think as per my comment there, that there is also an answer provided to your question.
    – Dov
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


The Ibn Ezra on the pasuk writes two noteworthy points:

Bread and a skin of water. Since Hashem told him to listen to all that Sarah said he could not give Hagar anything without Sarah’s permission. Nevertheless, after Sarah’s death he gave the sons of his concubines gifts (25:6).

and also...

It is also possible that he gave Hagar gifts that Scripture does not mention. She went and lost her way. Avraham gave her sufficient supplies to reach Beer Sheva had she not become lost.

So according to the Ibn Ezra, the pasuk only lists a very meagre handout from Avraham to show how he was acting on Sarah's instructions, but later after Sarah's death he went out of his way to give them suitable gifts. Alternatively, he did supply them with other things and Hagar was suitably supplied to get to Be'er Sheva but they did not account for her getting lost.

Interestingly, Radak adds that he did not leave her completely in the lurch. Unlike Rashi he says that although the Torah does not mention it, she was given gold and silver so she had the means to gain more supplies when she ran low, and in addition, Avraham reasoned that she might have relatives in the vicinity that she could make her way to.

ויקח לחם וחמת מים, he gave her enough food and water to last for a day or two. She was unable to carry more than that. He also gave her a plentiful supply of water as the distance to Egypt was considerable. On the other hand, she might have had relatives much closer than in Egypt. He gave her also silver and gold so that she could replenish her supplies, although the Torah did not make a specific mention of this.

Finally, I would argue that Hagar did not choose 'an inevitable and horrible death' this was part of her being expelled from the household. Indeed, Rabbeinu Bachya gives a good analysis of the situation:

וישכם אברהם בבוקר ויקח לחם וחמת מים, “Avraham rose early in the morning; he took bread and a skin-bottle of water, etc.” - He should have given Hagar silver and gold and camels to transport both her, Ishmael, and their belongings seeing he had plenty of money to spare. After all, had he not prayed for his son’s welfare in 17:18 saying to G-d: לו ישמעאל יחיה לפניך, “if only Ishmael live (a good life) in Your presence?” However, seeing that Sarah had told him to expel Hagar and her son, and G-d had told him to obey everything that Sarah said to him (verse 12), Avraham complied and expelled them with the minimum of creature comforts plus a survival kit only. This is Ramban's view.

He adds further:

One may view the fact that Avraham provided Hagar with bread and water as an allusion to something that he foresaw concerning the future when his descendants would be oppressed by the Arabs. He foresaw that the Ishmaelites would hate the Jews more than any other nation on earth hated them. Avraham was careful not to deny Hagar and Ishmael the necessities to ensure their survival, something with which Jews provide even their enemies. He modelled himself after Mishlei 25:21 “If your enemy is hungry feed him bread; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.”

So according to Rabbeinu Bachya, Avraham had to comply with Sarah's request and therefore he gave them the basic necessities to live, possibly realising that Yishmael would give rise to a future enemy of the Jewish people.

  • Thank you for the effort. Beautiful answers though I wasn't convinced (not your fault).
    – Al Berko
    Mar 6, 2021 at 20:45

Your premise is that Sarah didn't say anything about monetary support but the Shaare Aron brings an answer based on this passuk

וַתֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם גָּרֵ֛שׁ הָאָמָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את וְאֶת־בְּנָ֑הּ כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יִירַשׁ֙ בֶּן־הָאָמָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את עִם־בְּנִ֖י עִם־יִצְחָֽק׃

She said to Abraham, “Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

Since Sarah explicitly said that he can't inherit, Avrohom was unable to give more as that would be considered inheritance and G-D had said to listen to everything Sarah had said.

  • Ha, it says explicitly that same Abraham gave Matonos to his sons from Keturah from the second (third?) marriage. He could give unlimited Matonos to Ishmael also.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 27, 2021 at 7:09
  • Rashi explains he gave them the names of tumah. In fact the Shaare Aron uses this as proof, how did Rashi know that? He says because Avrohom was not allowed to give them anything natural because of Sarah statement. Additionally, he adds that after Sarah died he was allowed and that's why the other pshat of Rashi disagrees
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 27, 2021 at 11:48
  • You bring a nice line of thought, but nothing here proves anything, it rather can be interpreted this way. DId you read Ebn Ezra? "מתנות. ממון נתן להם:" sefaria.org.il/… Before you come up with a theory, try it out first on the existing interpreters. Besides, do you think Abraham stopped feeding the needy the moment Sarah said to inherit everything to Isaac?
    – Al Berko
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:07
  • I was quoting a sefer Shaare Aron on Torah. Not my own thought. Sarah did not preclude giving presents to others, just to other children.
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:09
  • Shaare Aron is a collection of Pierushim on Chumash from Rishonim and Achronim
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:10

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