It is very easy to read the Old Testament, and the New Testament for that matter, and forget to put the characters in their respective historical periods. I can't help but think about the role of women in Abraham's time. I was saddened to read that when Sarah found out that she could not bear her husband a child, she allowed Abraham to take her maidservant, Hagar, as his wife. Sarah knew that in her society she was not a fit wife because she could not have children, let alone a son, and so because she was probably afraid that her husband would leave her, she allowed Abraham to sleep with another woman of a lower social status.
After Hagar became pregnant, she became proud and started to mistreat Sarah whom she was under. Sarah, of course, felt angry because Hagar had forgotten her role in the household and threw Hagar out of Abraham's household.
There is more, though. God in his compassion saw what befell Hagar, and made a promise to her and her offspring, Ishmael. God promised Ishmael that his descendants would be a great people. These people are, of course, the Muslims. I am convinced that God called forth the first leader of Islam. He heard Hagar's cry for mercy and showered his love on her and her offspring. Although we never hear anything about Ishmael ever again for the rest of Biblical history, let's remember that our Muslim brothers and sisters worship the same God.
(Tomorrow's reading is Genesis 19-22)