Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarai. Unable to conceive a child with her husband Abram, Sarai gave her slave Hagar to be his wife so that Abram could have a child. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarai became very jealous and treated her badly. Hagar fled to the desert. An angel of the Lord met Hagar by a spring and asked where she had come from, and where she was going. The angel told Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her, followed by a promise that her descendants would be too many to number, and that she would have a son named Ishmael. Hagar then spoke to God and gave him the name El ROI, the God who sees me. She had seen and was seen by God.
After Hagar returned and gave birth to Ishmael, some time had passed. Sarah again wished for Hagar to be gone, so Abraham sadly sent Hagar and Ishmael away with some food and water. She and her son wandered on the desert of Beersheba. They ran out of water, and Ishmael, very thirsty, began to weep. Hagar put him under a bush and began to sob. An angel of the Lord spoke to her, offering comfort, and promising that God has heard her wins cried and one day would make him into a great nation. God opened Hagar’s eyes, she saw a well of water and gave her son a drink. (Genesis 16,21)
Naomi (meaning pleasant) was from Bethlehem, in Judah, but moved to Moab temporarily with her husband, Elimelek, and her sons, Mahlon and Kilion, in order to escape famine. She lost her husband, and her two sons married Moabite women. They lived in Moab for ten years, until Naomi‘s sons died too. Widowed and grieving the loss of her children, Naomi learned that God was providing aid to the land of Judah once again. She decided to return to her home. Naomi spoke a blessing over her daughters in law, Ruth and Orphah, and she said emotional goodbyes, sending them to return to their homes in Moab. Orphah returned to her home, but Ruth, in an act of great love and loyalty, refused to leave Naomi’s side. The two women journeyed back to Bethlehem, and there was a great commotion about Naomi’s return. When the women of the town said, “Can this be Naomi?” Naomi replies, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”
Naomi looked out for Ruth and made arrangements for her to work safely in the field of a family member, Boaz, who later married Ruth, and they had a son, Obed. Great joy and restoration came to Naomi, and her family grew and was blessed.
Vashti was the beautiful Queen of Persia. Her husband, King Xerxes, held a great celebration to show off all of the extravagant wealth of his empire. He held a banquet for all the people of Susa, where the palace was. At this time, Queen Vashti was holding her own banquet for the women in the palace. At the seventh day of the feast, King Xerxes, drunk with wine, summoned Queen Vashti to show off her great beauty to his guests. She refused. The king was very angry and met with his advisors to decide her punishment. He permanently banished Queen Vashti from his presence. This was a public statement to all women throughout the kingdom to respect their husbands. Vashti’s defiance paved the way for Queen Esther to become queen and eventually rescue the Israelite people.
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