Women in the Bible – Lesson 1: Sarah and Hagar

A youth Bible study on Women in the Bible based on the Yale Bible Study.

Lesson Developed by

Jill Olds and Victoria Crook

Goal

Inner Strength

Tips to Prepare

We hope you enjoy our sessions on the Women of the Bible. Each session focuses on a particular woman’s story and contains within it: a theme that encapsulates the chapters; a specific Scripture passage, which highlights the theme; at least two activities (one hands-on, and one media-based); and some concluding discussion questions.

Our hope is that you will use these pieces to craft your session and contextualize it for your group. Some groups might start with reading Scripture; others might start with a movie clip, or a hands-on activity. You might use some of these pieces, or all of them. May the Spirit lead you as you customize your sessions!

Materials Checklist

  • Pens/Pencils
  • Paper
  • Bibles or copies of the focal scripture
  • Load the clip “Shooting the Arrow” from the movie, “The Hunger Games” on a devise to share with the group.

Setting the Atmosphere

  • If in person, set the room with chairs or around a table for a small group conversation
  • If virtually, schedule in your preferred video platform

Scripture Focus

Genesis 21:1-21

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt. 

Introduction for Leaders

Gather

  • Begin with a check in with members
  • Open with prayer

Engage

Exercise 1: Noting Our Strengths

  • Pair youth into small groups (2-4) and give them pens/pencils and paper.
  • Each youth should write their name on top of the paper and then pass it to the right, so that each youth ends up with a paper that is not their own.
  • Set a time limit but have each youth write down strengths of the person whose name is on the paper, and then pass to the right once time is up.
  • Repeat this until the paper gets back to the person whose name is on the paper.
  • Have them flip the paper over so they can write what they believe are their own strengths on the back without seeing what the other students said.
  • Once they have done this, have them turn the page over and see the list of strengths others think they have and how they compare to strengths they listed themselves.
  • Ask the youth what they thought of this activity, and if they want to share.
  • Debrief why they chose the strengths for themselves or for others and why it’s important to recognize those strengths.

Exercise 2: Hunger Games

Watch together this clip “Shooting the Apple” from the movie, “The Hunger Games”.

Reflect

Read the focal scripture and reflect together on the following questions:

  1. Where do you see the typical male hierarchy here?
  2. Even though women were primarily known for their fertility or infertility, where do you see strong women in the story? What agency do they have as mothers?
  3. How does God reveal love in the story (even in the midst of horrible decisions made by certain people)? To whom does God speak in the story?

Send Forth

Close the lesson in prayer (either the leader or a group member).