A number of womanist scholars and liberation theologians have addressed the notion that Hagar, in Genesis 16 and 21, represents for women of color a testament of God's delivering power. Furthermore, the Egyptian slave woman and her son Ishmael stand as affirmation of God's original intent that people of African descent be free.
I accept this interpretation, but I wonder about the command given Hagar the first time she went into the wilderness. By no means do I question God's wisdom; rather, I am puzzled about the directions. Yes, it was a test when the angel asked her to return to Sarai; I see that. Hagar had to be obedient to God and endure hardship. Yet, why add "submit" to the command (16:9)? Was not Hagar already under duress? Was not going back going to be a trial within itself? Was not her return proof positive that she was willing to obey God?