Who are the Hagrites today?


Confusion exists as to who the Hagrites were, and where they could be found today. Some suggest that they are living in Syria today; others claim that they were Egyptians and are living in Egypt. Others even claim that the Hagrites are the ancestors of the modern Hungarians. And then there are those who say that the Hagrites are Ishmaelites or Saudi Arabians. What does the Bible say?

We find an interesting end-time prophecy, mentioning the Hagrites in Psalm 83:1-8, where we read the following:

“A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah…”

Some translations say “Hagarites” or “Hagarenes” for “Hagrites.”

We say on page 16 of our free booklet, Germany in Prophecy that they were “originally cattle breeding nomads in East Canaan.”

The above-quoted prophecy in Psalm 83 mentions the Ishmaelites as part of the anti-Israel confederacy. Ishmael, the ancestor of the Ishmaelites, is according to Jewish and Christian tradition the ancestor of the Arabic peoples. Jerome stated that in his time, they called the districts of Arabia by the names of the Ishmaelite tribes mentioned in the Bible.

In our Q&A, we wrote this:

 “The last European revival of the ancient Roman Empire and the powerful military leader (the beast) will cause the Great Tribulation. Just prior to that time, they will begin, at first, to temporarily collaborate, to an extent, with Arab nations (including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan) and Turkey in their common goal of destroying ‘Israel’ (Psalm 83:1-8). This collaboration might not endure until the return of Christ…

“To interject, the collaborating nations mentioned in Psalm 83 are Ishmaelites—the kingdom of Saudi Arabia—as well as other Arabic tribes, such as the Hagrites, who will enter into an anti-Israeli confederacy with nations such as Edom (Turkey); Moab (parts of Jordan and perhaps Iraq); Ammon (Jordan); Amalek (perhaps today violent groups like the PLO); Philistia (Palestinians); Lot (Jordan); and, most noteworthy, Assyria or modern-day Germany. These are some of the nations which will ‘escape’ the hands of the beast. Daniel 11:41 says: ‘… these shall escape from his hands: Edom (Turkey), Moab (Jordan and Iraq), and the prominent people of Ammon (Jordan).’

“At the same time, we are also informed in Daniel 11:42 and 43 that ‘the land of Egypt shall not escape… also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.’

“How do we have to understand the phrase, ‘…shall follow at his heels’? Since Libya will be allied with Egypt at that time… and since Egypt will be overthrown by Assyria, it appears that Libyans and Ethiopians will also be overthrown and become captives of the Assyrians. In any event, they will all be subject to modern Assyria, either because of volition or compulsion.”

Of particular interest for this Q&A is the identity of the “Hagrites.” We are informed that the Hagrites were mentioned and described as Arab tribes by the Greek geographers Strabo and Ptolemy and by Pliny, the Roman.

We said this in our Q&A, “What does the Bible say about Saudi Arabia?”, in making further statements about the Hagrites and also their reference in Palm 83:

 “Ishmael had twelve sons—among them Ishmael’s second-born son, Kedar (‘powerful’); Dumah (‘silence’; compare Isaiah 21:11; Joshua 15:52); Naphish (‘numerous’); Tema (‘sun burnt’); and Jetur. The Bible, when addressing the descendants of Ishmael, sometimes refers to Ishmael, sometimes to Ishmael’s second-born son Kedar (synonymously used in Scripture with Ishmael); sometimes to Ishmael’s mother Hagar; sometimes to any of the other above-quoted names of Ishmael’s sons; and sometimes simply to ‘Arabia’ (‘wilderness’) or ‘Arabians.’ Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible explains that ‘Arabia today consists mainly of Saudi Arabia. However, it also includes the two Yemens, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sinai peninsula.’

 “The Bible describes the relationship between Israel or Judah and Ishmael and his descendants mostly as a hostile one. We read in 1 Chronicles 5:19 that the sons of Reuben, the Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh made war with some of Ishmael’s descendants, i.e., the Hagrites, Jetur, and Naphish [as well as Nodab].

“1 Chronicles 5:10, 19-20 tells us that King Saul made war with the Hagrites, who are, as mentioned, the descendants of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (The margin of the New King James Bible confirms that the Hagrites are descendants of Hagar.)…”

“We also read, in Psalm 83:6 that Ishmaelites—the kingdom of Saudi Arabia—as well as other Arabic tribes, such as the Hagrites, will enter into an anti-Israeli confederacy…”

That the Hagrites, mentioned in Psalm 83, seem to be descendants of Ishmael’s mother Hagar, the Egyptian maid servant of Sara, is also the opinion of many commentaries.

The Benson Commentary says:

“And the Ishmaelites — Some of the posterity of Ishmael, called by their father’s name, as others of them are supposed by many to be called Hagarenes, from their grandmother Hagar.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds:

“The Hagarenes were properly Arabs, so called from Hagar, the handmaid of Abraham, the mother of Ishmael. Genesis 16:1; Genesis 25:12. As connected with the Ishmaelites they would naturally join in this alliance.”

The commentary also says this, in speaking about 1 Chronicles 5:10:

“The ‘Hagarites’ or ‘Hagarenes’ are generally regarded as descendants of Hagar, and a distinct branch of the Ishmaelites… They appear to have been one of the most wealthy and widely-spread tribes of the Syrian Desert, being found on the side of the Euphrates in contact with the Assyrians, and also in the Hauran, in the neighborhood of Palestine, in contact with the Moabites and Israelites…”

Matthew Poole’s Commentary agrees: “Hagarenes, from their grandmother Hagar.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says:

“… the Hagarenes are the same with the Hagarites, 1 Chronicles 5:10, who dwelt to the east of the land of Israel, so called from Hagar, the handmaid of Abraham…’

The Pulpit Commentary writes:

“The ‘Hagarenes,’ or ‘Hagarites,’ are only mentioned here [in Psalm 83] and in 1 Chronicles 5:10, 19-22.  They were probably a branch of the Ishmaelites, named after Hagar, Ishmael’s mother.”

The Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary says:

“Hagarites—or, ‘Hagarenes,’ originally synonymous with ‘Ishmaelites,’ but afterwards applied to a particular tribe of the Arabs (compare Ps 83:6).”

The Hagrites or Hagarites would then have been descendants of Hagar, the concubine of Abram and mother of Ishmael. If 1 Chronicles 5:19 lists Jetur, Naphish and Nodab as the leaders of the Hagrites, as some suggest, then they would have been the direct descendants of Ishmael, son of Hagar, as Jetur, Naphish and Nodab are listed as Ishmael’s sons in Genesis 25:12-15 and in 1 Chronicles 1:29-31.

Turning to future prophetic events, we do not read specifically how the Ishmaelites (including the Hagrites) will be defeated in war. But it is possible that the modern Assyrians will turn against them, after the break-up of their confederacy, described in Psalm 83.

We say this in our Q&A, “What does the Bible say about Saudi Arabia?” 

“When God intervenes in world affairs, He will begin to pour out His wrath and fury over all nations, by bringing the sword over them (Jeremiah 25:15-17), including Arabia and Tema, one of Ishmael’s sons (Jeremiah 25:23). This will happen during the Day of the LORD of God’s wrath (Jeremiah 25:33), which will begin approximately one year prior to Christ’s return.

“We find a remarkable and somewhat detailed prophecy about the future of Saudi Arabia in Isaiah 21:13-17, stating: ‘The burden against Arabia. In the forest in Arabia you will lodge… For thus the LORD has said to me; “Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of [Ishmael’s second-born son] Kedar will fail; and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it.’”

“This Scripture tells us that ‘Arabia’–Saudi Arabia today–will experience defeat in war, and the time span of one year is given, apparently referring to the Day of the LORD. We are not specifically told who exactly will defeat the Arabs in war, but we note that in Old Testament times, the Assyrians did so, and most commentaries apply the prophecy of Isaiah to that occurrence. They overlook, however, that the prophecy is primarily for our times today…, but the question is whether the prophecy is dual, in that Assyria will again be the enemy defeating the Arabs in war, after they first had entered into an alliance with Assyria against Israel.”

It appears then that the modern Hagrites are a very prosperous distinct branch or tribe of the Ishmaelites. Their prosperity might be a reason as to why the modern Assyrians under the beast or the king of the North may turn against it and defeat it in war, as he will also conquer Egypt, and “He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt” (Daniel 11:43).

Ishmael’s connection with Egypt should not be overlooked, as Hagar, the mother of Ishmael and grandmother of the Hagrites, was an Egyptian maid. Also, Ishmael married a woman “from the land of Egypt,” perhaps an Egyptian or someone living there (Genesis 21:21). This woman might be the mother of the Hagrites [making the Hagrites two-third Egyptian if that woman married to Ishmael was Egyptian], but that woman might not have been the mother of the Hagrites, as according to tradition, Ishmael had more than one wife.

As we point out on pages 4 and 5 of our free booklet, Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy,” even though Egypt will not be part of the anti-Israel confederation described in Psalm 83, it won’t help Israel and Judah either (Hosea 7:11-12). In fact, Egypt will at first fight with Assyria against Israel (Nahum 3:9), but then Assyria will conquer Egypt and some of Israel’s descendants will be captives in Egypt (Isaiah 27:13).

In any event, there is no evidence that the Hagrites are living today in Egypt or that the Bible views them as Egyptians.

Furthermore, there is no biblical evidence that the Hagrites are Syrians or that they are living today in Syria. Syria is the biblical Aram. As we point out in our before-mentioned booklet on pages 12 and 13, Syria and Damascus will ultimately be destroyed, perhaps through the beast or the king of the North.

The Hagarites are not modern-day Hungarians, either. Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible points this out correctly, when addressing 1 Chronicles 5:10:

 “‘And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites…’  Not with the Hungarians, as the Targum, a people not then in being; but the Ishmaelites, so called because they descended from Hagar’s, Sarah’s maid; the same that are placed by Pliny and Ptolemy in Arabia, near the Batanaeans, or inhabitants of Bashan.”

From all the evidence, it appears that the Hagrites are today a very prosperous tribe or branch of the Ishmaelites in Saudi Arabia.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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