Some of the most extraordinary tales of the old Testament are about women who possessed a strong maternal instinct to nurture and serve others. Sometimes, their life circumstances dictated that they serve other women as midwives or nurses. In other cases, they were simply slaves or handmaidens required to serve a mistress or master, sometimes even expected to bear children by their mistress' husband. For such women, life could be extraordinarily difficult. Some remained committed to the families they served, while others, like Hagar, fled in peril of their lives.