Categories: Abraham and Sarah, Men in the Old Testament
- The name, Ishmael, means, "God hears."
- The story of Ishmael is found in Genesis 16, 17, 21, and 25.
- Ishmael was Abraham's firstborn son. His mother was Sarah's handmaiden, Hagar.
- Sarah gave her handmaiden to Abraham so they could have a child through her.
- Abraham took Hagar as his concubine/wife. But any child born of their union would officially belong to Abraham and Sarah.
- Once Hagar became pregnant, she was insolent to Sarah, and Sarah abused her.
- Hagar fled from Sarah.
- She stopped at a well on the way back to Egypt where an angel told her to return and submit to Sarah.
- Then the angel announced Ishmael's birth to Hagar.
- The birth announcement included a description of his destiny.
- Like his strong-willed mother, Ishmael would be "a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him."
- Hagar returned to Sarah, as the angel had commanded her to, and "bore Abraham a son." The absence of Sarah's name means her dream of being "built up by Hagar" was not realized.
- Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born in Mamre.
- Abraham circumcised Ishmael when he was 13 years old – along with all the male members of Abraham's house.
- After God told Abraham that Sarah would have a son, Abraham inquired about Ishmael's future.
- God replied that Ishmael would be blessed and that He "will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."
- Isaac was Ishmael's half brother, who was born a year later.
- On the day of Isaac's weaning celebration, Ishmael was "mocking" or "playing with" Isaac.
- Sarah saw this and demanded that Abraham "get rid of that slave woman and her son."
- Though Abraham was "greatly distressed and very displeased" with Sarah's request, he agreed because God told him to "do whatever Sarah tells you to do."
- God also repeated His promise about Ishmael: he will become the father of a great nation simply because he is Abraham's offspring.
- Early the next morning, Abraham provided supplies for Hagar and Ishmael.
- They were given a skin of water, roughly 30 pounds worth.
- And they went off into the desert of Beersheba, moving in a southeasterly direction towards Northern Arabia.
- Not surprisingly, the water runs out and the threat of death looms large. The danger was greatest for the child.
- Hagar placed him under a bush; at least he will die in the shade.
- She moved some distance away so she would not be tormented by his last sighs. But she remained close enough and wept freely.
- The text also says, "the lad lifted up his voice and cried out."
- It was his prayer that God answered.
- Remember that his name was Ishmael, meaning, "God hears," and he certainly lived up to his name on this occasion.
- Once again it is the angel of the Lord that called out to Hagar.
- And once again, God gaveHagar several short imperatives. "Don't be afraid, return to the boy, lift him up and take him by the hand."
- The promise was repeated: Ishmael will not die because God will make of him a great nation.
- The words of God's promise were followed by a practical intervention, He opened Hagar's eyes, and she saw a well that she hadn't noticed before.
- She then satisfied the boy's thirst.
- "And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer."
- Ishmael and Hagar settled in the Desert of Paran.
- Eventually, Hagar found an Egyptian wife for him.
- They had 12 sons, who went on to become tribal chieftains encompassing an area extending from Assyria to the land of Egypt.
- In addition to his 12 sons, he had one known daughter. She became the third wife of Esau.
- When Abraham died, Ishmael and Isaac were present at his burial.
- Scholars agree that Ishmael was the ancestor of the Ishmaelites.
- In Judges, the Ishmaelites are noteworthy for having golden earrings. In Psalms, mention was made of their tabernacles and their alliance against Israel.
- In 1 Chronicles 27, both a Hagarite and an Ishmaelite were mentioned as working for David. Without a doubt, God's promises to Hagar were fulfilled.
- Ishmael lived to be 137 years old.
- Many Arabs consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of Mohammed through his son, Kedar.
- Mohammed referred to Ishmael as a great prophet who was able to perform miracles.
- The Quran states: "And make mention in the Scripture of Ishmael. He was a keeper of his promise, and he was a messenger, a prophet. He enjoined upon his people worship and almsgiving, and was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord."
- The Quran also states that Ishmael was one of "the patiently enduring and righteous, whom God caused to enter into his mercy."
- In the passage about the binding of Abraham's son, most Quran readers understand that son to be Ishmael.
- The Quran also states that Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba – a cubic structure thought to be the first building made for worship (of Allah). It is the exact center of the sacred mosque in Mecca. It is the most holy site in Islam.
- Stories abound about the founding of Mecca, but many revolve around Hagar, Ishmael, and his immediate descendants as founders.