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Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael by Gustave Dore

Ishmael (Hebrew: ישמעאל, Yishmāʻēl; Arabic: إسماعيل, Ismāʻīl; "Name means::God will hear") (Born::Teveth 2094 AMDied::Teveth 2231 AM) was the first, but illegitimate, son of Abraham, credited to Sarah but actually born to Hagar. He is the progenitor of many Arab tribes. Islamic tradition holds that he is the direct ancestor of Muhammad and also that he, not Isaac, was the son that Abraham nearly sacrificed on Mount Moriah.



He was born in the eleventh year of Abraham's sojourn in Canaan. His birth mother, Hagar, had joined Abraham's camp during Abraham's brief stay in Egypt. Sarah, despairing of having a child of her own, asked Hagar to act as her surrogate. The Bible states that Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.[1]

The dispute on the year of Ishmael's birth follows from the more fundamental dispute concerning the year of the birth of Abraham.


When he was thirteen years old, he underwent the ceremony of circumcision, as part of Abraham's own covenant with God.[2] Then, within a year, a true miracle occurred: Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.[3] Thus Ishmael's position in the household was compromised. Ishmael arguably made his position untenable by openly mocking Isaac during the ceremony of Isaac's weaning, when Isaac was five years old and Ishmael nineteen. Sarah was much displeased, and Abraham, following further instruction from God, expelled Ishmael and Hagar from his camp.[4]

The two exiles had between them a loaf of bread and a bottle of water. In the then wilderness region of Beersheba, the water gave out. Hagar placed Ishmael a bowshot away from her, because she did not want to watch him die. But the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ visited her, assured her that they would both live, and even provided water from a miraculous well.

Thus they crossed the desert. Eventually Ishmael became an archer and married an Egyptian woman and had twelve sons.[5]

Descendants and Death

grandson of::Terah
grandson of::Haran
son of::Abraham
son of::Hagar
brother of::Isaac

Ishmael had twelve sons, whose names are given in Genesis 25:12-16 . Altogether Ishmael lived for Life span::137 years, and then died.[6]

12 Tribes of Ishmael

Wider symbolism

Paul mentioned, in writing to the Galatians, that Ishmael was a son "born after flesh," while Isaac was a "son of promise." Thus Ishmael, according to Paul, is a type of the original Abrahamic covenant, while Isaac is a type of the Christian covenant, the covenant of grace.[7]

Ishmael in Islam

Main Article: Qur'an

The name of Ishmael nowhere appears in the Qur'an. However, later generations of Muslims came to insist that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son that Abraham almost sacrificed on Mount Moriah.

See Also

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External Links