Ishmael

Ishmael [N] [H] [S]

God hears.

  • Abraham's eldest son, by Hagar the concubine ( Genesis 16:15 ; 17:23 ). He was born at Mamre, when Abraham was eighty-six years of age, eleven years after his arrival in Canaan ( 16:3 ; 21:5 ). At the age of thirteen he was circumcised ( 17:25 ). He grew up a true child of the desert, wild and wayward. On the occasion of the weaning of Isaac his rude and wayward spirit broke out in expressions of insult and mockery ( Genesis 21:9 Genesis 21:10 ); and Sarah, discovering this, said to Abraham, "Expel this slave and her son." Influenced by a divine admonition, Abraham dismissed Hagar and her son with no more than a skin of water and some bread. The narrative describing this act is one of the most beautiful and touching incidents of patriarchal life ( Genesis 21:14-16 ). (See HAGAR .)

    Ishmael settled in the land of Paran, a region lying between Canaan and the mountains of Sinai; and "God was with him, and he became a great archer" ( Genesis 21:9-21 ). He became a great desert chief, but of his history little is recorded. He was about ninety years of age when his father Abraham died, in connection with whose burial he once more for a moment reappears. On this occasion the two brothers met after being long separated. "Isaac with his hundreds of household slaves, Ishmael with his troops of wild retainers and half-savage allies, in all the state of a Bedouin prince, gathered before the cave of Machpelah, in the midst of the men of Heth, to pay the last duties to the 'father of the faithful,' would make a notable subject for an artist" ( Genesis 25:9 ). Of the after events of his life but little is known. He died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven years, but where and when are unknown ( 25:17 ). He had twelve sons, who became the founders of so many Arab tribes or colonies, the Ishmaelites, who spread over the wide desert spaces of Northern Arabia from the Red Sea to the Euphrates ( Genesis 37:25 Genesis 37:27 Genesis 37:28 ; 39:1 ), "their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them."

  • The son of Nethaniah, "of the seed royal" ( Jeremiah 40:8 Jeremiah 40:15 ). He plotted against Gedaliah, and treacherously put him and others to death. He carried off many captives, "and departed to go over to the Ammonites."

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Ishmael". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Ishmael [N] [E] [S]

    God that hears
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Ishmael'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

    Ishmael [N] [E] [H]

    (whom God hears ).

    1. The son of Abraham by Hagar the Egyptian his concubine; born when Abraham was fourscore and six years old. ( Genesis 16:15 Genesis 16:16 ) (B.C. 1910.) Ishmael was the first-born of his father. He was born in Abrahams house when he dwelt in the plain of Mamre; and on the institution of the covenant of circumcision, was circumcised, he being then thirteen years old ( Genesis 17:26 ) With the institution of the covenant, God renewed his promise respecting Ishmael. He does not again appear in the narrative until the weaning of Isaac. At the great feast made in celebration of the weaning, "Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking," and urged Abraham to cast him and his mother out. Comforted by the renewal of Gods promise to make of Ishmael a great nation, Abraham sent them away, and they departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. His mother took Ishmael a wife out of the land of Egypt." ( Genesis 21:9-21 ) This wife of Ishmael was the mother of the twelve sons and one daughter. Of the later life of Ishmael we know little. He was present with Isaac at the burial of Abraham. He died at the age of 137 years. ( Genesis 25:17 Genesis 25:18 ) The sons of Ishmael peopled the north and west of the Arabian peninsula, and eventually formed the chief element of the Arab nation, the wandering Bedouin tribes. They are now mostly Mohammedans who look to him as their spiritual father, as the Jews look to Abraham. Their language, which is generally acknowledged to have been the Arabic community so called, has been adopted with insignificant exceptions throughout Arabia. The term "Ishmaelite" occur on three occasions: ( Genesis 37:25 Genesis 37:27 Genesis 37:28 ; 39:1 ; Judges 8:24 ; Psalms 83:6 )
    2. One of the sons of Azel, a descendant of Saul through Meribbaal or Mephibosheth. ( 1 Chronicles 8:38 ; 9:44 )
    3. A man of Judah, father of Zebadiah. ( 2 Chronicles 19:11 )
    4. Another man of Judah, son of Jehohanan; one of the captains of hundreds who assisted Jehoiada in restoring Joash to the throne. ( 2 Chronicles 23:1 )
    5. A priest of the Bene-Pashur, who was forced by Ezra to relinquish his foreign wife. ( Ezra 10:22 )
    6. The son of Nethaniah; a perfect marvel of craft and villainy, whose treachery forms one of the chief episodes of the history of the period immediately succeeding the first fall of Jerusalem. His exploits are related in ( Jeremiah 40:7 ; Jeremiah 41:16 ) with a short summary. During the siege of the city he had fled across the Jordan where he found a refuge at the court of Baalis. After the departure of the Chaldeans, Ishmael made no secret of his intention to kill the superintendent left by the king of Babylon and usurp his position. Of this Zedaliah was warned in express terms by Johanan and his companions, but notwithstanding entertained Ishmael and his followers at a feast, ( Jeremiah 41:1 ) during which Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and all his attendants. The same night he killed all Zedaliahs establishment, including some Chaldean soldiers who were there. For two days the massacre remained entirely unknown to the people of the town. On the second day eighty devotees were bringing incense and offerings to the ruins of the temple. At his invitation they turned aside to the residence of the superintendent, and there Ishmael and his band butchered nearly the whole number: ten only escaped by offering a heavy ransom for their lives. This done he descended to the town, surprised and carried off the daughters of King Zedekiah, who had been sent there by Nebuchadnezzar for safety, with their eunuchs and their Chaldean guard, ( Jeremiah 41:10 Jeremiah 41:16 ) and all the people of the town, and made off with his prisoners to the country of the Ammonites. The news of the massacre had by this time got abroad, and Ishmael was quickly pursued by Johanan and his companions. He was attacked, two of his bravos slain, the whole of the prey recovered; and Ishmael himself with the remaining eight of his people, escaped to the Ammonites.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Ishmael'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    Ishmael

    Sarai, Abram's wife, was barren ( Genesis 11:30 ). Impatient at the long delay of the promise, Sarah agreed for Abram to cohabit with her maid Hagar, and as a result Ishmael was born eleven years after Abram and Sarah entered Canaan ( Genesis 16:1-16 ). He was finally cast out of Abram's house at Sarah's request and the Lord's approval, for Abram's descendants were to be counted from Isaac ( Genesis 21:1-21 ).

    ISHMAEL (1)

    ish'-ma-el (yishma`e'l, "God heareth," or "God may," "shall hear"; Ismael):

    (1) The son of Abraham by Hagar, the Egyptian slave of his wife Sarah. The circumstances connected with his birth reveal what seems to us to be a very strange practice. It was customary among ancient peoples to correct the natural defect of barrenness by substituting a slave woman. In our narrative, this is shown to be authorized and brought about by the legitimate wife with the understanding that the offspring of such a union should be regarded as her own:

    "It may be that I shall obtain children by her," literally, "that I shall be builded by her" (Genesis 16:2).

    1. Birth:

    The hopes of Sarah were realized, for Hagar gave birth to a son, and yet the outcome was not fully pleasing to Abraham's wife; there was one serious drawback. As soon as Hagar "saw that she had conceived," her behavior toward her mistress underwent a radical change; she was "despised in her eyes." But for the intervention of the angel of Yahweh, the boy might have been born in Egypt. For, being dealt with hardly (or humbled) by Sarah, the handmaid fled toward that country. On her way she was told by the angel to return to her mistress and submit herself "under her hands." She obeyed, and the child who was to be as "a wild ass among men" was born when his father was 86 years old (Genesis 16:7-16).

    2. Circumcision:

    At the age of 13 years the boy was circumcised (Genesis 17:25) in accordance with the Divine command received by Abraham:

    "Every male among you shall be circumcised" (Genesis 17:10). Thus young Ishmael was made a party to the covenant into which God had entered with the lad's father. The fact that both Abraham and his son were circumcised the same day (Genesis 17:26) undoubtedly adds to the importance of Ishmael's partaking of the holy rite. He was certainly made to understand how much his father loved him and how deeply he was concerned about his spiritual welfare. We may even assume that there was a time when Abraham looked upon Ishmael as the promised seed. His error was made clear to him when God promised him the birth of a son by Sarah. At first this seemed to be incredible, Abraham being 100 years of age and Sarah 90. And yet, how could he disbelieve the word of God? His cherished, though mistaken, belief about Ishmael, his doubts regarding the possibility of Sarah's motherhood, and the first faint glimmer of the real meaning of God's promise, all these thoughts found their expression in the fervid wish: "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Genesis 17:18). Gradually the truth dawned upon the patriarch that God s thoughts are not the thoughts of men, neither their ways His ways. But we have no reason to believe that this entire changing of the mental attitude of Abraham toward Ishmael reacted unfavorably on his future treatment of this son "born of the flesh" (compare Genesis 21:11). If there were troubles in store for the boy likened by the angel of Yahweh to a wild ass, it was, in the main, the youngster's own fault.

    3. Banishment:

    When Isaac was weaned, Ishmael was about 16 years of age. The weaning was made an occasion for great celebration. But it seems the pleasure of the day was marred by the objectionable behavior of Ishmael. "And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian .... mocking" (Genesis 21:9). Her jealous motherly love had quickened her sense of observation and her faculty of reading the character of children. We do not know exactly what the word used in the Hebrew for "mocking" really means. The Septuagint and the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) render the passage:

    "When Sarah saw the son of Hagar .... playing with Isaac," and Paul followed a later tradition when he says: "He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit" (Galatians 4:29). Lightfoot (in his notes to the Epistle to the Galatians) says: "At all events the word seems to mean mocking, jeering." At any rate, the fact remains that Sarah objected to the bringing up of the son of promise together with the "mocker," and so both mother and son were banished from the tents of Abraham.

    Now there came a most critical time in the life of young Ishmael. Only some bread and a bottle of water were "put on the shoulder" of Hagar by Abraham when he expelled her with her son. Aimlessly, as it seems, the two walked about in the wilderness of Beersheba. The water was soon spent, and with it went all hope and energy. The boy, being faint with thirst and tired out by his constant walking in the fierce heat of the sun, seemed to be dying. So his mother put him rapidly down in the shade of some plant. (We do not share the opinion of some writers that the narrative of Genesis 21:8 represented Ishmael as a little boy whom his mother had carried about and finally flung in the shade of some shrub. Even if this passage is taken from a different source, it is certainly not in conflict with the rest as to the age of Ishmael.) After this last act of motherly love--what else could she do to help the boy?--she retired to a place at some distance and resignedly expected the death of her son and perhaps her own.

    For the 2nd time in her life, she had a marvelous experience. "God heard the voice of the lad" and comforted the unhappy mother most wonderfully. Through His angel He renewed His former promise regarding her son, and then He showed her a well of water. The lad's life was saved and, growing up, he became in time an archer. He lived in the wilderness of Paran and was married by his mother to an Egyptian wife (Genesis 21:21).

    4. His Children:

    When Abraham died, his exiled son returned to assist his brother to bury their father (Genesis 25:9). In the same chapter we find the names of Ishmael's 12 sons (25:12) and a brief report of his death at the age of 137 years (25:17). According to Genesis 28:9 he also had a daughter, Mahalath, whom Esau took for his wife; in Genesis 36:3 her name is given as Basemath.

    5. Descendants:

    The character of Ishmael and his descendants (Arabian nomads or Bedouins) is very accurately and vividly depicted by the angel of Yahweh:

    "He shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him" (Genesis 16:12). These nomads are, indeed, roaming the wilds of the desert, jealous of their independence, quarrelsome and adventurous. We may well think of their progenitor as of a proud, undaunted and rugged son of the desert, the very counterpart of the poor boy lying half dead from fatigue and exposure under the shrub in the wilderness of Beersheba.

    6. In the New Testament:

    The person and the history of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, "born after the flesh," is of special interest to the student of the New Testament because Paul uses him, in the Epistle to the Galatians, as a type of those Jews who cling to the paternal religion in such a manner as to be unable to discern the transient character of the Old Testament institutions, and especially those of the Mosaic law. By doing so they could not be made to see the true meaning of the law, and instead of embracing the grace of God as the only means of fulfilling the law, they most bitterly fought the central doctrine of Christianity and even persecuted its advocates. Like Ishmael, they were born of Hagar, the handmaid or slave woman; like him, they were Abraham's sons only "after the flesh," and their ultimate fate is foreshadowed in the casting out of Hagar and her son. They could not expect to maintain the connection with the true Israel, and even in case they should acclaim Christ their Messiah they were not to be the leaders of the church or the expounders of its teachings (Galatians 4:21-28).

    (2) The son of Nethaniah (Jeremiah 40:8-41:18; compare 2 Kings 25:23-25). It is a dreary story of jealousy and treachery which Jeremiah has recorded in chapters 40, 41 of his book. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the better class of Jewish citizens, it was necessary to provide for some sort of a government in the depopulated country. Public order had to be restored and maintained; the crops of the fields were endangered and had to be taken care of. It was thus only common political prudence that dictated to the king of Babylon the setting up of a governor for the remnant of Judah. He chose Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, for the difficult position. The new officer selected for his place of residence the city of Mizpah, where he was soon joined by Jeremiah. All the captains of the Jewish country forces came to Mizpah with their men and put themselves under Gedaliah's orders (Jeremiah 40:13). Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama "of the seed royal" (2 Kings 25:25) was among their number--all of which must have been rather gratifying to the new governor. But he was destined to be cruelly disappointed. A traitor was among the captains that had gathered around him. Yet the governor might have prevented his dastardly scheme. Johnnan, the son of Kareah, and other loyal captains warned him of the treachery of Ishmael, telling him he was induced by Baalis, the Ammonite king, to assassinate the governor. But the governor's faith in Ishmael was not to be shaken; he even looked upon Johanan's report as false and calumnious (Jeremiah 40:16).

    About 2 months after the destruction of Jerusalem, Ishmael was ready to strike the mortal blow. With 10 men he came to Mizpah, and there, at a banquet given in his honor, he killed Gedaliah and all the Jews and Chaldeans that were with him. He succeeded in keeping the matter secret, for, 2 days after the horrible deed, he persuaded a party of 80 pious Jews to enter the city and killed all but 10 of them, throwing their bodies into a pit. These men were coming from the ruins of the Temple with the offerings which they had intended to leave at Jerusalem. Now they had found out, to their great distraction, that the city was laid waste and the Temple destroyed. So they passed by Mizpah, their beards shaven, their clothes rent, and with cuts about their persons (Jeremiah 41:5). We may, indeed, ask indignantly, Why this new atrocity? The answer may be found in the fact that Ishmael did not kill all of the men. He spared 10 of them because they promised him some hidden treasures. This shows his motive. He was a desperate man and just then carrying out a desperate undertaking. He killed those peaceful citizens because of their money, and money he needed to realize his plans. They were those of a traitor to his country, inasmuch as he intended to deport the inhabitants of Mizpah to the land of his high confederate, the king of the Ammonites. Among the captives were Jeremiah and the daughters of the Jewish king. But his efforts came to naught. When Johnnan and the other captains were told of Ishmael's unheard-of actions, they immediately pursued the desperate adventurer and overtook him by the "great waters that are in Gibeon." Unfortunately, they failed to capture Ishmael; for he managed to escape with eight men to the Ammonites.

    See, further, GEDALIAH.

    (3) A descendant of Benjamin and the son of Azel (1 Chronicles 8:38; compare 9:44).

    (4) The father of Zebadiah who was "the ruler of the house of Judah, in all the king's (Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:8) matters" (2 Chronicles 19:11).

    (5) The son of Jehohanan, and a "captain of hundreds," who lived at the time of Jehoiada and Joash (2 Chronicles 23:1).

    (6) One of the sons of Pashhur the priest. He was one of those men who had married foreign women and were compelled to "put away their wives" (Ezra 10:22).

    William Baur


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ISHMAEL (1)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.  

    ISHMAEL (2)

    (Ismael):

    (1) the King James Version "Ismael" (Judith 2:23), the son of Abraham by Hagar.

    (2) 1 Esdras 9:22 (King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "Ismael"), corresponding to Ishmael in Ezra 10:22. See preceding article.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ISHMAEL (2)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.