Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What about Ishmael?

Although Abraham and Sarah sought their own way of bringing about their descendant through Hagar, a bondwoman of Sarah, this had displeased God but yet God in His mercy did not forget Hagar and her son, Ishmael. God remembered His covenant with Abraham that through him shall blessings be brought forth to all.

Ishmael was not the intended descendant of Abraham that God had promised. As he and his mother wandered in the wilderness, God heard her cries and bestowed blessings upon Ishmael recorded below.

Genesis 17:20
20And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

God blesses Ishmael to have 12 princes similar to Jacob. God blesses Ishmael to have a great nation similar to Jacob. Furthermore, the descendants of Ishmael will be very fruitful and many. This seems to imply that Ishmael will have a much bigger number of descendants than Jacob.

Genesis 16:12
12And he will be a wild man [wild ass man]; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

The character of Ishmael and his descendants seems to depict them to be restless and always fighting everybody. They will continuously live amongst the Israelites.

Genesis 21:13,18
3And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
18Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

Again, the comfort of God's blessings upon Hagar being the mother of a great nation. Her son, Ishmael, is bestowed God's appointment to be a great nation.


Many people are mistaken that the Ishmaelites are the Arabs. How can Arabs come from the Egyptians since Ishmael's mother is from Egypt who are descendants of Ham via Mizraim in Genesis Chapter 10.

The correct view is that the Arabs were already in existent before Ishmael (see below). However, a number of his children eventually established themselves at the northern parts of the Arabian peninsula.

The original location that Ishmael and his children lived was in Paran.

Genesis 21:21
21He [Ishmael] lived in the wilderness of Paran and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt."

After roaming the wilderness for some time, Ishmael and his mother settled in the Desert of Paran, where he became an expert in archery. Eventually, his mother found him a wife from the land of Egypt. They had 12 sons who became 12 tribal chiefs throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt). His children are listed as follows:
  • Nebaioth
  • Kedar, father of the Qedarites, (A northern Arab tribe that controlled the region between the Persian Gulf and the Sinai Peninsula). According to tradition, ancestor of Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.
  • Adbeel, established a tribe in northwest Arabia.
  • Mibsam
  • Mishma
  • Dumah, associated with Adummatu described as "a fortress of Arabia" in Saudi Arabia.
  • Massa, father of a nomadic tribe that inhabited the Arabian desert toward Babylonia.
  • Hadad
  • Tema
  • Jetur
  • Naphish
  • Kedemah

Ishmael had a daughter by the name of Mahalath/Basemath who later became the 3rd wife of Esau. The links between the Edomites and Ishmaelites were formalized at that time.


The original Arabs can be traced back in the lineage of Shem in Genesis Chapter 10 from the descendants of Joktan in Southern Arabia. The Ishmaelites came later and assimilated into the northern Arab tribes.

However, in today's vocabulary, we now refer to the Arabs as the broad all encompassing people who embraced Islam who originated from the Arab Peninsula. Hence, in general, it does include the descendants of Ishmael as well and since muslims claim that Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael which is actually incorrect (read Is Mohammed A Descendant Of Ishmael? and History of the Arabs).

The better view is that ever since the muslims from Muhammad's days conquered many peoples and forced them to become muslims or die, we consider the view that all the people in the Middle East and Northern Africa who embraced Islam to be Arabized. This means that although they are not originally Arabs by birth, they consider themselves Arabs because they conform to the Arabic culture, language, politics and beliefs.

For example, most people in Egypt consider themselves as Arabs although they are technically not of the Arab stock but Arabized. Egyptians are Copts who are the descendants of the Pharaohs who are descendants of Ham. Iranians are Persians who are descendants of Japheth. However, the inter-marriage of Arabs with the conquered peoples have made the Arab world a much bigger population than it actually is. And they somehow assimilated the characteristics of Ishmael and his descendants.

Do you know just how large is the Arab world compared to Israel? The Arab world is actually one nation, Ummat al-Islamiyah, the Islamic nation, commonly used to mean the collective community of Islamic peoples.

Here are some facts:
  • Today there are 21 Arab states 
    • combined population of 175 million Arabs. 
  • There is only one Jewish state 
    • a population of 5 million. 
  • The Arab states contain 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land. 
  • Israel has only 8 thousand square miles of land with no major oil reserves that have been discovered. 

This is a Population ratio of 43 to 1 and a Land ratio of 662 to 1!

Did God fulfill his promises to Ishmael and Hagar? Indeed He did.



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