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Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael by Gustave Dore

Ishmael (Hebrew יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Yišmāʿêl; Arabic: إسماعيل, Ismā'īl; "God will hear") (2094 AM–2231 AM, or 1910 BC-1774 BC) 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.


Descendants and Death


Ishmael had twelve sons, whose names are given in Genesis 25:12-16 . Altogether Ishmael lived for 137 years, and then died.[1]

12 Tribes of Ishmael

  • Nabajoth: Nabataean Arabs.
  • Kedar: Saudi Arabians and Iraqis.
  • Adbeel: Sinai Bedouins.
  • Mibsam: Eastern Saudi Arabians (merged with Mishma).
  • Mishma: Mesha in Yemen. (merged with Mibsam).
  • Dumah: Dumat al-Gandal.
  • Massa: Jordanians and Northern Arabians.
  • Hadar: Christian Jordanians, Syrians, and Hadramites in southern Arabia.
  • Tema: Taima in northern Arabia.
  • Jetur: Bahraini Arabs.
  • Naphish: Tunisian/Libyan Arabs (originally from Central Arabia merged with Carthaginians/Berbers).
  • Kedemah: Algerian/Moroccan Arabs (originally from Central and South Arabia merged with Berbers).

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.[2]

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.

Ishmael in popular culture

The name Ishmael is also familiar as that of the narrator of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick, the first sentence of which – "Call me Ishmael" – is one of the most famous in American literature.


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See Also