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  • the Qedarites, a prominent Arab tribal confederation between the 8th and 4th centuries BC, were named after the second son of Ishmael named Qedar?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, by Karel Dujardin

Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Modern Yišmaʿel Tiberian Yišmāʿêl; Greek: Ισμαήλ; Latin: Ismael; Arabic: إسماعيل‎, ’Ismā‘īl) is a figure in the Hebrew Bible, and later referenced in the Qur'an. Jews, Christians and Muslims believe Ishmael is Abraham's eldest son and first born. Ishmael is born of Sarah's handmaiden Hagar (Genesis 16:3). Although born of Hagar, according to Mesopotamian law, Ishmael was credited as Sarah's son; a legal heir through marriage. (Genesis 16:2)[1] According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Genesis 25:17).[2]

Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of northern Arab people,[1] while Jewish traditions are split between those who consider Ishmael their ancestor and those, like Maimonides, who believe that the northern Arabs are descended from the sons of Keturah, whom Abraham married after Sarah's death.[3]

Judaism has generally viewed Ishmael as wicked though repentant.[1] Judaism maintains that Isaac (the father of the Jewish people) rather than Ishmael was the true heir of Abraham.[4] The New Testament contains few references to Ishmael. In some Christian biblical interpretations, Ishmael is used to symbolize the older—now rejected—Judaic tradition; Isaac symbolizes the new tradition of Christianity.[1] Islamic tradition, however, has a very positive view of Ishmael, giving him a larger and more significant role. The Qur'an views him as an Islamic prophet. According to the contextual interpretation[citation needed] of some early Islamic theologians (whose view prevailed later), Ishmael was the actual son that Abraham was called on to sacrifice, as opposed to Isaac.[1][5]


Etymology and meaning

Cognates of Hebrew Yishma'el existed in various ancient Semitic cultures.[1] For example, it is known that the name was used in early Babylonian and in Minæan.[2] It is translated literally as "God has hearkened", suggesting that "a child so named was regarded as the fulfillment of a divine promise."[1]

Hebrew Bible

See also: Account of Isaac in the Hebrew Bible

The dismissal of Hagar, by Pieter Pietersz Lastman
Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother, from Gustave Doré's illustrated Bible of 1866.
Biblical longevity
Name Age LXX
Methuselah 969 969
Jared 962 962
Noah 950 950
Adam 930 930
Seth 912 912
Kenan 910 910
Enos 905 905
Mahalalel 895 895
Lamech 777 753
Shem 600 600
Eber 464 404
Cainan 460
Arpachshad 438 465
Salah 433 466
Enoch 365 365
Peleg 239 339
Reu 239 339
Serug 230 330
Job 210? 210?
Terah 205 205
Isaac 180 180
Abraham 175 175
Nahor 148 304
Jacob 147 147
Esau 147? 147?
Ishmael 137 137
Levi 137 137
Amram 137 137
Kohath 133 133
Laban 130+ 130+
Deborah 130+ 130+
Sarah 127 127
Miriam 125+ 125+
Aaron 123 123
Rebecca 120+ 120+
Moses 120 120
Joseph 110 110
Joshua 110 110

Chapters 16–25 of the Book of Genesis contain the stories of Ishmael.[2] Historians and academics in the fields of linguistics and source criticism believe that the stories of Ishmael belong to the three strata of J, or Yahwist source, the P, or Priestly source, and the E, or Elohist source (See Documentary hypothesis).[2] For example, The narration in Genesis 16 is of J type and the narration in Genesis 21:8-21 is of E type.[6]

According to the Bible, Sarah (Abraham's wife) was childless, yet desired a son. She offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a surrogate. Customs of the time dictated that, although Hagar was the birth mother, any child conceived would belong to Sarah and Abraham.[4][7]

Hagar became pregnant and was proud of herself, which resulted in harsh treatment of her by Sarah. Hagar fled and ran into the wilderness, where an angel appeared to her by a spring of water.[4] The angel of the Lord told her to return, adding that God would increase her descendants through a son whose name would be Ishmael. The angel told Hagar that Ishmael would become "a wild donkey of a man" and would be in constant struggle with others.[4]

So Hagar returned to Abraham's house, and had a son whom she named Ishmael.[4] Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.[8] Abraham, obeying God's commandment, circumcised Ishmael, this occurred when Ishmael was thirteen.[9] That year, Abraham's wife Sarah became pregnant with his second son, Isaac.[4] One day Sarah was angered by seeing Ishmael playing or "mocking" (the Hebrew word is ambiguous[10]),[2] and she asked Abraham to expel him and his mother, saying: "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."[4][11] Abraham initially refused to do as Sarah asked.[2] He finally gave in to his wife's request when God told him that it was through Isaac that Abraham's offspring would "be reckoned", and that He would "make Ishmael into a nation", too, since he was a descendant of Abraham.[9][12] Abraham provided Hagar and her child with bread and a bottle of water and sent her into the desert of Paran.[9][13] Hagar, with her son, wandered in the wilderness and ran out of water. When they were reduced to great distress, an angel appeared and showed Hagar a spring of water saying "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."[9][14]

They lived in the wilderness of Paran, where Hagar's son became an expert in archery. His mother married him to an Egyptian woman.[9] According to the Bible, Ishmael had 12 sons who became twelve tribal chiefs. The twelve sons of Ishmael were named Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah (See Genesis 25)[2] Ishmael's sons settled everywhere from Havilah to Shur, i.e. from Assyria to the border of Egypt.[9] Ishmael also had a daughter named Mahalath or Bashemath who married Esau.[15] Ishmael also appears with Isaac at the burial of Abraham.[9][16] Ishmael died at the age of 137.[2]

Sons of Abraham by wife in order of birth
Hagar Ishmael (1)
Sarah Isaac (2)
Keturah Zimran Jokshan Medan Midian Ishbak Shuah

Blessings Given to Ishmael

In the Bible Abraham was given separate blessings for his children found in Genesis 12-17, two blessings one for the descendants of his son Isaac found in Genesis 17:2-9, Deuteronomy 1:7-8 and the other for the descendants of Ishmael found in Genesis 16:11-13, Genesis 17:20, Genesis 21:8-21. Upon hearing the Lord's blessing for Isaac Abraham pleaded with the Lord that Ishmael also be given a blessing [17:18-21]. The second covenant given to Ishmael the Lord promises:

  • To make his descendants one great nation [17:20], [21:13], [21:18]
  • That his descendants would live in hostility with all his brothers [16:11-13]
  • That his descendants would live to the east of all his brothers [16:11-13] Ishmael's brothers, other than Isaac, are found in [25:1-6]. Among Abraham's other descendants are Medan (the father of the Medes) and Jokshan whose son was Dedan whose son was Asshurim (the father of the Assyrian people). An extra biblical book known as the book of Jubilees places the location and identity of the Ishmaelites as the Arab peoples residing in Arab territories. This is the current view for the majority of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths, though according to Biblical accounts the Arab people traditionally have had long-standing alliances with the descendants of the Assyrians and the Medes. As well, the Arab populations in modernity represent many nations rather than one nation as specified biblically. Other references, such as the book of Jashar indicate that the Ishmaelites settled in Havilah which is located in Central India.

Jewish traditions

see also Isaac in Jewish traditions

Judaism has generally viewed Ishmael as wicked though repentant;[1] he later comes to revere his brother Isaac.[17]

In some Rabbinic traditions Ishmael is said to have had two wives; one of them named Aisha. This name corresponds to the Muslim tradition for the name of Muhammad's wife.[1] This is understood as a metaphoric representation of the Muslim world (first Arabs and then Turks) with Ishmael.[18] The Talmud also mentions God's regret over Ishmael.[19]

The name of an important Second Century CE sage - Ishmael ben Elisha, known as "Rabbi Ishmael" (רבי ישמעאל), one of the Tannaim - indicates that the Bibilical Ishmael enjoyed a positive image among Jews of the time.[citation needed]

New Testament

According to the Genesis account, Ishmael and his mother were expelled at the instigation of Sarah, in order to make sure that Isaac would be Abraham's heir. In the book of Galatians (4:21–31), Paul uses the incident "to symbolize the relationship between Judaism, the older but now rejected tradition, and Christianity".[1] In Galatians 4:28–31,[20] Hagar is associated with the Sinai covenant, while Sarah is associated with the covenant of grace into which her son Isaac enters.[21]


See also: Hagar in Islamic traditions

Ishmael (Arabic: إسماعيل‎ Ismā'īl) is a prophet in Islam. The Qur'an considers him to be a son of Abraham.[22] His name appears twelve times in the Qur'an mostly in lists[23] with other prophets "as part of a litany of remembrances in which the pre-Islamic prophets are praised for their resolute steadfastness and obedience to God, often in the face of adversity."[24]

Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of the Arab people.[citation needed]

The Quran does not have any genealogies; the Arabs preserved their histories and genealogies by memory alone.[citation needed]

Picture of the Kaaba taken in 1880. Islamic traditions hold that the Kaaba was rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael.

Abraham and Ishmael are said to have built the foundations of the Kaaba ("They were raising the foundations of the House", Qur'an 2:127).[24] Islamic traditions hold that the Kaaba was first built by the first man, Adam. Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba on the old foundations.[25]

The Qur'an states that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son. The son is not named in the Qur'an (see Qur'an 37:99–113) and in early Islam, there was a controversy over the son's identity[citation needed]. However the belief that the son was Ishmael prevailed, and this view is continued to be endorsed by Muslim scholars.[5] The argument of those Muslims who believed in the Ishmael theory was that "the promise to Sarah of Isaac followed by Jacob (Qur'an 11:71–74) excluded the possibility of a sacrifice of Isaac."[5] The other party held that the son of sacrifice was Isaac since "God's perfecting his mercy on Abraham and Isaac (in Qur'an 12:6) referred to his making Abraham his friend and saving him from the burning bush and to his rescuing Isaac.".[5]

According to Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, professors of Religious Studies, the circumcision of Muslims has its roots in the tradition that Ishmael was circumcised.[26]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í writings state that it was Ishmael, and not Isaac, who was the son that Abraham almost sacrificed.[27] However, the Bahá'í writings also state that the name is unimportant as either could be used: the importance is that both were symbols of sacrifice.[28] According to Shoghi Effendi, there has also been another Ishmael, a prophet of Israel, commonly known as Samuel.[29]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fredrick E. Greenspahn, Encyclopedia of Religion, Ishmael, p.4551-4552
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)
  3. ^ "Maimonides' 'True Religion': For Jews or All Humanity?", Menachem Kellner, in Meorot 7:1 (2008) p.5, n.21
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Hagar." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  5. ^ a b c d William Montgomery Watt, Encyclopedia of Islam, Ishaq
  6. ^ S. Nikaido(2001), p.1
  7. ^ Genesis 16:2
  8. ^ Personalities biography of Abraham at Who2, LLC
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Jewish Encyclopedia, Ishmael
  10. ^ Hagar, Jewish Encyclopedia
  11. ^ Genesis 25:2-6
  12. ^ Genesis 21:11-13
  13. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia, Ishmael
  14. ^ Genesis 21:17-21
  15. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, Mahalath
  16. ^ Genesis 25:9
  17. ^ Yvonne Domhardt,"Ishmael, Ishmaelites", Brill's New Pauly
  18. ^ Shalom Paul in The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion, p.358
  19. ^ God Regrets Four Things
  20. ^ Galatians 4:28–31
  21. ^ Encyclopedia of Christianity(Ed. John Bowden), Isaac
  22. ^ Certain Western scholars have suggested that Muhammad was not aware of this connection in the early period of his preaching. Their argument is that in the early verses of the Qur'an, Ishmael appears in lists mentioning prophets like Jonah, Lot and Idris without any association with Abraham. (e.g. see Qur'an 6:86,Qur'an 21:85, Qur'an 38:48). Reuven Firestone in Encyclopedia of the Qur'an says that there is some evidence to the contrary of claim of those western scholars.
  23. ^ The Qur'an generally lists Ishmael in the formula: “Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes” (e.g. see Qur'an 2:136, Qur'an 3:84), sometimes as "Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac". In verse Qur'an 2:133 Ishmael is mentioned as “Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac” and in some other lists Ishmael's name is absent from the list :"Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" such as Qur'an 6:84;Qur'an 12:38 cf Ishmael, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
  24. ^ a b Ishmael, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
  25. ^ Azraqi, Akhbar Makkah, vol. 1, pp. 58-66
  26. ^ Bruce M Metzger and Michael D Coogan (1993), pp. 329 (Under 'Ishmael').
  27. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 75–76. ISBN 0877431876. 
  28. ^ Cole, Juan R.I. (1995). "Interpretation in the Bahá'í Faith". Baha'i Studies Review 5 (1). 
  29. ^ "Concerning the appearance of two Davids; there is a Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá in which He says that just as there have been two Ishmaels, one the son of Abraham, and the other one of the Prophets of Israel, there have appeared two Davids, one the author of the Psalms and father of Solomon, and the other before Moses." (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 86-87)

Bibliographic references

Books and journals
  • Metzger, Bruce M; Michael D Coogan (1993). The Oxford Companion To The Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195046458. 
  • Nikaido, S. (2001). "Hagar and Ishmael as Literary Figures: An Intertextual Study". Vetus Testamentum 51: 219. doi:10.1163/156853301300102110. 
  • Werblowsky, R.J. Zwi; Geoffrey Wigoder (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508605-8. 
  • Quinn, Daniel (1993). Ishmael. Bantam Dell Pub Group. ISBN 0553561669. 
  • Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, ed (2005). Brill's New Pauly- Antiquity. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978 9004122703. 
  • Paul Lagasse, Lora Goldman, Archie Hobson, Susan R. Norton, ed (2000). The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). Gale Group. ISBN 978-1-59339-236-9. 
  • John Bowden, ed (2005). Encyclopedia of Christianity (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-522393-4. 
  • P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs, ed. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  • Lindsay Jones, ed (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd ed.). MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 978-0-02-865733-2. 
  • The New Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Incorporated; Rev Ed edition. 2005. ISBN 978-1-59339-236-9. 
  • Jane Dammen McAuliffe, ed (2005). Encyclopedia of the Qur'an. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-12356-4. 

External links

See also

Sons of Ishmael in order of birth (Genesis)
Nebaioth | Kedar | Adbeel | Mibsam | Mishma | Dumah | Massa | Hadad | Tema | Jetur | Naphish | Kedemah


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

This page includes quotations from the novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.



Ishmael: You're captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live.

Ishmael: A few years ago you must have been a child at the time, so you may not remember it many young people of this country had the same impression. They made an ingenuous and disorganized effort to escape from captivity but ultimately failed, because they were unable to find the bars of the cage.

Ishmael: If you alone found out what the lie was, then you're probably right it would make no great difference. But if you all found out what the lie was, it might conceivably make a very great difference indeed.


Ishmael: it was not only the Jews who were captives under Hitler. The entire German nation was a captive, including his enthusiastic supporters.

Ishmael: Even if you weren't personally captivated by the story, you were a captive all the same, because the people around you made you a captive. You were like an animal being swept along in the middle of a stampede.

Ishmael: the people of your culture are in much the same situation. Like the people of Nazi Germany, they are the captives of a story.


Ishmael: henceforth I'm going to call the people of your culture Takers and the people of all other cultures Leavers.

Ishmael: A story is a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods.

Ishmael: To enact a story is to live so as to make the story a reality. In other words, to enact a story is to strive to make it come true.

Ishmael: A culture is a people enacting a story.

Two stories

Ishmael: two fundamentally different stories have been enacted here during the lifetime of man. One began to be enacted here some two or three million years ago by the people we've agreed to call Leavers and is still being enacted by them today, as successfully as ever. The other began to be enacted here some ten or twelve thousand years ago by the people we've agreed to call Takers, and is apparently about to end in catastrophe.

Ishmael: The Leavers and the Takers are enacting two separate stories, based on entirely different and contradictory premises.

Taker mythology

The premise

Ishmael: Everyone in your culture knows this. The pinnacle was reached in man. Man is the climax of the whole cosmic drama of creation.

Ishmael: Everyone in your culture knows that the world wasn't created for jellyfish or salmon or iguanas or gorillas. It was created for man.

Ishmael: The Takers regard the world as a sort of human life support system, as a machine designed to produce and sustain human life.

Ishmael: That's the premise of your story: The world was made for man.

Alan Lomax: If the world was made for us, then it belongs to us and we can do what we damn well please with it.

Alan Lomax: I mean, you hear this fifty times a day. People talk about our environment, our seas, our solar system. I've even heard people talk about our wildlife.

The story

Alan Lomax: Without man, the world was unfinished, was just nature, red in tooth and claw. It was in chaos, in a state of primeval anarchy.

Alan Lomax: The world needed someone to come in and . . . straighten it out. Someone to put it in order.

Alan Lomax: The world needed a ruler. It needed man.

Ishmael: So now we have a clearer idea what this story is all about: The world was made for man, and man was made to rule it.

Ishmael: But the world didn't meekly submit to human rule, did it?

Ishmael: In order to make himself the ruler of the world, man first had to conquer it.

Alan Lomax: You hear this fifty times a day. You can turn on the radio or the television and hear it every hour. Man is conquering the deserts, man is conquering the oceans, man is conquering the atom, man is conquering the elements, man is conquering outer space.

Ishmael: Now the first two parts of the story have come together: The world was made for man, and man was made to conquer and rule it.

Ishmael: Everyone in your culture knows this. Man was born to turn the world into a paradise, but tragically he was born flawed. And so his paradise has always been spoiled by stupidity, greed, destructiveness, and shortsightedness.

The prophets and the flaw in man

Ishmael: There's nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world.

Ishmael: One of the most striking features of Taker culture is its passionate and unwavering dependence on prophets.

Ishmael: What makes it so striking is the fact that there is absolutely nothing like this among the Leavers.

Ishmael: What were the prophets trying to accomplish here? What were they here to do?

Alan Lomax: They were here to straighten us out and tell us how we ought to live.

Ishmael: But why? Why do you need prophets to tell you how you ought to live? Why do you need anyone to tell you how you ought to live?

Alan Lomax: We need prophets to tell us how we ought to live, because otherwise we wouldn't know.

Ishmael: Why is that? What does Mother Culture have to say?

Alan Lomax: there's no such thing as certain knowledge about how people should live. It's just not available, and that's why we don't have it.

Ishmael: Has anyone ever said, "Well, we have certain knowledge about all these other things, why don't we see if any such knowledge can be found about how to live?"

Ishmael: Considering the fact that this is by far the most important problem mankind has to solve has ever had to solve you'd think there would be a whole branch of science devoted to it. Instead, we find that not a single one of you has ever wondered whether any such knowledge is even out there to be obtained.

Ishmael: Not a very scientific procedure for such a scientific people.

Ishmael: We now know two highly important things about people, Ishmael said, at least according to Taker mythology. One, there's something fundamentally wrong with them, and, two, they have no certain knowledge about how they ought to live and never will have any. It seems as though there should be a connection between these two things.

Ishmael: Perhaps in fact the two things are actually one thing. Perhaps the flaw in man is exactly this: that he doesn't know how he ought to live.

Ishmael: We now have in place all the major elements of your culture's explanation of how things came to be this way. The world was given to man to turn into a paradise, but he's always screwed it up, because he's fundamentally flawed. He might be able to do something about this if he knew how he ought to live, but he doesn't and he never will, because no knowledge about that is obtainable. So, however hard man might labor to turn the world into a paradise, he's probably just going to go on screwing it up.

Ishmael: With nothing but this wretched story to enact, it's no wonder so many of you spend your lives stoned on drugs or booze or television. It's no wonder so many of you go mad or become suicidal.

The Law of Life

Finding out how to live

Ishmael: We don't need prophets to tell us how to live; we can find out for ourselves by consulting what's actually there.

Ishmael: What's the law of gravity?

Alan Lomax: the law of gravity is . . . every particle in the universe is attracted to every other particle, and this attraction varies with the distance between them.

Ishmael: And that expression of the law was read where? It was derived by looking at what?

Alan Lomax: Well . . . at matter, I suppose. The behavior of matter.

Ishmael: And if you had the strange notion that there might be a set of laws about how to live, where would you look for it?

Alan Lomax: I suppose in human behavior.

Ishmael: I have amazing news for you. Man is not alone on this planet. He is part of a community, upon which he depends absolutely.

Ishmael: Does it seem at all plausible to you that the law we're looking for could be written in this community?

Alan Lomax: Mother Culture says that if there were such a law it wouldn't apply to us.

Ishmael: And can you think of any other laws from which you are exempt because you're humans?

The law

Ishmael: the law we're looking for is the law that keeps the living community together. It organizes things on the biological level just the way the law of gravity organizes things on the macroscopic level.

Ishmael: The law we're looking for here is much like that with respect to civilizations. It's not about civilizations, but it applies to civilizations in the same way that it applies to flocks of birds and herds of deer. It makes no distinction between human civilizations and beehives. It applies to all species without distinction. This is one reason why the law has remained undiscovered in your culture. According to Taker mythology, man is by definition a biological exception.

Ishmael: Those species that do not live in compliance with the law become extinct. In the scale of biological time, they become extinct very rapidly.

Ishmael: The laws of aerodynamics don't provide us with a way of defying the law of gravity. I'm sure you understand that. They simply provide us with a way of using the air as a support. A man sitting in an airplane is subject to the law of gravity in exactly the way we're subject to it sitting here. Nevertheless the man sitting in the plane obviously enjoys a freedom we lack: the freedom of the air.

Ishmael: The law we're looking for is like the law of gravity: There is no escaping it, but there is a way of achieving the equivalent of flight the equivalent of freedom of the air. In other words, it is possible to build a civilization that flies.

Ishmael: The law you're looking for has been obeyed invariably in the living community for three billion years. He nodded to the world outside. And this is how things came to be this way. If this law had not been obeyed from the beginning and in each generation thereafter, the seas would be lifeless deserts and the land would still be dust blowing in the wind. All the countless forms of life that you see here came into being following this law, and following this law, man too came into being. And only once in all the history of this planet has any species tried to live in defiance of this law and it wasn't an entire species, it was only one people, those I've named Takers. Ten thousand years ago, this one people said, No more. Man was not meant to be bound by this law," and they began to live in a way that flouts the law at every point. Every single thing that is prohibited under the law they incorporated into their civilization as a fundamental policy. And now, after five hundred generations, they are about to pay the penalty that any other species would pay for living contrary to this law.

Spelling out the law

Alan Lomax: As I make it out, there are four things the Takers do that are never done in the rest of the community, and these are all fundamental to their civilizational system.

Alan Lomax: First, they exterminate their competitors, which is something that never happens in the wild.

Alan Lomax: If competitors hunted each other down just to make them dead, then there would be no competitors. There would simply be one species at each level of competition: the strongest.

Alan Lomax: Next, the Takers systematically destroy their competitors' food to make room for their own. Nothing like this occurs in the natural community. The rule there is: Take what you need, and leave the rest alone.

Alan Lomax: Next, the Takers deny their competitors access to food. In the wild, the rule is: You may deny your competitors access to what you're eating, but you may not deny them access to food in general. In other words, you can say, This gazelle is mine," but you can't say, "All the gazelles are mine." The lion defends its kill as its own, but it doesn't defend the herd as its own.

Ishmael: This law that you have so admirably described defines the limits of competition in the community of life. You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. In other words, you may compete but you may not wage war.

Alan Lomax: This is considered almost holy work by farmers and ranchers. Kill off everything you can't eat. Kill off anything that eats what you eat. Kill off anything that doesn't feed what you eat.

Alan Lomax: I'm not quite satisfied with the way we've formulated this law. We refer to it as a law, but it's actually three laws. Or at any rate I described it as three laws.

Ishmael: The three laws are branches. What you're looking for is the trunk, which is something like, "No one species shall make the life of the world its own."

Ishmael: Here's another expression of the law: "The world was not made for any one species."

Effects of the law

Ishmael: What would have happened if this law had been repealed ten million years ago? What would the community be like?

Alan Lomax: I'd have to say there would only be one form of life at each level of competition. If all the competitors for the grasses had been waging war on each other for ten million years, I'd have to think an overall winner would have emerged by now.

Ishmael: So the law promotes what?

Alan Lomax: Diversity.

Ishmael: Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive almost anything short of total global catastrophe. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all.

Ishmael: one species exempting itself from this law has the same ultimate effect as all species exempting themselves. You end up with a community in which diversity is progressively destroyed in order to support the expansion of a single species.

An army of occupation

Ishmael: in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The Takers are a profoundly lonely people. The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness.

Kinds of knowledge

Ishmael: You see now that the Takers and the Leavers accumulate two entirely different kinds of knowledge.

Alan Lomax: Yes. The Takers accumulate knowledge about what works well for things. The Leavers accumulate knowledge about what works well for people.

The Leaver story

Ishmael: Then tell me why it isn't just a waste of time for you to learn a story that is now all but extinguished.

Alan Lomax: People can't just give up a story. That's what the kids tried to do in the sixties and seventies. They tried to stop living like Takers, but there was no other way for them to live. They failed because you can't just stop being in a story, you have to have another story to be in.

Alan Lomax: The premise of the Taker story is the world belongs to man. The premise of the Leaver story is man belongs to the world.

Alan Lomax: Divine intentions . . . It would seem . . . There is a sort of tendency in evolution, wouldn't you say? If you start with those ultra simple critters in the ancient seas and move up step by step to everything we see here now and beyond then you have to observe a tendency toward . . . complexity. And toward self awareness and intelligence.

Alan Lomax: That is, all sorts of creatures on this planet appear to be on the verge of attaining that self awareness and intelligence. So it's definitely not just humans that the gods are after. We were never meant to be the only players on this stage. Apparently the gods intend this planet to be a garden filled with creatures that are self aware and intelligent.

Alan Lomax: Man's destiny is to be the first to learn that creatures like man have a choice: They can try to thwart the gods and perish in the attempt or they can stand aside and make some room for all the rest. But it's more than that. His destiny is to be the father of them all I don't mean by direct descent. By giving all the rest their chance the whales and the dolphins and the chimps and the raccoons he becomes in some sense their progenitor.

Alan Lomax: In a billion years, whatever is around then, whoever is around then, says, "Man? Oh yes, man! What a wonderful creature he was! It was within his grasp to destroy the entire world and to trample all our futures into the dust but he saw the light before it was too late and pulled back. He pulled back and gave the rest of us our chance. He showed us all how it had to be done if the world was to go on being a garden forever. Man was the role model for us all!"

Alan Lomax: In other words, the world doesn't need to belong to man but it does need man to belong to it.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ISHMAEL (a Hebrew name meaning "God hears"), in the Bible, the son of Abraham by his Egyptian concubine Hagar, and the eponym of a number of (probably) nomadic tribes living outside Palestine. Hagar in turn personifies a people found to the east of Gilead (1 Chron. v. 10) and Petra (Strabo). 2 Through the jealousy of Sarah, Abraham's wife, mother and son were driven away, and they wandered in the district south of Beersheba. and Kadesh (Gen. xvi. J, xxi. E); see Abraham. It had been foretold to his mother before his birth that he should be "a wild ass among men," and that he should dwell "before the face of" (that is, to the eastward of) his brethren. It is subsequently stated that after leaving his father's roof he "became an archer,' and dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and Zill es Sultan, elder brother of Muzafar ed d-n Shah, became governor-general of the Isfahan province in 1869.

2 On Paul's use of the story of Hagar (Gal. iv. 24-26), see Ency. Bib. col. 1934; and H. St J. Thackeray, Relation of St Paul to contemporary Jewish Thought (London, 1900), pp. 196 sqq.; Hagar typifies the old Sinaitic covenant, and Sarah represents the new covenant of freedom from bondage. The treatment of the concubine and her son in Gen. xvi. compared with ch. xxi. illustrates old Hebrew customs, on which see further S. A. Cook, Laws of Moses, &'c. (London, 1903), pp. 116 sqq., 140 sq.

3 The Ituraean archers were of Jetur, one of the" sons "of Ishmael (Gen. xxv. 15), and were Roman mercenaries, perhaps even in Great Britain (Pal. Expl. Fund, Q.S., 1909, p. 283).

his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt." But the genealogical relations were rather with the Edomites, Midianites and other peoples of North Arabia and the eastern desert than with Egypt proper, and this is indicated by the expressions that "they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is east of Egypt, and he settled to the eastward of his brethren" (see MIZRAIM). Like Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites, he had twelve sons (xxv. 12-18, P), of which only a few have historical associations apart from the biblical records. Nebaioth and Kedar suggest the Nabataei and Cedrei of Pliny (v. 12), the first-mentioned of whom were an important Arab people after the time of Alexander (see NABATAEANS). The names correspond to the Nabaitu and Kidru of the Assyrian inscriptions occupying the desert east of the Jordan and Dead Sea, whilst the Massa and Tema lay probably farther south. Dumah may perhaps be the same as the Domata of Pliny (vi. 32) and the Aob l iE0a or AovuaiOa of Ptolemy (v. 19, 7, viii. 22, 3) - Sennacherib conquered a fortress of "Aribi" named Adumu, - and Jetur is obviously the Ituraea of classical geographers.4 "Ishmael," therefore, is used in a wide sense of the wilder, roving peoples encircling Canaan from the north-east to the south, related to but on a lower rank than the "sons" of Isaac. It is practically identical with the term "Arabia" as used by the Assyrians. Nothing certain is known of the history of these mixed populations. They are represented as warlike nomads and with a certain reputation for wisdom (Baruch iii. 23). Not improbably they spoke a dialect (or dialects) akin to Arabic or Aramaic. 5 According to the Mahommedans, Ishmael, who is recognized as their ancestor, lies buried with his mother in the Kaaba in Mecca. See further, T. Noldeke, Ency. Bib., s.v., and the articles EDOM, MIDIAN. (S. A. C.)

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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From Hebrew יִשְׁמָעֵאל (Ishmail), meaning: "God hears or obeys". Standard Yišmaʿel, Tiberian Yišmāʿêl; Arabic: إسماعيل, (Ismā'īl).

Proper noun




  1. (Judaism, Islam) The eldest son of Abraham and his wife's handmaiden Hagar who were cast out after the birth of Isaac; traditionally the ancestor of the Arabs.
  2. A male given name.


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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: God hears.

Abraham's eldest son, by Hagar the concubine (Gen 16:15; Gen 17:23). He was born at Mamre, when Abraham was eighty-six years of age, eleven years after his arrival in Canaan (Gen 16:3; Gen 21:5). At the age of thirteen he was circumcised (Gen 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 (Gen 21:9f); 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 (Gen 21:14ff).

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" (Gen 21:9ff). 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" (Gen 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 (Nebajoth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah) 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 (Gen 37:25ff; Gen 39:1), "their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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(Sept. 'Ismaél; Vulg. Ismahel, in I Par., i, 28, 20, 31).

The son of Abraham and Agar, the Egyptian. His history is contained in parts of Gen., xvi-xxv, wherein three strata of Hebrew tradition (J, E, P) are usually distinguished by contemporary scholars. The name "Ismael", which occurs also in early Babylonian and in Minæan, was given to the child before its birth (Gen 16:11), and means: "may God hear". As Sarai, Abram's wife, was barren, she gave him, in accordance with the custom of the time, her handmaid, Agar, as concubine, in order to obtain children through her. Agar's conception of a child soon led to her flight into the wilderness, where the angel of Yahweh appeared to her, bade her to return to her mistress, and fixed the name and character of her future son. After her return to Bersabee, she brought forth Ismael to Abram, who was then eighty-six years old (xvi).

Ismael was very dear to the aged patriarch, as is shown by his entreaty of God in Ismael's behalf, when the Almighty promised him a son through Sara. In answer to this earnest entreaty, God disclosed to Abraham the glorious future which awaited Ismael: "As for Ismael, I have also heard thee. Behold, I will bless him, and increase, and multiply him exceedingly: he shall beget twelve chiefs, and I will make him a great nation." Ismael was not the destined heir of the covenant; yet, as he belonged to Abraham's family, he was submitted to the rite of circumcision when the patriarch circumcised all the male members of his household. He was then a lad of thirteen (xvii). Abraham's tender love towards Ismael manifested itself on another occasion. He resented Sara's complaint to him, when, on the great festival given at the weaning of Isaac, she requested Agar's and Ismael's summary dismissal because she "had seen the son of Agar the Egyptian playing with [or mocking] Isaac her son". Ismael was Abraham's own "son", and indeed his first- born. At this juncture, God directed Abraham to accede to Sara's request, comforting him with the repeated assurance of future national greatness for Ismael. Whereupon the patriarch dismissed Agar and Ismael with a modicum of provision for their journey. As their scanty provision of water was soon exhausted, Ismael would have certainly perished in the wilderness, had not God shown to Agar a well of water which enabled her to revive the dying lad.

According to God's repeated promise of future greatness for Agar's son, Ismael grew up, lived in the wilderness of Paran, became famous as an archer, and married an Egyptian wife (Gen 21:8ff). He became the father of twelve chiefs, whose names and general quarters are given in Gen 25:12ff. Only one daughter of Ismael is mentioned in Holy Writ, where she is spoken of as one of Esau's wives (cf. Gen 28:9; Gen 36:3).

The last incident known of Ismael's career is connected with Abraham's burial, in which he appears associated with Isaac (Gen 25:9). Ismael died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven, "and was gathered unto his people" (Gen 25:17).

In his Epistle to the Galatians (Gal 4:21ff) St. Paul expands allegorically the narrative of Ismael and Isaac, urging upon his readers the duty of not giving up their Christian freedom from the bondage of the Law. Of course, in so arguing, the Apostle of the Gentiles did not intend to detract in any way from the historical character of the narrative in Genesis. With regard to the various difficulties, literary and historical, suggested by a close study of the Biblical account of Ismael's life, suffice it to say that each and all will never cause a careful and unbiased scholar to regard that account otherwise than as portraying an ancient historical character, will never induce him to treat otherwise than as hypercritical every attempt, by whomsoever made, to resolve Ismael into a conjectural personality of the founder of a group of Arabic tribes. And this view of the matter will appear most certain to any one who compares the Biblical narrative with the legends concerning Ismael which are embodied in the Talmud, the Targum, and the other rabbinical works; while the latter are plainly the result of puerile imagination, the former is decidedly the description of an ancient historical figure.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

—Biblical Data:

Eldest son of Abraham by his concubine Hagar; born when Abraham was eighty-six years of age (Gen. xvi. 15, 16). God promised Abraham that His blessing should be upon Ishmael, who, He foretold, would beget twelve princes and would become a great nation (Gen. xvii. 18, 20). Ishmael was circumcised at the age of thirteen (Gen. xvii. 23-26). When Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her son Isaac, his brother, younger by fourteen years, she insisted that Abraham cast out Ishmael and his slave-mother. Abraham reluctantly yielded, having provided them with bread and a bottle of water. Ishmael was about to die of thirst when an angel showed his mother a well, repeating to her at the same time that Ishmael would become a great nation. Ishmael dwelt in the wilderness, apparently, of Beer-sheba, where he became a skilful archer; later he settled in the wilderness of Paran, where his mother took him a wife from Egypt (Gen. xxi. 8-21). Both Ishmael and Isaac were present at the burial of their father, Abraham. Ishmael died at the age of 137. He had twelve sons, ancestors of twelve tribes that dwelt "from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest to Assyria" (Gen. xxv. 9-18).

—In Rabbinical Literature:

The name of Ishmael is an allusion to God's promise to hear ( (image) ) the complaints of Israel whenever it suffered at the hands of Ishmael (Gen. R. xlv. 11). Abraham endeavored to bring up Ishmael in righteousness; to train him in the laws of hospitality Abraham gave him the calf to prepare (Gen. R. xlviii. 14; comp. Gen. xviii. 7). But according to divine prediction Ishmael remained a savage. The ambiguous expression (image) in Gen. xxi. 9 (see Hagar) is interpreted by some rabbis as meaning that Ishmael had been idolatrous; by others, that he had turned his bow against Isaac. According to the interpretation of Simeon b. Yoḥai, Ishmael mocked those who maintained that Isaac would be Abraham's chief heir, and said that as he (Ishmael) was the first-born son he would receive two-thirds of the inheritance (Tosef., Sotah, v. 12, vi. 6; Pirḳe R. El. xxx.; Gen. R. liii. 15). Upon seeing the danger to Isaac, Sarah, who had till then been attached to Ishmael (Josephus, "Ant." i. 12, § 3), insisted that Abraham cast out Ishmael. Abraham was obliged to put him on Hagar's shoulders, because he fell sick under the spell of the evil eye cast upon him by Sarah (Gen. R. liii. 17).

Ishmael, left under a shrub by his despairing mother, prayed to God to take his soul and not permit him to suffer the torments of a slow death (comp. Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. xxi. 15). God then commanded the angel to show Hagar the well which was created on Friday in the week of Creation, in the twilight (comp. Ab. v. 6), and which afterward accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness (Pirḳe R. El. xxx.). But this was protested against by the angels, who said: "Why should Ishmael have water, since his descendants will destroy the Israelites by thirst?" (comp. Yer. Ta'an. iv. 8; Lam. R. ii. 2). God replied: "But now he is innocent, and I judge him according to what he is now" (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.; Gen. R. l.c.; et al.). Ishmael married a Moabitess named 'Adishah or 'Aishah (variants "'Ashiyah" and "'Aifah," Arabic names; Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. xxi. 21; Pirḳe R. El. l.c.); or, according to "Sefer ha-Yashar" (Wayera), an Egyptian named Meribah or Merisah. He had four sons and one daughter. Ishmael meanwhile grew so skilful in archery that he became the master of all the bowmen (Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. xxi. 20; Gen.R. liii. 20). Afterward Abraham went to see Ishmael, and, according to his promise to Sarah, stopped at his son's tent without alighting from his camel. Ishmael was not within; his wife refused Abraham food, and beat her children and cursed her husband within Abraham's hearing. Abraham thereupon asked her to tell Ishmael when he returned that an old man had asked that he change the peg of the tent. Ishmael understood that it was his father, took the hint, and drove away his wife. He then married another woman, named Faṭimah (Peḳimah; Targ. pseudo-Jonathan l.c.), who, when three years later Abraham came again to see his son, received him kindly; therefore Abraham asked her to tell Ishmael that the peg was good.

Ishmael then went to Canaan and settled with his father (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.; "Sefer ha-Yashar," l.c.). This statement agrees with that of Baba Batra (16a)—that Ishmael became a penitent during the lifetime of Abraham. He who sees Ishmael in a dream will have his prayer answered by God (Ber. 56a).

Bibliography: Beer, Leben Abraham's nach Auffassung der Jüdischen Sage, pp. 49 et seq., Leipsic, 1859.

—In Arabic Literature:

For the history of Ishmael, according to Mohammedan legend, see Abraham in Mohammedan Legend and Hagar. It may be added here that Ishmael is designated a prophet by Mohammed: "Remember Ishmael in the Book, for he was true to his promise, and was a messenger and a prophet" (Koran, xix. 55). Ishmael is, therefore, in Mohammedan tradition a prototype of faithfulness. He was an arrow-maker, and a good hunter. As a prophet, he had the gift of performing miracles. He converted many heathen to the worship of the One God. He left twelve sons. His son Kedar is said to have been an ancestor of Mohammed. Ishmael is reputed to have lived one hundred and thirty years; he was buried near the Kaaba. His posterity, however, became pagan, and remained so until they were brought back to Islam by Mohammed.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
Facts about IshmaelRDF feed
Child of Abraham  +, and Hagar  +
Parent of Nebajoth  +, Kedar  +, Adbeel  +, Mibsam  +, Mishma  +, Dumah  +, Massa  +, Hadar  +, Tema  +, Jetur  +, Naphish  +, and Kedemah  +


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia


  • Sex : Male


Son of Abraham and Hagar

Full Name




  • Isaac half-brother
  • Zimran half-brother
  • Jokshan half-brother
  • Medan half-brother
  • Ishbak half-brother
  • Shuah half-brother



  • Nebaioth (Nabit)
  • Kedar
  • Adbeel
  • Mibsam
  • Mishma
  • Dumah
  • Massa
  • Hadad
  • Tema
  • Jetur
  • Naphish
  • Kedemah
  • Mahalath


Book of Genesis

Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum: The Lineage and Family of Muhammad


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This article uses material from the "Ishmael" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

File:Expulsion of Ishmael and His
Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother. Part of Art by Gustave Doré.

Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל Arabic: إسماعيل, Ismā'īl; translates as "God will hear" [1]) was Abraham's oldest son, born by his wife's handmaiden Hagar.


  1. Strong's Dictionary


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