Yishma-El (Ishmael)

What follows on this page is notes towards, a work still very much in progress.


Hagar (Yishma-El's mother's name )in south Arabic means "village"; we are told that Yishma-El's sons "lived in villages" (Judas Iscariot is really Yehudah ish ha Kerayot - "Yehudah, a man from the villages" - isn't that an interesting coincidence!).

Be'er Lechi Ro'i (the town to which Hagar fled when Sarah demanded that Av-Raham send her away) is probably "The Well of the Antelope's Jawbone" (c.f. Ein Gedi in Joshua 15:62 and Ein Eglayim in Ezekiel 47:10, which are natural springs of water, where the Be'er was a dug well). In Judges 15:17 Shimshon (Samson) kills a thousand Pelishtim with the jawbone of an ass or donkey and names the place where this happened Ramat Lechi (
רָ֥מַת לֶֽחִי): Jawbone Heights

Yishma-El was fourteen when Yitschak (Isaac) was born (Genesis 17:25 - Genesis 18:1, 19:1).

The wilderness of Paran is in northern Sinai (is this the same as the holy Mount Paran of Ezekiel etc?).

The 12 tribes of Yishma-El were: Nevayot, Kedar (c.f. Song of Songs), Adbe-El, Mivsam, Dumah, Masa, Chadad, Teyma, Yetur, Naphish, Kedmah. Each a prince with a village = tribal chieftain of settled peoples.

[There is a reference somewhere, in Judges I think, which 13:24 makes the Midianites Ishmaelites, which would make an interesting gloze on the story of Joseph! Genesis 25:1 has Midian as Ishmael's half-brother, through keturah - but practically every people in the world gets that label through Keturah so it doesn't mean much. But there is also a scholarly debate over the selling of Yoseph in Genesis 37, and whether the Beney Midyan and the Beney Yishma-El were in league, or again the same people, but with two versions of the tale seeming to make them different - even Rashi got involved in that little dispute!]

Isaiah 42:11 and 60:7 and Jeremiah 49:28 mention Nevayot and Kedar. Nevayot's territory lay east of the Dead Sea, Kedar's north of Nevayot, in the Syrian desert. Nevayot possibly the Nabataeans, though dates make this unlikely. Hadad was a Canaanite storm-god whose name is spelled with a Hey; not to be confused with Chadad ben Yishma-El, whose name is spelled with a Chet. Kedmah means "people of the east".

Records of Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (8th century BCE) name Adbe-El, Masa and Tema as Idiba'ilites, Mas'a and Tema as Arab tribes. Records of Asshurbanipal (7th century BCE) names Su-mu-'il (Ishma-El?) whose king was Yaute and Kedar whose king was Ammuladi. 
Tiglath-Pileser sent the Idibi'lu to guard his Egyptian frontier and then gave them twenty-five cities of the Pelishtim (were there 25 such places? Only if we allow "cities" to stand for "villages" or "Philistine" to stand for "Canaan"). 

Teyma is an oasis in the Arabian north. 

Dumah is Adumatu, an oasis and fort in the Syrian desert conquered by Sennacherib. The Adum part is self-evidently yet one more link to Adam-Edom etc - the red link which is the colour of Nabataean Petra.

1 Chronicles 4:25 has Mivsam and Mishma as sons of Shim'on (Simeon); his tribal area was to the south of Yehudah. 

1 Chronicles 5:19 refers to Yetur and Naphish, with Nodav and Hagarites as tribes against whom the Trans-Jordanian Beney Yisra-El (Re'u-Ven, Gad and Menasheh) made war. 5:21 makes Hagarites camel-breeders and shepherds. Josephus has Yetur as Itureans, neighbours of Edom. Hagarites presumably named after Hagar. Psalm 83:7 links them with the Ishmaelites.


Yishma-El (Ismail) in the Qur'an... 

Ishmael (إسماعيل)

 referred to in verse (2:125) of chapter (2) sūrat l-baqarah (The Cow):

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], "Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer]."

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