Ishmael, the Father of Twelve Princes

     When God told Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son when he was 100 years old and Sarah 90, he fell on his face and laughed.
     Then Abraham offered his own solution when Ishmael was 13 years old.
     “And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!’”
Genesis 17:18
     “Then God said: ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac (laughter); I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.’”  Genesis 17:19
     However, because Ishmael was also Abraham’s son, God would bless him in the following ways.
     “And as for Ishmael…Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly.  He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation…But…My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”  Genesis 17:20-21a
     Ishmael would be fruitful and have twelve sons who would be rulers.  Ishmael would become a great nation and his descendants would be multiplied exceedingly.  
     The promises God made to Ishmael sound very similar to what God had promised to Abraham about his grandson Jacob through Isaac, who would likewise have twelve sons.
     “I will make you a great nation…I will multiply you exceedingly…I will bless you…I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you…”  Genesis 12:2, 17:2, 6
      Differences in promises made to Abraham (through Isaac, Jacob and Judah) vs. those made to Ishmael include:
·        God did not speak directly to Ishmael as He did to His friend Abraham
·        God promised Abraham specific land to possess forever; but not so for Ishmael
·        Ishmael would be a great nation while Abraham would be the father of many nations
·        God’s promises to Abraham were forever; such was not mentioned about Ishmael
     But most significantly, Abraham’s son to be born to Sarah would inherit the covenant, not Ishmael.
     Just as God promised, Abraham and Sarah had a boy child, i.e. Isaac at the set time the following year.
     Ishmael remained with Abraham and Sarah for several years after the birth of Isaac.
     Approximately three years after Isaac’s birth a very significant thing happened.
     “So the child (Isaac) grew and was weaned.  And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.  And Sarah saw the son (Ishmael) of Hagar…scoffing (mocking, deriding).  Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.’”  Genesis 21:8-10
     Abraham was distressed at the thought of abandoning His son Ishmael; however, God told Abraham to let Ishmael go and reminded him that Isaac would inherit the covenant. 
     And so it was, Hagar and her teenage son Ishmael traveled through the wilderness, i.e. Sinai Peninsula, towards Egypt as she had done previously when pregnant with Ishmael. 
     Soon their skin of water was gone, and Hagar thought they would die in the wilderness.  Then the Angel of the LORD called out to her:
     “Fear not…Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation…Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water and gave the lad a drink.  So God was with the lad…”  Genesis 21:17-20a
     The following is very significant:
     “…and he (Ishmael) dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.  He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran…”  Genesis 21:20b-21
     The Hebrew for ‘became’ means ‘to come to pass’ while archer in the present context means an ‘exceedingly fierce expert with the bow.’
     The Wilderness of Paran is located in the Sinai Peninsula. 
     And just as God had said, Ishmael had twelve sons.
     “And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael…The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.  These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names…twelve princes according to their nations.”  Genesis 25:13-16
     These were the beginning of the Arab nations.
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