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Smith's Bible Dictionary

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Ishmaelite The
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Ish'mael. (whom God hears). The son of Abraham, by Hagar the Egyptian, his concubine; born when Abraham was fourscore and six years old. Genesis 16:15-16. (B.C. 1910). Ishmael was the first-born of his father. He was born in Abraham's house when he dwelt in the plain of Mamre; and on the institution of the covenant of circumcision, was circumcised, he being then thirteen years old Genesis 17:26. With the institution of the covenant, God renewed his promise respecting Ishmael.

He does not again appear in the narrative until the weaning of Isaac. At the great feast made in celebration of the weaning, "Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking," and urged Abraham to cast him and his mother out. Comforted by the renewal of God's promise to make of Ishmael a great nation, Abraham sent them away, and they departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. His mother took Ishmael a wife out of the land of Egypt." Genesis 21:9-21 This wife of Ishmael was the mother of the twelve sons and one daughter.

Of the later life of Ishmael we know little. He was present with Isaac at the burial of Abraham. He died at the age of 137 years. Genesis 25:17-18. The sons of Ishmael peopled the north and west of the Arabian peninsula, and eventually formed the chief element of the Arab nation, the wandering Bedouin tribes. They are now mostly Mohammedans who look to him as their spiritual father, as the Jews look to Abraham. Their language, which is generally acknowledged to have been the Arabic community so called, has been adopted with insignificant exceptions throughout Arabia. The term "Ishmaelite" occur on three occasions: Genesis 37:25; Genesis 37:27-28; Genesis 39:1; Judges 8:24; Psalms 83:6.

2. One of the sons of Azel, a descendant of Saul through Meribbaal or Mephibosheth. 1 Chronicles 8:38; 1 Chronicles 9:44.

3. A man of Judah, father of Zebadiah. 2 Chronicles 19:11.

4. Another man of Judah, son of Jehohanan; one of the captains of hundreds who assisted Jehoiada in restoring Joash to the throne. 2 Chronicles 23:1.

5. A priest of the Bene-Pashur, (that is, sons of Pashur), who was forced by Ezra to relinquish his foreign wife. Ezra 10:22.

6. The son of Nethaniah; a perfect marvel of craft and villainy, whose treachery forms one of the chief episodes of the history of the period immediately succeeding the first fall of Jerusalem. His exploits are related in Jeremiah 40:7; Jeremiah 41:16 with a short summary. During the siege of the city, he had fled across the Jordan where he found a refuge at the court of Baalis.

After the departure of the Chaldeans, Ishmael made no secret of his intention to kill the superintendent left by the king of Babylon and usurp his position. Of this, Zedaliah was warned in express terms by Johanan and his companions, but notwithstanding, entertained Ishmael and his followers at a feast, Jeremiah 41:1, during which Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and all his attendants. The same night, he killed all Zedaliah's establishment, including some Chaldean soldiers who were there. For two days, the massacre remained entirely unknown to the people of the town. On the second day, eighty devotees were bringing incense and offerings to the ruins of the Temple. At his invitation, they turned aside to the residence of the superintendent, and there Ishmael and his band butchered nearly the whole number: ten only escaped by offering a heavy ransom for their lives.

This done, he descended to the town, surprised and carried off the daughters of King Zedekiah, who had been sent there by Nebuchadnezzar for safety, with their eunuchs and their Chaldean guard, Jeremiah 41:10; Jeremiah 41:16, and all the people of the town, and made off with his prisoners, to the country of the Ammonites. The news of the massacre had by this time got abroad, and Ishmael was quickly pursued by Johanan and his companions. He was attacked, two of his bravos slain, the whole of the prey recovered; and Ishmael himself with the remaining eight of his people, escaped to the Ammonites.

Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Ishmael'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​sbd/​i/ishmael.html. 1901.
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