Ishmael (God heareth). Son of Abraham and Hagar the Egyptian (Gen. 16:11–16; 17:18–26). He was the child “born after the flesh” (Gal. 4:23) and not the child “by promise” and was sent from home after mocking Isaac (Gen. 21:8–21; see also 25:9–17; 28:9; 36:3). His descendants, the Ishmaelites, appear to have been a wandering race (16:12), living by plunder, having commercial relations and intermarrying with the heathen nations of Canaan (Gen. 37:25–28; 39:1; Judg. 8:24; Ps. 83:6; see also Gal. 4:21–5:1).

Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל‬‬, Modern Yišma‘el, Tiberian Yišemāʻēl (ISO 259-3), Yišmaˁel, "God hears"; Greek: Ἰσμαήλ Ismaēl; Classical/Qur'anic Arabic: إِسْمَٰعِيْل; Modern Arabic: إِسْمَاعِيْل ʾIsmāʿīl; Latin: Ismael) is a figure in the Tanakh and the Quran and was Abraham's first son according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born to Abraham and Sarah's handmaiden Hagar (Hājar). (Genesis 16:3). According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Genesis 25:17).

The Book of Genesis and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the Patriarch and his mother Hagar are said to be buried next to the Kaaba in Mecca.

Birth of Ishmael

In Genesis 16, the birth of Ishmael was planned by the Patriarch Abraham's first wife, who at that time was known as Sarai. She and her husband Abram (Abraham) sought a way to have children in order to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant that was established in Genesis 15. Sarai was 75 years old and had yet to bear Abraham a child. She had the idea to offer her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to her husband, so that they could have a child by her. Abraham took Hagar as his wife,[4] and conceived a child with her.

Genesis 16:7-16 describes the naming of Ishmael, and God's promise to Hagar concerning Ishmael and his descendants. This occurred at the well of Beer-lahai-roi, located in the desert region between Abraham’s settlement and Shur. Hagar fled there after Sarai dealt harshly with her for showing contempt for her mistress following her having become pregnant. At the well, Hagar encountered an angel of God who said to her "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." Abraham was blessed so that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. God would make of Ishmael a great nation, because he was of the seed of Abraham. However God told Hagar that her son would be a warrior, living in conflict with his relatives. When Ishmael was born, Abraham was 86 years old.

Abraham's Covernant

When he was 13 years old, Ishmael was circumcised at the same time as all other males in Abraham's house becoming a part of the covenant in a mass circumcision. His father Abram, given the new name "Abraham," was also at this time, at the age of 99, initiated into the covenant by having himself and the males of his entire household circumcised (Genesis 17).

At the time of the covenant, God informed Abraham that his wife Sarah would give birth to a son, whom he was instructed to name Isaac. God told Abraham that He would establish his covenant through Isaac, and when Abraham inquired as to Ishmael's role, God answers that Ishmael has been blessed and that He "will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 17). God also mentioned that "He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers."(Genesis 16).

Later Years

After roaming the wilderness for some time, Ishmael and his mother settled in the Desert of Paran, where he became an expert in archery. Eventually, his mother found him a wife from the land of Egypt. They had twelve sons who each became tribal chiefs throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt). His sons were:

Ishmael also appeared with Isaac at the burial of Abraham. Ishmael died at the age of 137.

Book of Jasher Narrative

The Book of Jasher lists the sons of Ishmael:


Offspring of Ishmael and unknown parent
Name Birth Death Joined with
Nebaioth ben Ishmael
Kedar ben Ishmael
Adbeel ben Ismael
Mibsam ben Ishmael
Mishma ben Ishmael
Dumah ben Ishmael
Massa ben Ishmael
Hadad ben Ishmael
Tema ben Ishmael
Jetur ben Ishmael
Naphish ben Ishmael
Kedemah ben Ishmael
Mahalath bat Ishmael 9999 Land of Canaan 9999 Land of Canaan Esau ben Isaac

Bashemath bat Ishmael 9999 Land of Canaan 9999 Land of Canaan Esau ben Isaac
  • Nebaioth (נבית)
  • Kedar (קדר), father of the Qedarites, a northern Arab tribe that controlled the area between the Persian Gulf and the Sinai Peninsula. According to tradition, he is the ancestor of the Quraysh tribe, and thus of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.[13]
  • Adbeel (אדבאל), established a tribe in northwest Arabia.
  • Mibsam (מבשם)
  • Mishma (משמע)
  • Dumah (דומה)
  • Massa (משא) father of a nomadic tribe that inhabited the Arabian desert toward Babylonia.
  • Hadad (חדד)
  • Tema (תימא)
  • Jetur (יטור)
  • Naphish (נפיש)
  • Kedemah (קדמה)
  • Ishmael also had two daughters, Mahalath and Basemath, wives of Esau. (Gen 26)


Offspring of Abram or Abraham and Sarai, daughter of Terah
Name Birth Death Joined with
Isaac ben Abraham 9999 Mamre, Land of Canaan Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel

Offspring of Abram or Abraham and Hagar, handmaid of Sarah
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ishmael ben Abraham

Offspring of Abram or Abraham and Keturah (?-?)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Jokshan ben Abraham
Midian ben Abraham
Zimran ben Abraham
Medan ben Abraham
Ishbak ben Abraham
Shuah ben Abraham

Spouse(s) Ishmael married Ra’la bint Mudad


Footnotes (including sources)