Ish’mael (whom God hears).
1. The son of Abraham by Hagar the Egyptian, his concubine; born when Abraham was fourscore and six years old. Gen. 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. Gen. 17:25. 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.” Gen. 21:9-21. This wife of Ishmael was the mother of his 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. Gen. 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 commonly so called, has been adopted with insignificant exceptions throughout Arabia. The term “Ishmaelite” occurs on three occasions: Gen. 37:25, 27, 28; 39:1; Judges 8:24; Ps. 83:6.
3. A man of Judah, father of Zebadiah. 2 Chron. 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 Chron. 23:1.
5. A priest of the Bene-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 Jer. 40:7-41:15, 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 Gedaliah was warned in express terms by Johanan and his companions, but notwithstanding entertained Ishmael and his followers at a feast, Jer. 41:1, during which Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and all his attendants. The same night he killed all Gedaliah’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, Jer. 41:10, 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.