Ishmael farther of the Arab nation

Ishmael was a child of favor, then, like many of us, his life took an unexpected turn.

When Sarah, the wife ofAbraham, found herself barren, she encouraged her husband to sleep with her maid servant, Hagar, to produce an heir. This was a pagan custom of the tribes around them, but it was not God’s way.

Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born of that union. Ishmael means “God hears,” because God heard Hagar’s prayers. But 13 years later, Sarah did give birth, through a miracle of God, to Isaac. Suddenly, through no fault of his own, Ishmael was no longer the heir. During the time Sarah had been barren, Hagar flaunted her child. When Isaac was weaned, Ishmael mocked his half-brother. Angered, Sarah told Abraham to cast the two out.

God, however, did not abandon Hagar and her child. They were stranded in the desert of Beersheba, dying from thirst. An angel of the Lord came to Hagar, showed her a well, and they were saved.

Hagar later found an Egyptian wife for Ishmael and he fathered 12 sons, just as Isaac’s son Jacob would. Two generations later, God used the descendants of Ishmael to save the Jewish nation. Isaac’s grandsons sold their brother Joseph into slavery to Ishmaelite traders. They took Joseph to Egypt and sold him again. Joseph eventually rose to become second in command of the entire country and saved his father and brothers during a great famine.

Ishmael’s Accomplishments:

Ishmael grew to become a skilled hunter and archer.

He fathered the nomadic Arab nations.

Ishmael lived to 137 years old.

Ishmael’s Strengths:

Ishmael did his part to help fulfill God’s promise to prosper him. He realized the importance of family and had 12 sons. Their warrior tribes eventually inhabited most of the countries in the Middle East.

Life Lessons:

Our circumstances in life can change quickly, and sometimes for the worse. That is when we should draw near to God and seek his wisdom and strength. We may betempted to become bitter when bad things happen, but that never helps. Only by following direction from God can we get through those valley experiences.


Mamre, near Hebron, in Canaan.

Referenced in the Bible:

Genesis 16, 17, 21, 25; 1 Chronicles 1; Romans 9:7-9; Galatians 4:21-31.


Hunter, warrior.

Family Tree:

Father – Abraham
Mother – Hagar, servant of Sarah
Half-brother – Isaac
Sons – Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.
Daughters – Mahalath, Basemath.

Key Verses:

Genesis 17:20
And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. (NIV)

Genesis 25:17
Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. (NIV)

HAM – (cham; Cham)

1. The Youngest Son of Noah:
The youngest son of Noah, from whom sprang the western and southwestern nations known to the Hebrews. His name first occurs in Genesis 5:32, where, as in 6:10 and elsewhere, it occupies the second place. In Genesis 9:18 Ham is described as “the father of Canaan”.

2. Ham as a Nationality (30 Nations came out of Ham):
The name given, in Psalms 105:23,17; 106:22 (compare 78:51), to Egypt as a descendant of Ham, son of Noah. As Shem means “dusky,” or the like, and Japheth “fair,” it has been supposed that Ham meant, as is not improbable, “black.” This is supported by the evidence of Hebrew and Arabic, in which the word chamam means “to be hot” and “to be black,” the latter signification being derived from the former. 

It is interesting to note that the Biblical record defines Egypt as the Land of Ham.
— Psalm 105: 23 “Israel also came into Egypt…the land of Ham.”

3. Meaning of the Word:
That Ham is connected with the native name of Egypt, Kem, or, in full pa ta’ en Kem, “the land of Egypt,” in Bashmurian Coptic Kheme, is unlikely, as this form is probably of a much later date than the composition of Gen, and, moreover, as the Arabic shows, the guttural is not a true kh, but the hard breathing h, which are both represented by the Hebrew cheth.

4. The Nations Descending from Ham:
First on the list, as being the darkest, is Cush or Ethiopia (Genesis 10:6), after which comes Mitsrayim, or Egypt, then PuT or Libyia, and Canaan last. The sons or descendants of each of these are then taken in turn, and it is noteworthy that some of them, like the Ethiopians and the Canaanites, spoke Semitic, and not Hamitic, languages–Seba (if connected with the Sabeans), Havilah (Yemen), and Sheba, whose queen visited Solomon. Professor Sayce, moreover, has pointed out that Caphtor is the original home of the Phoenicians, who spoke a Semitic language. 

The explanation of this probably is that other tongues were forced upon these nationalities in consequence of their migrations, or because they fell under the dominion of nationalities alien to them. The non-Sem Babylonians, described as descendants of Nimrod (Merodach), as is well known, spoke Sumerian, and adopted Semitic Babylonian only on account of mingling with the Semites whom they found there. 

Another explanation is that the nationalities described as Hamitic–a parallel to those of the Semitic section–were so called because they fell under Egyptian dominion. This would make the original Hamitic race to have been Egyptian and account for Ham as a (poetical) designation of that nationality. Professor F. L. Griffith has pointed out that the Egyptian Priapic god of Panopolis (Akhmim), sometimes called Menu, but also apparently known as Khem, may have been identified with the ancestor of the Hamitic race–he was worshipped from the coast of the Red Sea to Coptos, and must have been well known to Egypt’s eastern neighbors. He regards the characteristics of Menu as being in accord with the shamelessness of Ham as recorded in Genesis 9:20.

4. Four Sons of Ham (see map below):
1. Mizraim (Egypt)
2. Cush (Sudan, Ethiopia)
3. Put (Lybia)
4. Canaan (Hivites, Jebusites, Arvadites, Girgashites, Amorites, Arkites, Sinites, Hittites,
Sidonians, Perizzites, Zemarites)

1. Canaan was cursed, not Ham. (Gen. 9:25, “…cursed be Canaan…”
2. Genesis 9:25-27 “…servitude to his brothers…”
3. Exodus 20:5 –” A curse lasts three to four generations…”
4. Canaan does not exist as a nation today.
Other three nations exist — Egypt, Ethiopia
and Lybia.


Abram: The name means exalted father, which could have felt like a cruel joke to him. He had no children. It’s was his desire to have a son…an heir.

Abraham: At 99 years of age God made a covenant with him. See the stars in the sky? See the dust of the earth? He would make him a father of many nations. He changed his name from “Abram” to Abraham.” Some take that to mean that Ham was somehow involved. Or that Abraham might be black. Not true. “Ham” actually means many ormultitude — Father of many nations. Then Isaac was born. His name was a promise.