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Ishmael (Abraham's son) is found in the Old Testament

This article is about Abraham's son. You may be looking for Nethaniah's son or other Ishmaels.

Ishmael is the son of Abraham born to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar. Though he was the firstborn of Abraham, he was not the promised son that God was going to give him. That took place about thirteen years later when Isaac was born. Ishmael along with his mother Hagar was sent away into the wilderness, where he grew up learning archery. His mother got for him a wife from Egypt.



God had promised to Abram and Sarai a child.[1] They were already old (Abram was at least 75[2]) when God made this promise. Sarai was tired of waiting and figured she wasn't supposed to be the biological mother of the promised child, so she had Abram sleep with her maidservant Hagar.[3] Hagar became pregnant and despised Sarai.[4] Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she fled.[5]

At one point, Hagar stopped at a spring in the desert.[6] The Angel of the LORD came to her and asked where she came from and where she was going. Hagar admitted to him that she was running away from her master, Sarai.[7] The Angel told her to go back to Sarai and be her slave.[8] The Angel said she would have a son named Ishmael because he heard her cry for help. Ishmael would be very wild with everyone against him.[9]

She gave birth to Ishmael some time later; at this point Abram was 86 years old.[10]

Early life[]

When Ishmael was 13 years old,[11] the LORD came to Abram and made a covenant with him — the Covenant of Circumcision.[12] God changed Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah.[13] This covenant included as a sign of the covenant that every male in Abraham's household be circumcised, including Ishmael.[14] It was at this time that God told Abraham that Sarah was to be the mother of the promised child.[15] Abraham laughed at this and wondered how a couple so old could bear children. Then he said he wanted Ishmael to live under God's blessing.[16] God said that Sarah would still have a son, and Ishmael would be blessed, although it was with Sarah's coming son whom God's covenant would be established.[17] After God finished talking with Abraham, He went back into Heaven, then Abraham circumcised every male in his household.[18]

The next year, Sarah did give birth to a son, whom they named Isaac. Isaac was circumcised according to the covenant on the eighth day. Ishmael was about 14 years old when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 100 years old.[19]

Some time later, when Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a large feast.[20] Sarah caught Ishmael mocking Isaac and demanded that Abraham get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.[21] This distressed Abraham but God told him not to be distressed. Then He said to listen to Sarah and reconfirmed His promise.[22] The next morning, Abraham prepared provisions and gave them to Hagar and Ishmael and sent them away.[23]

Eventually, the skin of water that Abraham gave them ran out. Hagar hid her son under a bush and went about a bowshot away for she didn't want to watch Ishmael die.[24] Both she and Ishmael cried. God heard Ishmael crying and the Angel of the LORD called out to Hagar from Heaven and told her not to be afraid for God heard Ishmael crying.[25] He then commanded her to lift up Ishmael and take him by the hand, and he promised to make Ishmael into a great nation.[26] Then God opened Hagar's eyes and she saw a well. She then filled the skin with water and gave Ishmael some of it.[27]


Ishmael is the English translation of the Hebrew יִשְׁמָעֵאל (yishmâ‛ê'l). The name means God will hear. יִשְׁמָעֵאל comes from two Hebrew words meaning to hear and God.


  1. Genesis 15: (Link)
  2. Genesis 12:4 (Link)
  3. Genesis 16:1-3 (Link)
  4. Genesis 16:4 (Link)
  5. Genesis 16:5-6 (Link)
  6. Genesis 16:7 (Link)
  7. Genesis 16:8 (Link)
  8. Genesis 16:9 (Link)
  9. Genesis 16:11-12 (Link)
  10. Genesis 16:15-16 (Link)
  11. Genesis 17:25 (Link)
  12. Genesis 17 (Link)
  13. Genesis 17:5, 15 (Link)
  14. Genesis 17:10-11 (Link)
  15. Genesis 17:16 (Link)
  16. Genesis 17:17-18 (Link)
  17. Genesis 17:19-21 (Link)
  18. Genesis 17:22-27 (Link)
  19. Genesis 21:1-7 (Link)
  20. Genesis 21:8 (Link)
  21. Genesis 21:9-10 (Link)
  22. Genesis 21:11-13 (Link)
  23. Genesis 21:14 (Link)
  24. Genesis 21:15-16 (Link)
  25. Genesis 21:17 (Link)
  26. Genesis 21:18 (Link)
  27. Genesis 21:19 (Link)