Ishmael the son of Hagar and Abraham, Genesis 16:1-16 – 17:27

Ishmael was Abraham’s son by Hagar, who bore him as a surrogate mother for Abraham’s wife, Sarah. This was often the custom in the Mediterranean countries at that time.

However, Ishmael was not the child who had been promised by God. This child was to be born some years later, miraculously, by Sarah.

God promised Ishmael that, because his father was Abraham, his descendants would become a great nation.

Ishmael was 137 years old when he died.

Ishmael means: God has hearkened.

Background Reading:

Hagar and her son Ishmael

16:1 Now Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne a child for him. She had an Egyptian servant girl whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai told Abram, “You are well aware that the LORD has prevented me from giving birth to a child. Go have sex with my servant, so that I may possibly bear a son through her.”

Abram listened to Sarai’s suggestion, 3 so Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant, Hagar, and gave her as a wife to her husband Abram. This took place ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan. 4 He had sex with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she realized that she was pregnant, she looked with contempt on her mistress.

5 Then Sarai told Abram, “My suffering is your fault! I gave you my servant so you could have sex with her , and when she discovered that she was pregnant, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!”

6 Abram answered Sarai, “Look, your servant is under your control, so do to her as you wish.” So Sarai dealt so harshly with Hagar that she ran away from Sarai.

7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the desert on the road to Shur. 8 “Hagar, servant of Sarai,” he asked, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?”

She answered, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”

9 The angel of the LORD told her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” 10 The angel of the LORD also told her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, who will be too many to count.

11 “Look, you are pregnant and will give birth to a son,” the angel of the LORD continued to say to her. “You will name him Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your cry of misery. 12 He’ll be a wild donkey of a man. He’ll be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live in conflict with all of his relatives.”

13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are ‘God who sees,’ because I have truly seen the one who looks after me.”

14 That’s why the spring was called, “The Well of the Living One who Looks after Me.” It was between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar eventually gave birth to Abram’s son. Abram named his son whom Hagar bore Ishmael. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael for Abram.
Genesis 16:1-16

Continued inGenesis 16:11-17:27


Other modules in this unit: