The Ishmaelites are the descendants of Ishmael, the son born to Abraham through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. Shortly after Ishmael was conceived, Isaac was born. Soon after Isaac was born, Ishmael began to harass him. Sarah didn’t like this and she told Abraham to send Hagar and her son away. Hagar and Ismael wandered through the desert and almost died. God showed mercy on Hagar and Ishmael by providing them with water and food. He also told Ishmael that he would eventually start 12 nations. The generations of Ishmael are referenced on the Bible Timeline Poster about 1500 BC.
The generations of Ishmael are outlined in Genesis 25:13-17. This passage of the Bible is an outline of the sons that he had. Nebaioth was his first born son and his second son was Kedar. Then there was Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. The 12 tribes of Ishmael had begun from his sons and the tribes were known by their names. The tribes that descended from Ishmael were also numbered twelve just like the tribes of Israel.
The Arabs are one group of people that can trace their lineage back to Ishmael. Most of Ishmael’s descendants settled into the region of modern day Arabia. Many Arabians claim that he is the father of their people. There is some historical proof and some speculation about what happened to the 12 tribes of Ishmael after he passed away.
The tribe of Nebaioth was formly named Nabat and they settled south of the Red Sea. Their land was known as Nabataea in ancient times. Kedar settled in the region of modern day Arabia. Adbeel settled into northwest Arabia and they were also used to protect the entrance into Egypt. No one knows what happened Misbam’s tribe because they were seen as obscure. Mishma settled into Jamal Mishma. Dumah settled into a region of Arabia. Massa also settled into Arabia. Haddad had also settled into Arabia. The tribe of Jetur was known as thieves and robbers and they also were a nomadic people. Naphish only appears in the Biblical records and no one can accurately claim where they ended up. Kedemah settled in a region of the Middle East once known as Kedomoth.
Biblical References to the Generations of Ishmael
- Genesis 16:1-7 Abraham has a child with Hagar and Hagar becomes prideful toward Sarah. She is beaten and then runs away but she has to return in order for Ishmael to be blessed.
- Genesis 16:8-12 an angel tells Hagar that her son will be against everyone and that everyone will be against him. He also tells Hagar that Ishmael will live close to his kin.
- Genesis 17:20 God blesses Ishmael with 12 sons who would become leaders of 12 nations.
Genesis 21:8-19 Sarah notices Ishmael teasing Isaac and she commands Abraham to get rid of Hagar. He does as she commands. God also confirms Sarah wishes and tells Abraham not to worry because he is going to bless Ishmael with a many descendants. God preserves Hagar and Ishmael in order to fulfill this prophecy.
- Genesis 25:12-17 is an outline which shows that God fulfilled his promise to Abraham, Ishmael and Hagar.