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How old was Ishmael when Abraham sent him away?

Hagar was given to Abram by his wife Sarai to have a child; as they were getting older, and Sarah had yet to conceive. Genesis 16:1 “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”

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Hagar and Ishmael in the desert

Ishmael was then born by Hagar unto Abram. Genesis 16:15 “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.” Abram was 86 years old.

Ishmael was fourteen when Isaac was born by Sarai (now Sarah) – Abram (now Abraham) being 100 years old, Genesis 21:5.

It wasn’t until the feast of Isaac’s weaning that Sarah asked Abraham to send Hagar and Ismael away, Genesis 21: 9-10. Which he did the very next day, Genesis 14. Since there is no exact age known for the weaning of Isaac, Ishmael could have been between 17 and 19 years old when he was sent away with his mother.

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38 thoughts on “How old was Ishmael when Abraham sent him away?

  1. If this is the case then how do we explain Genesis 21:15-16? How could Haggar put a 13 to 19 year old under a shrub or life him in her hands?

    1. You must have never had a teenager. When the Bible says put, it mean set him under. He was becoming dehydrated and tired and looked as if he couldn’t go any further. These were conditions his mom might have been use to, but he never was subjected to such things. He was a prince among his people. Promised by God, to be a King.

    2. I looked up the Strong’s definition of the word, and it means to “cast away”. If Ishmael was 16 he was likely larger and stronger than she. Being a teenager he could have been complaining about their situation, even though he caused it, and she likely pushed him down, but not forcibly. Kind of “you stay here while I go think this out.”

  2. Probably Ishmael was to weak to walk because of thirst and hunger and only did so by the support of his mother therefore Hagar put her son in that weak state he was

  3. I think the bible isnt clear because it sometimes sound as if Ishmael was still a bby and couldn’t do anything. L

    1. The Bible said that Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born. He was 100 when Issac was born .so he had to be about 16 or so when he was sent away. I think he was just to weak to continue on .

      1. 100-86=14 not 16.

        1. He was maybe 16 when cast out because Isaac was weaned by then

        2. You didn’t account for weaning- that’s 2-3 yrs – so he was 16 or 17- possibly older?

  4. Maybe he was weak to continue the journey.That why Hagar was calling for help from God.

  5. Also, Ismael was 13years old and was circumcised along with his father Abraham. So what could be is exact age when he was cast out with his mother

    1. I believe he could have been 15 or 16 years old

  6. If Ishmael, at 17-19 years of age was too weak to continue, but his mother wasn’t, it must have been because he let her have most of the water. But I think they would have shared it more equitably. There must be another explanation for Ishmael’s weak state. He was on the verge of manhood. Could not such an individual fare better than a baby, when his mother seemed to have no trouble? On the face of it, something seems skewed with the timeline.

    1. Very true. And the KJV bible calls him the Lad not the child or the baby. Meaning he was a big boy or a young man

  7. Think as a child. We know Abram was “86” when Ishmael was born and Abraham was “100” when Issac was born but we cannot presume we know anyone’s age. Ishmael was obviously a child when Abraham placed him on Hagar’s back. The scriptures never say 14 years passed on Earth. Glory to Yeshua

    1. Genesis 21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
      The verse says he gave food and water to Hagar a d put it on her shoulder. Meaning the lad was walking

    2. Having read all the interesting possibilities I have concluded Ishmael was a dwarf. This solves everything.

  8. Isaac is the son of a servant of Sarah, not Ishmael.
    1- Egyptian law at the time prevented a foreigner from owning Egyptian slaves. It is more likely that Abraham married Hagar after Sarah was taken as a concubine in Egypt.
    2- The Egyptians viewed themselves as superior to nomadic groups traveling through their domain and would not have transferred an Egyptian into the custody of such groups (this is confirmed by the fact that the Egyptian officers did not even discuss with Abraham the matter of Sarah being taken as captive, they did so without any regard) .
    3- It is more fitting that there was tension between Hagar and Sarah that intensified with Hagar’s Son. Sarah was already over 90 years and could not bare children (may be a result of her being a concubine for a time), this led her to choose one of the servant girls within Abraham’s camp to provide a son by Abraham but is claimed by Sarah as her own. This child is Isaac.
    4-The biblical story of Ishmael being the son of the handmaid probably was twisted after the first century and the Roman sacking of Jerusalem and the subduing of the Jews. The identity of the real mother of Isaac whom was the handmaid of Sarah is unknown just as the identity of the mother of Sarah is unknown (Sarah is the sister of Abraham but by another mother).

    1. Your narrative did not matched. Pls come up with strong defense. Thanks.

    2. That is completely incorrect. Where did you find that the Quran?

    3. How then can you explain Genesis 12:16 “Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.”
      ‭‭Notice tha Abram was given male and female servants by the Egyptians.

    4. I think you might try actually reading the Bible, starting with Genesis 15, then come back with a new response. Your words do not align with any of the scriptures. Your response offers no answer to the questions asked.

  9. Ishmael was somewhat between the ages of 16-17. Ordinarily, that range of age should tolerate some level of physical hardships, but emotionally it’s tough!
    Ishmael was emotionally wrecked. His own biological father sent him away. He couldn’t help his own mother who was wandering in the wilderness, his vision was blurred he couldn’t contain himself. I didn’t perceive it as being weak by reason of just physical hardship, it was deeper. I feel his pain.
    God answered him because of three possible reasons:
    1-He was a child of covenant. He was going to be a father of a nation by reason of being the seed of Abraham
    2-He had compassion on his mother. Must have whispered an “I wish I could help you” kind of prayer
    3-He was innocently caught up in the middle of the whole lot of stuff.

    1. I totally agree with you. I felt for Ishmael.

    2. I absolutely love our reply.

    3. Great viewpoint,

    4. This is by far the best answer yet. I totally agree with you.

  10. Without water and food anyone would be weak within days. I’m sure His mother was weak also. Worse they were lost, so who knows how many days they were lost. I think he was 16.

  11. I see that Ishmael was 16-17 years, according to the bible. Bible says he was born when Abram was 86 years and Isaac was born while Abraham was 100 years.
    Because of hunger and thirsty, that the body of a boy was weak, thats why I think Hagar thought of putting him under bushes, so that she can’t see him die.
    God heard the crying of a boy, believing that he was also carrying a promise that through him also the nation will come out, that is why God had to watch/monitor over them and ministered both of them to fulfill the word of God.

  12. I wouldn’t say Ishmael was innocently caught; the scripture says he was making fun of Isaac. Now Children will be children, especially siblings. However, I would say the decision to send him off was harsh and unfair. I questioned the water and bread…as rich as Abraham was during that time. Yet, God designed it to be that way because God spoke to her concerning her son and provided. Thus, God showed he would provide just as God did for Abraham. I believe that is the lesson although I was curious to the age difference.

  13. Take thee Bjble stories any way you may. Man has to always ratonalize that which is beyond human rationalty. Push, HE is a hood fellow–’twill all be well.

  14. IINTERESTING COMMENTS. I WOULD BELIEVE Ishmael was between the age of 16 to 18 years of age.
    I am wondering if Abraham ever saw ISHMAEL again.

  15. Genesis 21:2-5 NIV – promised him. ³ Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. ⁴ When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. ⁵ Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
    Ishmael would be 22. He cried likely because he lost everything (inheritance) as a young man. Some time later, his mother Hager got him a wife.
    I think Sarah had to ask Abraham to send them away not because they were just mocking them, but rather feel a threat for Isaac.

  16. This is an interesting question to ponder but does it matter in my salvation? NO! Therefore I put it down as I don’t understand and move on.

    1. Thank you. This was a family But our Lord God would not abandon the children. God has plans and we have ours. Sometimes they clash

  17. As a veteran, I have seen very physically strong men fare worse than their peers. You have to have a mental toughness too. I believe that Hagar possessed both with her life experience. And Ishmael was dealing with overwhelming emotional and physical exhaustion.

  18. We really do not know or understand God’s concept ,but, we can go back and read , Deuteronomy 29:29

  19. Ishmael whatever age he was could possibly have fallen sick as it happens that same circumstances cause different reactions in different bodies.
    I came here to understand why in Islamic history the age of Ishmael is of a baby, still suckling and why in the other scriptures it is past childhood.
    I didn’t get the answer.
    but if I add up then it seems he was most probably not in childhood.
    considering all scriptures suggest the same thing… his near death condition and his mother’s manner of handling him.

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