The Story of Ismael

The Story of Ismael,

According to the history of Ishmael, he was the son of Abraham and Hagar, a slave of Egyptian origin. According to Genesis 16:3, 15, Ishmael’s birth occurred when Abraham was 86 years old.

The Story of Ishmael, the Son of Abraham

Likewise, it is indicated in the History of Ishmael, that he is the ancestor of those who was denominated as the Ishmaelites, also called Ismailis or also Arabs. This is based on the three Abrahamic religions of origin, which are:

  • Hebrew
  • Christian
  • Muslim

A whole controversy has been woven about the legitimacy of the two sons of Abraham, questioning which of the two was the legitimate son.

The Origin

Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham.

But as far as the Judeo-Christian tradition is concerned, a certain kind of preference is shown towards Isaac. On the other hand, Muslims do give their approval to Ishmael. In the holy books such as the Torah or the Bible, Isaac is the one chosen to be sacrificed by Abraham.

Those who consider themselves scholars, belonging to Islam, have the firm conviction that the one chosen to be sacrificed was Ishmael, even though the name is not mentioned.

The Christian vision

According to the Bible, the birth of Ishmael occurred when Abraham was 86 years old and had been settled in the region of Canaan for 10 years.

So Abraham, before God’s promises that he was going to have a son, began to have many doubts and impossibilities and, therefore, he allowed himself to be blinded. Sarah, his wife, like him, was already old enough to have a child.

It was then that he was given a servant of Egyptian origin, named Hagar, because Sarah had not been able to give him children and finally came the birth of Ishmael, a name that has the meaning: God hears me.

To everyone’s surprise, after thirteen years, Sarah, who until then had been sterile, managed to conceive a son, who was given the name Isaac, whose name means: “The son of promise”. All this happened when Abraham was already 100 years old.


There is a controversy due to a contradiction as to the age that Abraham was when each of the births of his sons took place and the ages of each one of them.

It is not mentioned, which was the temporal epoch in which the sacrifice expressly took place and a great confusion arises, which starts from what Genesis says in 22:2, textually:

“… take thy son, thine only son…”.

Since it is quoted in the Bible, in Genesis 16:16, that Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born, the son given to him by the servant Hagar, it could refer to the son as the promise.

That is to say, the one who was to be magnified as the firstborn son, as mentioned in the Bible, should be Isaac, who was considered the promise of God.

Two possibilities

A disjunctive is presented in Genesis 21:5, where it says that Abraham was 100 years old when his son was born with Sarah, named Isaac. At the time of the sacrifice, there are two possibilities…

In the first case, Abraham would have had only one son, who would have been Ishmael, but only before the birth of his second son, Isaac, then he would have had two.

From the mentioned passages, two different versions are created, both for the Jews and also for the Christians. Isaac was the promise and because Ishmael and Hagar, his mother, had been expelled from Abraham’s home, then the only son would be Isaac.

Jews as well as Christians, indicate that at the time circumcision was instituted for Abraham’s family, his son Ishmael, according to the Bible, in Genesis (17:25) was thirteen years old.

That is to say, the birth of Isaac had not taken place, since when he was born, Ishmael was 14 years old and Abraham was 100 years old.

Expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar

Ishmael is expelled from Abraham’s home, together with his mother Hagar, because Ishmael, supposedly, assumed mocking and contemptuous attitudes towards his brother Isaac.

This is how Hagar and Ishmael began to wander throughout the desert of Beersheba. Their lives were about to end since they were extremely dehydrated.

Then an angel of God appeared to them, giving Hagar directions to find the path that would lead her to a source of water and in this way, they were able to save their lives. In the Bible in Genesis 21:13-21, about Isaac, it was said by God:

“also of the son of the handmaid, I will make a nation”…

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