Ishmael (ĭshˈmāĕl) [key] [Heb., = God hears], in the Bible. 1 Son of Abraham and Hagar; ancestor of 12 tribes in N Arabia. Through Sara's jealousy he and his mother were sent into the desert, where the angel of the Lord encountered them at a spring. Ishmael married an Egyptian and fathered 12 sons and a daughter. He was the half-brother of Isaac and was Esau's father-in-law. In Islam, Ishmael is considered a prophet. The spring is traditionally identified with a Meccan well near the Kaaba, which Muslims believe was built by Ishmael and Abraham. Muslims recognize Arabs as Ishmael's descendants, thus distinguishing them from the Israelites, the descendants of Isaac. The Bible does not clarify the peoples called Ishmaelites (or Ishmeelites); the term is generally regarded as referring to caravan traders. 2 In First Chronicles, descendant of Saul. 3 Ancestor of the Zebediah of Jehoshaphat's court in Second Chronicles. 4 Ally of Jehoiada in Second Chronicles. 5 Priest separated from his foreign wife in the Book of Ezra. 6 Assassin of Gedaliah.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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