Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook

Isaac & Ishmael

Isaac & Ishmael


Abraham in Gerar

Abraham decided to move south. He left Hebron, where he had dwelt for twenty-five years and went to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines.

As he had done in Egypt many years earlier, Abraham again concealed the fact that Sarah was his wife, fearing that the Philistines might want to slay him. Believing that Sarah was Abraham’s sister, King Abimelech of the Philistines had her brought to the palace. But G‑d smote the king and his servants with plagues, so that they would not touch her. As soon as the king found out the cause of his punishment he called Abraham and begged his forgiveness. To make up for his wrong, he gave Abraham and Sarah many gifts. Abraham prayed to G‑d to cure Abimelech and his royal household, and the prayers were answered. Abimelech and his people knew that Abraham was a saintly man, and they begged him to stay in their land. Abraham, agreed, and resided in Gerar for twenty-six years.

Isaac’s Birth

G‑d’s promise was fulfilled. When Abraham was one hundred years old and his wife ninety,: Sarah gave birth to a son. Abraham called him Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, making him a party to the holy covenant G‑d had established with Abraham.


As we know, Isaac was not Abraham’s first born, for Hagar had borne him Ishmael thirteen years earlier. But Ishmael had not grown up as his father had hoped. He was inclined towards many things Abraham considered wicked. Ishmael even prayed to idols when he believed himself unobserved.

Sarah observed him and realized that he would have a bad influence upon the young Isaac. She therefore implored Abraham to send Ishmael away. Abraham understood the motive of his wife’s request, but he feared to send his son away to a place where he might become even worse. However, G‑d told Abraham to do as Sarah had requested, and Abraham then sent Hagar and Ishmael away, providing them with water and food for the journey.

The Miraculous Well

Hagar and Ishmael lost their way in the wilderness of Beer Sheba and soon ran out of water. Hagar could not watch the boy’s suffering and put him in the shade of a bush, while she sat some distance away and cried. An angel then called to Hagar and assured her that G‑d had seen the suffering of her boy. He would live and become the father of a mighty nation. And suddenly, Hagar saw a spring nearby.

Hagar and Ishmael were saved from death and continued their journey. G‑d blessed the boy, for he was Abraham’s son. Ishmael grew up into a strong man. He lived on the outskirts of the desert and became a great archer. Ishmael lived his life in his own way. He married and had many children. His children multiplied and became known under the name of Ishmaelites, or Arabs, the people of the desert.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (10)
April 17, 2016
So does the story of Ishmael and Isaac indicates that the child born from maidservant is not being honoured even the child comes as a result of the influence from Sarah?
chitoba gumbo
April 6, 2016
Maybe I need to read the passages once more but this seems to me a benign account of what went down with Hagar and Ishmael. When I read it it seemed as though Sarai feared Isaac had no claim to his fathers inheritance since he was born second and urged Abraham to shun Hagar and their son so Isaac would take the place as first born. Starting a couple thousand year long blood feud over land.
December 16, 2015
I've always thought of Ishmael as a neutral character. He had no say in being born and was basically sent away, for practicing the ways of his mother. Yet God blessed him anyways and from him came a great people. He was also a good son as evidenced when he was present during Abraham's funeral. A very fascinating character
December 12, 2015
In the Torah (Genesis chapter 17 and later in chapter 21 ) G‑d told Abraham: "Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his seed after him..." "For in Isaac will be called your seed..." thus indicating that the true child of Abraham - his seed - is Isaac, not Yishmael(as is evidenced as well from later in chapter 17). Interestingly, Yishmael's mother is referred by G-d in those chapters as your maidservant, as opposed to Sarah who is referred to as your wife, further indicating the distance placed even between the mother of Yishmael from Abraham as opposed to Sarah - the mother of Isaac.
Simcha M Bart
Los Angeles
October 23, 2015
Muslims think that Ishmael was the one to be sacrificed as is stated something like sacrifice your only son" . Jews think that Isaac was the one to be sacrificed although they know Ishmael was first born. How do rabbis explain this.
October 17, 2015
This Torah story and the teachings of Sages are eye opener. Torah tells us the story of Jewish and Muslim people's ancestry and Quran confirms that. The Jews and the Muslims (Arabs) are children of Abraham. So what is this all fight about. Sit down together, read Torah , read Quran and talk to each other as a family. No more fight , no more oppression. The world is tired of their senseless conflict and this one way victory can not go forever. Today's victors can become tomorrow's victims. So shake hands, embraces each other and be at peace as a family.

I see Christianity in the middle and as such can serve a bridge to form a much larger Abrahamic heritage.
Mutahir Kazmi
September 20, 2015
Ishmael and Isaac

what is the meaning of each name. I found one reference which says Ishmael is "God will hear".
Deborah Lemons
Dale City
November 18, 2013
While Ishmael was 13, he fell ill which is why he could not walk on his own. This is also the reason why the supply of water was used up faster than they had expected.
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary, NC
November 12, 2013
How can hagar carry a 13 year old son and walk in the desert Ishmael was a child when she took him away and this is the missing chapter.
(And Abraham rose up in the morning and took loaves and a skin of water, and gave [them] to Agar, and he put the child on her shoulder, and sent her away, and she having departed wandered in the wilderness near the well of the oath )
There is something wrong in your story.
December 16, 2010
I love these studies from a Jewish viewpoint
I am an American and I have weekly Bible Studies in my home. I found this site about 3 weeks ago and have been using them in my studies. My students have enjoyed and are very happy with them. Thank you very much for this extra information that you have for anyone who wants and needs it. P.S. I pray for you always.
Irene Esparza
Lubbock, Texas/USA