AskDefine | Define Ishmael

Dictionary Definition



1 (Old Testament) the son of Abraham who was cast out after the birth of Isaac; considered the forebear of 12 Arabian tribes
2 a person who is rejected (from society or home) [syn: outcast, castaway, pariah]

User Contributed Dictionary



From יִשְׁמָעֵאל (Ishmail), meaning: "God hears or obeys". Standard Yišmaʿel, Tiberian Yišmāʿêl; Arabic: , (Ismā'īl).

Proper noun

  1. In the context of "Judaism|Islam": The eldest son of Abraham and his wife's handmaiden Hagar who were cast out after the birth of Isaac; traditionally the ancestor of the Arabs.
  2. A given name.


Related terms


eldest son of Abraham
male given name
  • Finnish: Ismo

Extensive Definition

Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Standard Tiberian ; Arabic: إسماعيل, Ismā'īl) is a figure in the Torah, Bible, and Qur'an. Jewish, Christian and Muslim believers regard Ishmael as Abraham's older son, born by his wife's handmaiden Hagar. Though born of Hagar, according to Mesopotamian law, Ishmael was credited as Sarah's son (Bible verse |Genesis|16:2|NIV) According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Bible verse |Genesis|25:17|NIV).

Etymology and meaning

Cognates of Hebrew Yishm'e'l existed in various ancient Semitic cultures.
According to the Bible, Sarah (Abraham's wife) was childless, yet desired a son. She offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a surrogate. Customs of the time dictated that, although Hagar was the birth mother, any child conceived would belong to Sarah and Abraham.
Hagar became pregnant and proud of herself, which resulted in harsh treatment by Sarah. Hagar fled and ran into the wilderness, where an angel appeared to her by a spring of water. Abraham, obeying God's commandment, circumcised Ishmael when he was thirteen. The next year, Abraham's wife Sarah became pregnant with his second son, Isaac.), and she asked Abraham to expel him and his mother, saying: "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." Ishmael was very dear to Abraham. He initially refused to do as Sarah asked. Abraham provided Hagar and her child with bread and a bottle of water and sent her into the desert of Paran. Hagar, with her son, wandered in the wilderness and ran out of water. When they were reduced to great distress, an angel appeared and showed Hagar a spring of water saying "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
They lived in the wilderness of Paran, where Hagar's son became an expert in archery. His mother married him to an Egyptian woman.. Ishmael also appears with Isaac at the burial of Abraham. Ishmael died at the age of 137. Ishmael later repents and comes to revere his brother Isaac. The Talmud also mentions God's regret over Ishmael.
The Israelites regarded the supposedly freedom-loving and bellicose descendants of Ishmael as inferior because Abraham had expelled Ishmael and his mother. Hagar is associated with the Sinai covenant, while Sarah is associated with the covenant of grace (into which her son Isaac enters).
Ishmael (Arabic: Ismā'īl) is a prophet in Islam. The Qur'an considers him to be a son of Abraham. His name appears twelve times in the Qur'an mostly in a list with other prophets "as part of a litany of remembrances in which the pre-Islamic prophets are praised for their resolute steadfastness and obedience to God, often in the face of adversity."
Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of Arab people. According to the Muslim tradition, Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael through his son Kedar.
The Qur'an states that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son. The son is not named in the Qur'an (see ) and in early Islam, there was a controversy over the son's identity. However the belief that the son was Ishmael prevailed, and this view is continued to be endorsed by Muslim scholars.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í writings state that it was Ishmael, and not Isaac, who was the son of Abraham almost sacrificed. However, the Bahá'í writings also state that the name is unimportant as either could be used: the importance is that both were symbols of sacrifice. The Bahá'í writings also consider Ishmael an ancestor of Muhammad and the Arabs. According to Shoghi Effendi, there has also been another Ishmael, this one a prophet of Israel



*The Oxford Companion To The Bible
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion
Ishmael in Arabic: إسماعيل
Ishmael in Catalan: Ismael
Ishmael in Czech: Izmael
Ishmael in Danish: Ismael
Ishmael in German: Ismael
Ishmael in Spanish: Ismael
Ishmael in Esperanto: Iŝmael
Ishmael in Persian: اسماعیل
Ishmael in French: Ismaël
Ishmael in Indonesian: Nabi Ismail
Ishmael in Italian: Ismaele
Ishmael in Hebrew: ישמעאל
Ishmael in Malay (macrolanguage): Nabi Ismail a.s.
Ishmael in Dutch: Ismaël
Ishmael in Japanese: イシュマエル
Ishmael in Norwegian: Ismail
Ishmael in Polish: Izmael (syn Abrahama)
Ishmael in Portuguese: Ismael
Ishmael in Romanian: Ismael
Ishmael in Russian: Измаил (в Библии)
Ishmael in Simple English: Ishmael
Ishmael in Finnish: Ismael
Ishmael in Swedish: Ismael
Ishmael in Turkish: İsmail
Ishmael in Ukrainian: Ізмаїл (міфологія)
Ishmael in Urdu: اسماعیل علیہ السلام
Ishmael in Chinese: 伊希梅尔

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

DP, castaway, declasse, derelict, displaced person, evictee, exile, expatriate, expellee, leper, outcast, outcast of society, outcaste, outlaw, pariah, persona non grata, social outcast, unacceptable person, undesirable, untouchable
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1