11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.
12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:
13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,
14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,
15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:
16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.
Before we dive into the story of Isaac we have this summation of Ishmael, his life, and his family. Ishmael became a father to twelve sons, twelve princes who had towns and castles, powerful men in their own right. It is an interesting parallel that Ishmael’s legacy expands with twelve sons and Isaac’s legacy will be defined by twelve grandsons.
Of course, Ishmael’s line would eventually become the Islamic people, who have had a long and complicated relationship with the Israelites. But all of that drama would come later. For the duration of the Bible the Israelites competed more with the descendants of Lot (Moabites and Ammonites), Esau (Edomites), and Keturah (Midianites) than they did with the descendants of Ishmael.
So, this is where we take our leave of Ishmael and the nation that came from him. From here on out our focus is solely on Isaac and his posterity.
4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7 And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
Hagar’s success in conceiving a son became a point of competition between her and Sarai, not an unusual thing in these Biblical records. When Sarai dealt harshly with her, Hagar ran away, but while out in the wilderness she was met by an angel who told her to return and pronounced the future of her posterity.
Ultimately Hagar was not to bear the covenant line. This was the Lord’s domain, and He had chosen to reserve the promised blessings for Isaac. But Hagar and Ishmael were not forgotten by the Lord, He had reserved a destiny for them as well.
Hagar and her son were to become vagabonds, their path would be fraught with hardship and competition, just as Hagar had competed with Sarai, but in the end they would become one of the most prolific cultures in the entire world. Today the Islamic way of life, which perpetuates from Ishmael’s line, is second only to Christianity, comprising about a quarter of the entire world population! Hagar may have met the angel in a very humbling circumstance, but a storied and epic destiny awaited her posterity.