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Verses 12-18


"Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their villages, and by their encampments; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is before Egypt: he abode over against all his brethren."

These seven verses are all that are devoted to Ishmael's posterity, the chief focus of the sacred narrator's concern being, not the posterity of Ishmael, but that of Isaac, to which he turned at once. The information here was given to show how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that Ishmael would be blessed, and even that he would dwell "over against," that is, adjacent to the Israelites, a phenomenon that has continued to the present day.

It is hardly profitable to follow each of these names into the racial history that followed. As a matter of fact, Morris correctly discerned that:

Through millennia of migrations and intermarriages, it seems likely that all of these peoples, the descendants of Keturah, together with the descendants of Ishmael, Lot, and Esau, along with earlier descendants of Shem, and, in some cases, Ham, have gradually merged and become the modern day Arabic peoples.[13]

At the time Abraham was buried, Ishmael was nearly ninety years old; and by that time his sons were all grown into strong and powerful leaders with strongholds and villages of their own, so they were called, "Twelve princes according to their nations."

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