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Genesis 25:12-18

Context
The Sons of Ishmael

25:12 This is the account of Abraham’s son Ishmael, 1  whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham.

25:13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, by their names according to their records: 2  Nebaioth (Ishmael’s firstborn), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 25:14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 25:15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 25:16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their settlements and their camps – twelve princes 3  according to their clans.

25:17 Ishmael lived a total of 4  137 years. He breathed his last and died; then he joined his ancestors. 5  25:18 His descendants 6  settled from Havilah to Shur, which runs next 7  to Egypt all the way 8  to Asshur. 9  They settled 10  away from all their relatives. 11 

1 sn This is the account of Ishmael. The Book of Genesis tends to tidy up the family records at every turning point. Here, before proceeding with the story of Isaac’s family, the narrative traces Ishmael’s family line. Later, before discussing Jacob’s family, the narrative traces Esau’s family line (see Gen 36).

2 tn The meaning of this line is not easily understood. The sons of Ishmael are listed here “by their names” and “according to their descendants.”

3 tn Or “tribal chieftains.”

4 tn Heb “And these are the days of the years of Ishmael.”

5 tn Heb “And he was gathered to his people.” In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.

6 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Ishmael’s descendants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “which is by the face of,” or near the border. The territory ran along the border of Egypt.

8 tn Heb “as you go.”

9 sn The name Asshur refers here to a tribal area in the Sinai.

10 tn Heb “he fell.”

11 tn Heb “upon the face of all his brothers.” This last expression, obviously alluding to the earlier oracle about Ishmael (Gen 16:12), could mean that the descendants of Ishmael lived in hostility to others or that they lived in a territory that was opposite the lands of their relatives. While there is some ambiguity about the meaning, the line probably does give a hint of the Ishmaelite-Israelite conflicts to come.



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