🔼The name Ishmael in the Bible
There are a surprising six men named Ishmael in the Bible:
- The most famous Ishmael is the son of Abraham with Hagar. Because of rivalry between Hagar and Abraham's wife Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael are sent away and they end up in the Sinai desert where Ishmael becomes the father of a nation that exists of twelve tribes, just like Israel (Genesis 25:16). The Ishmaelites are known collectively as ישמעאלי (Genesis 37:25)
- A descendant of Jonathan (1 Chronicles 8:38).
- The father of Zebadiah (2 Chronicles 19:11).
- An officer under Joash (2 Cr 23:3).
- The murderer of Gedaliah, the Babylonian governor over the remnant in Judah (2 Kings 25:25).
- A priest who divorced his foreign wife (Ezra 10:22).
Note that the proper ethnonym ישמעאלי (Ishmaelite) occurs only once (1 Chronicles 2:17), and comes with a shorter version ישמעלי, which occurs just once too (1 Chronicles 27:30). The collective plural (ישמעאלים) occurs six times (Genesis 37:25, 37:27, 37:28, 39:1, Judges 8:24 and Psalm 83:6).
🔼Etymology of the name Ishmael
The name Ishmael consists of two elements. The first part comes from the verb שמע (shama'), meaning to hear:
The name Ishmael means He Will Hear God (Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) or God Hears (NOBSE Study Bible Name List). BDB Theological Dictionary lists a stylish El Heareth.