Named Before Birth – Ishmael

Named Before Birth – Ishmael

Named Before Birth – Ishmael.

“The Angel of the Lord said to Hagar, ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, which means ‘God Hears,’ for the Lord has heard of your misery” (Genesis 16:11).

Abraham and Sarah (at that time, Abram and Sarai) were unable to conceive a child, and it was assumed that Sarah was barren. So Sarah recommended that they produce a child through her Egyptian servant Hagar. In due time, Hagar became pregnant. Hagar then proceeded to feel superior to Sarah and treated Sarah with contempt.

In Genesis 16, we see pregnant Hagar fleeing from a jealous and angry Sarah and a befuddled Abraham. He conceived a child with Hagar, at Sarah’s request, and it brought nothing but trouble. So Hagar tried to escape this troublesome home and found herself in the wilderness at a spring of water. The Angel of the Lord appeared to her, comforted her, and directed her back to Sarah. If there were any doubts about this special Messenger, this Angel of the Lord, being the preincarnate Christ, we are told that the Angel prophesied to Hagar that she would have countless descendants, that she would bear a son named Ishmael. Her son’s name will serve to remind her that Yahweh has heard her affliction. Do other angels have the authority over life and destiny that this Angel did? No, only the heavenly Mesenger of Yahweh. Only Jesus has the authority or power to speak these divine words. Hagar had no doubt that she was talking directly with the Lord, for verse 13 states, “Then she called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, El-Roi, ‘you-are-God-who-sees.” And she followed that up by exclaiming, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” Hagar then named that spring of water nearby, “Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” God saw the humble Hagar and intervened. The Living One was indeed Jesus, who comforted the desperate and distraught Hagar, and cared for her, and sent her back to Abraham and Sarah. This was God’s will, and Jesus wanted it done.

God made a special appearance to Hagar, someone who could easily have been overlooked. Yahweh had His eyes on the lowly, and Jesus brought the message. His prediction however, wasn’t so encouraging… Ishmael was prophesied to be a “a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relations.” After Ishmael turned thirteen years of age, he started picking on his half-brother Isaac, making fun of him and belittling him. At this time, Hagar and Ishmael were permanently expelled from Abraham’s family. Ishmael grew up in the wilderness of the Sinai desert, and eventually married an Egyptian woman. Jesus’ prediction turned out to be totally true, of course, as Ishmael grew into adulthood. He fathered twelve sons, all of whom became leaders of warring tribes. Ishmael was noted for his love of combat, his skills as an archer, and a personality that loved a good fight.

We don’t know for sure what eventually happened to Hagar. There is a Jewish tradition that after Sarah died, Hagar returned to Abraham as a woman named Keturah, and they had six children. Abraham lived to a ripe old age of 175 years of age. Ishamel settled near Egypt and lived to be 137 years old. And as the prophecy predicted, Ishmael and his sons “lived in open hostility toward all his relatives.” (Gen. 25:18). It is remarkable, then, that both Isac and Ishmel were at father Abraham’s burial. They were thus able to unite together to honor their father.