Ishmael

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
While studying Matthew Poole (see his Annotations at Gen. 25.8), I came across a statement from John Lightfoot cited by Poole in Poole's Synopsis at Gen. 25.17 which is of interest:

The salvation of Ishmael is probable from this phrase [Placed near to his people or "gathered unto his people" -- see Poole at Gen. 25.8], and from the prayer of Abraham for him, and God's response, Genesis 17:18, 20, and from the reckoning of his lifetime, and because Esau, so that he might placate his parents, married into his family.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
That may be as he grew up and embraced the faith of his father, but Paul explicitly sets him up as an example of one born after the flesh:

Galatians 4:29 "But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now."

Does Poole have anything to say about this text?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Poole acknowledges the mocking of Ishmael towards Isaac to be, as Paul says, persecution. See his Annotations on Gen. 21.9:

Gen 21:9. Signifying either by words or gestures his contempt of Isaac, and his derision of all that magnificence then showed towards his younger brother. And this carriage proceeding from a most envious and malicious disposition, and being a sufficient indication of further mischief intended to him, if ever he should have opportunity, it is no wonder it is called persecution, Gal 4:29, although the Hebrew word may be rendered beating him, as it is used 2 Sam 2:14.

But his point focuses on the use of the phrase "gathered to his people," which to some signifies the patriarchs or saints in heaven. This is from his Synopsis at Gen. 25.8 (these are collected notes on the text):

[To his people] They vary: 1. Unto the just in limbo. [Thus some of the pontifical men.] 2. He crossed over from the state of the living to the state of the dead (Oleaster, Bonfrerius, Lapide): that is to say, he died, just as also his ancestors (Fagius). But this cannot be understood of the body (Menochius, Piscator): 1. because next mention is distinctly made of the burial of the body (Piscator): 2. from the matter itself, since his body was not with the rest of the pious (neither in his fatherland [Menochius]), but in the land of Canaan, where only the body of Sarah was laid up (Piscator). Therefore, it is to be understood of the soul, which survives after dead and immortal (Menochius, Lapide). By fathers understand the perfected spirits of the just, Hebrews 12:23. See what things are written on verse 17 (Ainsworth); Acts 13:36 (Piscator). He departed unto the heaven of the Patriarchs, etc. (Osiander4).

At Gen. 25.8, he comments (in the Annotations):

he was gathered to his people; to his godly progenitors, the former patriarchs, the congregation of the just in heaven, Heb 12:23; in regard of his soul: for it cannot be meant of his body, which was not joined with them in the place of burial, as the phrase is, Isa 14:20, but buried in a strange land, where only Sarah's body lay. And it is observed, that this phrase is used of none but good men, of which the Jews were so fully persuaded, that from this very expression used concerning Ishmael here below, Gen 25:17, they infer his repentance and salvation. See this phrase, Gen 15:15; Gen 49:29; Num 20:24; Num 27:13; Judg 2:10.

Poole's comments from the Synopsis on Galatians have not yet been translated (the Annotations on Galatians were written by John Collinges, and he does not specifically address this). So I don't have the full background of Poole's views on the matter to report on, nor have I read Lightfoot on Gal. 4.29, but I found their comments in Genesis to be an interesting observation nevertheless.
 
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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Andrew, who is this Lightfoot I read about, especially in Gill. Where can his works be found..

John Lightfoot was an Erastian member of the Westminster Assembly and noted Hebraist and Biblical commentator. He wrote a commentary on the whole Bible. I posted a thread on him a while back which may be of interest, which includes a biographical link listing his works (see also here), which are to be found on the used book market. You can read his Horæ Hebraicæ et Talmudicæ here.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
And there is more that might lead one to think Ishmael was saved.

It was a difficult situation Ishmael found himself in. He was the eldest son, beloved of his father, yet it was clear the younger – the child of the promise, Isaac – was to inherit according to the rights of the firstborn. So he was resentful and mocking, and this caused Sarah to have great antagonism to the slave and her son, and moved her to expel them from the camp – all this in the providence of God. And Ishmael was maybe 15 or 16 at this time. Did this mean his character was through and through ungodly? He was Abraham’s sole and beloved son for 13 or 14 years, and no doubt he introduced him to his God, and the ways of his God. That he was not the child of promise, from whom the Seed of blessing would come – but born of his parents’ fleshly (faithless) desires – does not mean he did not know the God of his father. It but means he was not the child through whom the covenant promises would be fulfilled. His birth was of the flesh and not of the promise.

But remember, the LORD had had intimate and tender dealings with Hagar in the wilderness (Genesis 16). The phrase in verse 12, concerning her son to be born, “And he will be a wild man…” is often rendered “a wild ass of a man”. We here in this culture think little of asses (we use it as a name of derision), but in the nomadic culture a wild ass was a noble animal, untamed and independent, unconquered.

We see the LORD dealing graciously with Hagar again in Genesis 21, where she is once again in dire straits in the wilderness. Again He is tender with her, and says He has heard the voice of her son. In verse 20, when the Scripture says, “And God was with the lad…”, does not this indicate a care He had for Ishmael, the son of Abraham, brought up in the instruction and nurture of the godly father?

We Americans and British have an anti-Arabic (not referring to Muslims now) attitude, primarily due to our love of Biblical Israel, and the deep familiarity with have with things Jewish from our Old Testaments. If the Arabs, since the Diaspora, have sometimes persecuted the Jews, we see them as the enemies of ancient Israel. Truth be told, the Jews usually fared better under the Arab regimes than under the “Christian”!

For those interested in pursuing this line of thought I would recommend Dr. Tony Maalouf’s book, Arabs in the Shadow of Israel. Mine is the first review of the book, written under the nom de plume, Steve Levyn (Levyn my grandmother’s name).
 

Amazing Grace

Puritan Board Junior
And there is more that might lead one to think Ishmael was saved.

It was a difficult situation Ishmael found himself in. He was the eldest son, beloved of his father, yet it was clear the younger – the child of the promise, Isaac – was to inherit according to the rights of the firstborn. So he was resentful and mocking, and this caused Sarah to have great antagonism to the slave and her son, and moved her to expel them from the camp – all this in the providence of God. And Ishmael was maybe 15 or 16 at this time. Did this mean his character was through and through ungodly? He was Abraham’s sole and beloved son for 13 or 14 years, and no doubt he introduced him to his God, and the ways of his God. That he was not the child of promise, from whom the Seed of blessing would come – but born of his parents’ fleshly (faithless) desires – does not mean he did not know the God of his father. It but means he was not the child through whom the covenant promises would be fulfilled. His birth was of the flesh and not of the promise.

But remember, the LORD had had intimate and tender dealings with Hagar in the wilderness (Genesis 16). The phrase in verse 12, concerning her son to be born, “And he will be a wild man…” is often rendered “a wild ass of a man”. We here in this culture think little of asses (we use it as a name of derision), but in the nomadic culture a wild ass was a noble animal, untamed and independent, unconquered.

We see the LORD dealing graciously with Hagar again in Genesis 21, where she is once again in dire straits in the wilderness. Again He is tender with her, and says He has heard the voice of her son. In verse 20, when the Scripture says, “And God was with the lad…”, does not this indicate a care He had for Ishmael, the son of Abraham, brought up in the instruction and nurture of the godly father?

We Americans and British have an anti-Arabic (not referring to Muslims now) attitude, primarily due to our love of Biblical Israel, and the deep familiarity with have with things Jewish from our Old Testaments. If the Arabs, since the Diaspora, have sometimes persecuted the Jews, we see them as the enemies of ancient Israel. Truth be told, the Jews usually fared better under the Arab regimes than under the “Christian”!

For those interested in pursuing this line of thought I would recommend Dr. Tony Maalouf’s book, Arabs in the Shadow of Israel. Mine is the first review of the book, written under the nom de plume, Steve Levyn (Levyn my grandmother’s name).

Steve, I have wavered between the 2 options regarding Ishmael. Right now I am leaning towards his reprobation along the lines of Cain. God protected both with earthly blessings, yet did not receive the promise.

Paul speaks of such in Galatians
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Nicholas,

Well, even the OT saints noted in Hebrews 11 “received not the promise” (verse 39). The “promise” was Christ; the genealogical line through which the promise would come was from Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, etc. Yet it is written that “they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7), and it cannot be shown that Ishmael was not of faith. Paul himself persecuted the people of God, yet his heart was changed by the grace of God. I do not think the data shows that Ishmael’s mocking of the infant Isaac eliminated him from receiving the grace of God.

I believe the phrase “God was with…” is used only four other times in the Bible, besides its being written of Ishmael, “And God was with the lad…” Cf. 2 Chron 1:1 (of Solomon); 15:9 (of Asa); Acts 7:9 (of Joseph); and 10:38 (of Jesus).

The phrase “the LORD was with…” is used 17 times, in Genesis 26:28 (of Isaac); 39:2, 3, 21, 23 (of Joseph); Joshua 6:27 (of Joshua); Judges 1:19 (of Judah as a tribe); 22 (of “the house of Joseph); 2:18 (of the judges the LORD raised up); 1 Samuel 3:19 (of Samuel); 18:12, 14, 28 (of David); 1 Chron 9:20 (of Phinehas); 2 Chron 17:3 (of Jehoshaphat); Luke 1:66 (of John the Baptizer); Acts 11:21 (of the saints scattered after the death of Stephen, preaching in Antioch).

In every instance this term, whether with “God” or “LORD” or “Lord”, indicated that the Almighty was with them as their God and Savior. It is notable this very phrase was used of Ishmael.

Concerning Cain, the opposite was said of him: Cain said concerning God, “from Thy face shall I be hid” (Genesis 4:14); “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD” (4:16).

I believe Ishmael – which name was given him of God, and means “God shall hear” – found favor with the God of His father, Abraham.

In Galatians Paul is speaking allegorically and symbolically, and yes, he uses Hagar and Ishmael as types of the flesh, which they were as concerns the Messianic line, and of Ishmael's mocking, which he did; yet this does not warrant terming him personally a reprobate. As a type, he was cast in a negative role; as an individual the Scripture appears to show him in a more favorable light.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
:think: At the very least this is interesting. I certainly wouldn't want to be dogmatic about Ishmael's salvation on the basis of that single phrase. I do find it interesting that he was there with Isaac to honor his father when he was buried.

I really don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. I don't think we have to come down hard in either direction to preserve Paul's presentation in Galatians. At the time he mocked, he was definitely trusting in the flesh (I'm the older brother after all) but that wouldn't militate against a later repentance.

Just a bit too speculative for my taste to get too excited about one way or the other.
 

Amazing Grace

Puritan Board Junior
Hello Nicholas,

Well, even the OT saints noted in Hebrews 11 “received not the promise” (verse 39). The “promise” was Christ; the genealogical line through which the promise would come was from Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, etc. Yet it is written that “they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7), and it cannot be shown that Ishmael was not of faith. Paul himself persecuted the people of God, yet his heart was changed by the grace of God. I do not think the data shows that Ishmael’s mocking of the infant Isaac eliminated him from receiving the grace of God.

I believe the phrase “God was with…” is used only four other times in the Bible, besides its being written of Ishmael, “And God was with the lad…” Cf. 2 Chron 1:1 (of Solomon); 15:9 (of Asa); Acts 7:9 (of Joseph); and 10:38 (of Jesus).

The phrase “the LORD was with…” is used 17 times, in Genesis 26:28 (of Isaac); 39:2, 3, 21, 23 (of Joseph); Joshua 6:27 (of Joshua); Judges 1:19 (of Judah as a tribe); 22 (of “the house of Joseph); 2:18 (of the judges the LORD raised up); 1 Samuel 3:19 (of Samuel); 18:12, 14, 28 (of David); 1 Chron 9:20 (of Phinehas); 2 Chron 17:3 (of Jehoshaphat); Luke 1:66 (of John the Baptizer); Acts 11:21 (of the saints scattered after the death of Stephen, preaching in Antioch).

In every instance this term, whether with “God” or “LORD” or “Lord”, indicated that the Almighty was with them as their God and Savior. It is notable this very phrase was used of Ishmael.

Concerning Cain, the opposite was said of him: Cain said concerning God, “from Thy face shall I be hid” (Genesis 4:14); “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD” (4:16).

I believe Ishmael – which name was given him of God, and means “God shall hear” – found favor with the God of His father, Abraham.

In Galatians Paul is speaking allegorically and symbolically, and yes, he uses Hagar and Ishmael as types of the flesh, which they were as concerns the Messianic line, and of Ishmael's mocking, which he did; yet this does not warrant terming him personally a reprobate. As a type, he was cast in a negative role; as an individual the Scripture appears to show him in a more favorable light.

I agree here Steven. Like Richard said, we can specualte on all we are talking about. It is not the mocking that has me 'believing' in his reprobation, it is the fact that he is from the flesh,which equals Law. Insofar as receiving the promise, my intention of using that phrase was not a physical seeing, but being part of the promised seed. The Israel of God. Not just a bloodline lineage.

My connection with cain is from the thinking of protection and temporal blessings.

" Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall he taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.

There is a repetition of distinguishing between brothers, Cain/Abel...Isaac/Ishmael...Jacob/Esau So I am attemtping to draw the same conclusion where scriptures speaks on the issue. God chooses one over the other. God gives earthly blessings to both, yet it becomes a Law/Grace distinction. Since Ishamel is under Law, he therefore has not the blood fo Christ/grace given to him. Since born under Law, lived under Law, he(Ishmael) must keep it perfectly.

I agree we have treated him as if he is abandoned by God completely. For some reason, God took care of him, perhaps for Abraham's sake. (Gen 21:12 NIV) But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned/called.

Either way, I enjoy the study and will nto be polemical nor dogmatic.
 
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