The Written Account

of the Generations of Ishmael

25: 12-18

Moses edited and compiled eleven familydocuments in the book of Genesis. The major structural word for Genesis is toldot, which means the written account of, or this is what became of these men and their descendants. The noun is often translated generations, histories or descendants. After the section on the written account of the generations of Terah from 11:27 to 25:11, we have the eighth toldot, the written account of the generations of Ishmael. The previous toldot went from God’s covenant with Abraham to God’s son of promise. So what this eighth family document tells us is what became of Abraham; what became of Abraham was Ishmael, and because he was Abraham’s son, God would make him into a nation also, but he was not the son of promise.

This is the shortest toldot and it follows the second longest one. Ishmael, too, was a son of Abraham, so ADONAI told what became of him and his line before returning to the seed-line of Isaac and Jacob. Thus, Ishmael’s descendants are listed before Isaac’s descendants. Ishmael had twelve sons as the LORD had prophesied (17:20), and died at the age of one hundred and thirty seven years. His sons lived in the Arabian Peninsula from Havilah (in north-central Arabia) to Shur (between Beersheba and Egypt) to the east of Jacob and his sons. The children of Ishmael would dwell in the presence of all their brothers as God had prophesied (see Ej – Hagar and the Angel of the LORD).402

 

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