Who was supposed to be sacrificed Ishmael or Isaac?
Hagar was thrown out with Ishmael into the wilderness. From that time on, the name of Ishmael appeared together with the name of Abraham only at Abraham’s funeral. After Hagar and Ishmael were cast away, many days, (meaning- many years) had passed.
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days. And only after that God tests Abraham: And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Gen 22:2)
We all know the story very well … take special note of (verses 16 to 18), which occur right after the event. God said,
By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen 22:16-18)
Here, God repeats His Promise to Abraham concerning Isaac, the son of promise. Let’s read back in Genesis 12:3. and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. (Gen 18:18)
This was God’s intention. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 was made to Isaac, not to Ishmael or the other six sons of Abraham through Keturah. And it was Isaac, not Ishmael, who was offered as a sacrifice by Abraham, as God renewed His Promise in Genesis 22:18, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice”, right after the sacrifice was attempted. If we connect Genesis 12:3 and Genesis 22:18, we will see that God had in mind the same seed He was had promised to Abraham, not Sarai’s idea as a result of unbelief in God’s Word, or it’s wrong interpretation. Ishmael was not a part of that promise. Muslims scholars often point to certain words in Genesis 21:14-18 as proof that Ishmael was an infant during the expulsion of Hagar, therefore the narrative about Isaac being born before this event had been added later to corrupt the original text. (22 Gen 21:34)
Let’s look at these verses:
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave [it] unto Hagar, putting [it] on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against[him] a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against [him], and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he [is]. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. (Gen 21:14-17)
According to the Bible, Ishmael was about seventeen years of age when this event took place. In (verse 14), Abraham placed a bottle of water on Hagar’s shoulder, not the child’s; and secondly, this situation happened chronologically, only after Isaac was born, so we MUST take into consideration (verse 20 and 21).
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. (Genesis 21:20,21)
A lad is not a toddler. Here is the Hebrew meaning of this word: Na’ad – a boy, lad, servant, youth, retainer. Seventy-six times the Hebrew Scriptures refer to its use as “young man”. This word “na’ad” or “lad” appears also in Genesis 21:12, “And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman”, and in Genesis 21:17, “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven…” Even Isaac was referred to as a “lad”. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
24 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
It is quite evident that a toddler is not able to mock somebody, or speak to the Lord or carry enough wood for a burnt offering; he is too young even to speak well. If Muslim scholars believe that verses of Genesis 21:14-19 are indeed divine or at least somewhat reliable, why should they exclude (verses 12, 17, 20 and 21)? In addition, the Bible is very precise with regards to time, age, measurements and places. We know exactly when and where Hagar and Ishmael were living. Let’s read from the verse they believe is unchanged.
Gen 21:14 “…and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of …Beersheba.”
It is in Beersheba that an angel of the Lord opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and this place is still in the land of Canaan just 80 kilometers south of Jerusalem – about two days’ journey. Abraham’s camp was just 45 kilometers away in Gerar near Gaza. A jug or a bottle of water could be depleted very quickly, maybe just a few days after the start of a journey. The actual distance from Gerar to Mecca, (where the mountains known as Safa, Marwa and well Zam-zam are located), is 1261 kilometers, if the journey is on foot, walking an average of eight hours a day, 5 kilometers per hour. At this rate, one could reach Mecca in 31 days. There must be a 124 liters of water supply for two persons just to reach Mecca from Gerar … But Hagar had only one bottle (or jug). Where did she carry it? Correct! On her shoulder. How much volume per weight could she carry? Approximately 4-10 litres or so, just enough for two days’ travel, maximum. However, the distance from Gerar to Beersheba is less than 50 kilometers – just ten hours of walking (a day and a half), a reasonable distance that Hagar and Ishmael would have been able to walk, still having enough water in the bottle to last the trip. Muslim scholars suggest that Abraham walked with her to Mecca and once they reached their destination, he left her there with a bottle of water. (Verse 14) disputes this reasoning. Not only is a place mentioned, but the time frame as well. From the moment that God told Abraham to get rid of the bondwoman (Hagar) with her son Ishmael, only one night had passed (“early in the morning”). Gen 22:5,6
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave [it] unto Hagar, putting [it] on her shoulder, and sent her and the child away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. (Gen 21:14)
It is evident that Abraham did not go with Hagar, but let her travel from Gerar by herself. (See the map on the back cover for“the journey of Hagar and Ishmael to Beersheba from Abraham’s camp”). The Bible is very accurate and precise concerning this voyage recounted in these chapters of Genesis. Where Ishmael lived and died:
And he (Ishmael) dwelt in the wilderness of Paran…(Gen 21: 21)
Muslim scholars suggest that Paran is another name for Faran – the wilderness near Mecca. And therefore Ishmael was living with his mother near Ka’aba as it is in the Hadith.
Hadith Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583: Narrated Ibn Abbas:
Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’ba under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.
But if we will read the entire (verse 21 of Genesis 26) we will find out that Ishmael’s wife was taken from the land of Egypt and not from the Arabia, not from the tribe of Jurhum:
And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. (Gen. 26:21 )
Since we acknowledge that Hagar was Egyptian, it is most likely that she would have wanted to dwell closer to Egypt. Therefore, Paran would be located much closer to Egypt than Muslims scholars claim. If Hagar took an Egyptian woman to be Ishmael’s wife, it would make Ishmael’s sons to be considered 75% Egyptian and 25% Chaldean. The Bible gives us more details about Ishmael’s place of dwelling.
And these [are] the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that [is] before Egypt, as thou goes toward Assyria: [and] he died in the presence of all his brethren. (Gen 25:17,18)
Here it’s very clear that Ishmael had been living and had died just east of Canaan The book of 1 Samuel confirms this location.
And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. (1Sa 15:7)
We know that Ishmael and Isaac together buried Abraham in cave of Machpelah in Hebron: And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which [is] before Mamre; (Gen 25:9)
If Ishmael had been living in Mecca, then in order for him to travel Hebron, it would have taken him between 20 to 30 days. Therefore, we can safely assume that it would take the same amount of time for a messenger to come to Mecca with the sad news of his father Abraham’s death. In this situation, it would be impossible to keep the deceased’s body preserved for almost one to two months before eventual burial. Middle Eastern custom dictates that burial must occur within a few short days, as the body begins to rot immediately in the hot climate. Ishmael MUST have been living very close to Canaan in order to participate in Abraham’s burial, exactly as the Bible tells us.
In Genesis 35-37 we can read the story of Joseph being sold into slavery. Let us pay attention to the places mentioned there:
So Jacob came to Luz, which [is] in the land of Canaan, that [is], Bethel, he and all the people that [were] with him. (Gen 35:6)
And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. (Gen 35:16)
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Bethlehem. (Gen 35:19)
And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. (Gen 35:21)
And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. (Gen 37:12)
And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. (Gen 37:14)
And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. (Gen 37:17)
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit [was] empty, [there was] no water in it. (Gen 37:24)
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes an looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry [it] down to Egypt. (Gen 37:25)
We can trace on a map the places where Jacob lived. He gradually moved from the north to the south, from Bethel to Bethlehem and eventually to Hebron. He asked Joseph to visit his brothers in Shechem, which is north of Hebron. Joseph did not find them there and moved further north to Dothan. He was thrown into a pit by his brothers in Dothan. Ishmaelites who were traveling to Egypt purchased Joseph in Dothan. Let’s presume that the Ishmaelites were coming from Mecca. The shortest way to reach Egypt is just north of the Gulf of Aqaba. How was it possible for the caravan to go northwards for an extra 200 kilometers and come back all the way south just to buy Joseph? It doesn’t seem to be a logical decision. But if the Ishmaelites were leaving from Gilead, as the Bible plainly tells us, they met the sons of Jacob in Dothan on their usual way to Egypt from northeast of Canaan, just across the Jordan River, where they bought Joseph and continued on their journey without changing their direction. As we see, the Bible proves yet again that Ishmael and his sons were living relatively close to the home of Isaac and Jacob – just across the Jordan River between the Yarmuk River and the Sea of Galilee to the north and the Aron River and Dead Sea to the south, where the present-day capital city of Amman in Jordan is situated, which is no more than 1233 km. south in Mecca. Where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son We know also where Abraham and Isaac were living:
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days. (Gen 21:34)
Now, let’s look at the location where the sacrifice of Isaac must be done:
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. (Gen 22:2,4)
The land of the Philistines has always been situated in the Gaza area. From that place (near Gerar) to the mountains of Moriah, (now located in modern-day Jerusalem) is approximately 80 kilometers; a 16 hour walk (2.5 days). If one walks from Gaza to Moriah, one will arrive on the third day of the journey, exactly as the Bible tells us. (See the map on the back cover for “Abraham’s journey to the place of Isaac’s sacrifice”). All the stories recorded in the book of Genesis are in the correct, chronological order as is evidenced by this research. God doesn’t make mistakes! As we studied these ten chapters regarding God’s promise to Abraham, we have to admit that if we try to change times, events or places, the narrative will not make any sense.