Nicholas Midrashim: Ishmael
Ishmael means “G-d hears,” because Hashem heard the pleas of Hagar, his mother.
“And G-d was with the lad, and he grew, and he dwelt in the desert, and he became an archer.” (Gen 21:20)
Notice I’ve shown (or tried to show) Ishmael drawing the bow with his thumb, the method of the Medieval Islamic armies, not the European method of the three-fingered draw. I saw a historian on the History Channel saying it was due to this slightly more-powerful thumb draw that gave Muslim armies the slight edge in close battles that led to them defeating the Crusaders and taking back control of the Middle East.
Islam claims (and Jews agree) that Ishmael is the father of the Arab nation, and thus all Muslims.
I’m highlighting when he first left Abraham’s house, and became an archer, surviving in the wild. This stuff is so fascinating to me.
Here’s the passage in context:
Yaniv over at the Jew Is Beautiful blog has an excellent post on the subject of Ishmael, and the “Ishmaelites.”
The Ishmaelite Prophecies of Lech Lecha.
He focuses on the prophecy, “the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your affliction. And he will be a wild chamor (donkey, stubborn) of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone’s hand upon him, and before all his brothers he will dwell.'” (Genesis 16:11-12)
Yaniv tilts anti-Islam somewhat, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more detailed, intelligent analysis of Ishmael and his unique imprint on Islam. It’s a must-read.
He’s right that like Ishmael, Ishmaelites are aggressive, holy, monotheists.
And I think they have plenty to be proud of.