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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

According to the NIV, Ishmael was always in his brothers' face. But was he?

Genesis 16:12 O/T/N/NIV
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward[b] all his brothers.”
[b] Or live to the east of

Genesis 25:17-18 O/T/N/NIV
Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward[b] all the tribes related to them.
[b] Or lived to the east of

The Hebrew phrase is the same both places, and literally means, "in the face of all his brothers."

Now, what we have here is an idiom carried over literally from Hebrew to English, and then paraphrased.

However, it is nonsense. If Ishmael lived in hostility with all his brothers,  then we would expect to read about it. However, nothing is ever said about Ishmael fighting with Isaac, Esau, Jacob, and the six sons of Keturah. In fact, he married off his daughter to Esau! And whatever differences he had with Isaac, they patched them up enough to cooperate in conducting their father's burial. Yes, his descendants took their second cousin Joseph captive to Egypt, but they did it in collusion not only with their other second cousins, the Midianites/Medanites, but also Joseph's own half-brothers! So, nothing to indicate the fulfillment of any particular prophecy about Ishmaelites not getting along with ANY of their relatives.

"To the east of" is even stupider. The area of Havilah and Shur is WEST of the areas where the other descendants of Abraham settled. The only place it is EAST of is Egypt itself.

What the translation should read is "in the presence of all his brothers."  In other words, Ishmael's descendants settled in the same general area as the rest of Abraham's descendents. In fact, their seed intermingled to the point now that you can't distinguish the descendents of Abraham through Keturah, Sarah, and Hagar. They are all now known as Arabs, with the exception of the seed of Jacob.

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