Christian Churches of God

No. 212C




Descendants of Abraham

Part III: Ishmael


(Edition 1.1 20070203-20070203-20070417)


Abram and Lot were a tribe, but as yet Abram had no children of his own. They decided not to wait for Sarai to bear a child so Hagar, her handmaiden, was given to Abraham and he had Ishmael by Hagar.




Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright ã 2007  Wade Cox)


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Ishmael was Abraham’s first son; his mother was Hagar, an Egyptian who was the servant of Sarai (later named Sarah).


As Sarai had not been able to have children and was then over childbearing age, she gave Hagar to Abraham for the purpose of giving him a child. Sarai had been given Hagar whilst in Egypt and it is alleged by Arabs that the Pharaoh gave Hagar to Sarai from the Royal household in recompense for his sin.


The King James Version at Genesis 16:3 states that Hagar was given to Abraham by Sarai to be his wife.

Genesis 16:1-10 Now Sar'ai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar; 2 and Sar'ai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sar'ai. 3 So, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, Sar'ai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sar'ai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my maid to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!" 6 But Abram said to Sar'ai, "Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sar'ai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. 7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  8 And he said, "Hagar, maid of Sar'ai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sar'ai."  9 The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her."  10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude." (RSV)

Sarai did not wait for the promise of God but tried to pre-empt the birth of a male heir through her servant Hagar, which was customary in those days. However, Sarai was held in contempt by Hagar when she did conceive and bear a child.


It is important to note here that God, through the Angel of the Lord, made a covenant at this time to greatly multiply Hagar’s descendants. However, Ishmael, while being the firstborn, was not given the same promise as given to Isaac later. This was not the only occasion where the greater blessings were given to the younger son.


Genesis 16:11-16 And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ish'mael; because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.  12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen."


Yishma’el (SHD 3458) means God will hear. God blessed the lad and he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran and became an archer. Hagar took a wife from Egypt for him (Gen. 21:20). He was prophesied to become a wild man (or wild ass of a man) with his hand against all men. The wild ass of a man refers to the fact of his dwelling in the wilderness of a fiercely independent spirit over against his brethren. This is even more so today and he will not be truly free until Messiah comes (cf. also Isa. 21:13; Jer. 3:2; Ezra 8:31; Ps. 10:8-9).

13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "Thou art a God of seeing"; for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?"14 Therefore the well was called Beer-la'hai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish'mael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish'mael to Abram.


The traditional explanation of this event based on the text in Galatians 3:19 was that he was born through the weakness of Sarah’s faith and thus the Law came to represent the transgression, and the Levitical priesthood also became the precursor to the Messiah and the Church (e.g. see Bullinger’s note to v. 15 in The Comp. Bible).

God’s Promise to Abraham

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him. Note at this stage he is still called Abram, and it is at this time that he is given the promise that he would become the father of many nations and his name is changed to Abraham. This promise was not simply to point to a genetic inheritance but also to the fact that through his son Isaac he would be the ancestor of the Messiah and salvation would be extended to the nations. The name Abram (SHD 87) means high father and points to the very fact of God extending Himself to become the Father of many nations (or a multitude (SHD 85) as the Ha Elohim, the prince of the Elohim. It was in this act and promise that God revealed His Plan to the world.


Genesis 17:1-16  When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."  3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.  6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.  7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."  9 And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house, or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money, shall be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." 15 And God said to Abraham, "As for Sar'ai your wife, you shall not call her name Sar'ai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."


Circumcision was a sign of God’s Covenant with the sons of Abraham and the elect.


The names given to God’s servants are very important. Just as Abram means high father and Abraham means father of a great multitude, we saw that change of name was also a change of status. In the same way Sarai means my lady or my princess, while Sarah means lady or princess and princess of the multitude, again showing the change of status and the extension of this covenant between God and His people and the extension of salvation to the Gentiles through His Church.


Abraham was concerned for Ishmael and asked God that Ishmael might live in His sight. However, the covenant was with Isaac. Nevertheless, God also promised that Ishmael would also be the father of many. He would be the father of twelve princes and he would be a great nation. Thus there exists a covenant with Ishmael as an extension of Isaac under the Messiah.


Genesis 17:17-27 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "O that Ish'mael might live in thy sight!" 19 God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  20 As for Ish'mael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year." 22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ish'mael his son and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ish'mael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ish'mael were circumcised; 27 and all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.


The story of Isaac and that of the sons of Keturah are dealt with in paper Numbers 212E, 212F, and 212C respectively.  At the end of his life, Abraham was buried by his two elder sons, which is indicative of a continuing relationship between him and the brothers.  He was 175 years old.


Genesis 25:7-10 These are the days of the years of Abraham's life, a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.  9 Isaac and Ish'mael his sons buried him in the cave of Mach-pe'lah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10 the field which Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife.


The Bible does not give a great deal of information regarding Ishmael, however his descendants are listed at Genesis 25:12-18. He lived to 137 years of age and indeed had 12 sons as was prophesied. He also had a daughter, Bas'emath, who was the sister of Neba'ioth. Bas'emath later married Esau (Gen. 36:2-3).


We will deal firstly with Hagar. We know little from the Bible apart from the basic details of the birth of Ishmael. She was an Egyptian, a slave to Sarai, a concubine of Abram and the mother of Ishmael.  The meaning of her name is a stranger; one that fears. 


1Chronicles 5:10-20 deals with wars against the Hagarites during the time of Saul. The descendants of Isaac went to war against the descendants of Hagar.  These descendants were known as Hagrites, Hagarites or Hagarenes.


Psalm 83:6 indicates that the Ishmaelites and the Hagarites were two separate peoples. This appears to indicate that Hagar went on to have other children later who became a ‘people’ or nation in their own right. Here Ishmael and the Hagrites are denoted separately.


Psalm 83:5-8 Yea, they conspire with one accord; against thee they make a covenant --  6 the tents of Edom and the Ish'maelites, Moab and the Hagrites,  7 Gebal and Ammon and Am'alek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assyria also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. [Selah]


The online Jewish Encylopedia at, in its article on Hagar (by Solomon Schechter,  Gotthard Deutsch   Executive Committee of the Editorial Board.   Emil G. Hirsch  Hartwig Hirschfeld), states:

There are in various passages in Chronicles, however, references to the tribe of Hagarites, who were neighbors of the transJordanic tribes of Israel and were driven from their homes by them (I Chron. v. 10, 18-22; xi. 38; xxvii. 31). The Hagarites have been identified with the Agraioi mentioned by Strabo (xvi. 4, 2), and though Arabians, they do not belong to the Ishmaelites.


It is generally assumed that the Ishmaelites became the Arabs of the Middle East. The Hagarites lived east of Gilead, which is in the hills near Amman Jordan, but later moved to present day Iraq.


The Historians’ History of the World makes the Hagarites an Ishmaelite clan but mythologises their ancestry along with that of Ishmael in the first reference, but seems to treat it as genuine in the second regarding Ezra (ibid., Vol. 2, pp. 66,129). has an article on the subject of Hagar. It notes that W.W. Muller held the view that a city of the people of Hagar would have been written as han-Hagar in Aramaic and possibly Hagara. Thus it is argued that when this name is Hellenised it would have become Gerrha.


It is also noted that H. von Wissmann proposed that the term Hagar could be used to describe a walled city with towers and bastions.


Using these theories archaeologists have speculated that the east Arabian Kingdom of the Gerrhaeans can be attributed to the descendants of Hagar. History tells us much more of the people known as Gerrhaeans in the Greek world.


Nicander of Colophon, writing in the third century BCE, mentions in a poem the “nomads of Gerrha and those who plough their fields by the Euphrates” (A.S.F. Gow and A.F. Scholfield, Nicander, The Poems and Poetical Fragments, Cambridge, 1952, p. 111). There are thus two groups, one being the nomads of Gerrha and the other a sedentary farming community on the Euphrates nearby.


There is little mention of them in either Assyrian or Chaldean records. However, many historians have put forward theories about them.


Movers suggested that it might have been Nebuchadnezzar who exiled the nomadic Gerrhaeans as part of a policy to protect his country from menacing Arab tribes (F. C. Movers, Das phonizische Alterthum, Berlin 1856, iii. 308).


Newman says that whether there is a connection between the Hagrites of 1Chronicles 5:10, 19-20; Psalm 83:6-H83:7 is not certain but seems likely since two of the sons of Ishmael (Gen. 25:15) are Hagrites (1Chr. 5:19) (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Hagar’, Vol. 2, pp. 508-9).


The biblical account tells us in 1Chronicles 5 that:

1Chronicles 5:19-22 And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Naphish and Nodab. 20 And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all who were with them; for they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated by them because they put their trust in him. 21 And they took away their cattle, of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses, two thousand, and of men a hundred thousand. 22 For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their stead until the captivity. (KJV)


This might be read two ways but the text in Psalm 83:6-8 says plainly:

The temples of Edom, the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also is joined with them, they have the children of Lot

Thus we must assume that at least by the time of David the Ishmaelites and the Hagarites had split into a minimum of two identifiable groups.


R. F. Schnell in his article on the Hagrites also says the link is not certain but considers that they are likely the “Agraioi referred to by the Greek geographers Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny” (ibid. art. ‘Hagrite’, p. 511). Under Saul, they were conquered by Reuben and Trans-Jordanian Israel, who extended their boundaries to the desert and occupied their lands. That may have forced their move north towards the Euphrates after the conquests of David.


Importantly, Schnell notes that the Sons of Hagar or ‘Agarenes (KJV) are mentioned in connection with Teman in Baruch 3:23, but the text is not considered significant and, in keeping with the tradition of the East, mentioned also in 1Kings 4:30-5:10; Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8 (ibid.).


It was obvious at the time of Baruch that the sons of Hagar were considered to be associated with Teman.


The expulsion of the Gerrha nomads

Rawlinson dates the expulsion of the Nomads of Gerrha to the Neo-Assyrian period after Sennacharib had exterminated the Chaldeans in 694 BCE and suggests he expelled a number of people (including the nomadic Gerrha) and relocated the Chaldeans there (Rawlinson, G. H., Intercourse between India and the Western World from the Earliest Times to the Fall of Rome, Cambridge, 1926, p.6).


In an article titled The Twelve Lost Tribes of Ishmael we read the comments and then the quotations from the ancient writers we see as follows:

“Most writers, however, have favored a date either in line with the fall of the Chaldaean supremacy a the hands of Achaemenids (eg. A.H. L. Heeren, A manual of Ancient History, (Oxford 1833); O. Blau 'Altarabische Sprachstudien: 2 Theil' ZDMG 27 (1873), 328; H. Kiepert, Lehrbuch der alten Geographie' Berlin, 1878, 188; S. Genthe, Der Persische Meerbusen; Geschichte und Morphologie, Inauguraldiss. (Marburg, 18896), 10; A.W. Stiffe, 'Ancient Trading Centres of the Persian Gulf, iii: Pre-Mohammedan Settlements", GJ9 (1897), 311; Tkac, Gerrha, 1271) or else at some point in the Achaemenid era, (e.g. Kennedy, The Early Commerce of Babylon", 271 and n. 5 believed that the Chaldaeans left Babylon after Darius I re-conquered the city in 488 BC. Cf Shiwek, 'Der Persische Golf', 64) who suggested that the expulsion of the Chaldaeans took place during the reign of Xerxes following the brutal repression of the revolt in Babylon of Megabyzus in 482 BC. Because Gerrha is not mentioned by Herodotus, M. Amer proposed an even later foundation in 'The Ancient Trans-Peninsular Routes of Arabia," 135


Strabo 16.4.19 tells us that "from their trafficking both the Sabaeans and the Gerrhaeans have become richest of all (the Arabians). "


Strabo 16.3.3 records: "The Gerrhaeans import most of their cargo on rafts to Babylonia and thence sail up the Euphrates with them, and then convey them by land to all parts of the country." and "The Gerrhaeans traffic by land for the most part, in the Arabian merchandise and aromatics..."


Agatharchides (200 - 131 BC) tells us "... Petra and Palestine where the Gerrhaeans and Minaeans and all the Arabs who live in the region bring incense from the highlands, it is said, and their aromatic products."


Juba (25 BC - 25 AD) and Pliny (AD 77)(NH 12.40.80) records: "For this trade (with Elymais and Marmania) they opened the city of Carra (Gerrha) where their market was held. For they all used to set out on the twenty-day march to Babba and Syria-Palestine. According to Juba's report, they began later for the same reason to go to the empire of the Parthians. It seems to me that still earlier they brought their goods to the Persians rather than to Syria and Egypt," which Herodotus confirms, who says "the Arabs paid 1,000 talents of incense yearly to the kings of Persia."



Location of the later Gerrha

D.T. Potts, in his two-volume series entitled The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity (Volume II, From Alexander the Great to the Coming of Islam, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990) using Strabo’s description, suggests that Gerrha would have been located in the region of the modern port of al-Jubayl in eastern Saudi Arabia.


Strabo said that that Gerrha was located two hundred stadia distant from the sea, and 2,400 stadia from Teredon (which would have been located near modern-day Basra). It is Potts suggestion that there was both a city of Gerrha and also a port of Gerrha and that they were located some twenty miles apart.


The Mystery

The question as to whether Hagar remarried and had other children is considered by some to be a matter of conjecture. The question as to whether the Hagarites are the descendants of Ishmael, Hagar’s first-born or only son, or the sons of another tribe altogether is still to be solved. Perhaps the advances in DNA will tell us the definite solution once the tribes are properly identified and tested.


We are going to attempt to identify the Twelve Tribes of Ishmael and their previous and current locations. They were nomadic but they also kept a reasonably comprehensive genetic record.


The biblical record places the Hagarites in the desert east of Palestine and towards Babylon. Writing in the third century BCE, Nicander of Colophon mentions the nomads of Gerrha, and places them along the shores of the Euphrates River. They expanded and later the name Gerrha was applied to the entire eastern coast of Arabia.


Some students such as those at assume that the Hagarites and subsequently the Gerrhaeans (their Greek name) refer to the twelve tribes that came from Ishmael, and subsequently from Hagar. They consider it to be very probable that the Jews simply referred to them as the descendants of Hagar, lumping together Ishmael's children and any other children that Hagar may have had. They say: “In the male dominated culture of the Middle East, it is doubtful that a tribe would call itself after a female descendant. The Jews, however, may have gladly done this in a derogatory sense.”


Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 says that Hagar as a slave represents the Old Covenant while Sarah, being a free woman, represents the New Covenant.


Galatians 4:21-31 Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married." 28 Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. 30 But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." 31 So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.


The comparison by Paul is aimed directly at Judah. It claims Jerusalem as its centre and relies on the physical aspects of its descent from Isaac and the promise of salvation as a physical one. Paul uses the analogy of the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac to illustrate the fact that the Church is to Judah what Judah considered itself to be towards Ishmael. The entire covenant was established with Abraham to point towards Christ and ultimately would rest in the Church, which was open to the Gentiles and not just to Ishmael, and the sons of Lot and Esau but to all the nations of the world as part of the Israel of God in Christ.

The Sons of Ishmael

The sons of Ishmael became the Arab Bedouin also, and we now have many tribes named that consider themselves distinct from the Bedouin. We will now examine those tribes.


Genesis 25:12-18 These are the descendants of Ish'mael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maid, bore to Abraham.  13 These are the names of the sons of Ish'mael, named in the order of their birth: Neba'ioth, the first-born of Ish'mael; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Ked'emah. 16 These are the sons of Ish'mael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes. 17 (These are the years of the life of Ish'mael, a hundred and thirty-seven years; he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his kindred.) 18 They dwelt from Hav'ilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria; he settled over against all his people.


Chronicles also lists the sons of Ishmael.


1Chronicles 1:29-31 These are their genealogies: the first-born of Ish'mael, Neba'ioth; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,  30 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema,  31 Jetur, Naphish, and Ked'emah. These are the sons of Ish'mael.


As noted above, Ishmael also had a daughter whose name was Mahalath, but she was also called Basemath.


Nebaioth, or Nabajoth, and his brothers settled in Arabia. Josephus notes this in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 12.4.

 “These inhabited all the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea, and called it Nabatene. They are an Arabian Nation, and they name their tribes from these, both because of their own virtue, and because of the dignity of Abraham their father.”


He was the head of the tribe named after him. He and his brother Kedar were renowned for sheep rearing in the time of Isaiah (Isa. 60:7).

All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebai'oth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house.


This verse shows the two tribes of the sons of Ishmael that will be converted and they will offer sacrifice to God in Jerusalem as part of the millennial Restoration. The “rams of Nebai’oth ministering to you” is an allusion to the function of the first-born of Ishmael as part of the priesthood under the Messiah.


While Josephus and other scholars have previously identified Nebaioth with the Nabataeans, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) says that the fact of a spelling difference makes this theory unacceptable. The Jewish Encyclopaedia also discards this theory.


From Assyrian records we learn that King Ashurbanipal (668-662 BCE) fought with the Nabataeans. However, a group of Chaldeans, including some neighbouring tribes, rebelled against Sennacharib, the Assyrian ruler, in 703 BCE. Among the rebels, the records of Tiglath- pileser III lists the Nabatu (possible descendants of Nebayoth, Ishmael’s eldest son) and the Kedarites (descendants of Ishmael’s second son). These tribes were not conquered and they were recorded as fleeing from Assyria into the Arabian Desert.


As might be expected the Assyrian kingdom was eventually divided as the two brothers began to rule – one as King of Babylonia and the other King of Assyria. Then in 652 BCE when conflict broke out between the two brothers, the Kedarites supported the Babylonian king in an invasion of western Assyria. They were defeated, and fled to the leader of the Nabayat for safety. When the Kedarites and the Nabayat later attacked the western borders of Assyria they were defeated.


Some three hundred years later the Zenon papyri, which date from 259 BCE, mention that the Nabatu were trading Gerrhean and Minaean frankincense, transporting it to Gaza and Syria through the Kedarite centres of northern Arabia, Jauf, and Tayma.


Historical records clearly state that in 586 BCE the Edomites began to move north into the Jewish lands that Nebuchadnezzar had emptied. So also the Arabian tribes began to move northward. In time the Nabatu began to occupy the vacant land left by the Edomites and eventually make it the centre of the Nabataean Empire.


Based on merchant trade, the Nabataeans went on to build an impressive civilization. While the city of Petra was the original capital, Bostra, in Syria, was also utilised as a royal city. Other cities were also built in the Negev, in northern Saudi Arabia today, and in parts of modern Jordan. However, in 106 CE the Nabataeans seceded their empire to the Romans and over time they lost their individuality.


However, the Jewish Encyclopedia in its article by George A Barton on the Nabataeans states that they are not identical with Nebayoth.


Barton states that while it was initially thought that the Nabatæans were the same people as the Nebajoth of Genesis 25:13, and also with the Naba-a-a-ti of the annals of Assurbanipal, it is now considered that they should be identified with the Kadmonites of Genesis 15:19.


As inscriptions have been found written in Aramaic, it appears that the Nabataeans were of Arabian background but possibly they were Arabs under Arabian influence. 


Schurer, in The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, (ed. Vermes, et al., T. and T. Clark Edinburgh, 1987, Appendix II, pp. 574ff.) says that so little is known of the Nabateans that not even their ethnic origin is certain. Their language on inscriptions and coins was without exception Aramaic, which indicates they were Aramaeans. Yet, on the other hand, they were repeatedly spoken of as Arabs by ancient writers, not only by those remote from them in time but also by Josephus who is expected to know full well the difference between the two.


From this evidence it has therefore been concluded that they were Arabs who, because Arabic was not yet developed into a written language, made use of Aramaic which was the civilised language of the time for literary purposes. Schurer considers their identification with the Nebayoth of Genesis 25:13, 28:9; 36:3; 1Chronicles 1:29; and Isaiah 60:7 as an Arab tribe as very improbable. Thus he discounts them as being sons of Ishmael.


It is only from the beginning of the Hellenistic period that a coherent picture of them emerges.

They were at that time settled where the Edomites lived between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, in the region of Petra which Schurer says is probably not identical with the old Sela of the Edomites (ibid.,  p. 576).


After Antigonus had driven Ptolemy Lagus from Coele-Syria in 312 BCE, he sent his general Athenaeus against the Nabataeans with 4000 infantry and 600 cavalry and attacked their fortress at Petra by surprise. However, due to his own carelessness, his army was virtually annihilated in a night assault by the Nabataeans (ibid.). Antigonus then sent his son Demetrius to subdue them but without success. According to Diodorus who wrote the account, they were primitive pastoral nomads who had not developed a kingship. The first known dynasty of these people was Aretas who was described as Tyrannos or tyrant. The High Priest Jason sought refuge with him in 168 BCE (2Mac. 5:8).


They were friendly with the Jewish party in the Maccabean revolt in 164 and 160 BCE (see 1Mac. 5:25; 9:35). Their power reached as far as east of the Jordan. In the end of the second century BCE when the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires collapsed, they reached their greatest power under Erotimus (Aretas II?) ca. 110-100 BCE.


The Palestinians and Syrians were defeated a number of times by the Arabs seemingly under the king of the Nabataeans from 93 BCE (Alexander Jannaeus) to 87 BCE (Antiochus XII) perhaps both times under Obodat or Obodas I. Antiochus XII fell in the battle at Cana.


Thus we have a fair idea of the strength and power and we know their location, but if Schurer is to be followed they are not Ishmaelites but are Arabs of the sons of Keturah. They are not Edomites of the sons of Esau. It is possible that they are both.


They traded from Egypt and Gaza through Petra to central Arabia and as far as Babylonia.  Other trade routes were also available to them and a colony was established at the Italian port of Puteoli. There they erected a temple to their  native deity. They developed a coinage in the 2nd century BCE bearing the names of the following rulers: Malchus I. (Maliku), c. 145 BCE; Obodas I. (Obodath), c. 97-85; Aretas III. (Haretath Melek Nabatu), c. 85-62; Obodas II. (Obodath Melek Nabatu); Aretas IV. (Haretath), 2-50 CE; Malchus III, 50-70; and Rabel, 70-95.


Aramaic inscriptions show that the Nabataeans controlled the area from the Arnon to Damascus early in the First Century and later lost the Hauran and Peræa to Herod. However, they were able to maintain a line of fortresses linking their southern dominions with the region around Damascus, over which they still held a protectorate.


In the time of Augustus the Nabatæan kingdom became dependent on Rome, as did the Judean kingdom.


Most of the extant dated Nabatæan inscriptions come from Aretas IV, Malchus III., and Rabel, kings of this period and interestingly it was Aretas’ (Haretath) daughter who was divorced by Herod Antipas in favour of Herodias (Josephus, Ant. Jews, xviii. 5, 1; Mat. 14:3ff.).


It was during this same rule that Paul escaped from Damascus (2Cor. 11:32). The Nabatæans provided assistance to the army of Titus during the siege of Jerusalem (Josephus, l.c. xvii. 10, 9) (see also the paper War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple (No. 298)).


The Nabatæan kingdom ended under Trajan with the nearer portions of it brought into the Roman province of Arabia. In 106 CE, so Schurer records, Arabia belonging to Petra; in other words Nabataean Arabia was made a Roman province by Cornelius Palma, governor of Syria on the orders of Trajan (ibid., p. 585).


We can thus assume that if the Nabataeans were not originally Arab but Aramaic (sons of Aram) the region and its people were subsequently absorbed into and, under the Romans, formed part of the province of Arabia.


If the Nabataeans were indeed the Kadmonites of Genesis 15:19 then we are dealing with the Qedem, of the land of Qedem which is the east country (Gen. 25:6 RSV). The Messiah will always come from the east and hence the orientation of the Hebrews was to the east as being to the “front.” It was to the land of Qedem that Abraham sent the sons of Keturah and that was believed to have been in the Syrian Desert, east of Byblos. The lands of the Kadmonites, the Kenites and the Kenizzites were given to the descendants of Abraham and thus they were absorbed into the sons of Keturah. The sons of Qedem are identified as “the people of the east” which was to include Job a son of Issachar of Israel (Job 1:3; cf. 18:20), and the camel-riding Midianite Kings (Jdg. 8:10-12, 21, 26) and the wise men who bore names of Arabian association (1Kgs. 4:30-31 (H5:10 see Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 3, p. 2, art. ‘Kadmonites’).


The Kenites were a tribe of semi-nomadic smiths or metalworkers and occupied the rock country south of Tell Arad on the western slopes of the mineral rich Wadi Arabah above Tamar (Num. 24:21; Jdg. 1:16). The Arabic Sleib, who are nomadic metalworkers, are not held in the same respect as these Kenites were from as early as 1300 BCE. They were originally living in Canaan, which land was promised to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:19). The reference in Numbers 24:21 says they are “set in the rock” which places them at the time of Balaam in the Wadi Arabah.


In Judges 4:11 the Kenites are designated as descendants of Hobab (cf. Jdg. 1:16).


The Interpreter’s Dictionary considers that they may have been living among the Midianites and taught them metal work and it is thought that Moses learned metal work while among the Kenites and Midianites, as the term is also applied on occasion to Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. Shortly after this the Kenites entered Palestine as part of Israel in the tribe of Judah and this relationship seems to be reaffirmed in 1Samuel 15:6 where the Kenites were described as showing loyalty to Israel in the Exodus. At that time they had become associated with the Amalekites and Saul warned them to separate if they wished to avoid destruction. (ibid., p. 6).


In the period of the Judges a nomadic branch of the Kenites under Heber inhabited Galilee (Jdg. 4:11; 5:24) (Int. Dict., ibid.,  p. 7).


1Chronicles 2:55 describes as Kenite certain families of scribes who dwelt in Jabez in southern Judah, tracing their ancestry from Hammath father of the house of Rechab. There is a significant E3b YDNA composition among Jews, which probably came from the Canaanites.


The last mention of the Kenites in the Bible is when David, whilst he was living in Gath of the Philistines, plundered clans living in the Negeb of the Kenites (1Sam. 27:10) and then David sent spoil to the elders of Judah and to his kinsmen (cf. LXX) among whom are those named as residing in the cities of the Kenites (1Sam. 30:29).


The Kenites to the east became absorbed into the Arabs. However, the postulated relationship between the Kenites and the Arab tribe of the Banu’l-Qayn living in the region between Teima and Hauran in the sixth century CE just before the time of the Prophet cannot be demonstrated (ibid.).


The Kenizzites mentioned are a composite group that were present in Canaan when their lands were promised to be given to the descendants of Abraham. The name also applies to the sons of Eliphaz, first-born of Esau, and are dealt with in that section.


The Kenizzites are a non-Israelite composite group that moved into the Negeb from the southeast before the main body of the conquest. They were composed of the clans of the Calebites who occupied Hebron (modern El Khalil) (Jos. 14:6-14; 15:52-54). The second group were the Othnielites who occupied Debir (modern Tell Beit Mirsim?) (Jos. 15:15-19; Jdg. 1:11-15). The third possible group may have been the Jerahmeelites, who must have occupied the southernmost hill country of Judah. They were associated with the Edomites and the Kenites. Thus the southern group associated with the Nabataeans that has later Arab association is also associated with Edom and Judah, but may actually derive from none of them but rather from early Canaan and have association with Aram and hence Aramaic as well as with the Arabs and Jews.


Kedar (blackness; sorrow)

There are a few allusions to Kedar in the Bible. Prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah indicate wars and defeat but that in the end times they will be restored and placed within Israel as part of the Messianic Kingdom. The first-born plays a lead roll in the ministry but also the sons of the second-born, Kedar, are placed within the restoration amongst the flock, which is the Church of God. They were a nomadic people trading particularly in sheep and goats and living in tents.


The name Kedar was rendered by the Hebrews as Qedar and by the Assyrians as Qidri. The Arabs refer to them as Qidar They became a powerful tribe of Arabs in the northwest Arabian Peninsula. They dwelt in black tents, which were well known in the ancient world. The Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, fought a battle against them in 599 BCE. This was part of the subjugation of the southern Semites, the final part of which was the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. Jeremiah foretold the battle in Jeremiah 49:28-29.  The tribe of Kedar had a long history of conflict with the sons of Asshur and they are mentioned in the Assyrian records of Ashurbanipal and in those of various other Assyrian kings with whom they were in conflict. In these records Kedar and Nebai’oth are in close association.


Kedar also lived at Mecca (Makkah). The Arab genealogists say there are 40 generations from Kedar to ‘Adnan and his son Ma’ad from whom ‘Adnanian Arabs trace their ancestry. The Hadith says that the Prophet only traced his ancestry back to ‘Adnan and stopped there as he held the uncertainty of the genealogy from that date. He is quoted as saying, “Genealogists tell lies” (cf. Rahmat-ul-lil’alameen 2/7-17). Thus the Prophet was not a “Pure” or al-‘Ariba Arab, which actually is a term applied to sons of Shem both from Aram and Arphaxad (see also Descendants of Abraham Part IV: Sons of Keturah (No. 212D)).


The Prophet was an Arabicised Arab or al-Musta’ribah of the sons of Ishmael. Some famous noble ‘Ananaite families from the Quriesh group are Alnazi, Altamimi, Almaleek, Bani Khaled, Bani Kolab, Bani hashim etc.


The term al-Musta’ribah is also used for non-Ishmaelites or the Mixed Arabs of both groups


The forty generations of Kedar between him and ‘Adanad are no doubt also dispersed into a great people and later absorbed into other tribes. The time-frame of forty generations is 1600 years. If we only allow twenty years per generation it is still 800 years until ‘Adnan, being some time in the end of the period of Judges and the fall of Troy. If thirty years are allowed we are at the period after the fall of Israel and at about the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Thus the wars with the Assyrians and the expansion of the Spartans into Laconia were all before ’Adnan and the wars were fought by the sons of Kedar and Nabai’oth, and these tribes were subjugated by David as were those of Meshech and the Syrians before what became Sparta was conquered.


The expansion of the Edomites occurred after the fall of Israel and Judah. The expansion occurred from ‘Adnan at Mecca.


Ma’ad son of ‘Adnan had only one son, Nizar.


Nizar had four sons who branched out to form four great tribes. These were:

  1. Eyad
  2. Anmar
  3. Rabi’a
  4. Mudar

The last two formed a variety of septs.

Rabi’a fathered Asad, Anazah, ‘Abdul, Qais, Hanifa and others. Rabi’a’s son, Wa’il, had two sons Bakr and Taghlib.


The Mudar tribes formed into two great divisions:

  1. The septs from Qais ‘Ailan bin Mudar
  2. The septs of Elias bin Mudar.


From Qais ‘Ailan came:

The Banu Saleem, the Banu Hawazin, and the Banu Ghatafan, from whom descended, ‘Abs, Zubyan, Ashja’ and Gani bin A’sur.


From Elias came:

Tamim bin Murra, Hudhail bin Mudrika, the banu Asad bin Khuzaimah and the septs of the Kinana bin Khuzaimah, from whom came the famous Quraish, the descendants of Fahr bin Malik, bin An-Nadr bin Kinana.


The Quraish branched out into various tribes, the most notable being Jumah, Sahm, ‘Adi, Makhzum, Tayim, Zahra, and three septs of the Qusai bin Kilab, ‘Abdud-Dar bin Qusai, Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin Qusai and ‘Abd Manaf bin Qusai.


‘Abd Manaf branched out into four tribes:

  1. ‘Abd Shams
  2. Nawfal
  3. Muttalib
  4. Hashim


It is from the family of Hashim that the man Abu Qasim, the Prophet of Arabia, is descended, being Qasim bin ‘Abdullah, bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib bin Hashim, called Muhammed.


The line is Ishmael to Kinana to Quraish, to Hashim to Qasim known as Muhammed (cf. Muslim 2/245; Tirmidhi 2/201).


(cf. also


Thus Kedar’s most well-known contribution was when one of the descendants of Kedar, Abu Qasim, was converted to the Christian faith. His followers later corrupted the faith with what became known as the Hadith, a compilation of traditions and false interpretation that was later used to establish the religion of Islam.


The children of ‘Adnan spread out over Arabia. From them came also the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais with the septs of Bakr bin Wa’il and Tamim who emigrated to Bahrain.


The Banu Hanifa bin Sa’b bin Ali bin Bakr settled in Hijr the capital of Yamama. Thus all the tribes of Bakr bin Wa’ol lived in the area of land which included Yamama, Bahrain, Saif Kazima, to the sea’s shore and to the outer borders of Iraq, Ablah and Hait.


Most of the tribe of Tahglib lived in the Euphrates area and some of them lived with the Bakr.


The Banu Tamim lived in the Basra semi-desert.


The Banu Saleem lived in the vicinity of Madinah (Medinah) between Wadi Al-Qura to Khaibar to the eastern mountains of Harrah.


The Taqif lived in Ta’if and Hwazin east of Mecca near Autas on the Mecca-Basra road.


The Banu Asad lived on the east of Taim and west of Kufa with the Banu Tai’ living between them and Taim, some five days walk from Kufa.


Zubyan lived on the lands between Taim and Hawran.


Whilst some septs of Kinana lived in Tihama, the septs of Quraish lived in Mecca and were disunited completely.


The Quraish were finally united on honourable terms, which recognised their status and importance as a tribe, by Qusai bin Kilab who rallied their ranks thus making them a force (cf. Mudadrat Tareekh Al-Umam Al-Islamiyah 1/15-16).


For the movement of the sons of Keturah into Mecca and Medina under the Roman occupation of Arabia see the paper Descendants of Abraham Part IV: Sons of Keturah (No. 212D).


The importance of the Qureish was increased significantly and many of the sons of Kedar trace their origins through his family.


For example: there are two families descended from the Prophet in Basra, being the Barakat and the al-Naqib. There are altogether 150 tribes in Iraq, thirty of which are the most important. Most of these tribes or clans regard loyalty to their clan as being more important than any national loyalty.


The full list of the septs or tribes of the family of the Prophet in Iraq are given at Annex A. There are seventy-two septs or sub-tribes claiming descent from the Prophet in Iraq alone.


However there are many of the sons of Ishmael through Kedar in Iraq. The Rabi’a are centred around the Kut city area.


The Bani (Banu) Tamim are in central and southern Iraq with

The Bani Ka’b Federation are also in Basra and in the Kurdestan Province in Iran.


The Arab Federations and their locations in Iraq are in Appendix A.


Prophecy under the Babylonians

Jeremiah speaks of Kedar under the Babylonians.


Jeremiah 49:28-39 Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor which Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon smote. Thus says the LORD: "Rise up, advance against Kedar! Destroy the people of the east! 29 Their tents and their flocks shall be taken, their curtains and all their goods; their camels shall be borne away from them, and men shall cry to them: `Terror on every side!'  30 Flee, wander far away, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Hazor! says the LORD. For Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon has made a plan against you, and formed a purpose against you.  31 "Rise up, advance against a nation at ease, that dwells securely, says the LORD, that has no gates or bars, that dwells alone. 32 Their camels shall become booty, their herds of cattle a spoil. I will scatter to every wind those who cut the corners of their hair, and I will bring their calamity from every side of them, says the LORD. 33 Hazor shall become a haunt of jackals, an everlasting waste; no man shall dwell there, no man shall sojourn in her." 34 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedeki'ah king of Judah.  35 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might; 36 and I will bring upon Elam the four winds from the four quarters of heaven; and I will scatter them to all those winds, and there shall be no nation to which those driven out of Elam shall not come.  37 I will terrify Elam before their enemies, and before those who seek their life; I will bring evil upon them, my fierce anger, says the LORD. I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them; 38 and I will set my throne in Elam, and destroy their king and princes, says the LORD.  39 "But in the latter days I will restore the fortunes of Elam, says the LORD."


Ezekiel 27 deals with the lamentation of Tyre. Tyre was a great trading centre and Kedar was a favoured resource for trade in sheep and goats.

Ezekiel 27:21 Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your favored dealers in lambs, rams, and goats; in these they trafficked with you.


Isaiah states that the nation of Kedar, who were mighty men and skilled archers, would be defeated.


Isaiah 21:14-17  The oracle concerning Arabia. In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge, O caravans of De'danites. 14 To the thirsty bring water, meet the fugitive with bread, O inhabitants of the land of Tema. 15 For they have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the press of battle. 16 For thus the Lord said to me, "Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end; 17 and the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken."


These wars will come to an end and the Messiah will establish the men of Kedar and use those of the first-born Nebai’oth to convert all of the Arabs and the sons of the Middle East, and they will be brought to peace and ruled from Jerusalem.


Adbeel (vapour, or cloud of God, also servant of God).


This tribe was located in the northwest of Arabia close to Kedar and Nebaioth. They are mentioned in Genesis 25:13 and 1Chronicles 1:20. S. Cohen says they were identical with the Idiba’ileans that were conquered by Tiglath-pileser III (some attribute as II) and then appointed as guards on the Egyptian frontier (Interp. Dict., Vol. 1, p. 45).


These Idiba’ileans are the Idibi’ilu of Arubu. Some authorities attempt to locate the tribe in the Sinai because they dwelt in the west.


Mibsam (smelling sweet) and Mishma (hearing; obeying)

Again, there is little information about these two tribes. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that as these two names are also noted in 1Chronicles 4:25ff. in relation to the sons of Simione, and that they were two Arabian tribes, which may have become affiliated with the Simionites. 


These two tribes appear to have been associated with the Idiba’ileans in the same area.


The accuracy of this is not fully known.


S. Cohen identifies Mibsam as a descendant of Simeon and the father of Mishma from 1Chronicles 4:25 and appears to make them distinct from the Ishmaelites (Interp. Dict.  art. ‘Mibsam’, Vol. 3, p. 369). However, in his article ‘Mishma’ on p. 404 he notes that there is a Jebel Mishma between Teima and Jebel Shamar; but the reading is uncertain. He then goes on to say that the presence of the two names here and in the Ishmaelite genealogies may indicate that the two were Arabian tribes that had become affiliated with Simeon in the course of the latter’s expansion southward (vv. 38-43).


It may be that they became affiliated from Egypt even before the Exodus perhaps even under the Hyksos, as the text in Genesis would seem to require an early connection; but the southern expansion of Simeon seems a very plausible explanation.


These tribes would thus also be Jews and perhaps scattered in Israel as well.


Dumah (silence)

The Dumah are held to be the Idumaeans. The name of Dumah is still preserved in the modern Arab city of Dumat-al-Jandal, which was the capital of the tribe.


Now this cannot be correct as Dumah is a son of Ishmael but is also used to refer to Mt. Seir, which is the home of the son of Esau. Isaiah 21:11 makes that connection. Thus we must assume that a section of the tribe of Dumah was connected with Edom in Mt. Seir while the northern section of Dumah lived in the area in Mesopotamia to the north. The explanation is probably that, as Edom moved northwest into the lands of depopulated Israel and Judah, the Dumah moved into the lands of Mt. Seir and seemingly absorbed into Edom but, at the very least, were prophesied against by Isaiah.


The Jewish Encyclopedia, in its article by Emil G. Hirsch, Solomon Schechter and Kaufmann Kohler, states that in biblical literature Dumah has been found in Dumat al-Jandal in Arabia, called Jauf today (Yakut, s.v.; Burkhardt, Travels in Syria, p. 662), and compared with Domatha (Pliny, Historia Naturalis, vi. 32; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v.). The Dumathii are mentioned in Porphyry, De Abstinentia (ii. 56), as an Arabian tribe which sacrifices a boy every year and buries him under the altar of its idol. The name Dumah seems to point, like the name Hadramaut (Gen. x. 26), to some legend of Hades (cf. Glaser, Skizze der Gesch. und Geographie Arabiens, 1890, p. 440).


It goes on to say that it is the name of a land probably identical with the territory of the tribe of Ishmael (Isa. xxi. 11). The Septuagint substitutes Idumea (see commentaries ad loc., and comp. Abu al-Walid's Dictionary, s.v. ).

Also, it is the name of a city of Judah (Josh. xv. 52). The Ginsburg MS., the Vulgate, and the Septuagint have "Rouma", but Jerome's and Eusebius' Onomastica, s.v., mention a village of the name of "Dumah", which has been identified with "Khirbat Daumah" in the neighbourhood of Bait Jibrin.


Dumah is mentioned in the biblical records as a city in Canaan (Josh. 15:52). It is also associated with Edom and Seir in Isaiah 21:11. From

Dumah is generally identified by historians with the Addyrian Adummatu people. Esarhaddon related how, in his attempt to subdue the Arabs, his father, Sennacherib struck against their capital, Adummatu, which he called the stronghold of the Arabs. Sennacherib captured their king, Haza'il, who is called, King of the Arabs. Kaza'il is also referred to in one inscription of Ashurbanipal as King of the Kedarites.


From a geographical standpoint, Adummatu is often associated with the medieval Arabic Dumat el-Jandal, which was in ancient times a very important and strategic junction on the major trade route between Syria, Babylon, Najd and the Hijaz area. Dumat el Jandal is at the southeastern end of Al Jawf, which is a desert basin, and often denotes the whole lower region of Wadi as Sirhan, the famous depression situated half way between Syria and Mesopotamia. This area has water, and was a stopping place for caravan traders coming from Tayma, before proceeding on to Syria or Babylonia.

This strategic location effectively made Dumah the entrance to north Arabia. This oasis was the center of rule for many north Arabian kings and queens, as related to us in Assyrian records.

Massa  (a burden; prophecy)

From the Nabataean website:

The records of Tiglath Pileser III mentions the inhabitants of Mas'a and of Tema, who paid him tribute. On the summit of Jebal Ghunaym, located about fourteen kilometers south of Tayma, archeologists Winnett and Reed discovered some graffiti texts mentioning the tribe Massaa, in connection with Dedan and Nebayot. These texts refer to the war against Dedan, the war against Nabayat and the war against Massaa. Therefore, these tribes appear to have been close to each other at this time. The tribe of Massaa is possibly connected with the Masanoi in the vicinity of Tema.


Hadad (joy; noise; clamour)

Some historians speculate that this tribe may have become known as the Harar, or the Hararina people, that lived near the mountains northwest of Palmyra. It is also interesting to notice that there is a Hadad tribe in Arabia. Most of the Hadads are now Christians, and are located throughout the Levant (e.g. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine).


Jewish Encyclopedia article by Emil G. Hirsch and M. Seligsohn states that it is the …

 “name of several Idumean kings, the meaning of which is "a loud noise." It was primitively the name of an Aramean divinity and formed a part of various Aramean theophorous names, as "Hadadrimmon" and "Hadadezer." The name was borne by: 1. The third Idumean king, who reigned before the time of the first king of Israel, and who gained an important victory over the Midianites (Gen. xxxvi. 35; I Chron. i. 46). 2. The last Idumean king (I Chron. i. 51). In Gen. xxxvi. 39 the name occurs as "Hadar." 3. A member of the royal house of Edom, who escaped the massacre under Joab and fled to Egypt (I Kings xi. 14 et seq.: see Edom.). 4. () One of the sons of Ishmael (Gen. xxv. 15 [A. V. "Hadar"]; I Chron. i. 30)”.


Tema (admiration; perfection; consummation).

Cohen says that he was a son of Ishmael and hence the name of an Arabian locality (Gen. 25:15; 1Chr. 1:30).


It is the same as the modern Teima which is an oasis located ca. 250 miles SE of Aqaba on the road to the head of the Persian Gulf and about 200 miles NNE of Medina on the road to Damascus. To the west lies the Nefud Desert which separates Tema from Dumah and Edom. In view of its strategic location at the junction of the two main caravan routes it was an important caravansary (Interp. Dict. of the Bible, art. ‘Tema’, Vol. 4, p. 533). These caravans are mention in Job 6:19 and headed to that city. The oracle in Isaiah 21:14, which bids the inhabitants of Tema help their fugitive brethren with food and drink, is thought to refer to the campaign of Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria in 738 BCE. Although parts of Northern Arabia were conquered, Tema escaped destruction by paying tribute to the Assyrians, as did other oases.


However, Jeremiah issued dire warnings against them (Jer. 25:23; cf. 49:28-33). Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon waged campaigns against the region and the prophecy may have referred to that campaign or had a dual aspect.


Nabonidus (555-539) was the last king of Babylonia and was in danger from the Medes and Persians. In 552 BCE (following Cohen), he left his son Belshazzar to rule in Babylon (cf. Dan. 7:1) and destroyed the city of Tema and its populace, then rebuilt it and repopulated the city with a large range of different people. He lived there for ten years (ca. 549-539) probably to consolidate the region and consolidate his links with Egypt, which was his only ally against the Persians. However, God raised Cyrus in 540 BCE to conquer the Babylonians. According to Xenophon Cyrus conquered all that region of Arabia, with Babylon itself falling a year later (ibid.).


The Assyrian records also show that a coalition headed by Samsi, queen of the Arabs, was defeated and made to pay significant tribute. The coalition was made up of Massaa, the city of Tayma, the tribes of Saba, Hajappa, Badana, Hatti, and Idiba'il, which lay far to the west.


Female rulers among the ancient Arabs were not uncommon as we saw with the Queen of Sheba.


Note the names of the coalition and their relationship to the sub-tribes of Ishmael and also of Keturah to the south-east and to the far west of Tema.


The Assyrian Sennacharib named the great gate at Nineveh the Desert Gate because the tribute of the Sumu’anites and the Temaites entered through it.


These people are not to be confused with the Temani or Temanites who are a clan of the people of Esau (Gen. 36:11,15). Those people lived at Tawilan NE of Elji on a shelf of land above Elji and below Jebel Heidan, which rises above it to the NE. From the Early Iron Age I-II pottery (ca. 1200-600 BCE) found there, it seems to have been of considerable importance (ibid., art. ‘Teman’, pp. 533-534). This was a very fertile area and thickly populated. One of the kings there was Husham of the Temanites (Gen. 36:34; 1Chr. 1:45).


Jetur (order; succession; mountainous)


This tribe of Ishmael (Gen. 25:15; 1Chr. 1:31) was one of the tribes at war with Israel in the Tranjordan (1Chr. 5:19).


Saunders (Interp. Dict., art. ‘Iturea’, Vol. 2, p. 773) places it NE of Galilee in the Anti-Lebanon country settled by Arab people of Ishmaelite stock. The region was included in the Tetrachy of Philip (Lk. 3:1). Saunders holds that the people known from the Second Century BCE (by the Hellenised form) as ‘Itouraoi are undoubtedly the same tribe as the descendants of Jetur mentions in Genesis 25:15 and as being the enemies of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (1Chr. 5:19). Schurer says exactly the same thing in his work (The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, ed. Vermes et al., T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1987, Vol. 1, Appendix 1, p. 561).


The exact boundaries of the Itureans of northern Palestine are difficult to define. It is not certain whether Iturea and Trachonitis were wholly distinct districts or overlapped or were identical.


Strabo (Geography XVI.2.16,18) locates the kingdom of the Itureans in Anti-Lebanon in the Beqa’ valley with its capital at Chalcis, and carefully distinguishes it from the territory of the Trachons.


Josephus describes a campaign against them by Aristobulus I in 105-104 BCE (Saunders, ibid.).


They were forcibly annexed by Judea and the men were forcibly circumcised (A of J, XIII, xi, 3).


Originally they were a hill people living on the western slope of Anti-Lebanon and perhaps in the larger Lebanon region towards Phoenicia.


In the First Century BCE under Ptolemy and Lysanius the kingdom developed lands to its greatest extent, extending from the sea in the west to Damascus in the east and included the lands of Panias and Ulatha in the south, down to and perhaps including the northern borders of Galilee. After the death of Lysanius in 36 BCE the kingdom may have been divided into several smaller districts.


Schurer details the extent of Iturea in his work. He notes Gaulanitis to be to the east of the Jordan and taking its name from the Golon and was the ancient Bashan (Deut. 4:43; Jos. 20:8; 21:27; 1Chr. 6:56). Josephus distinguishes upper and lower Gaulanitis and says Gamal lay in lower Gaulanitis east of Lake Genessaret (B. J. iii 3,1 (37)) and Gaulanitis provided the eastern boundary of Galilee (vol. 1, p. 337 n.). It is thus the lowlands east of the Jordan from its source to the southern tip of Lake Genessaret. The district of Panias, which was occupied by the Itureans, was located on the town of Panias at the source of the Jordan (Vol. II, 23:1). It belonged in earlier times to Zenodorus and before that it was the kingdom of the Itureans. The comment by Luke referred in fact to only a small part of what was once a far greater kingdom. The Itureans were regarded by both Greeks and Romans as an uncivilised bandit people and they designated them as both Syrians and Arabians. The references in Vergil, Lucan, Cicero and Strabo all mention their skill as bowman. The Hellenized name first appears in the second century BCE before Roman rule in Palestine. They formed a strong confederacy scattered throughout Lebanon. In the First Century BCE they were ruled by Ptolemy the son of Mennaeus (ca. 85-40 BCE) and Strabo says he possessed “Massyas and the Mountainous country of the Itureans” (Geography XVI.ii.10). Pompey destroyed many of the fortified strongholds and reduced the area. His son Lysanius inherited the tribal principality and is referred to as a King of the Itureans by Dio Cassius (XLIX.32); he ruled the principality until his death in 36 BCE. At the instigation of Mark Antony large portions were given to Cleopatra, and both Plutarch (Antony 36) and Josephus (Antiq. XV.iv,1-2) confirm this.


The subsequent history is confused but it was probably divided into four parts. In 20 BCE Augustus conferred the tetrarchy of Zenodorus, who was successor to Lysanius as a vassal of Cleopatra, on Herod the Great who in turn bequeathed it to his son Philip (Josephus, Ant. xv. 10, 3) (see also Saunders, Interp. Dict., loc. cit.).


The tetrarchy centred on Abila was conferred by Claudius on Herod Agrippa I in 41 CE (see also Josephus, Antiq. XIX.v.1 and XX.vii.1). Abila lay 18 Roman miles from Damascus on the road to Heliopolis and is now the village of Suk on the Barada and which lies on the remains of the ancient town. The town contains the place of the tomb of the Prophet Abel, hence Abila or Abilene (Schurer, p.567).


The Lysanius son of Ptolemy is not the Lysanius referred to in Luke and Josephus. It is a much younger Lysanius that Josephus is referring to, and archaeological evidence both at Abila (Corpus Inscriptorium Graecarun 4521) and Heliopolis (4523) has now confirmed that both Josephus and Luke are referring to this younger tetrarch who ruled Abila before 47 CE.


In 38 CE the territory of Soemus of the Itureans was seized by Caligula and later incorporated into the province of Syria.


Saunders considers that it probably consisted of the northern territory below Heliopolis to Laodicea, which was the tetrarchy of Arca (Saunders, ibid.).


The southern borders of Philip’s territory also excluded the cities of Bosra and Salcah, south of the Hauran, as we have inscriptions placing the Nabataean kings Malchus and Aretas over them. However, from an Aramaic inscription Schurer says that Hebran on the southern slope of the Hauran belonged to Philip (op.cit., p. 338 n.).


The Wikipedia states that

Itureans are first mentioned by Eupolemus – as one of the tribes conquered by David (Eusebius, Præparatio Evangelica, ix. 30) – and subsequently by Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Josephus, and others, some of whom designate the Itureans as Arabs and others as Syrians. They were known to the Romans as a predatory people (Cicero, Philippics, ii. 112), and were appreciated by them for their great skill in archery (Cæsar, Bellum Africanum, 20).


That Iturea was in the region of Mount Lebanon is confirmed by an inscription of about the year 6 CE (Ephemeris Epigraphica, 1881, pp. 537-542), in which Q. Æmilius Secundus relates that he was sent by Quirinius against the Itureans in Mount Lebanon. In 38 Caligula gave Iturea to a certain Soemus, who is called by Dio Cassius (lix. 12) and by Tacitus (Annals, xii. 23) "king of the Itureans." After the death of Soemus (49) his kingdom was incorporated into the province of Syria (Tacitus, l.c.). After this incorporation the Itureans furnished soldiers for the Roman army; and the designations "Ala I. Augusta Ituræorum" and "Cohors I. Augusta Ituræorum" are met with in the inscriptions (Ephemeris Epigraphica, 1884, p. 194).


Herod the Great settled Jews from Babylon in Batanea (Schurer, loc. cit., pp. 337-338) and the populace in these areas of Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, Gaulanitis, Panias and also, as Luke says, Iturea (Lk. 3:1) was a mixture of re-settled Jews, YDNA K2 Tarshish Phoenicians, Druze, Greeks, Syrians and Arabs. The name of Massyas may also indicate another Arab or Syrian tribe.


The actual break-up of the area of the Itureans is placed by Schurer as most probably in the governorship of Quirinius when his praefectus Q. Aemelius Secundus undertook a military expedition against the Itureans (Schurer, loc. cit., p. 569).


Certainly under Claudius the kingdoms of Chalcis and Iturea existed side by side. In 38 CE Caligula placed the Itureans under a Soaemus who died in 49 CE and the Itureans were incorporated into Syria. Thus the Syrians were a composite of Ishmaelites and Aramites who are not descendants of Abraham and other nations.


The Romans then raised auxiliaries from the Itureans once they were in Syria, and their cohorts and cavalry served all over the Empire.


Naphish  (the soul; he that rests, refreshes himself, or rests)

The ISBE records Naphish as the 11th son of Ishmael and the chief prince of the Arabian tribe that descended from him. The tribe was defeated by the Transjordan Israelite tribes and survivors were taken captive. Some became temple slaves and are listed among the families that returned from exile (Ezra 2:50; Neh. 7:52).


This tribe can be considered as a part of Judah today.


Ked'emah (oriental; ancient; first)

They are identified as the Kadmonites, a people of the east, listed with the Kenites and Kenizzites of Edom. They are also dealt with elsewhere in the papers dealing with Edom and the other sons of Abraham.

Marriage into Edom

Genesis 36:2-3 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholiba'mah the daughter of Anah the son of Zib'eon the Hivite, 3 and Bas'emath, Ish'mael's daughter, the sister of Neba'ioth.


Jeremiah, chapters 40 and 41 mention Ish'mael the son of Nethani'ah, but he is not the Ishmael discussed here.


Thus we have identified the sons of Ishmael and their various movements and the likely places of their residence. They have moved all over the Middle East and all over the world, but they can be identified by their YDNA.










Appendix A


Descendants of Abraham

Arab Tribes in Iraq



Sub Group

Place of Settlement

Federations (qabila)





centred in the Maysan governorate

‘ANZA (pronounced ‘Aniza) federation



‘AZZA federation


around Balad



centred in the Anbar governorate


Al-Bu Fahd group



Al-Bu Nimr

 (from al-Ramadi)








Al-Bu Fahad



Al-Bu Dhiyab



Al-Bu Mahhal



Al-Bu Issa

 (in Fallujah)



 (in Fallujah)





Al-Bu Assaf



Al-Bu Risha



Al-Bu Aiwan



Al-Bu Farraj








BANI KA’B federation


centred south of the city of Basra and across the border in the Khuzestan province of Iran











A1-Sa’dun clan (tribal leaders)






Bani Khalid (plural al-Khawalid)



Bani Qais (Al-Qaisiyun)



Bani Sa’id



Bani Hassan

(southern Iraq)


Bani Khafaja






Al-Bu Salih









Bani Zaid




(An-Naasriya, south of Iraq)







RABI’A (pronounced Rubai’a)


centred around the Kut city area



the Ninawa governorate

BANI TAMIM (sometimes written Timim or Temim)


central and southern Iraq


al-Suhail clan (tribal leaders)

 near Abu Uhuraib



section centred in the Diyala governorate



section in the Basra governorate and across the border in the [[Arabs of Khuzestan/Khuzestanl] province of Iran


Tikriti federation




Al-Bu Nasir (includes Saddam Hussein)



Al-Bu Ajeel







 al-’Alam and Tarmiya




Note: The ‘AZZA, DULAYM, JABUR, Janabi and  ‘UBAYD federations above are all

subsections of the  ZUBAYD


Baghdad area





SHAMMAR is a subsection of the Tayy Tikrit area


Shammer Jarba (Sunni)


Shammer Toga (Shia)















Al-Bu Mohammed


Al-Bu Aitha


Al-Bu Amir




Al-Muj ama’










Al-Dafaf a


Al-Bu Muhyi


Bani Saad


Bani Lam






Shammar Toga



Mosul area



100,000, most of them in western Anbar province







Al-Bu Hamad


Al-Bu Hamdan


Al-Bu Badran


Al-Bu Mitaywit













Descendants of the Khazraj section of the Ansar


subsection of the Tayy




Tikrit area



Al-Bu Nasir



Al-Bu Latif















Al-Bu Farraj










 An individual from this tribe will have the name of Mash-hadani






Tarmiya and in Al-Hawejah (The individual called Al-Mashayikhi)



Najaf area



Al-Bu Dush





















Bani Hassan



Bani Assad






Abu Gulal




Hilla area



Al-Bu Sultan



Al-Bu Amir





































Arnarah area



Bani Lam



Al-Bu Mohammed






Al-Bu Darraj




























Basra area






Bani Malik Bani Assad



Bani Mansour






Bani Khalid












Al-Duwasir (Bedouin)






Al-Mutayr (Bedouin)






























Nasfriyah area



Al-Bu Salih


(Alrumaieth, Nassrallah)





































Bani Rikab



Bani Hassan



Bani Khaigan



Bani Assad



Bani Zaid











(Tribal leaders of the Muntafiq federation that ruled southern Iraq, Kuwait and northern Arabia)



Al Diwaniyah area










































Bani Hacheem













Kut area












Shammar Toga



Bani Lam



















Kirkuk area





















Bani Zaid












Jibari (Kurdish)



Dawoudi (Kurdish)



Salehi (Kurdish)



Shwann (Kurdish)



Zengena (Kurdish)




Baquba area




Bani Tamim


Bani Zaid


Bani Ways


Bani Lam












































Al-Bu Jawari








Shammar Toga



Ramadi area














Al-Jubour Shammar



(Zoba is a subsection of Shammer)




Other northern tribes




It is said that this was originally a Turkmnen tribe that later mixed with the al-’UBAYD


Al-Hadid (plural al-Hadidiyun)


The Bani Harb







southern Haweeja plains


Basra Families


Descendants of the noble family of the Prophet Muhammad






From the Bani Khalid (Khawalid)



Muhammad A1-lsa



Najdi families




Other families



















Sheikh Khaz’al


Khan (Mohammed Khan Family)


Bedouin tribes

‘ANIZA (pronounced ‘Iniza) (The Royal families of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain are traced to this

tribe. The sheikh general lives in western Iraq. This is one of the largest Arab Bedouin tribes, with clans in

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Gulf countries, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Turkey and Egypt.)












Al-Bu Mitaywit














Bani Khalid (plural Al-Khawalid)






Descendants of the family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad

Al-Awadi (Najaf)


Al-Mossawi Al Yaseen (Najaf)


A1-Mushahadah in Tarmiya



Kirkuk, Hawija and Baghdad

Al-Bu Milais


Al-Bu Badri


Al-Bu Baz


Al-Bu Aswad


Al-Bu Abbas


Al-Bu Darraj


Al-Bu Issa


Al-Bu Nissan


Al-Bu Udhaym



Balad, Samarra and Baquba



Al-Bu Nasir


Al-Hadid (plural al-Hadidiyun)



family in Basra


Basra Al-Ridaini in Basra

Barakat family


Al-Hakim family

Naj af

Kamuna family


Al-Qizwini family


Al-Tabataba’i family


Bahr Al-Uloom family


Al-Khoei family


Al-Kharsan family


Al-Zuwain family


Al-Zaini family


Al-Taliqani family


Al-Allaq family


A1-Faqih family


Al-Jazatiri family


A1-Keshwan family


Al-Hilu family


Al-Safi family


Al-Ghraifi family


Al-Sharmuti family


Al-Hamami family


Al-Abu Tubikh family




Shubbar family


Al-Saraf family



Al Diwaniyah



Hashimi family

Baghdad, descendants of the former royal family

Al-Gailani family


Al-Haideri family


Al-Alusi family


Al-Tatar family


Al-Wa’idh family


Al-Witri family


Al-Shahristani family


Al-Sadr family

Baghdad and Najaf

Al-Haboubi family

Baghdad and Najaf

Utayfa family


Witwit family


Al-Rifa’i family

Basra, Baghdad, Samarra and Ana





A1-A’raji family

Mosul, Baghdad and Najaf

Al-Husseini family


Al-Bu Sab’a



Tal Afar

Al-Barzanchi family

Sulaimaniya and Arbil

Al-Naqshabandi family


Al-Kasnazani family


Al-Talabani family


Al-Dawudi family



Kirkuk and Baquba




Others, to be classified

Harb               (in ad-Dur)

Al-Fallujiyyin    (in Falluja)