Genesis 17:20
And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 17:20. As for Ishmael, I have heard thee; I have blessed him — That is, I have many blessings in store for him. 1st, His posterity shall be numerous: I will multiply him exceedingly. 2d, They shall be considerable: twelve princes shall he beget. We may charitably hope that spiritual blessings also were bestowed upon him, though the visible church was not brought out of his loins.17:15-22 Here is the promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, in whom the promise made to him should be fulfilled. The assurance of this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only; Sarah signifies a princess. The more favours God confers upon us, the more low we should be in our own eyes. Abraham showed great joy; he laughed, it was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day; now he saw it and was glad, Joh 8:56. Abraham, dreading lest Ishmael should be abandoned and forsaken of God, put up a petition on his behalf. God gives us leave in prayer to be particular in making known our requests. Whatever is our care and fear, should be spread before God in prayer. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and the great thing we should desire is, that they may be kept in covenant with Him, and may have grace to walk before him in uprightness. Common blessings are secured to Ishmael. Outward good things are often given to those children of godly parents who are born after the flesh, for their parents' sake. Covenant blessings are reserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him.Abraham seems up to this time to have regarded Ishmael as the promised seed. Hence, a feeling of anxiety instantly penetrates his breast. It finds utterance in the prayer, "Oh that Ishmael might live before thee." He asks "life" for his beloved son - that is, a share in the divine favor; and that "before God" - that is, a life of holiness and communion with God. But God asseverates his purpose of giving him a son by Sarah. This son is to be called Isaac - he that laughs or he shall laugh, in reference to the various emotions of surprise and delight with which his parents regarded his birth. Abram's prayer for Ishmael, however, is not unanswered. He is to be fruitful, beget twelve princes, and become a great nation. But Isaac is to be the heir of promise. At the present season next year he is to be born. The communication being completed, "God went" up from Abram.19, 20. The blessings of the covenant are reserved for Isaac, but common blessings were abundantly promised to Ishmael; and though the visible Church did not descend from his family, yet personally he might, and it is to be hoped did, enjoy its benefits. Have heard thee, to wit, in part, or so far as is here expressed; and probably, as to the chief blessing of the covenant, to wit, the forgiveness of his sins, and eternal life, as the Hebrew doctors and some others collect from Genesis 25:17, and from other considerations. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee, &c. Took notice of his prayer for him, and accepted of and would answer him, and did, as follows:

behold, I have blessed him; determined in his mind to bless him, promised to bless him, Genesis 16:10; had blessings laid up and in reserve for him:

and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; as he did, many of the Arabian nations, the Hagarenes, Saracens, and Turks, all springing from him:

twelve princes shall he beget; whose names are given, Genesis 25:13; and their number there exactly agrees with this prophecy. Melo (s), the Heathen writer above mentioned, says, that Abraham, of his other wife, the Egyptian servant (that is, Hagar), begat twelve sons, which he mistakes for twelve sons of Ishmael, his son by Hagar; and, adds he, these going into Arabia, divided the country among them, and were the first that reigned over the inhabitants of it; hence down to our times the kings of the Arabians have twelve names like to those. So the Saracens were divided into twelve tribes, of which there were so many "phylarchi", or governors; and the Turks also are divided into the same number of tribes (t). And

I will make him a great nation; as the nation of the Turks especially is; and the Turkish empire is frequently called in Jewish writings the kingdom of Ishmael, as the Arabic language is called the Ishmaelitish language.

(s) Apud. Euseb. ut supra. (Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 19. p. 421.) (t) Vid. Vales. Not. in Ammian. Marcellin. l. 24. p. 283.

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. as for Ishmael, I have heard thee] This verse contains the reply to Abraham’s spoken words in Genesis 17:18. “I have heard thee” contains a reference to the meaning of the name “Ishmael” = “God hears.” See note on Genesis 16:11.

twelve princes] Recorded in Genesis 25:13-16. As in the family of Israel, so also in that of Ishmael, the number “twelve” symbolizes the distribution and organization of a people under responsible leaders, and represents ancient usage.Verse 20 - And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee (meaning, also, "and will grant thy prayer; an allusion to the significance of the name Ishmael, "God hears"): Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he begot (vide Genesis 25:12-16), and I will make him a great nation. On the part of Abraham (ואתּה thou, the antithesis to אני, as for me, Genesis 17:4) God required that he and his descendants in all generations should keep the covenant, and that as a sign he should circumcise himself and every male in his house. המּול Niph. of מוּל, and נמלתּם perf. Niph. for נמלּתם, from מלל equals מוּל. As the sign of the covenant, circumcision is called in Genesis 17:13, "the covenant in the flesh," so far as the nature of the covenant was manifested in the flesh. It was to be extended not only to the seed, the lineal descendants of Abraham, but to all the males in his house, even to every foreign slave not belonging to the seed of Abram, whether born in the house or acquired (i.e., bought) with money, and to the "son of eight days," i.e., the male child eight days old; with the threat that the uncircumcised should be exterminated from his people, because by neglecting circumcision he had broken the covenant with God. The form of speech ההיא הנּפשׁ נכרתה, by which many of the laws are enforced (cf. Exodus 12:15, Exodus 12:19; Leviticus 7:20-21, Leviticus 7:25, etc.), denotes not rejection from the nation, or banishment, but death, whether by a direct judgment from God, an untimely death at the hand of God, or by the punishment of death inflicted by the congregation or the magistrates, and that whether יוּמת מות is added, as in Exodus 31:14, etc., or not. This is very evident from Leviticus 17:9-10, where the extermination to be effected by the authorities is distinguished from that to be executed by God Himself (see my biblische Archologie ii. 153, 1). In this sense we sometimes find, in the place of the earlier expression "from his people," i.e., his nation, such expressions as "from among his people" (Leviticus 17:4, Leviticus 17:10; Numbers 15:30), "from Israel" (Exodus 12:15; Numbers 19:13), "from the congregation of Israel" (Exodus 12:19); and instead of "that soul," in Leviticus 17:4, Leviticus 17:9 (cf. Exodus 30:33, Exodus 30:38), we find "that man."
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