Genesis 25:16
These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
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(16) By their towns, and by their castles.—Towns and castles in the wilderness of Paran there were none, but we know for certain that the first of these words signified an unwalled village. (See Leviticus 25:31, where it is exactly described; also Psalm 10:8·, Isaiah 42:11.) It was, however, a settled and permanent place of dwelling. The other word rendered here castle, but used as the equivalent of tent in Psalm 69:25, is really a cluster of tents, the encampment of a tribe, and movable. It occurs in Numbers 31:10; 1Chronicles 6:54; Ezekiel 25:4. As is well known, the Arabs are divided into two classes—the dwellers in tents, who are ever moving from station to station, within certain limits, nevertheless, which they seldom pass over; and the agricultural class, who have fixed habitations, are looked upon as inferiors, and probably are the remains of a conquered race. To this day they pay a sort of rent, or black-mail, to the nobler Arabs. We find, then, this distinction already existing when this Tôldôth was drawn up; the agricultural Arabs dwelling in unwalled villages, while the nomad tribes pitched now here, and now there, their clusters of black camels’-hair tents. And thus we have in these words proof that Ishmael and his subjects were not all upon the same level; for while he, his sons, and his noblest retainers would dwell in tents, the inhabitants of the villages would be men of inferior origin, compelled to submit themselves to him.

25:11-18 Ishmael had twelve sons, whose families became distinct tribes. They peopled a very large country that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise, made to Hagar and to Abraham, concerning Ishmael.Nebaioth - Isaiah 60:7 is preserved in the Nabataei inhabiting Arabia Petraea, and extending far toward the East. "Kedar" Isaiah 21:17 appears in the Cedrei of Pliny (H. N. 5, 12) who dwell east of Petraea. "Adbeel Mibsam," and "Mishma are otherwise unknown. The last is connected with the Μαισαιμενεῖς Maisaimeneis of Ptol. (v. 7, 21). "Dumah" Isaiah 21:11 is probably Δούμεθα Doumetha (Ptol. vi. 19, 7) and Domata (Plin. H. N. 6, 32) and Dumat el-Jendel in Nejd and the Syrian desert. "Massa" may be preserved in the Μασανοὶ Masanoi of Ptolemy (v. 19, 2), northeast of Duma. "Hadar" is Hadad in 1 Chronicles 1:30, the Samaritan Pentateuch, Onkelos, perhaps the Septuagint, and many codices. It is supposed to be Χαττηνία Chatteenia (Polyb.), Attene, and to lie between Oman and Bahrein. "Tema" Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23 lay on the borders of Nejd and the Syrian desert. "Jetur" remains in Ituraea, Jedur, northeast of the sea of Galilee. Some suppose the Druses descended from him. "Naphish" 1 Chronicles 6:19, 1 Chronicles 6:22 lay in the same quarter. "Kedemah" is otherwise unknown. "In their towns and in their castles." The former are unwalled collections of houses or perhaps tents; the latter, fortified keeps or encampments. "Twelve princes," one for each tribe, descended from his twelve sons.Ge 25:12-18. Descendants of Ishmael. Before passing to the line of the promised seed, the historian gives a brief notice of Ishmael, to show that the promises respecting that son of Abraham were fulfilled—first, in the greatness of his posterity (compare Ge 17:20); and, secondly, in their independence. No text from Poole on this verse.

These are the sons of Ishmael,.... The twelve before mentioned, Genesis 25:13,

these are their names, by their towns and by their castles; their towns and their castles being called after their names, some of which we are able to trace at this distance, as the above notes show:

twelve princes according to their nations; these were princes, or heads of tribes, and there were twelve of them, and continued so, see Genesis 17:20; where is the prophecy, and here an accomplishment of it.

These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
16. by their villages, and … encampments] The distinction is, probably, between settled habitations in open unwalled villages, and circles of black tents in which the Bedouins dwell. This distinction between the permanent and the movable dwellings of the Ishmaelites is not reproduced in the versions. LXX ἐν ταῖς σκηναῖςἐν ταῖς ἐπαύλεσιν, Lat. per castella et oppida.

See, also, for “encampments,” the tîrôth of the Midianites (Numbers 31:10) and of “the children of the east” (Ezekiel 25:4).

twelve princes] See note on Genesis 25:2. The fulfilment of Genesis 17:20 (P). The “princes” are “leaders,” or Sheikhs, of clans.

nations] A technical term for “clan” (’ummah = ’ummat in Arabic); cf. Psalm 117:1 : elsewhere only Numbers 25:15 = “a father’s house.”

Verse 16. - These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, - unwalled encampments, from hatzar, to surround; used of the movable villages of nomadic tribes (cf. Isaiah 42:11) - and by their castles; - fortified keeps (Murphy); tent villages (Keil); nomadic camps (Kalisch). Cf. Numbers 31:10; 1 Chronicles 6:39; Psalm 69:26; Ezekiel 25:4) - twelve princes - this does not imply that Ishmael had only twelve sons, like Israel - a very suspicious circumstance (De Wette); but only that these twelve became phylarchs (Havernick). The Egyptian dedecarchy rested on a like earlier division of names. Homer mentions a similar case among the Phoenicians (Odyss., 8. 390); Thucydides another in ancient Attica (2. 15); vide Havernick's 'Introch,' § 18 - according to their nations (or tribe divisions). Genesis 25:16These are the Ishmaelites "in their villages and encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes." חצר: premises hedged round, then a village without a wall in contrast with a walled town (Leviticus 25:31). טירה: a circular encampment of tents, the tent village of the Dur of the Bedouins. אמּות, here and Numbers 25:15, is not used of nations, but of the tribe-divisions or single tribes of the Ishmaelites and Midianites, for which the word had apparently become a technical term among them.
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