Ishmael’s Tale-Part Two

The Aggaditic stories from Adam, Noach, the Avot and the children of Israel who descend unto Egyptian g’lut — all these personages communicate Aggadita mussar stories, not the history of the people of Israel. The story of Israel enslaved in Egypt by Par’o and redeemed by Moshe — also strictly & only an Aggadita mussar nonliteral story. These mussar nonliteral stories, they serve as the basis by which Israelites forged the unique culture and customs which form & shape the collective souls of the Jewish people – our identities of self – as a people distinct and separated from all other peoples on this Earth.


Aggadah – A noun. the nonlegal or narrative material, as parables, maxims, or anecdotes, in the Talmud and other rabbinical literature, serving either to illustrate the meaning or purpose of the law, custom, or Biblical passage being discussed or to introduce a different, unrelated topic.

  • Unlike virtue ethics, Mussar approaches practices through specific steps and meditation methods such as poses or the 13 traits to live by. Mussar also emphasizes improving weaknesses. Virtue ethics form morality through experience instead of step-by-step methods.

Another story of Ishmael – reference Bereshit 19 and Bereshit 20

The angels have departed, two to Sodom, Lot will be rescued, his daughters commit the abomination of Moab and Ammon, and I shall have a brother this time next year. When the sun reaches the scratch on the wall, again, my Aunt Sarah shall birth a son and she will call him Isaac.

I will be 14 when that comes around, almost a man, yet still, a boy, dispossessed of my inheritance by the very living, One God. When my mother was in Egypt she worshipped many gods, however, since coming under the Shekinah she is devoted to Abraham’s God, the dispossessor.

After Sodom was destroyed Abraham and Sarah went south to sojourn in between Kadesh and Shur, they are in Gerar. Abimelech was king of Shur, and just as in Egypt where Phaoroah had desired Sarah, in the same manner in Gerar Sarah was called to serve Abimalech. My stupid father had, against Sarah’s will, again insisted Sarah tell whomsoever that she was his sister, rather than his wife – just in the case that someone murdered him for his widow.

How do I know since I remained in Hebron with my Mother and most of Abraham’s retinue? Father’s slaves and servants who accompanied them related the entire debacle to me once they all returned to Hebron. Apparently, God stopped up all the orifices of all in Shur and… well let’s not go into that except you can die unless they are released in good time. Abimelech was righteous, even if he had not intended to be!

Hearsay is not a good thing so I shall stop my reverie and concentrate on the present events.

My Father and aunt greeted Isaac into this world between 7 and 9 months after the promise, for there was some dispute about who Isaac’s father was, Abimelech or Abraham. Since we know that Abimelech was blameless in the Sister Act – Isaac was born to my father when he was 100 years old, on my 14th birthday. 8 days later, according to the Command of God, Abraham circumcised Isaac

Abraham called a feast to celebrate the event – There were those who sneered at the supposed birth and declared that Sarah had brought in a foundling from the street – implying Sarah had had no milk to let down. Princesses brought their children with them and Sarah nursed them. (see references below) It was a joyful time, everywhere and people were healed that day.

Two years later Abraham called another feast when Isaac was weaned, and all the celebrated people came here including Shem, Eber, and Abimelech. ‘Celebrate’ I thought this rather excessive, as though every marker in my brother’s life was to be celebrated. Nevertheless, I took my opportunity to get on with the young maidens and we young men did our sport.

Well, Sarah saw me and straight-a-way went to father and demanded that we be sent away, “Drive out this handmaid and her son, for the son of this handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac.” I could tell that father was displeased and disconcerted by my actions and he was to concede to her demands. (Sarah was a greater Prophet than Abraham, which is why we were to be sent away) God said to father to heed Sarah because Isaac was his seed, his only son so far as the Promise was concerned.

Father got up early the next day, he brought bread and a leather pouch of water, and he gave them to mother, he placed me and the food upon my mother’s shoulder and sent us away; I was delirious, as though possessed by some daemon, and, my body burned with fever and I knew that Sarah had cast her evil eye upon me. We wandered in the desert of Beer Sheba and mother no longer worshipped Abraham’s god.

Very soon we consumed our bread and had drunk all our water and I was closer to death, mother cast me under a bush and went two bow shots away from me – she said, later that she did not want to hear me cry, nor see me die. And I cried out to God for mercy that I might live.

And God heard my voice, and an angel of God called to mother from heaven, and said to her, “What is disturbing you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard Ishmael’s voice from where he lies. Get up, help Ishmael to stand and place your hand upon him, for I shall make him into a great nation.”

And God opened my mother’s eyes, and she saw a well of water, and she went, and, filled the pouch with water and gave me a drink.

My father’s God was with me after all, he had heard my cries and filled me with water! Mother and I went to live in the desert of Paran and she found a wife for me from our own country, Egypt, an acorn never falls far from the tree. Or more exactly it will be written  That is what people say, “Throw a stick into the air, and it will land on its place of origin (the ground).” which is not such a pleasant saying – [from Gen. Rabbah 53:15] But though a righteous and virtuous woman, mother never returned to Abraham’s god!

To support us both I took up archery and took with my bow all I could get from any who passed by.

From one such traveller, I learned that Aunt Sarah had died at Kiriath Arba, which is in Hebron in Canaan at the age of 127, that Abraham mourned her and Isaac was despondent, then from another, I heard, that Isaac had married a kinswoman from Haran by the name of Rebecca – and Abraham sent for us to bring us home.

Abraham referred to my mother as Keturah (readers look at the 3rd reference for the explanation) because she was fair and virtuous. And they were married and she gave him children. (2) Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Jishbak and Shuah, 3 And Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan, and the sons of Dedan were Ashurim, Letushim, and Leumim. 4 And the sons of Midian [were] Ephah and Epher and Enoch and Abida and Elda’ah; all these were the sons of Keturah.

Father died aged 175 and Isaac and I buried him with Sarah, in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which faces Mamre.

17 – Ishmael was 137 years old when he died and was gathered to his people.

It would be written…

12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael the son of Abraham, whom Hagar the Egyptian, the maidservant of Sarah, bore to Abraham.

13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael by their names, according to their births: the firstborn of Ishmael was Nebaioth, and Kedar and Adbe’el and Mibsam, (now read from 14 to 18 for the remainder of Ishmael’s story) Ishameal is mentioned once more in Genesis Chapter 28

Genesis 28:9

Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife. Read the explanation for this ghostly appearance here

1. In reference to Sarah having given birth to Isaac, the verse states: “And she said: Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah should nurse children?” (Genesis 21:7). The Gemara asks: How many children did Sarah nurse? Why does the verse use the plural form when she had only one child? Rabbi Levi says: That day when Abraham weaned his son Isaac, he prepared a great celebratory feast. All of the nations of the world were gossiping and saying to each other: See this old man and old woman who brought a foundling from the market and are saying: He is our son, and moreover they are making a great feast to bolster their claim.[from B.M. 87a] See above 17:16.

2. What did Abraham, our forefather, do? He went and invited all of the great men of that generation, and Sarah, our foremother, invited their wives. Each and every one of the wives brought her child with her but did not bring her wet nurse. And a miracle occurred to Sarah, our foremother, and her breasts were opened like two springs, and she nursed all of these children. And still those people were gossiping and saying to each other: Even if Sarah, at ninety years of age, can give birth, can Abraham, at one hundred years of age, father a child? Immediately, the countenance of Isaac’s face transformed and appeared exactly like that of Abraham. Everyone exclaimed and said: “Abraham fathered Isaac” (Genesis 25:19).

3. And her name was Keturah: Rav said, “She is Hagar.” Rabbi Nechemiah said to him, “And is it not written, ‘he added.'” He said to him, “[That signifies that] he [now] married her according to the [Divine] word; like that which you say (Isaiah 8), ‘And the Lord added to speak to me more.'” He said to him, “And is it not written, ‘And her name was Keturah?'” He said to him, “[It is] since she was fragrant (mekuteret) with commandments and good deeds.” He said to him, “And is it not written, ‘And to the sons of the concubines that Avraham had?'” He said, “It is [actually] written, ‘concubine’ (in the singular, such that there only be one concubine – Hagar).” “While he was still alive (chai)” – [this is a reference to] the one that sat by the well and said to the Life (chai) of the worlds, “Look at my embarrassment!” Rabbi Berakhia said, “Even though you say (Genesis 21:14), ‘and she went and strayed in the wilderness, etc., [such that] you would say that she was suspected with any [other man]; hence we learn to say, ‘And her name was Keturah’ – like a type of knot (ketur) like this, [with which] he seals a storehouse and opens it with a seal, [that is] tied and sealed.” Bar Kapra said, “The addition of the Holy One, blessed be He, is greater than the main part: Kayin was was the main part and as a result of Hevel being the addition – as it is is written (Genesis 4:2), ‘And she added to give birth’ – he and his two twins were born; Yosef was the main part, and as a result of it being written, addition, with Binyamin, he established ten [children], as it is written (Genesis 46:21), ‘ And the children of Binyamin were Bela and Becher, etc.’; Er was the main part, and as a result of Shelah being [born] with the language of addition, he established ten [courts], behold, it is written in I Chronicles 4:21, ‘And the sons of Shelah the son of Yehudah were Er, the father (a term that is also used for the head of a court) of Lecha, and Ladah, the father of Maresha, and the families of the house Avodat HaButs of the house of Ashbea’; the main part of the years of Iyov were only seventy years, [and] one hundred and forty years were added to him, as it is written (Job 42:16), ‘And Iyov lived after this one hundred and forty years’; the main part of the reign of Chizkiyahu was only fourteen years, and fifteen years were added to him, as it states (Isaiah 38:), ‘behold, I will add fifteen years to your days; Yishmael is the main part, and as a result of the children of Keturah being [born] with the language of addition, ‘And she gave birth for him to Zimran, etc.'”


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