Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Old Was Ishmael When Abraham Drove Him?


“Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away” (Genesis 21:14).

President Ahmedinajd and other Muslims have postulated that, that portion of the bible has been moved to cover the corrupt nature of the Bible because they think the child was a toddler. That God encouraged Abraham to drive out a woman with her baby in hand. They argue that if the passage is left where it is, the child must be 17 and above because according to them, Abraham was 86 years old when he had Ishmael. He was 100 when he got Isaac, and Isaac was three years old, making Ishmael 17 years old when him and the mother were supposedly driven by Abram. Just because you start from a wrong premise, the conclusion is bound to be faulty. First the translation[1] you are using leads to faulty conclusion. I have 8 translations and after consulting all, I went back to the King James Version which is the literal translation and closest to the original text. I want you to read this verse again and tell me what you see.
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba” (Gen 21:14).
It would be impossible to think that Hagar: almost a 93 years old woman  at a time when people were not living past 120 will be carrying a 17 year old on her shoulder even if she was King Kong. But then the problem lies in the translation. In the text they used, it raises serious problems, but in this text, I just cited it does not. Secondly, the presence of dependent clauses (6) prompts the usage of commas, but they do not affect the semantics of the sentence. So definitely the biblical authors make good use of the Serial Comma Rule. There are one or more items than three as you can see. In that case, it helps us to see what was put on the shoulder of Hagar (a bottle of water). We know that because according to the rule of proximity and priority in grammar, the immediate item closest to “putting it on her shoulder” is “a bottle of water”. Historically, it was not the custom of Jewish people to stack food and water in the same bag. So the subject pronoun /it/ will refer solely to /a bottle of water/. If what Abraham put on the shoulder of Hagar was a bottle of water, then the rest of what contenders have said becomes inconsequential due to faulty interpretation.
Consequently, the numerical deductions that Ishmael would have been 17 years old when Abraham sent him out is wrong. Jewish kids were regarded as mature when the boy was 13 and the girl 12. That is why it was the official age for Jewish kids to get married for the boys 13 and girls 12. Abraham leaving Ishmael to live with them at 14 was still because he was not sure he was going to have a baby. So immediately as Isaac was born, Ishmael had to live with them till Sarah could not more breastfeed Isaac.
The reason why there is no communication is first for two reasons: the Bible tells us that not everything was written else no book will be able to contain it (Jn 21:25). Secondly, it could be because both the mother and child were disappointed beyond words.
When my father was sick and could no more take care of us, my mother took the four of us to live with my uncle. After sometime, my uncle felt that my father needed to take his responsibility and threw our paraphernalia out. We walked a good distance before by mother could comfort my older sister who was sobbing ceaselessly not to cry again because it would be well. What we see is synonymous to the breakdown in communication and time of disbelief that my mother and us had that Hagar and Ishmael are having. The Bible does not find it necessary to narrate the aftermath of the trip intensely apart from indicating when they find solace in the well.
Therefore, the rational explanation is that, there is no anomaly. The child in the passage was not an infant. The child was a full teenager.
Ten years living in Canaan (Gen 16:3). Abraham was 86 years old when he had Ishmael (Gen16: 16). Abraham was 100 years when Isaac was born (Gen 21:5) So then to find the age of Ishmael at this time we subtract 86 from100 and it gives us 14 years. Is that a baby? Isn’t that a teenager? The weaning period would not have been three years considering that Jewish mothers breastfed their kids for 9 months to at most two years.
The word weaned there stands for /breastfed/. The reason why weaned here would not be up to three years was because the Jewish people had several levels for a child’s growth. Isaiah does show that there was a difference between the sucker and the weaned child (Is 11:8). When the child was still nursing, they called him/her “sucking child” (Num 11:12; Is 49:15; Lam 4:4). Then after 9 months when the parents had the choice to take the child from breastfeeding (Is 28:9) or leave it there they say the child is weaning (Gen 21:8; I Sam 1:22-24; I kgs 11:20). Then the next stage was when the child began taking its first steps it was called “Little Steps”. As you know; except if a child has medical conditions, that child would not be taking quick steps when it is three years. It does so in between 09-15 months which are in the weaning period or immediately after the weaning period. After that period came the stage of puberty and the last from adulthood to dotage.
That will then dismiss the assertion that Ishmael was 17. He was in-between 14 years and 9 months, and 15 years and 6 months. If he was below 16, then he was still a teenager and not a baby.  So it will be wrong calculation to say Ishmael was a baby when he and Hagar were sent away by Abraham. The word /child/ as used in Gen 21:16 /yeled/ is the equivalent of offspring and thus different from the one in Gen 16:11; 38:24 /h├óreh/ which is equivalent to fetus or baby because they have different root words.  It is like parents come to me time and again, and they say: “this is my child”.  They are referring to their 17 year or 18 year old. Does that mean that the student is still a baby?  Do not forget that as a teenager, Ishmael could not have resisted. He grew up in a house where they wanted a child. It is probable that he was pampered and mollycoddled that in the face of such minimal trial he gave up. The mother had no strength to carry him and could not pull him any further. As such, she gives up.
Lastly, you can not use the Qu’ran to situate an event in the Bible when the former regards the latter as the authority.
Therefore, the conclusion is that Ishmael was sent out as a teenager, and what Hagar carried on her shoulder was a bottle of water. Hagar could not have carried him on her shoulder because he was grown enough to walk but unable to resist the scourging desert. If you liked my article, you can make a donation.
Until then, it was nice hearing from you.

St Arrey of Ntenako
“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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