Most of the timeline we get from the book of Genesis is based on what it says. Sometimes, the actual event may sometimes contradict the timeline, indicating that the years mentioned could be wrong, possibly a typo. In this post, we will explore one such typo regarding the age of Ishmael.
The below tabulation is from the timeline mentioned here.
|Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (Gen 16:16)||Ishmael is born|
|And Abraham was ninety nine years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. (Gen 17:24-25)||Abraham was 99 yrs old when Ishmael was 13 yrs old. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also on this same year as per Gen 18:20-21.|
|And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. (Gen 21:5)||Isaac was born|
Age of Ishmael
|So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting [it] on her shoulder, he gave [it] and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. Gen 21:14|
“Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” Gen 21:18
|And Abraam rose up in the morning and took loaves and a skin of water, and gave [them] to Agar, and he put the child on her shoulder, and sent her away, and she having departed wandered in the wilderness near the well of the oath. Gen 21:14|
Rise up, and take the child, and hold him in thine hand, for I will make him a great nation. Gen 21:18
In Masoretic text, Abraham simply gave the boy to Hagar. But LXXE (as read by Jewish scribes in 300 BC, Abraham put the child on Hagar’s shoulders.
And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.Gen 21:15
The verse in Septuagint makes perfect sense because the next verse states that she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. She can’t place the boy unless she was carrying her.
We need to ask ourselves the following questions.
- Was hagar carrying a 13 year old boy on her shoulders?
- Was she placing a 13 year old boy under one of the shrubs?
- Was the Angel asking Hagar to take and hold a 13 year old boy in her hand?
The description suggests that the boy was probaly just 3 years old, not 13 and it could be a typo on the manuscript.
Potentially Correct Timeline
The below corrected timeline is just a possibility.
|Abram was ||Ishmael is born|
|And Abraham was ninety nine years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was three ||Abraham was 99 yrs old when Ishmael was 3 yrs old. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also on this same year as per Gen 18:20-21.|
|And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. (Gen 21:5)||Isaac was born, Ishmael was 4 years old.|
Interestingly, all the verses that suggest Ishmael as a teenager when Isaac was born, is primarily from priestly sources. Is it possible there was a typo where the age of Abraham was 96 instead of 86 when Ishmael was born?