Ishmael on the Border: Rabbinic Portrayals of the First Arab

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SUNY Press, Jun 1, 2007 - Religion - 207 pages
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Ishmael on the Border is an in-depth study of the rabbinic treatment of Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael. This book examines Ishmael’s conflicted portrayal over a thousand-year period and traces the shifts and nuances in his representation within the Jewish tradition before and after the emergence of Islam.

In classical rabbinic texts, Ishmael is depicted in a variety of ways. By examining the biblical account of Ishmael’s life, Carol Bakhos points to the tension between his membership in and expulsion from Abraham’s household—on the one hand he is circumcised with Abraham, yet on the other, because of divine favor, his brother supplants him as primogenitor. The rabbis address his liminal status in a variety of ways. Like Esau, he is often depicted in antipodal terms. He is Israel’s “Other.” Yet, Bakhos notes, the emergence of Islam and the changing ethnic, religious, and political landscape of the Near East in the seventh century affected later, medieval rabbinic depictions of Ishmael, whereby he becomes the symbol of Islam and the eponymous prototype of Arabs. With this inquiry into the rabbinic portrayal of Ishmael, the book confronts the interfacing of history and hermeneutics and the ways in which the rabbis inhabited a world of intertwined political, social, and theological forces.
  

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Contents

Ishmael and Esau Marginalized Men of the Bible
13
Ishmael In The Bible
14
Esau In The Bible
23
Ishamel in Tannaitic and Amoraic Literature
31
The Tannaitic Sources
32
The Amoraic Sources
37
The Rabbis and Their Others
47
The Pairing Of Ishmael And Esau In Rabbinic Literature
54
The Role Of Christianity In The Depiction Of The Other
79
Ishmale in Later Midrashim
85
The Treatment Of Ishmael In Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer
96
Abrahams Visits To Ishmael In Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer
104
Abrahams Visits To Ishmael In Arabic Sources
116
Revisiting The Visits
119
The Ishmaelites In Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer
123
Conclusions
129

Esau As Real Other
63
ISHMAEL THE ISHMAELITES AND THE CHILDREN OF KETURAH
65
The Arab Descendants Of Ishmael
67
Abrahams Descendants And Israels Divine Election
74
Notes
135
Bibliography
183
Index
201
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Carol Bakhos is Professor of Late Antique Judaism at the University of California at Los Angeles and is the editor of Ancient Judaism in its Hellenistic Context.

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