Tuesday, 13 July 2021 10:48

Genesis 12-17 | Is The Abrahamic Covenant Valid for Ishmael or Isaac?

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Many scholars argue the promises to Abraham are one of the bible prophecies of the coming of the religion of Islam, and that the great victory achieved by Muslims (the grandsons of Ishmael) was a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. While others attribute the Abrahamic covenant only to Isaac and his seeds. In this article, I will go through all these candidates and evaluate the best possible interpretation.

God’s promises to Abraham

Prophet Abraham inhabited basically 3 main places after revelation: Palestine, Egypt, and ended up traveling to the Arabian Peninsula (modern Mecca), where he put his son Ishmael. Across his life (as reported in Genesis), God promised him with the blessing of his seed that will be a great nation; the oath was repeated even when he got no sons, after having Ishmael, and after giving birth to Isaac.

The Abrahamic covenant includes 4 promises to Abraham:

  1. Blessing the offspring,
  2. Blessing the land he will go to,
  3. Blessing Abraham himself,
  4. blessing the great nation of his sons.

So, how was God’s oath to Abraham fulfilled?

Bible verses about God's Promise to Abraham

The first explicit mention of the covenant was in Genesis 12, but other contexts could help us have a clue. For example, in the 13th chapter, God resembled Abraham’s descendants with the number of earth sand:

"(the LORD said to Abram, “… look to the north and south and east and west, for all the land that you see, I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if one could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted.)" Gen 13: 14-16

Gods Promises to Abraham


When we take to our consideration that the Abrahamic covenant is eternal (as mentioned in the text), we will find that it is only fulfilled with the descendants of Ishmael (Muslims) who have been ruling for centuries “the north and south, and east and west,” of the surrounding place mentioned above.

In addition, you can hardly find a modest number of the modern descendants of Isaac compared to the descendants of Ishmael. Furthermore, the Lord indicated that the condition of steadfastness on the covenant is in performing circumcision (Gen 10: 10), no one clings to it the way the followers of Prophet Muhammad (the grandson of Ishmael) have been doing.

What argues for this inference is God sending his angel to Hagar - who is the mother of Ishmael - to give her the same promise for her son with almost the same wording:

(I will greatly multiply your offspring so that they will be too numerous to count … Behold, you have conceived and will bear a son. And you shall name him Ishmael.) Gen 16: 10-11

Later on, after glad tidings of Sarah's pregnancy of Isaac, God remind him of the promises to Ishmael and told him he will “also” bless Isaac in the next year:

(Your wife Sarah will indeed bear you a son … I will establish My covenant with him … As for Ishmael, I have heard you, and I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. … But I will establish My covenant with Isaac ... at this time next year.) Gen 17: 19-21

The verses are clearly saying that God will bless the descendants of Ishmael and will also bless Isaac’s a year later. Later, Sarah got jealous and asked Abraham to expel Hagar and Ismail, who was later sent to live in the Arabian Peninsula (modern Mecca) where Ishmael and Abraham built a house for God (the modern Kaaba). 

God then reminded Hagar them with “To your seed, I will Give” covenant as if He is referring that they have achieved one step:

(Get up, lift up the boy, … for I will make him into a great nation. … And God was with the boy, and he grew up and settled in the wilderness and became a great archer. And he was dwelling in the Wilderness of Paran …) Gen 21: 15-21

Paran פָּארָ֑ן are mountains extending from Saini to the Arabian Peninsula. The great biblical scholars Eusebius and Jerome were most probably referring to the location known today as Wadi Faran which is in the Hejaz region, the place where Prophet Muhammad received the revelation and a starting point of the great nation of Islam promised by God to Abraham.

Inference of Abrahams’ seed and covenant

Here we summarize the most important points leading to the way God’s oath to Abraham fulfilled:Genesis 17 in Hebrew

  • God's covenant with Abraham in the Bible is valid for the descendants of Ishmael (the Arabs), as well as for the descendants of Isaac.
  • God could not have broken the promise with Ishmael after the birth of Isaac, as God afterward confirmed it (Gen 17: 19-21), and repeated it with Hagar (Gen 16: 10-11) as well as with Hagar and Ishmael when arrived in Arabia (Gen 21: 15-21).
  • Historical facts: Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the only Ishmaelite grandson to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant of the great nation (Muslims) who have been ruling the promised region in the covenant for centuries.
  • The Jews are supposed to be the descendants of Isaac, however, very few of them exist compared to Muslims who outnumber the sand on earth (as mentioned in the covenant).
  • The sign of fulfilling the covenant is by maintaining the circumcision (Gen 17:10). Jesus is the seed? Absolutely not as his followers are not fulfilling the condition of circumcision. No one clings to it the way the grandsons of Ishmael (Muslims) have been doing.
  • Ismail is the legal eldest son of his father Abraham; though if there is only one valid covenant, he should be the legal inherent of the covenant, as it is biblically agreed that the younger son inherits his father’s tent and throne.

Conclusion | God's promises to Abraham are for whom?

God's promises to Abraham includes four main promises fulfilled by the descendants of Ishmael (the great nation of Islam):

The Abrahamic Covenant


  1. Blessing the offspring,
  2. Blessing the land he will go to,
  3. Blessing Abraham himself,
  4. blessing the great nation of his sons.

The Islamic nation has fulfilled these four promises:

  1. They are the descendants of Abraham through his son Ishmael (even many of Isaac’s descendants followed were part of that great nation by conversion)
  2. Abraham went to the Arabian Peninsula, especially Mecca (the starting point of Islam), and blessed it,
  3. Each Muslim sends blessings to Abraham and his family tens of times daily (such as at the ending part of the five-time prayer).
  4. Prophet Muhammad’s great nation was the only Ishmaelites to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and they resembled the number of the sands of the earth (as promised in the bible). In addition, Muslims have been ruling the promised lands for centuries.

For a full and expanded discussion of this prophecy and many of the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad in the Bible, I would urge you to read the book written by the former Roman Catholic priest, Professor David Benjamin (later Abd al-Ahad Dawood) entitled: "Muhammad in the Torah and the Gospel". Click here and check it now!


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