Boy Baby Name


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Quick Facts on Ishmael

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • Hebrew
  • Number of syllables:
  • 3
  • Ranking popularity:
  • N/A
Simple meaning:
God has listened

Characteristics of Ishmael

  • Dependable
  • Solid
  • Practical
  • Hard-working
  • Industrious
  • Studious
  • Conservative

Etymology & Historical Origin - Ishmael

Ishmael comes from the Hebrew name Yishma'el meaning ‘God will hear’. In the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, Ishmael was the son of Abraham and half-brother to Isaac. His story is told in Genesis chapter 16. Abraham and his wife Sarah (Sarai) cannot conceive a child, so Sarah gives her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham. He agrees to this not atypical biblical marital arrangement (an ancient version of “Sister Wives”). Once Hagar is successful at conceiving Abraham’s child, she looks upon her mistress Sarah with contempt (we can’t help picturing Hagar doing a little jig in front of Sarah singing “I am pregnant and YOU are not. HA-ha-ha-ha-HA-ha!”). Of course Sarah is furious and so treats Hagar harshly, causing the handmaiden to flee. An angel of God appears before Hagar instructing her to return and submit to Sarah. The angel says: “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael because the Lord has listened to your affliction.” And so his name was called Ishmael, born to Abraham at the young age of 86! Later, old Sarah herself miraculously gets pregnant and bears Isaac. Armed with a son of her own, Sarah now wants Hagar and Ishmael out of the picture to ensure Isaac gets the inheritance and is recognized as the next patriarch (God has already decided that Isaac would be the instrument of His covenant anyway). Banished and wandering the wilderness with his mom, Ishmael almost dies from thirst. God comes to the rescue, saves Ishmael from near death, and promises to make him a “great nation” unto himself (the Ishmaelites). According to tradition, Ishmael is the forefather of the Arab peoples, and Isaac is the forefather of the Jewish tribes. And so goes the story of Ishmael. Ishmael has never been a particularly popular name within English-speaking nations.

Popularity of the Name Ishmael

Ishmael is not currently ranked on the United States male naming charts. Therefore, this is a name given to fewer than 100 baby boys per year.
Popularity of the Boy Name Ishmael
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Ishmael

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Ishmael

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Ishmael

    Ishmael (Moby Dick) Ishmael is the narrator of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic, Moby Dick, and a case might be made for him as the protagonist (if it weren’t for that darned whale!). He is an educated teacher-turned-sailor who loves the sea, who respects the great whale, and who forms a close attachment to the Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg – all of which color his telling of the tale throughout. He opens the book with the famous, much quoted statement, “Call me Ishmael”, and all his observations remain as direct and straightforward as that throughout. In keeping with his biblical counterpart, Ishmael is something of an outsider, which makes his powers of observation even keener and more impartial. Unlike the tyrannical Captain Ahab, Ishmael is able to see that the great whale is not motivated by human-like emotions, but rather by his majestic animal nature. Ahab, of course, refuses to see reason in this regard; he imperils the ship and the lives of his men in his monomaniacal quest for revenge on the creature that cost him a leg. Also unlike Ahab, Ishmael is capable of deep affection and respect for his fellow man, as epitomized by his relationship with Queequeg. At the end of this magnificent tale, it is only Ishmael who remains alive, surviving because of Queequeg, alive in spite of Ahab, and left alone in the sea awaiting the rescue ship. And Moby Dick leaves Ishmael alone as well.

Personality of the Boy Name Ishmael

The number Four personality is marked by stability and discipline. This is the personality that follows the rules and is conservative by nature.  They have an earth-bound energy that prefers to build things methodically on top of firm foundations; they don't cut corners. Fours take their time and don't like to be hurried. But the outcome of their endeavors is likely to result in some strong and useful structure, which makes them great engineers and inventors. Fours are anything but frivolous or controversial. This is a trustworthy, straight-forward personality that embodies dedication and organization. They are the backbone and anchor in their relationships, careers and communities. They are tidy, punctual, and full of integrity. Hard-work comes naturally to a Four and they are immensely reliable. This is the personality you can always count on.

Variations of the Baby Name - Ishmael

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