Bible Studies/Genesis 12


How can we be sure that God's covenant and blessing
was addressed to the descendants of Isaac and not
of Ishmael?

Had Ishmael already left the household at the time
the covenant and blessing had been given?

Thanks for your help.

Hi, Jennifer,

Thank you for your Bible question, which I'll be glad to answer below.

You wrote: How can we be sure that God's covenant and blessing was addressed to the descendants of Isaac and not of Ishmael?

Had Ishmael already left the household at the time the covenant and blessing had been given?

My answer: When Yahweh God first established the Abrahamic covenant with Abraham (then called Abram), Abraham was still childless, without either Ishmael or Isaac. But when Ishmael was thirteen (Isaac wouldn't be born till a year later), Abraham wished that Ishmael would live in Yahweh's presence to receive all His blessings in His covenant, but God rejected Ishmael as the heir, and instead chose Isaac the son He promised to Abraham, saying, "No, but Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son. You shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him." (Genesis 17:19, WEB) As for Ishmael, Yahweh promised Abraham, "I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year." (Genesis 17:20-21) From this, we see that Yahweh would bless Ishmael by making him fruitful, but He would bless Isaac with the covenant. The covenant was to be passed down from Abraham to Isaac, not Ishmael.

When Isaac was full-grown, Yahweh officially bestowed the covenant unto him personally, saying, "Live in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For to you, and to your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:3-5) Here, we see that Yahweh promised to give Isaac and his seed the Promised Land of Canaan, that his seed would be numerous as the stars, and that all nations's will be blessed in his seed. These are the promises in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 22:18).

Note also, that the "seed" of Abraham and Isaac ultimately points to Jesus Christ, in whom peoples have indeed been blessed (Galatians 3:16). Jesus is the seed of Isaac, not Ishmael, hence another evidence of the fact that the Abrahamic covenant passed down to Isaac, not Ishmael.

I hope this fully answers your question. If you have any other question, or would like me to clarify anything, please do ask, and I'd be more than happy to do my best to answer your question.

Thank you again for your question. Keep up with your Bible study!

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Dr. Shirley Cheng


I will be more than glad to answer questions in regard to a) specific passages in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures or Tanakh) and the Gospels, and b) basic Biblical doctrines, precepts, and principles. When you ask about a specific passage, please indicate the chapter and verse(s) wherever possible. Before you ask a question about a Biblical doctrine, principle, or precept, please first check to see if your question is already answered. If you're interested in an in-depth Bible study of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you are more than welcome to sign up for my e-mail virtual class at


I am the founder of Ministry and a Bible teacher who is teaching the Bible in depth from Genesis to Revelation. I have read fourteen different versions of the Bible, written a book on Christianity titled "Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You to Greatness," and have personally experienced the power, love, and protection of my Heavenly Father throughout my life. Being a blind and physically disabled individual who is passionately in love with life, I am a living example of what faith in Yahweh God Almighty can do for you.

I am the author of nine books, contributor to over twenty-five, and some of my articles are posted on my website My books include "Do You Love Jehovah?" "Embrace Ultra-Ability!" and "Dance with Your Heart."

Bachelor of Biblical Studies, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Divinity

Awards and Honors
I have received twenty-seven book awards, seven of which are for "Do You Love Jehovah?" The Awards include: Gold – Mom’s Choice Awards – Spirituality/Religion; Finalist – 2010 International Book Awards – Christianity; Finalist – 2010 International Book Awards – Christian Inspirational; Finalist – National Best Books 2009 Awards – Christianity; Finalist – National Indie Excellence 2010 Awards – Religion; Second Place – 2010 Written Art Awards – Religion/Spirituality; Honorable Mention – Reader Views 2009 Literary Awards – Religion (Eastern/Western)

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