Abram does not become Abraham until Genesis 17:4, 5 when God makes a covenant with Abram and marks the new relationship by a change of name. God says: “No longer shall your name be Abram (the exalted father), but your name shall now be Abraham.” Abraham, is here taken to mean father of a multitude of nations.


Sarai becomes Sarah in Genesis 17:15, 16 when God tells Abraham (no longer Abram) that Sarah will be blessed with a son. “She shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” Sarah, a variant of Sarai, means “princess.”


Scholars calculate that because Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16) and 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5), Ishmael was in his teens (about 17) at the time he went into the wilderness.



Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Notre Dame University, 1978), p. 86.


Robert J. Clements, Michelangelo’s Theory of Art (New York: Gramercy, 1961), pp, 80–81.


Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956), Vol. 1, p. 30.


Eric Auerbach, Mimesis (Princeton: Princeton University Press), p. 11.


William Purcell, Behold My Glory (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1947) p. 11.


Gerhard von Rad, Genesis (London: SCM Press, 1972), pp. 234–235.


John Skinner, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1969), p. 285. In early Mesopotamian and Egyptian law, wives had slaves who were their own property; the slave could not be the husband’s concubine without the mistress’s permission.


Skinner, Critical and Exegetical, p. 286. When Hagar was pregnant with Abram’s child she no longer was under Sarai’s complete control, but, nevertheless, Abram puts Hagar back in her mistress’s hands.