Why is it that we find Jews (and even sages) by the name Yishmael? It seems rather strange that we would choose to name our children after someone who was the progenitor of a nation seen to be an enemy of the Jewish people for generations? We never saw a Jew called Esav.

This question has an answer why we dont name Yishmael anymore, but my question is why did we ever name our children Yishmael?

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    "set to be at war with the Jewish people for generations" source?
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:56
  • @DoubleAA point taken. Is this edit better?
    – AKayser
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:04
  • @AKayser Not really. Where do you get that from? Jun 18, 2014 at 22:06
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    @CharlesKoppelman is Yishmael not an enemy of the Jewish people? I can't remember the sources I have seen it in, but you could look in most history books to check. Or maybe even just look on the news….
    – AKayser
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:09
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    @AKayser so... you think that because of some things that have happened in the last 100 years or so, the Babylonian and Palestinian Jews of 2000 years ago saw Ishmael as "the progenitor of a nation seen to be an enemy of the Jewish people for generations"? Jun 18, 2014 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


The Gemara in Bava Basra 16b learns from a passuk which says that Yitzchak went before Yishmael which indicates that Yishmael deferred to Yitzchak being the rightful heir and proving his full tshuvah. Since he did tshuvah there is no problem naming after a Baal tshuvah.

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