Is Yishmael a nabi (prophet) or tzaddik of some sort? The reason why I ask this is because when I read the midrash version of the Torah I found out that it said that Yishmael near the end of Avraham's life did teshuva and worshipped only HaShem. So I was wondering if he became kind of a tzaddik of some sort or even a nabi (prophet).


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There are a couple sources that indicate that Yishmael was a tzaddik at certain points in his life.

Rashi to Breishit 25:17 notes that the the word ויגוע is only used by tzaddikim, and is used here to refer to Yishmael at the end of his life.

ויגוע: לא נאמרה גויעה אלא בצדיקים:‏

Also, Rashi on 21:17 quotes a midrash where the angels are trying to tell God not to save Yishmael (after being banished). Hashem asks them what he is now: tzadik or rasha, and they answer tzadik.

באשר הוא שם: לפי מעשים שהוא עושה עכשיו הוא נדון ולא לפי מה שהוא עתיד לעשות, לפי שהיו מלאכי השרת מקטרגים ואומרים רבונו של עולם, מי שעתיד זרעו להמית בניך בצמא אתה מעלה לו באר. והוא משיבם עכשיו מה הוא, צדיק או רשע, אמרו לו צדיק, אמר להם לפי מעשיו של עכשיו אני דנו וזהו באשר הוא שם.‏

So we have another example.

There is nothing that i know of to indicate that he ever received prophecy.

  • 4
    +1 It's also interesting to note that until the rise of Islam, which "took" the name and "made it its own", the name Yishmael was used a lot from the time of the bible and until the period of the Mishnah and Talmud (5 different Yishmael in the bible, and 30 sages names Yishmael later). So the name had a positive connotation.
    – Cauthon
    Feb 24, 2016 at 22:59
  • I always understood it was the terminology "vaye'asef el amav" that conveys that the person is a tzadik gamur... One might question whether the second, earlier instance is one who is a tzadik gamurr, or whether Yishmael merely fits the circumstances of Rambam's tzaddik - zechuyos yoser michiyuvos - which is why he was dan lizchus in this instance. Feb 24, 2016 at 23:03
  • The simplest sign that Yishmael wound up okay is a careful reading of the verses: at Abraham's funeral, he allows Isaac to go in front of him: "Isaac and Ishmael buried him." He respected his father's wishes of priority. Whereas Esau goes before Jacob at their father's funeral -- "Esau and Jacob buried him."
    – Shalom
    Feb 25, 2016 at 12:16
  • @Shalom where do we see either Abraham or Isaac commanding an "order for honor"surrounding their eventual burial? Feb 28, 2016 at 0:37
  • 1
    @IsaacKotlicky I don't think we see it explicitly, but we know who the favored son is.
    – Scimonster
    Feb 28, 2016 at 6:29

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