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The word יִשְמָעֵאל is written with the tzeirei under the ayin and not under the aleph (like this: יִשְמָעאֵל). I think that the suffix אֵל refers to Hashem and therefore would have expected the tzirei to be under the aleph.

Is the positioning of the tzeirei intended to convey some message or is it just the result of some grammatical rule?

  • The alef is perhaps entirely silent – kouty Nov 16 '16 at 20:47
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    @kouty Not perhaps. It is entirely silent. Like the Alef in בראשית. It's still fair to ask for Midrash on this, though. – Double AA Nov 16 '16 at 21:31
  • The alef is not silent. As he mentioned, ישמעאל is made of ישמע and אל (simultaneously, may g-d hear me) and is pronounced like it's base word (try to pronounce it with throat-ayin). – Uriel Nov 17 '16 at 10:15
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    @uriel the Alef is completely silent. You could omit it in the spelling and the word would sound the same. – Double AA Nov 17 '16 at 14:16
  • Incidentally, דניאל has this as well, with the tzeiri under the yud instead of the alef. – iKay Nov 17 '16 at 20:40
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I heard in a Torah Way shiur from Rabbi Yonasan Hughes that it is because the ayin stands for the eye which sees sheker lies and Yishmael represents serving G-d with lies. Here is the audio of the shiur: http://torahway.org.uk/archive/mp3/11-07-2012.mp3

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    +1 addresses the question. This point is found at minute ten. – user6591 Nov 17 '16 at 12:13
  • Well found! Trouble is we now have to explain דניאל and יחזקאל too ... – Avrohom Yitzchok Nov 20 '16 at 11:55

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