Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study #


Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum

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* Each item is linked for your convenience *

A. Ishmael
B. Esau

The following divisions will appear in future Shofars.

A. Lebanon
B. Jordan
1. Edom: Southern Jordan
2. Moab: Central Jordan
3. Ammon: Northern Jordan
C. Egypt
D. Assyria: Northern Iraq
E. Kedar and Hazor: Saudi Arabia
F. Elam: Persia or Iran
A. Babylon: Southern Iraq
B. Edom: Southern Jordan


And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning
for my father are at hand. Then will I slay my brother Jacob.

- Genesis 27:41 -

With so much news coming out of the Middle East in the last few years, a great deal of attention has been given to the area of prophetic Scriptures. By and large most of the studies in the realm of Bible prophecy as it relates to the Middle East have been primarily concerned with the State of Israel. Virtually little has been said about the Arab states and their future insofar as the Scriptures are concerned.

It is clear from the Scriptures that the land commonly referred to as Palestine was given to Jewish people by divine right. It is in every sense of the term “Jewish property” and belongs to Israel. The Scriptures invalidate any Arab claim to the land, and whatever future the Bible
deals with concerning the Arab peoples does not include the Land of Israel itself.

This Messianic Bible study will be covered in four specific sections. First, the root of the conflict will be discussed to understand how it began. Secondly, the continuation of the conflict, from its originators to the present time, will be dealt with. Thirdly, the future of the conflict, the future of the Arab states, will be dealt with. The fourth section will discuss the two desolate spots in the Kingdom.


The origin of the Jewish people is detailed in Genesis 12:1-3, while the origin of the Arab peoples is detailed in Genesis 12:10-20; 16:1-14; 25:19-34 and 41. There are two key individuals to be concerned with in dealing with the root of the conflict: Ishmael and Esau.

A. Ishmael
The origin of the Arab peoples begins with what can be labeled as “Abraham's folly” in Genesis 12:10-20:

And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon: and it will come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see you, that they will say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save you alive. Say, I pray you, you are my sister; that it may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and men servants, and maid servants, and she asses, and camels. And Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that you have done unto me? why did you not tell me that she was your wife? why said you, She is my sister, so that I took her to be my wife? now therefore behold your wife, take her, and go your way. And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him: and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that he had.

God had given a commandment to Abraham to go to a land that he would be shown, and then he was to dwell in this land. But, in verse 10, shortly after settling in the land, a famine hit. Abraham's faith had not yet matured to the point that he knew he could trust God under
any circumstances and there was a lapse of faith on the part of Abraham that caused him to leave the Land of Promise and go down into Egypt.

As he entered Egypt, Abraham noted something about Egyptian ethics. Egyptian ethics looked down upon the issue of adultery; the Egyptians were very much down on men taking the wife of another. But if Pharaoh saw a woman that he really liked, and this woman
happened to be already married, and since he knew it would be against Egyptian ethics to commit adultery and take the wife away, his method would then be to kill the husband. Killing the husband makes the woman a widow, and therefore she qualifies for marriage in that sense. It was rather a warped concept of ethics, but that is the way it was in Egypt.

Knowing this twist of Egyptian ethics, Abraham knew that he stood to lose his life and made this bargain with his wife in verses 11-13. She was his half sister, but that is merely an attempt to try to hide the fact that she was also his wife. So in the course of time, the thing he feared the most happened; in verses 14-15, his wife was taken from him and placed into Pharaoh's harem.

When the father is already dead, the brother is looked upon as the official guardian. From what Abraham said, Pharaoh assumes, of course, that he is only her brother and therefore her official guardian. So, he gives to Abraham the bride price in verse 16: And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and men servants, and maid servants, and she asses, and camels.

The thing to note is that among the things that Abraham gained in Egypt was a number of maid-servants. With the mention of maid servants, there is the origin of the Arab peoples.

God eventually intervened in verses 17-20; Sarah was rescued; and the family was forced back into the Land of Promise. Although Egypt and the Pharaoh had to give Sarah back to Abraham, nevertheless, Abraham was allowed to keep all the gifts of the bride price. He
brought all of these things, including maid-servants, back into the Land of Canaan.

It has been pointed out that Abraham received several maid servants, but one in particular, an Egyptian maid servant by the name of Hagar, who will become the matriarch of at least a majority of the Arab states as we have them today.

The next passage dealing with the root conflict between the Jews and the Arabs is in Genesis 16:1-6. Whereas 12:10-20 was labeled “Abraham's folly,” this passage can be labeled “Sarah's folly.”

Genesis 16:1-6 states:

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children: and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, Jehovah has restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray you, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon you: I gave my handmaid into your bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Jehovah judge between me and you. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, your maid is in your hand; do to her that which is good in your eyes. And Sarai dealt hardly with her, and she fled from her face.

Abraham has often been accused of immorality, but that is not really the problem here. Everything that happened was in accordance with the laws of that day, which said that if a wife was proved to be barren, then she was responsible for providing her husband a handmaid through whom he could produce children so that the line would not die out. Again, the problem was a lack of faith because, in Genesis 12, God had already promised that Abraham was going to have a son, and that son would come by means of his wife, Sarah. There was no need to resort to the laws of that day because the promise of God was made sure.

But ten years had passed since that promise was given. After ten years of waiting and ten years of God's silence, Sarah felt that the promise would not be fulfilled. Among the handmaids given to Abraham in Genesis 12 was the Egyptian, Hagar. It is Hagar that is now turned over to Abraham in order that he might have children through her. In the course of time, she does conceive. Also in keeping with the customs of that day when barren women were looked down upon, Hagar now resorted to looking down upon Sarah. Few women were more despised in the ancient world than barren women. But rather than remaining in submission to her mistress Sarah as she should have, Hagar began to show rather clearly that she despised Sarah for her barrenness. In verse 6, Sarah eventually responded in kind and treated Hagar harshly, to the point that Hagar, in a pregnant condition, fled the house of Abraham.

In her flight, she had an encounter with the Angel of the Lord or the angel of Jehovah in verses 7-14. Verse 7 states: And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness in the way to Shur.

Whenever the expression the angel of Jehovah or the angel of the Lord is used, in every case, it is the Old Testament appearance of the Second Person of the Trinity: Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. Never is the angel of Jehovah a common, ordinary angel, but He is the Second Person of the Trinity Himself.

This was who appeared to Hagar and gave certain prophecies regarding the nature of the son she was going to bear in verses 10-12:

And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, I will greatly multiply your seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah has heard your affliction. And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren.

Four things are stated in verse 12 about the son that Hagar is going to bear. First, he will be as a wild ass among men. God is not calling Ishmael any names here as it would be in the way these terms are used today. Rather, He was referring to the nature that Ishmael and his
descendants would have. In Abraham's day there were herds of wild asses that used to roam over the desert just as, at one time, herds of wild horses roamed over the old American West. Ishmael and his descendants are to be characterized as being similar to the wild asses or “roamers.”

Secondly, his hand shall be against every man; he would be characterized as being an aggressor. He would attack those with whom he came in contact.

Thirdly, the angel states: every man's hand against him; just as he brought on aggression, he would bring retaliation upon himself. This principal has certainly been true in the history of Israel since 1948. On various occasions the Arab states have been the aggressors against Israel either by means of military conflict or by means of terrorist action. And as usual, this has always brought on some kind of Israeli response and retaliation. The whole cycle of aggression and retaliation is characterized in the Middle East today, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Genesis 16.

Fourthly, he shall dwell over against all his brethren. The expression to dwell over against is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “to dwell in a state of hostility.” He would live side by side with his brother, but he would live in a state of hostility. The Arabs were to live side by side with the Jews, but it would be in a state or attitude of hostility.

With these four statements, the angel of the Lord instructed Hagar to return to Abraham's household and remain there. In the course of time, she gave birth to Abraham's firstborn son and, as God commanded, he was named Ishmael.

Also in the process of time, Isaac was born to Sarah. In those days, they did not throw birthday parties. Rather, when a son was weaned any time between the ages of three and five, they threw weaning parties; it was considered an occasion for celebration. In keeping with the customs of that day, the weaning party for Isaac and what happened at that time is detailed in Genesis 21:8-9:

And the child grew, and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking.

Rather than enter into the occasion of celebration, Ishmael chose to mock his half brother. It should not be assumed, as many of our Bible picture books portray, that this was a little boy mocking a baby. Ishmael at this point was not a little boy. Depending on when the weaning of Isaac took place, he was perhaps as old as nineteen. He was fourteen years old when Isaac was born. Since in those days a son was weaned as late as five years old, he could have easily been as old as nineteen when he was mocking baby Isaac. What is seen here is that the animosity Hagar felt for Sarah is now instilled in Ishmael and he began to act with animosity toward Isaac. Because of this incident, Ishmael and his mother Hagar were expelled from the household of Abraham in keeping with God's command.

After this expulsion, what happens next is discussed in verse 21: And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

When Ishmael was old enough to marry, his mother found a wife for him from Egypt, the same place of her origin. It is known from Egyptian records of this period that Egyptians were all full haters of anyone of Semitic origin. She would have the same character, so the animosity is assured to continue. Thus, Ishmael became one of the fathers of the Arab nations.

B. Esau
The second father of the Arab states is Esau. The beginning of Esau's hostility is found in Genesis 25:27-34:

And the boys grew. And Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field. And Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison. And Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob boiled pottage. And Esau came in from the field, and he was faint. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray you, with that same red pottage. For I am faint. Therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me first your birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am about to die. And what profit shall the birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me first. And he swore unto him. And he sold his birthright unto Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils. And he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright.

Whereas with Ishmael and Isaac, the two men were half brothers; in the case of Esau and Jacob, they were not only full brothers, they were twin brothers. Nevertheless, Esau was born first. The firstborn received the birthright, which entitled him to inherit the double portion of his father's inheritance. More importantly, whoever had the birthright would be the one God would use to fulfill His divine program of the Abrahamic Covenant.

An occasion occurred when the birthright changed hands. Esau's complaints - that he would die if he did not eat of that particular bowl of soup prepared by Jacob - should not be taken too seriously here. It is known from parallel accounts in Genesis that the family of Isaac had become extremely wealthy. All that would have been necessary was for Esau to go to the very next tent where he would have gotten sufficient food to eat. But he does not want to eat just any old thing; he wants to eat one specific thing, and it happens to be the very thing that Jacob is cooking. So for a bowl of soup, he was more than willing to sell his birthright. Esau's attitude toward his birthright is seen in the last phrase of verse 34: So Esau despised his birthright. Esau was the one who had the birthright, but he did not care to be the one God would use to carry out His program. Jacob is characterized as one who did not have the birthright, but wanted very much to be within the center of God's program. And now the birthright had changed hands.

In Genesis 27, it is time for the patriarchal blessing. The nature of the patriarchal blessing is of that whoever receives the blessing, “so it will be done.” However, the one who rightfully receives the patriarchal blessing is the one who has the birthright. This is no longer Esau, but
Jacob. In this chapter, Jacob has often been accused of stealing the patriarchal blessing from Esau, but that is not the case. Jacob now has the birthright and, therefore, he has the right to the patriarchal blessing. The problem in chapter 27 is not that Jacob steals the patriarchal blessing. The problem is again a lapse of faith. All Jacob and his mother had to do was to trust God to turn the events around so that Jacob would indeed receive the patriarchal blessing. But because of a lapse of faith, they resort to deceiving the father. The sin here does not lie in stealing the patriarchal blessing, that was rightfully Jacob's, the sin lies in the work of deception. Through this work of deception, Jacob did receive the patriarchal blessing that cannot be changed. Esau might have had a change of mind because he began to realize that, not only were there spiritual blessings involved in the birthright, which he did not care for, there were physical blessings in the birthright, which he did care for. But now in the course of events, the patriarchal blessing has solidly gone to Jacob and not to Esau; Jacob is to receive both the spiritual and the physical benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The end product is found in Genesis 27:41:

And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then will I slay my brother Jacob.

Not only is there Ishmael's hatred toward Isaac, but now there is Esau's hatred toward Jacob. The Arab states are all descendants of either Esau or Ishmael, but the root of the present day conflict begins right here with these two individuals.

The Arab States in Prophecy will be continued in the next Shofar.



If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum
recommends the following Messianic Bible studies (mbs):

mbs 004: The Campaign of Armageddon
mbs 010: The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist
mbs 017: The Messianic Kingdom
mbs 038: The Sequence of Pretribulational Events
mbs 039: The Rapture of the Church
mbs 042: The 75-Day Interval
mbs 045: After the Kingdom
mbs 046: The Eternal Order

* Dr. Fruchtenbaum's materials are available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various formats. Many of
his Messianic Bible Studies are also available for free online reading at Ariel's Come and See.
Other select materials and resources are available at Ariel, as well.

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M., Ph.D.,
is founder and director of Ariel Ministries.

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