The Tents of Kedar:
Cheryl Mason © May, 2016.
“I am black, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem as the Tents of Kedar! Like the curtains of Solomon.” (Song of Solomon 1:5).
There are several references to Kedar in the Bible, but not many people know who Kedar is. In this article I’m going to tell you who Kedar is: how he fits into the Patriarchal family and his importance in current day events. This is not an easy topic to follow and I would suggest you need some prior knowledge of Judaism, Islam and Christianity in order to understand what I’ve written.
According to Genesis 25:13, Kedar is the second son of Ishmael, and the grandson of Abraham. Ishmael was Abraham’s eldest son.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary, has this to say about Kedar:
Kedar means … “(dark-skinned), the second in order of the sons of Ishmael, (Genesis 25:13; 1 Chronicles 1:29) and the name of a great tribe of Arabs settled on the northwest of the peninsula and on the confines of Palestine. The “glory of Kedar” is recorded by the prophet Isaiah, (Isaiah 21:13-17) in the burden upon Arabia; and its importance may also be inferred from the “princes of Kedar” mentioned by Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 27:21) as well as the pastoral character of the tribe. They appear also to have been, like the wandering tribes of the present day, “archers” and “mighty men.” (Isaiah 21:17) comp. Psalm 120:5 That they also settled in villages or towns we find from Isaiah. (Isaiah 42:11) The tribe seems to have been one of the most conspicuous of all the Ishmaelite tribes, and hence the Rabbi’s call the Arabians universally by this name.”
A couple of other references will assist in understanding why Kedar is referred to as being ‘dark-skinned.’ Firstly: Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (Kedar’s grand-mother) was Egyptian (Genesis 16:3). Secondly: Ishmael’s wife (Kedar’s mother) was also Egyptian (Genesis 21:21) later Ishmael also took Canaanite wives. Then there is the alliance through marriage between Isaac’s son (Ishmael’s nephew) Esau (collectively known as Edom) and Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath (Genesis 28:9). Together they make up the Egyptian/Canaanite Semitic branch of Abraham’s family tree.
Compare this with Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, who were the wives of the Patriarchs ─ Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These women originated from Laban (Laban was Syrian, his name means ─ white) hence, the Israelite (the Jewish) branch of the family were most likely lighter skinned and visually different from the Egyptian/Canaanite branch.
Refer to some of my other writings/videos about the Ancient Near East concept of names being their identities.
Abraham also had other children, Abraham’s family is recorded in Genesis (Chapters 11-25). Abraham had Ishmael with Hagar; Isaac with Sarah; and Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah with Keturah. Abraham married Keturah after Sarah’s death. Most scholars believe Keturah was Canaanite.
From the Scriptures in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel we can piece together that Kedar was a very important person; He was glorious, a mighty man and an archer (Isaiah 21:16-17); He lived in the mountains, as a mountain-lord and he was a pastoralist, but most importantly he was a Prince (Ezekiel 27:21). As mentioned earlier, because of Kedar’s success, the Arabs Tribes (Ishmaelites) came to be collectively known as Kedar.
The word, Prince is not used lightly in the Scriptures, very few individuals enjoy that title. And, yet somehow all the sons of Ishmael are called ─ Prince. In Genesis 17:20, God says to Abraham; I will bless him (Ishmael), I will make him fruitful, I will multiply him exceedingly, he will bear Twelve Princes and I will make of him a great nation. I don’t think there can be any disagreement in regards to Ishmael’s blessings. Ishmael ended up possessing the commodity the whole world needs ─ Oil.
However, in Jeremiah we also read of God’s wrath and disappointment towards Kedar (Ishmael), a judgement followed, and just like the Jews (Isaac’s descendants); Kedar was also judged and scattered under Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 49:28-33). Also, Ishmael and subsequently Kedar, are not very well liked, they seem to be destined to a life of conflict and war (crossed swords) Genesis 16:12 … “His hand shall be against everybody’s and everybody hand shall be against his.”
Ishmael and his descendants are no less fascinating to me than Isaac’s (the Jews). I seldom read the same book more than once, but I’ve read The Ishmaelite Exile by Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman several times. I would highly recommend reading this book as it outlines the future for Ishmael and the Jewish people according to ancient prophesies. Even though the prophesies in this book have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years, reading them is like reading today’s newspapers.
In the, The Ishmaelite Exile, Rabbi Weitzman speaks of Ishmael as the ‘Small-Horn’ from the Book of Daniel. Ishmael is also ‘The Wild Man’ (Pere Adam) who kills people as human-sacrifice evoking the name of Allah over his victims, Ishmael regards this as the highest form of worship to Allah.
Until now I’ve assumed you know the story of Abraham and how his offspring Ishmael and Isaac came to be. Maybe you don’t, so here it is … As mentioned earlier, Abraham’s story is in Genesis (Chapters 11-25). Abraham married Sarah, Sarah was unable to conceive, Sarah suggested to Abraham that Hagar (her Egyptian maid) be a surrogate mother for her child. Abraham did what Sarah requested, despite God’s promise to him that Sarah would be the mother of his heir (Genesis 17:19).
Hagar conceived and Ishmael was born. Despite Sarah’s advanced age, she also conceived and Isaac was born. Tensions arose between the two woman and Hagar was ‘sent-away’, a term used for divorce. Hagar experienced a visitation from God in the wilderness and mother and son were saved from imminent death.
There is no suggestion whatsoever that Ishmael lost contact with Abraham, when Hagar was ‘sent-away’, a temporary separation perhaps; but not a long-term one. Ishmael and Isaac were both present at Abraham’s burial (Genesis 25:9). Both Islamic and Jewish texts agree that Ishmael continued in learning about the monotheistic faith of his father Abraham.
The descendants of Abraham have many things in common, these are some of the similarities between the two: both are monotheistic and consider Christianity polytheistic. Both share the same ancestry, as descendants of Abraham. Both have resided in and around the area of Palestine since ancient times. Both circumcise for religious reasons only; both observe food laws, Halal and Kosher; both have similar physical markers, like dress codes, beards etc. There are too many similarities to list here, it’s a paper in itself.
In my opinion the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac have more in common than say … Muslims have with Christians or Jews have with Christians. Islam and Judaism is virtually the same religion. Before you disagree with me, I think you should know that anybody who has read the texts of Islam (Quran, Hadiths etc.) and Judaism (The Talmud) will pretty much say they are the same. People who say these two religions are not the same, do so, because they haven’t read the texts of both, let alone one.
Now to the 4000-year-old dispute about inheritance, the Ishmaelites (Islamic people) claim Ishmael is the rightful heir, because Ishmael was the eldest son. But also because Ishmael was circumcised at age thirteen (an age of understanding) whereas Isaac was circumcised at eight-days (the decision to follow God was thrust upon him). The Jews (Isaac’s descendants) claim they are the rightful heirs, because that’s what Abraham chose (Genesis 25:5); that Isaac was the child of promise; and that Sarah was the ‘real’ wife and the ‘loved’ wife. No comment from me here, anyone who enters into this family feud is asking for trouble, but here are some scriptural references regarding the distribution of inheritance.
Genesis 15:18-21 mentions the borders given to the offspring of Abraham. But was it just Isaac or all of Abraham’s offspring? Remembering that Abraham had eight children in all. These were the ancient borders promised to Abraham’s descendants, the lands of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites (which are the later Jerusalemites) or Jerusalem. In modern times these borders would be, parts of modern-day Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, parts of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Israel. These borders are also known as The Greater Israel.
The Ishmaelite Exile (pages 86,87), discusses this division of land, but it still remains unclear to me as to who got what. As mentioned earlier Genesis chapter 15, states the inheritance is given to Abraham’s descendants, a general statement. In Genesis 17:8-10 the inheritance appears to have changed, it states the descendants are given all the land of Canaan. Are we to assume the rest was allocated to Ishmael? The only thing that changed between Genesis chapters 15 and 17 is that Ishmael was born. In chapter 16 we have the birth of Ishmael. Did Ishmael change the scope of the inheritance or didn’t he? But then in Genesis 25:5 it clearly states that Abraham gave everything to Isaac, and to the others he gave gifts.
Ironically, I discovered that maps of Ishmael’s son Kedar’s territory (brown area) consisted of modern-day Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E, Oman, Syria and possibly even Turkey. Circa 739 BC.
(For copyright reasons I had to remove a map which illustrated perfectly the point I’m trying to make, until I find another one or buy one, you’ll have to look online for one yourself. Jesus walk has a map that shows this area, look under maps and then Arabia).
The Princes of Kedar certainly occupied vast areas of land according to these maps, pretty much exactly to the boundaries promised to Abraham except the land of Canaan. And, the descendants of Isaac occupied the land of Canaan. So, in theory at least, everybody was where they were supposed to be according to Genesis 15:18-21 but not according to Genesis 25:5.
Now compare the map above with the Ishmaelite territory according to Genesis 25:18, Samuel etc. These boundaries included modern-day Iran.
Modern-day map of Middle-East for comparison:
Many have argued that Ishmael is not the father of the Arabs as we know them today. I believe he is because The Quran says he is, Jewish literature says he is, and I believe the Bible says he is. The Jews go one step further; they believe that Kedar if the ancestor of Mohammed, and so do I.
Check out the following link: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8251-ishmael
Outside of the religious texts, Pliny the Elder, mentions the Ishmaelites (Islamic people), who he referred to as Saracens (Historia Naturalis 5:65) in his day.
The other argument I hear is that even if the Ishmaelites existed in the past as Arabs, that’s not the case now, that somehow they morphed into other Middle-East cultures and disappeared. And, yet everyone seems to be quite certain they known who Isaac’s descendants are, which I think is odd considering it was the Jewish records that were destroyed in the 70 AD destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
God’s blessing was to Ishmael and Isaac, there’s no disputing that. God’s judgements have also fallen on both of them equally and God is not finished with either of them. The final judgements are still to come. With blessing, comes responsibility and commitment. They have received the blessings but have not acted responsibly and therefore judgement will follow.
The end is near for Tents of Kedar; the Jewish people and the rest of us for that matter. But before this end comes, it’s apparent from reading Jewish literature that there is an expectation of a rising-up of Ishmael in the last days. This is the last Exile for the Jewish people, Ishmael will again dominate and rule the world.
From the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) we also read of a rising-up of the Nation’s round-about Israel, this will include the Arab Nations. Jeremiah chapter 30, refers to this time as Jacob’s Trouble. Many Jews will be killed (Zechariah 13). The Jews will be in fear and anguish because of their enemies. Jerusalem will be shaken and destroyed, but a remnant will be saved, God will deliver His people, because of His Covenant with them (Isaiah 59). And, this from Jesus in the New Testament, a time of Great Tribulation (Matthew 24) and when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies the end is near (Luke 21:20-22). A judgement is coming and Israel must repent before it’s too late.
But by far the most worrying predictions come from the Night Journey narrative in The Quran, Chapter 17:58 “There is not a town (community) but We shall destroy or sternly punish it, before The Day of Judgement. That is recorded in The Book.” The Book, being The Quran and the community, being the Jewish community, I’m assuming, because that’s where Mohammed was supposed to be at that time.
I hate to be the bringer of bad tidings, but I cannot agree with the articles I’ve read on how The Quran says that the Children of Israel (as referred to in The Quran) will dwell in the land, Quran 17: 100-104. That is not what it says … instead, I see the Quran clearly stating in Chapter 17 that the Community in Jerusalem will be punished by the Islamists for failure to keep the Commandments, the accusations against the Israelites is throughout The Quran.
We already know from previous chapters in the Quran, the Children of Israel were under Pharaoh, crossed land, sea, again … details are sketchy, they worshipped the Golden Calf, that part is not sketchy … the warning from Moses (the FIRST warning, Quran 17:5) and then, a SECOND warning from Mohammed (Quran 17:7). Chapter 17:67 “When He brings you safe to the land, you turn away from Him. Man is ever ungrateful.”
The Children of Israel will always be considered sojourners in the land, because all things belong to Allah, and he gives whatever, to whomever, whenever (Quran 3:26). “We forewarned the Children of Israel, saying, twice you shall commit evil in the land. You shall become great transgressors” (Quran 17:4).
My take on The Night Journey, is that Mohammed established himself as Second Prophet, the First being Moses, to warn the Children of Israel of their impending doom. Chapter 17 is all about the Children of Israel being punished by the Islamists before The Day of Judgement, because they turned away from Allah.
I hope I’ve managed to convey the message I intended to convey. It’s not been easy writing this story as it takes so many twists and turns. The main idea I wanted to share with you was that Kedar is not dead. He’s lived on just as the Jewish people have. The Arabs are Kedar and Kedar is Ishmael. And there is a final battle looming between the Sons of Abraham – Ishmael and Isaac.
I find the scriptures regarding the allocation of land to Abraham’s descendants confusing. It appears to me that it was Abraham’s intensions that Isaac receive the whole lot and yet that was not the case from the maps I’ve shared. Ishmael was always never too far away from Isaac.
Ultimately this whole conquest for land is infantile when we consider that Abraham’s journey was one of faith, he left his home and walked on a faith-journey with God. As do we when we begin our journey with God, what Abraham did in the natural we do in the spiritual. Abraham was a Type of what God intended for all of us who want to follow Him, that’s why Abraham is the father of many nations.
The land of Canaan was an earthly promise; it was a temporal dwelling for Abraham and his descendants. It’s irrelevant how much land he acquired or how much land he bequeathed to his descendants, the only promises that matters is his eternal promises and the only land that matters is the land he inherited in eternity.
Khan, Maulana Wahiduddin and Farida Khanam. The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2011.
Neusner, Jacob. The Babylonian Talmud. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005
The Holy Bible New King James Version. Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, 1982.
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Weitzman, Yechiel. The Ishmaelite Exile. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Pub., 2006.
Comment added on 9/9/2016
It has been brought to my attention that when Moses said to the Children of Israel that God will raise up a Prophet like me (Moses) etc., etc. Deuteronomy 18:15; that the Islamists believe that Prophet to be Mohammed. According to the scripture in Deuteronomy 18:15 that Prophet would come from Jewish stock and from the land of Israel. I’m not quite sure how the second part of Moses’s prophesy ties in with Mohammed, but it must make sense to Islamists who view Mohammed as the second Moses.
Christians throughout history have always understood Moses’s prophesy to be fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Peter, the most Jewish of Apostles, said as much when he addressed the crowds in Solomon’s Colonnade (Acts 3:22) and Stephen who was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin also referred to Jesus as the second Moses (Acts 7:37).
The Jewish people are still waiting for Moses’s prophesy to be fulfilled. The Jews have not accepted Jesus of Nazareth or Mohammed as a fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15.