Arabs in the Shadow of Israel:  The Unfolding of God's Prophetic Plan for Ishmael's Line

by Tony Maalouf  (2003)

(Key Learning by UBA Church Consultant, Sally Hinzie)

 This book has given me great insight as it traces the other descendants of Abraham – other than Isaac - through the Old and New Testaments. I saw the biblical tribes of Midian, Sheba, Ishmael, Kedar or Qedar, Edom and others in a new light. Their lives were intertwined with their Hebrew cousins and they followed similar paths in their obedience to God and their rebellion against God.

I discovered that the first recorded conversation with a woman was with Hagar, a slave woman (Genesis 16). God’s promise that “He will be a wild donkey of a man” gives Hagar, the slave, the assurance that her son would live free. I was reminded that although Ishmael was not the child of the covenant, he and his descendants were recipients of the blessings of God through his obedience to circumcision. The fact that Isaac AND Ishmael buried Abraham (Genesis 25:8) affirms his place as a son.

I learned “in the East” and Arabia refers to the location of the descendants of Abraham through Hagar and Keturah. In the book of Job, Job is described as “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” The author believes Job is a descendant of Esau and Basma, daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 36:9-33). As I read Job and see his intimate relationship with God in light of this possible ancestry I find it a richer experience.

Dr. Maloouf devotes two chapters defending his belief that the magi bringing gifts to Jesus as recorded in Matthew 2 are descendants of Abraham and Ishmael. Their starting point (from the east); their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh; and their understanding of the King of the Jews all point to the magi coming from Arabia.

A full quarter of the book is “End Notes” with documentation from ancient historians and the records from early church fathers.

“A common misconception among Christians today is to infer that nonelection for the administration of God’s purposes in history means spiritual alienation.” Arabs in the Shadow of Israel proves this is not true. This gave me a renewed passion for reaching out to Arabs as I understand their history and God’s promises to them.