Ishmael “mocking” or “molesting”?

Was Ishmael expelled for making fun of his younger brother Isaac, or was his offense far more serious to the point of molesting him?

Avi Lipkin in his lessons from The Two Houses of Islam suggests that Ishmael’s conduct was sexually inappropriate.

Genesis 21:9 – 11

9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”  11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

The word “mocking” is derived from the Hebrew word “tsâchaq” (צחק). In English this word is often translated as “laugh, mock, play, and make sport.”

In Hebrew however, the word has the possibility of having a “sexual” connotation.

The word “tsâchaq” is mentioned 13 times in the bible.

8 times it is clear that the meaning is to “laugh” or “make sport”.  E.g. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed… Gen 17:17

A further 4 times it is clear to have a sexual connotation. E.g. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time , that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac [was] sporting with Rebekah his wife.

Come to your own conclusion.

For further research:

Definitions and Instances of the word tsâchaq:

A good easy read on the topic:

A interesting read on the topic:

Anyone with any Rabbinical sources please feel free share. Thanks.


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