Ishmael had twelve sons: Nebajoth, Kedar, Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. (Genesis 25:14-18)

According to McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, Arab historians divide the Arab peoples into the descendants of Joktan (Genesis 10:25-29); and descendants of Ishmael. Some of the tribes founded by sons of Ishmael retained the names of their founders, and were well known in history. The Nabateans, who took possession of Idumea in the 4th century B.C., and constructed the wonderful monuments of Petra, were the posterity of Nebajoth, Ishmael’s eldest son.

The descendants of Jetur and Naphish disputed with the Israelites’ possession of the country east of the Jordan, and the former, gave their name to a small province south of Damascus. The black tents of Kedar were pitched in the heart of the Arabian desert, and from their abundant flocks they supplied the marts of Tyre (Jeremiah 2:10; Isaiah 60:7; Ezekiel 27:21). The district of Tema lay south of Edom, and is referred to by both Job and Isaiah (Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14). Dumah has left his name to a small province of Arabia.

Since the days of Abraham the tents of the Ishmaelites have been studded along the whole eastern confines of Palestine, and they have been scattered over Arabia from the borders of Egypt to the banks of the Euphrates. As friends and foes, as oppressors and oppressed—but ever as freemen — the seed of Ishmael have “dwelt in the presence of their brethren.” Many outsiders have testified to the fearsome and intensely clannish culture of Ishmael’s seed. Of special note: Islam’s prophet Mohammed of was of the tribe of Quraysh which claims direct descent from Hadar.