Was Ishmael and Hagar sent to the desert before or after the birth of Isaac? If we were to accept the Biblical version, we would encounter a number of inconsistencies and contradictions. It is clear from the story in Gen. 21:14-19 that Ishmael was a little baby at that time. For example according to Gen. 16:16 Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. And according to Gen. 21:5 Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. It follows that Ishmael was already fourteen years old when his younger brother Isaac was born. According to Gen. 21:8-19 the incident took place after Isaac was weaned. Biblical scholars tell us the child was probably weaned at about the age of three. Thus, it follows that when Hagar and Ishmael were taken away Ishmael was a full-grown teenager, seventeen years old. However, the profile of Ishmael in Gen 21:14-19 is a small baby and not a full-grown teenager. Why?
Genesis 21:14-21 ESV So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. (15) When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. (16) Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. (17) And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. (18) Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” (19) Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (20) And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. (21) He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
1st) First, the original Hebrew for Gen. 21:14 is ” and put the bread and water on her shoulder AND the boy.” Anyone fluent in Hebrew can confirm this! This reading is stillrendered in the Revised English Bible; however, other Bible publishers possibly aware of the discrepancy decided to translate the verse slightly different; however, we can see their trick! How would a mother carry a seventeen-year-old teenager on her shoulder? Certainly he was probably strong enough to carry his mother. Ishmael must have been a baby!
Contrary to Christians clumsy response that the 17 years old Ishma-EL was NOT put by Abraham on Hagar’s shoulder, The Online Jewish Rabbi do agree with me. While commenting on Gen 21:14…. Jewish Rabbi explained – ( and the child: (Gen. Rabbah 53:13) He also placed the child on her shoulder )
Online Source : http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8216#showrashi=true
2nd) Second, in Gen 21:15 we are told that Hagar put the child under one of the bushes.Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
3rd) Third, in Gen 21:16 we are told that Hagar sat away so she did not have to see the child die before her eyes. Is this the profile of a husky seventeen-year-old teenager who probably was capable of being worried about his mother dying before his eyes? Or is it obviously a profile of a small helpless baby? Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
4th) According to Gen 21:17-18, the angels told Hagar lift the child and hold him in your arms. Is a seventeen-year-old man the object of being lifted up and held in one’s arms by a woman while CRYING? Or is it the reference of a small child. Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
5th) According to Gen 21:19 we are told that Hagar filled the bottle with water and gave the child a drink. One would expect a seventeen year old to bring water to his mother instead.Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
6th) According to Gen 21:14 Abraham puts the food and water on Hagar’s shoulder. Why doesn’t the strong husky seventeen-year old Ishmael offer to carry the food and water?Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
7th) According to Gen 21:20-21?? Ishmael grew up, became an archer and got married. Ishmael must have been a baby and not a teenager!
The above analysis leads to the inevitable conclusion that while the Bible contains some truths as explained earlier, there is also evidence of human additions, deletions and interpolations which only a subsequent authentic revelation could clear. The Islamic version of the story is fully consistent and coherent from A to Z; Ishmael was a baby and Isaac was not born yet when this incident took place.