Finding textual support for Ishmael’s domination

Dear Rabbi Fried,
You have been writing about our early sages’ prophesying an eventual world dominion by the sons of Ishmael, i.e., the Muslim world, before the Messianic times. Do you have specific Torah or rabbinical sources for what you are writing?
Marlene B.
Dear Marlene,
In last week’s column we cited the verses in Genesis Ch. 16:9-12 which tell the story of the angel foretelling the name of Ishmael to his mother, and the rabbinical interpretation of those verses, where we saw that his hand will be upon all.
The previous week we cited the pre-Mishnaic work, Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer, which tells of a fifth exile, that of Ishmael, which will be the transition from the fourth exile of Edom, the Western, Christian world.
I will translate for you, from the original Hebrew, some excerpts from the teachings of the renowned Kabbalist Rav Chaim Vital, student of the venerated Kabbalist known as the Ar’I z’l, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Tzfat fame. Note that these prophetic words were written some 350 years ago. Since his essay is in explanation of Psalm 124 by King David, we shall translate that first:
“A song of ascents. Had not God been with us, and the Jews said ‘please’; when ‘the man’ (Adam) rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kindled against us. Then the waters would have inundated us; the current would have surged across our soul.
“Then they would have surged across our soul — the treacherous waters. Blessed is God, Who did not present us as prey for their teeth. Our soul escaped like a bird from the hunter’s snare; the snare broke and we escaped. Our help is through the Name of God, Maker of heaven and earth.”
Explains R’ Vital: “You already know that the exiles are only four: Babylonia, Media, Greece and Edom. However, the Jews are destined to be, in the End of Days, in the exile of Ishmael as is cited in Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer, the Midrashim and the Zohar … Behold King David prophesied with Divine Spirit in this Psalm what the Jews are destined to experience in a future time, in this final exile.
“Behold, while the Jews will be in the first four exiles, they will turn to God with the words ‘please’ (as said in the opening verse), without God’s helping us we would have been lost … but there will yet be a fifth and final exile, after all the previous ones, more difficult than any of the above, the exile of Ishmael, who is called a “man wild” … (in the verses in Genesis). Under his exile the Jews will cry out in a different way (not with the word ‘please’).
Rather, ‘if not that God is for us, when “The Man” rose up against us.’ Because since he (Ishmael) is considered ‘a Man,’ as he is a son of Abraham and he has the merit of our forefathers, as we find that Abraham prayed for his success saying ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You’ (Genesis 17:18), furthermore he (Ishmael) has the merit of circumcision, and for this reason he is called ‘adam,’ the Man, and consequently his exile is more powerful than that of the other nations.
“This is as our sages teach that this is the reason he is called ‘Ishmael,’ (meaning ‘God will listen’), because the Jews are destined to cry out great shrieks during the days of his exile, and then God will listen to our cries and answer us…they (Ishmael) are destined to reign over the world and Israel as well, therefore it says (in the above Psalm) when ‘the Man’ ‘rose up’ against us… as it says in the Zohar that the lowest of all nations will reign over them… and this is why it says that ‘Had not God been with us, when the Man rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive,’ meaning that this period of the fifth exile is different from all previous ones…that, Heaven forfend, with the heat of their anger their desire is to wipe out the name ‘Israel’ completely from under the heavens, like an object which is swallowed which it can now not be seen at all…this applies to the exile of Ishmael who want to destroy our bodies and souls and to take all the money of Israel and swallow them alive, without leaving a root or a branch.”
The words of this great sage and Kabbalist are unfortunately not, as you probably noticed, very warm and fuzzy.
They do, however, prophesy what our Muslim neighbors surrounding Israel have been saying, quite precisely, i.e., push them into the sea, wipe them off the map, etc., etc.
Perhaps in future columns we will focus on what our response to this needs to be, in the spiritual realm.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel.
Questions can be sent to him at

Leave a Reply