Abraham banishes Ishmael as a lad, and the break between them seems final. To reconcile father and son, Jewish and Islamic traditions tell a story about Abraham going to visit Ishmael and meet his wives. Despite being similar, the two stories are used for different purposes.
Throughout the Bible, “Ishmaelite” is a collective term for nomads living in the wilderness, east of Canaan. Why is their eponymous ancestor Ishmael, Abraham’s exiled son, presented as living in the wilderness region near Egypt, west of Canaan? The answer can be found in the political realities of Persian period Yehud.