“When a well-known West Coast preacher said, ‘If Abraham was not so impatient, we would have been spared much headache in the Middle East today,’ Tony Maalouf, a Lebanese Christian, decided he had to respond. Arabs in the Shadow of Israel is his answer.
“In the first section, Dr. Maalouf explores the scriptural account of the conception and birth of Abraham's son Ishmael to Sarah's maid, Hagar. During her flight from Sarah, Hagar becomes the first woman to see a Theophany, to receive a promise of multiplied seed, and to name God.
“The book traces the scriptural and historical references to Hagar, Ishmael, and their descendants through the Old and New Testament periods. Maalouf shows that instead of the conflict that exists today, Abraham's descendants lived amicably through most of the biblical period. As Israel descended into sin and idolatry during the post-Solomonic period, so did Ishmael's line which had been monotheistic.
“Maalouf makes a strong case for God's prophetic promise for Ishmael (Genesis 16) before his birth being a blessing rather than a curse. He explains Sarah's demand that Ishmael and Hagar be sent away after Isaac's weaning and the persecution passage referring to Ishmael in Galatians 4: 21-31. He presents a convincing argument that the Magi were actually Arabian rather than Persian, but he relies on some supposition in some of his arguments. For instance, he asserts that Paul's journey to Arabia was a missionary journey. Though he has raised my doubts about the traditional explanation, he has not convinced me.
“Readers should keep their Bibles handy as they read. Dr. Maalouf received his doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary and ‘has served as assistant academic dean and professor of biblical studies at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary in Amman, Jordan, and as an adjunct professor at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon.’ His approach to his subject is scholarly but readable for the layperson, often fascinating, occasionally dragging. Endnotes and a bibliography comprise a third of the book.
“I heartily recommend this book for preachers, teachers, and any layperson interested in the situation in the Middle East today. From now on whenever I hear someone ascribe the problems in the Middle East to the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac, I know I'll wince.” -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
A thoughtful and well-documented call to rethink the role of Arabs in the plan of God. Western Christianity’s long-standing support of Israel has, perhaps unintentionally, nurtured a prejudice against Arab people—the descendants of Abraham’s first son, Ishmael. Author Tony Maalouf contends that this bias differs dramatically from the biblical portrayal of Ishmael and the nations that have sprung from him. With meticulous research and theological astuteness, Maalouf surfaces the positive portrayal of the Arab people in ancient and prophetic history, clearly showing that the Israeli-Arab conflict is a recent development in history. By bringing to light the nature of relationships that have prevailed among the Jews and Arabs throughout history, Maalouf strives to change the thinking of Bible believers to a more accurate understanding of this crucial contemporary issue. He traces the Abrahamic heritage of the Arab people and majors on the positive Arab-Israeli relationships in biblical history. The descendants of Ishmael have an important role in the sovereign plan of God— right up to the final moments of history.