He will be a wild man - pere adam . As the root of this word does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, it is probably found in the Arabic farra , to run away, to run wild; and hence the wild ass, from its fleetness and its untamable nature. What is said of the wild ass, Job 39:5-8, affords the very best description that can be given of the Ishmaelites, (the Bedouins and wandering Arabs), the descendants of Ishmael: "Who hath sent out the wild ass ( pere ) free? or who hath loosed the bands ( arod ) of the brayer? Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Nothing can be more descriptive of the wandering, lawless, freebooting life of the Arabs than this.
God himself has sent them out free - he has loosed them from all political restraint. The wilderness is their habitation; and in the parched land, where no other human beings could live, they have their dwellings. They scorn the city, and therefore have no fixed habitations; for their multitude, they are not afraid; for when they make depredations on cities and towns, they retire into the desert with so much precipitancy that all pursuit is eluded. In this respect the crying of the driver is disregarded. They may be said to have no lands, and yet the range of the mountains is their pasture - they pitch their tents and feed their flocks, wherever they please; and they search after every green thing - are continually looking after prey, and seize on every kind of property that comes in their way.
It is farther said, His hand will be against every man, and every man' s hand against him - Many potentates among the Abyssinians, Persians, Egyptians, and Turks, have endeavored to subjugate the wandering or wild Arabs; but, though they have had temporary triumphs, they have been ultimately unsuccessful. Sesostris, Cyrus, Pompey, and Trajan, all endeavored to conquer Arabia, but in vain. From the beginning to the present day they have maintained their independence, and God preserves them as a lasting monument of his providential care, and an incontestable argument of the truth of Divine Revelation. Had the Pentateuch no other argument to evince its Divine origin, the account of Ishmael and the prophecy concerning his descendants, collated with their history and manner of life during a period of nearly four thousand years, would be sufficient. Indeed the argument is so absolutely demonstrative, that the man who would attempt its refutation, in the sight of reason and common sense would stand convicted of the most ridiculous presumption and folly.
The country which these free descendants of Ishmael may be properly said to possess, stretches from Aleppo to the Arabian Sea, and from Egypt to the Persian Gulf; a tract of land not less than 1800 miles in length, by 900 in breadth; see Genesis 17:20.
Other Adam Clarke entries containing Genesis 16:12:
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