Ishmael and his offspring would be considered sons of the East. The primary Hebrew word translated ‘East’ is Qedhem. Not only does Qedhem have a geographical meaning, it also has a significant temporal meaning.
Temporal can be defined as relating to earthly or worldly life; relating to time rather than eternity; and significantly it relates to secular vs. spiritual things.
The terms ‘sons of the East’ found in the Bible include the inhabitants of the Arabian Desert and land eastward from Israel to the river Euphrates. Depending on the context, it may also include the land of present day Iran.
The term ‘full of the East’ found in the Bible means being full of superstition and sorceries.
And the phrase ‘them of the East’ referenced in the Bible will have a remnant in the future millennial kingdom under the rule of Jesus.
Following are several Scripture passages using the Hebrew Qedhem listed in chronological order in the Bible.
After killing his brother Abel, Cain journeyed to the east.
“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.” Genesis 4:16
Note that Cain distanced himself from God to live east of Eden.
Abraham’s nephew Lot also chose the east to live close to Sodom and Gomorrah before they were destroyed.
“Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east.” Genesis13:11
After Abraham’s wife Sarah died he remarried Keturah, plus he had concubines.
“Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him…Midian…And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.” Genesis 25:1-2, 5-6
Now Abraham had other sons by Keturah, but we will presently focus on Midian.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian…So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.” Judges 6:1, 3
Thus God used ‘those of the east’ to chastise the offspring of Isaac when they disobeyed. Note also the Amalekites joined Midian. Amalek (Amalekites) was a son of Esau who was also a son of the East.
Shortly thereafter, God was ready to punish the Midianites for their treatment of His people.
The Angel of the LORD told Gideon that he was chosen to contend with the Midianites.
“Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together; and they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon…” Judges 6:33-34
We all know the rest of the story.
Approximately 500 years later wise King Solomon reigned over Israel.
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding…Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East…For he was wiser than all men…and his fame was in all the surrounding nations” 1 Kings 4:29-31
Then approximately 200 years after that, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the depravity of the Israelites.
“For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob (son of Isaac), because they are filled with eastern ways…” Isaiah 2:6
There couldn’t have been a more descriptive assessment of Israel’s apostasy.
It wasn’t too long after, that northern Israel came under Assyrian rule.
However, the day will come when Israel will be reunited and plunder their enemy.
“Together they shall plunder the people (sons) of the East…With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River (Euphrates)…and make men cross over dryshod.” Isaiah 11:14-15
And then in the not too distant future:
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared (to be slaughtered).” Revelation 16:12
The battle between the half-brothers, i.e. Isaac and Ishmael, will come to an end.
End of story.