Little is known of the Book of Mormon Ishmael. An Ephraimite from Jerusalem (cf. JD 23:184), he cooperated in fulfilling God's command (brought to him from the wilderness by Lehi's sons) that he, his wife, five daughters, two sons, and their households travel into the wilderness to join the exodus of the prophet Lehi from Jerusalem about 600 B.C. (1 Ne. 7:2—5).
While en route to Lehi's camp, a division arose in which four of Ishmael's children collaborated with Laman and Lemuel, the older sons of Lehi, against the others of their party. A reprimand by Nephi1, the fourth son of Lehi, provoked them to bind him and threaten to leave him to die. Their hearts were softened toward him only when other members of Ishmael's family pleaded for Nephi's safety (1 Ne. 7:6—21).
After joining with Lehi in the valley of Lemuel, Nephi, his brothers, and Zoram married the daughters of Ishmael (1 Ne. 16:7). As the journey continued Ishmael died and "was buried in the place which was called Nahom" (16:34). Ishmael's death and the combination of other adversities caused such grieving among his children that they again complained against Lehi and Nephi, repenting only after the voice of the Lord chastened them (16:34—39).
Christine Purves Baker