Land of Ishmael
|As indicated in Alma 17:19 the land of Ishmael was named after the sons of Ishmael, who became Lamanites. The land of Ishmael was located north of the land of Nephi. Such can be subsumed by reading carefully chapters 21, 22, 23 and 24 of Alma. It was not part of the land of Nephi, (see Alma 22:1)
Although this land was not part of the land of Nephi, it was in the mountain ranges of Guatemala. Alma 27:26 indicates that to travel from the land of Ishmael to the land of Jershon, the people had to "travel down."
Reading chapters 21- 24 of Alma shows that the sons of Mosiah converted the residents of Ishmael, as well as the six cities contiguous to it. The converts from these lands then changed the name of this area, as well as their own names, to "Anti-Nephi-Lehies," (see Alma 23:17).
Having been raised in the church, attending primary, seminary, institute, gospel doctrine, and having taught CES Institutes for over twenty years, I was never satisfied with the myriad of definitions/explanations of this term. Since trying to figure out Book of Mormon names, I finally concluded that this land and these people were located opposite the land of Nephi and opposite the land of Lehi. Another way of saying that is, "Anti-Nephi-Lehi."
Further proof of this meaning is that once these converted Lamanites left their cities of origin, they changed their names to "The People of Ammon," which replaced their names of Anti-Nephi-Lehies. I assume the reason they changed their name is that they were no longer opposite the land of Nephi and opposite the land of Lehi.