The genealogists — including Muhammad bin Ishaq — said,
“The name of Saba’ was `Abd Shams bin Yashjub bin Ya`rub bin Qahtan; he was called Saba’ because he was the first Arab tribe to disperse.
He was also known as Ar-Ra’ish, because he was the first one to take booty in war and give it to his people, so he was called Ar-Ra’ish; because the Arabs call wealth Rish or Riyash.
They differ over Qahtan, about whom there were three views.
– The first, he descended from the line of Iram bin Sam bin Nuh, then there were three different views over how he descended from him.
– The second was that he was descended from `Abir, another name for Hud, peace be upon him, then there were also three different views over exactly how he descended from him.
– The third was that he was descended from Isma`il bin Ibrahim Al-Khalil, peace be upon him, then there were also three different views over exactly how he descended from him.
This was discussed in full detail by Imam Al-Hafiz Abu Umar bin Abdul-Barr An-Namari, may Allah have mercy on him, in his book Al-Musamma Al-Inbah `Ala Dhikr Usul Al-Qaba’il Ar-Ruwat.
The meaning of the Prophet’s words, كَانَ رَجُلًا مِنَ الْعَرَب (He was a man among the Arabs), means that he was one of the original Arabs, who were before Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and were descendants of Sam bin Nuh (Shem, the son of Noah).
According to the third view mentioned above, he descended from Ibrahim, peace be upon him, but this was not a well-known view among them. And Allah knows best.
But in Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah passed by a group of people from (the tribe of) Aslam who were practicing archery, and he said, ارْمُوا بَنِي إِسْمَاعِيلَ فَإِنَّ أَبَاكُمْ كَانَ رَامِيًا (Shoot, O sons of Isma`il, for your father was an archer).
Aslam was a tribe of the Ansar, and the Ansar — both Aws and Khazraj — were from Ghassan, from the Arabs of Yemen from Saba’, who settled in Yathrib when Saba‘ was scattered throughout the land when Allah sent against them the flood released from the dam.
A group of them also settled in Syria, and they were called Ghassan for the name of the water beside which they camped — it was said that it was in the Yemen, or that it was near Al-Mushallal, as Hassan bin Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, said in one of his poems. The meaning of his words:
“If you ask, then we are the community of the noble descendants, our lineage is Al-Azd and our water is Ghassan.”
وُلِدَ لَهُ عَشْرَةٌ مِنَ الْعَرَب
He had ten sons among the Arabs.
means that these ten were of his lineage, and that the origins of the Arab tribes of the Yemen go back to him, not that they were his sons born of his loins. There may have been two or three generations between him and some of them, or more or less, as is explained in detail in the books of genealogy.
The meaning of the words,
فَتَيَامَنَ مِنْهُمْ سِتَّةٌ وَتَشَاءَمَ مِنْهُمْ أَرْبَعَة
Six of whom went south and four of whom went north.
is that after Allah sent against them the flood released from the dam, some of them stayed in their homeland, whilst others left to go elsewhere.