Abraham Took Another Wife, Whose Name was Keturah. Genesis 25:1-6

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by Ed Walsh, Jun 24, 2018.

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  1. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    My morning's consecutive readings fell first to Genesis 25 which begins with "Abraham took another wife whose name was Keturah." The KJV prefixes the fact with, "Then again" Abraham...) I searched the PB for threads that mentioned Keturah in the title and found none. There are some interesting posts on the subject you can search for. Abraham lived roughly 38 years after the death of Sarah.

    I have heard several interpretations of this passage (Gen 25:1-6) One claimed that the chronology must not be as it seems here. But, that the story of Keturah happened years before the death of Sarah, (Gen. 23:1-20) of which I can find no evidence. Here's one such comment:

    Abraham took a wife—rather, “had taken”; for Keturah is called Abraham’s concubine, or secondary wife (1 Ch 1:32); and as, from her bearing six sons to him, it is improbable that he married after Sarah’s death; and also as he sent them all out to seek their own independence, during his lifetime, it is clear that this marriage is related here out of its chronological order, merely to form a proper winding up of the patriarch’s history.

    Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 29–30). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

    Then I found this brief discussion by RJ Rushdoony, which I thought was very interesting. Here it is in part.

    Perhaps more than half a century ago, I heard an older pastor comment on Genesis 25:1–6, on Abraham’s wife or concubine—for she is called both (vv. 1, 6)—Keturah. The pastor expressed annoyance at such passages, and he wondered why the Bible included them. God loved Abraham, and He had tested and tried him as few men have been. Abraham had met the tests marvelously, and now, rejuvenated, God blessed him with a young woman. Earlier (Gen. 24:1), we see Abraham “old, and well stricken in age.” Now he marries Keturah and fathers six sons, and he sees them grow to maturity. More than what this tells us about Abraham is what it tells us about God. God does not bless Abraham by finding some ancient, unknown monastery for him. Rather, God provides for His friend (James 2:23) a fresh bride in his old age. Failure to see this means a failure to know the God of Scripture.

    The chapter tells us that we do not live for heaven alone. The distressed minister felt God should have taken Abraham to heaven. After all, what more should we want? But God makes clear that Abraham was to be blessed in the face of men and personally rewarded with a young bride in his old age.
    Was this “unspiritual” of God, as this minister inferred? Or was it not rather a clear act, indication that God’s ways far transcend our concepts of spirituality?

    Other old men have had young brides, and, as Calvin observed, this was commonly a ludicrous match. But not so that of Abraham and Keturah.

    Rushdoony, R. J. (2002). Commentaries on the Pentateuch: Genesis (pp. 182–183). Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books.

    What do you all think about the story of Abraham and Keturah?

  2. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Of possible interest if you want to research, based on the biblical fact that he sent the kids to the east, is the theory that they became the Oriental nations, or at least the Chinese. The Chinese written language has many words with biblical roots to the symbol. It has been so long since I read about this connection that I don't even remember the authors. But I've seen multiple authors writing about biblical symbolism in Chinese writing going back thousands of years, so the material on it is out there. On vacation so I can't check the couple of books I am thinking might discuss it.
  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    It seems fairly clear that Abraham was somewhat rejuvenated when the promise of Isaac was made. It was not unnatural that he should have a second wife, after Sarah's death. And the passage seems to me to lay more emphasis on how Abraham distinguished those children from Isaac than anything else. He did not lose from sight that Isaac alone was the child of promise.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I'm sure there are a number of good points we might glean from these verses. But the first one that stands out to me is God's faithfulness to Sarah, which is an often-overlooked theme in the larger Abraham-and-Sarah narrative. God determined to honor Sarah as Abraham's wife, and to honor their marriage, by making sure Sarah was the mother of his chosen people.

    Sarah might have been discarded as barren and useless. That nearly happened in the Hagar incident, and the two adventures with the foreign kings are equally threatening. But God remained faithful to Sarah, and her joy becomes an important theme in the account of the birth of the child of laughter, Isaac. Then her death and burial gets an extended treatment in chapter 23, culminating in Sarah becoming the first to possess the promised land, so to speak, and to find rest there. Even the wife-for-Isaac account is as much about continuing Sarah's legacy and finding solace after her death as it is about Abraham's faith (see Genesis 24:67).

    So when the very next passage mentions Abraham's other wife and how those children were sent eastward, my mind goes back to Sarah and how God is being faithful to her and protecting her position as the mother of the promise.
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    John Gill is in my opinion always worth consulting, especially in the Old Testament. Here is his commentary on Genesis 25:1

    "Then again Abraham took a wife
    Three years after the death of Sarah, and when his son Isaac was married, and he alone, and now one hundred and forty years of age:

    and her name [was] Keturah;
    who she was, or of what family, is not said. An Arabic writer F26 says she was a daughter of the king of the Turks; another F1 of them calls her the daughter of King Rama; and another F2 the daughter of Pactor, king of Rabbah; but there were then no such people in being. Very probably she was one of Abraham's handmaids born in his house, or bought with his money, perhaps the chief and principal of them. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem say she is the same with Hagar, and so, Jarchi; but this is rejected by Aben Ezra, since mention is made of Abraham's concubines, ( Genesis 25:6 ) ; whereas it does not appear he ever had any other than Hagar and Keturah, and therefore could not be the same; and besides, the children of Hagar and Keturah are in this chapter reckoned as distinct. Cleodemus F3, a Heathen writer, makes mention of Keturah as a wife of Abraham's, by whom he had many children, and names three of them. Sir Walter Raleigh F4 thinks, that the Kenites, of whom Jethro, the father- in-law of Moses, was, had their name from Keturah, being a nation of the Midianites that descended from her.


    F26 Abul. Pharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 14.
    F1 Elmacinus, p. 34. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 309.
    F2 Patricides, p. 19. in ib.
    F3 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 20. p. 422.
    F4 History of the World, l. 2. c. 4. sect. 2. p. 157."

    I will browse through other commentaries in my library tomorrow afternoon. Ed, thanks again for the the Reformation Study Bible. My wife and I really appreciate the kind gesture.
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