Keturah

KETURAH (kĕ-tū'ra). Abraham’s second wife (Gen.25.1), she was taken probably after the death of Sarah and the marriage of Isaac (Gen.24.67), but she was called his concubine (1Chr.1.32; cf. Gen.25.6). She was the mother of six sons, ancestors of Arabian tribes (Gen.25.2-Gen.25.6; 1Chr.1.33).


KETURAH kĭ tŏŏr’ ə (קְטוּרָֽה, meaning incense or perfumed one) was a wife of Abraham. Nothing is known of her background. She is mentioned by name only (Gen 25:1, 4; 1 Chron 1:32, 33). In the latter reference she is referred to as Abraham’s concubine.

Although Keturah is mentioned in the Genesis record after the death of Sarah, it is possible that she bore sons to Abraham while Sarah was still living. On the other hand, Abraham’s rejuvenation at the age of 100 by becoming the father of Isaac may have been prolonged, so that after Sarah died and Abraham had reached the age of 137 he had sons born to him by Keturah. Scripture does not give enough data to determine these details.

To Keturah and Abraham were born six sons, eleven grandsons and great-grandsons. The six sons were: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Gen 25:1-4). Through these descendants a number of the N Arabian tribes trace their lineage back to Abraham and Keturah. Some Arab. writers mention an Arabian tribe near Mecca by the name of Keturah. “Bildad the Shuhite,” one of the friends of Job (2:11), may have been a descendant of Shuah.

Of the three tribes that were distinctly Arabian—Midian, Sheba, and Dedan—the Midianites are the best known. They located on the upper stretch of the Red Sea littoral. They are mentioned in the Biblical record as caravan merchants (Gen 37), associated with Moses (Exod 2:16; 3:1; 18:1) and as invaders of Israel (Judg 6-8).

Bibliography

J. A. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible (1934), 37-53; H. C. Leupold, Genesis (1942), 688-693.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ke-tu’-ra, ke-too’-ra (qeTurah; Chettoura, "incense"): The second wife of Abraham (Ge 25:1; 1Ch 1:32 f). According to the Biblical tradition, he contracted this second marriage after the death of Sarah (compare Ge 23), and very likely after the marriage of Isaac (compare Ge 24). It is not improbable that, as some writers have suggested, this change in the life of his son prompted Abraham to remarry in order to overcome the feeling of lonesomeness caused by Isaac’s entering the state of matrimony.

1Ch 1:32 (and also Ge 25:6) shows us that Keturah was not considered to be of the same dignity as Sarah who, indeed, was the mother of the son of promise, and, for obvious reasons, the sons of Abraham’s concubines were separated from Isaac. She was the mother of 6 sons representing Arab tribes South and East of Palestine (Ge 25:1-6), so that through the offspring of Keturah Abraham became "the father of many nations."