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Title: Keturah  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Abraham, Jokshan, Midian (son of Abraham), Medan (son of Abraham), Ishbak
Collection: Abraham, Book of Genesis, Midian, Torah People, Women in the Bible, Women in the Hebrew Bible, Women in the Old Testament
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The wives and sons of Abraham depicted on the 1630 Venice Haggadah. Keturah stands at far right with her six sons.

Keturah (Hebrew: קְטוּרָה, Modern Ktura, Tiberian Qəṭûrā ; "Incense"[1]) was a wife[2] or concubine[3] of the Biblical patriarch Abraham. According to the Book of Genesis, Abraham married Keturah after the death of his first wife, Sarah; Abraham and Keturah had six sons.[2]

One modern commentator on the Hebrew Bible has called Keturah "the most ignored significant person in the Torah".[4] Some Jewish scholars have believed Keturah to be the same person as Abraham's concubine Hagar, but this view is not universally held.[4]


  • Sources of information 1
  • Relationship of Keturah to Abraham 2
  • Keturah and Hagar 3
  • Descendants 4
  • References 5

Sources of information

The ancestry of Keturah is not stated.[1] She appears in two passages in the Hebrew Bible: in the Book of Genesis,[2] and also in the First Book of Chronicles.[3] Additionally, she is mentioned in the secular work Antiquities of the Jews by the 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian Josephus,[5] and also in the Talmud, the Midrash, the Palestinian Targumim, the Genesis Rabbah, and various other writings of Jewish theologians and philosophers.[6]

Relationship of Keturah to Abraham

Keturah is referred to in Genesis as "another wife" of Abraham[2] (Hebrew: אִשָּׁה Translit.: 'išāh Translated: woman, wife[7]). In First Chronicles, she is called Abraham's "concubine"[3] (Hebrew: פִּילֶגֶשׁ Translit.: pilegeš Translated: concubine[8]).

Keturah and Hagar

There is disagreement amongst Jewish scholars as to whether Keturah was, or was not, the same person as Hagar—the servant of Abraham's wife Sarah, and Abraham's concubine—who (together with her son Ishmael) was sent away by Abraham at the insistence of Sarah.[6][9]

The discussion of Genesis 25:1–6 in the Genesis Rabbah includes statements by Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi arguing that Hagar returned to Abraham and was renamed Keturah. Her new name (Keturah means incense in Hebrew) is said to refer to the pleasant aroma of incense—symbolic of her having turned from misdeeds committed during her time away from Abraham.[10] Since Keturah is referred to in First Chronicles as Abraham's concubine (in the singular), some scholars concluded that this was why Keturah was identified with Hagar in the Midrash and the Palestinian Targumim.[11] An alternative interpretation of the name Keturah (based on an Aramaic root meaning "to tie" or "to adorn") is also cited in the Genesis Rabbah to suggest that Hagar did not have sexual relations with anyone else from the time she left Abraham until her return.[12] The theory that Keturah was Hagar was also supported by the 11th-century scholar Rashi.[4][13]

Biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman dismisses the identification of Keturah with Hagar as "an old rabbinic idea" for which "there is no basis ... in the text", and also notes that the idea was rejected by traditional commentators such as Ibn Ezra, Ramban, and Rashbam.[4] The apocryphal Book of Jubilees also supports the conclusion that Keturah and Hagar were two different people, by stating that Abraham waited until after Hagar's death before marrying Keturah.[14]


Keturah bore Abraham six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The Genesis and First Chronicles accounts also list seven grandsons (Sheba, Dedan, Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah).[2][3] Keturah's sons were said to have represented the Arab tribes who lived south and east of Palestine.[15]

According to the African writer Olaudah Equiano, the 18th-century English theologian John Gill believed the African people were descended from Abraham via Keturah.[16]

According to the Bahá'í author John Able, Bahá'ís consider their founder, Bahá'u'lláh, to have been "descended doubly, from both Abraham and Sarah, and separately from Abraham and Keturah."[17]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e Genesis 25:1–4 (1917 Jewish Publication Society of America translation). "And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah...."
  3. ^ a b c d 1 Chronicles 1:32–33 (1917 Jewish Publication Society of America translation). "And the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine...."
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Strong's Concordance, Hebrew word #376.
  8. ^ Strong's Concordance, Hebrew word #6370.
  9. ^ Genesis 21:9–14.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Rashi on Genesis 25:1 cites Genesis Rabbah 61:5 in his commentary: "Keturah: This is Hagar. She was called Keturah because her deeds were as pleasant as keturah (incense), and because she remained chaste (katrah, from the Aramaic for "restrained") and did not consort with another man from the day she separated from Abraham".
  14. ^ Jubilees 19:11.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
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