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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 25

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Genesis 25:1

again took a wife -- Earlier Abraham’s age was once considered an obstacle to having children (Genesis 17:17; compare Hebrews 11:11-12); now he takes another wife and has six more children. Genesis 25:1–6 may be out of chronological sequence. 1 Chronicles 1:32, which refers to Keturah as a concubine, favors this suggestion. Compare note on Genesis 25:12-15. - FSB

Reflecting the culture of the ancient Near East, it was not unknown for men to take “second” wives, but this was usually an action of those who were wealthy. The precise status of the “second” wife could vary, depending on the nature of the relationship; she might, e.g., be the maidservant of the first wife (see Genesis 16:1-3; Genesis 29:24; Genesis 29:29; Genesis 30:3; Genesis 30:9). - ESVSB

Keturah -- Keturah—“Incense” (Gesenius); probably a servant in the family, as Hagar had been, though not Hagar herself (Targums), whom Abraham had recalled after Sarah’s death (Lyra), since ver. 6 speaks of concubines. - PC

Keturah -- This name means “incense.” It is conceivable that the name stands in some sort of relation to the “frankincense” trade, which was carried on, by regular routes, between Arabia and Syria and Egypt. In 1 Chronicles 1:32 she is called “a concubine.” - CBSC

If taken after Sarah’s death "That would mean there was a maximum span of 37 years for the births of Ketarah’s six sons. (Abraham was 138 when Sarah died, and he died at 175.)" BKC

Keturah -- Jewish tradition says this was just another name for Hagar (cf. Genesis 25:12), but, the plural of the word "concubine" (BDB 811) found in Genesis 25:6 seems to militate against this. Luther assumes that Abraham did this just to fulfill Genesis 17:4. It is uncertain whether Abraham married Keturah before or after the death of Sarah. Chronology is more a feature of western historiography than eastern, biblical historiography. The name Keturah (BDB 882) means "perfumed one" or "wrapped in incense smoke!" - Utley

25:1–4 Abraham’s sons through Keturah, (a concubine, cf. v. 6; 1 Chr. 1:32) a wife of lower status than Sarah, became the progenitors of various Arab tribes to the east of Canaan. - MSB

Verse 3

25:2-4 Tribes in Sheba and Dedan, in Arabia (Genesis 25:3), as well as the Midianites (v. 4), came from Abraham. This was in fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham that he would become great (Genesis 12:2) since so “many nations” look to him as their ancestor (Genesis 17:4). - BKC

Verse 5

Genesis 25:5-6

gave all -- . Given how Abraham treats Keturah’s sons, it seems likely that he viewed both Keturah and Hagar as concubines. Certain OT contexts portray such women as married, being “second” wives, but not necessarily of equal status to the “first” wife. Hagar, e.g., continued to be Sarah’s maidservant after the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-3; Genesis 21:10; Genesis 21:12; cf. Genesis 29:24; Genesis 29:29; Genesis 30:4; Genesis 30:9). While 25:1–6 highlights the identity of various people groups descended from Abraham, it carefully distinguishes these descendants from Isaac. He alone is Abraham’s heir. - NIVZSB

Verse 6

Genesis 25:6

gave gifts -- Given how Abraham treats Keturah’s sons, it seems likely that he viewed both Keturah and Hagar as concubines. Certain OT contexts portray such women as married, being “second” wives, but not necessarily of equal status to the “first” wife. Hagar, e.g., continued to be Sarah’s maidservant after the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-3; Genesis 21:10; Genesis 21:12; cf. Genesis 29:24; Genesis 29:29; Genesis 30:4; Genesis 30:9). While 25:1–6 highlights the identity of various people groups descended from Abraham, it carefully distinguishes these descendants from Isaac. He alone is Abraham’s heir. - NIVZSB

Verse 12

Genesis 25:12

25:12–15 Some names in this passage are distinguished by lineage as from Keturah (see Genesis 12:1-4) or Ishmael but such distinctions are not retained in other passages. For example, in Isaiah 60:6-7, Midian, Ephah, and Sheba (from Keturah) are listed beside Kedar and Nebaioth (who are listed as Ishmael’s descendants in Genesis 25:13) - FSB

This intermingling in other passages may suggest fluid tribal confederations and allegiances. It also forms a backdrop for later Israelite history, where the people of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob are opposed to those from Abraham by concubines. Keturah, though labeled as a wife of Abraham, is affiliated as a concubine via the connections with Ishmael’s line and is actually labeled as a concubine elsewhere (1 Chr 1:32). The same problem arises from within the nuclear family of Isaac via the line of Esau—with Jacob’s and Esau’s lines being enemies. - FSB

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Genesis 25". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/genesis-25.html. 2021.
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