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Was Keturah the Wife or the Concubine of Abraham? Could it Be that She was Both?

MENJ is at it again. In his latest article, he tries to pit scripture against scripture, claiming that the Holy Bible contradicts itself since in one place Keturah is called Abraham's wife, but in another place she is said to be his concubine:

According to Genesis 25:1, Keturah is described as being Abraham's wife:

Abraham married another wife named Keturah.

The word used for wife in the Hebrew is 'ishshah (Strong's No. 802) and The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (2001) defines the meaning of 'ishshah as "woman, wife, female" (p. 61).

But according to I Chronicles 1:32, Keturah is Abraham's concubine:

Sons of Keturah, Abraham's concubine: Zimran, Jokshan...

The Hebrew used here according to the BDB lexicon is either piylegesh or piyegesh(Strong's No. 6370) and the lexicon defines the meaning as "concubine" (p. 811)

The differences is without a doubt truly glaring, that one wonders what the missionary excuse will be since we have seen the above contradiction.


Let us quote the context of Genesis 25 and see what MENJ the Muslim "Terrorist" conveniently "forgot" to quote:

"Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his CONCUBINES and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried WITH HIS WIFE SARAH. After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi." Genesis 25:1-11

We see that Keturah is listed as one of Abraham's concubines in the very chapter where she is said to be Abraham's wife. The other concubine obviously refers to Hagar, Ishmael's mother. The fact that the author could refer to Keturah as a wife and concubine in the very same chapter demonstrates how desperate MENJ is to find a contradiction when none actually exists. (See also The status of Hagar.)

Presumably, the reason why Moses calls Keturah a concubine of Abraham right after stating that she was his wife is to highlight the fact that she was a second wife who never attained to the status of Sarah. God told Abraham that he would give him a son from Sarah who would be the heir of the covenant promises, explicitly stating that Sarah would be a Princess who would give birth to mighty kingdoms and nations:

"‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish MY COVENANT as an EVERLASTING COVENANT between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give AS AN EVERLASTING POSSESSION to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God’ ... God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ Then God said, ‘Yes, BUT your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I WILL ESTABLISH MY COVENANT WITH HIM AS AN EVERLASTING COVENANT FOR HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. BUT MY COVENANT I WILL ESTABLISH WITH ISAAC, WHOM SARAH WILL BEAR TO YOU BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR.’" Genesis 17:4-8, 17-21

"But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share IN THE INHERITANCE WITH MY SON ISAAC.’ The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy AND YOUR MAIDSERVANT. LISTEN TO WHATEVER SARAH TELLS YOU, BECAUSE IT IS THROUGH ISAAC THAT YOUR OFFSPRING WILL BE RECKONED. I will make the son of THE MAIDSERVANT into a nation also, because he is your offspring.’" Genesis 21:9-13

This privileged status of Sarah was never given or transferred over to either Hagar or Keturah.

Interestingly, the Quran is unaware of the fact that Abraham had more than one wife since the Quran makes reference to Abraham's wife, not wives. This wife is clearly Sarah:

And verily, there came Our Messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said: Peace! He answered, Peace! and he hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: ‘Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lot.’ And HIS WIFE was standing (there), and she laughed. But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. They said: ‘Do you wonder at the Decree of All‚h? The Mercy of All‚h and His Blessings be on you, O the family [of Abraham]. Surely, He is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.’" S. 11:69-73

"Has the story reached thee, of the honored guests of Abraham? Behold, they entered his presence, and said: ‘Peace!’ He said, ‘Peace!’ (and thought, ‘These seem) unknown people.’ Then he turned quickly to his household, brought out a fatted calf, And placed it before them. He said, ‘Will ye not eat?’ (When they did not eat), He conceived a fear of them. They said, ‘Fear not,’ and they gave him glad tidings of a son endowed with knowledge. But HIS WIFE came forward clamoring: she smote her forehead and said: ‘A barren old woman!’ They said, ‘Even so has thy Lord spoken: and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge.’" S. 51:24-30

This leaves the mistaken impression that both Isaac and Ishmael come from the same mother.

It is only in the Muslim traditions that we discover that Ishmael's mother is Hagar. Yet these traditions relegate Hagar to the status of a slave, namely Sarah's slave:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "The Prophet Abraham migrated with Sarah. The people (of the town where they migrated) gave her Ajar (i.e. Hajar). Sarah returned and said to Abraham, "Do you know that Allah has humiliated that pagan and he has given A SLAVE-GIRL FOR MY SERVICE?" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 803)

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Abraham did not tell a lie except on three occasion. Twice for the Sake of Allah when he said, "I am sick," and he said, "(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it." The (third was) that while Abraham and Sarah (his wife) were going (on a journey) they passed by (the territory of) a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant, "This man (i.e. Abraham) is accompanied by a very charming lady." So, he sent for Abraham and asked him about Sarah saying, "Who is this lady?" Abraham said, "She is my sister." Abraham went to Sarah and said, "O Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and I. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister, so don't contradict my statement." The tyrant then called Sarah and when she went to him, he tried to take hold of her with his hand, but (his hand got stiff and) he was confounded. He asked Sarah. "Pray to Allah for me, and I shall not harm you." So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he got cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but (his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and) was more confounded. He again requested Sarah, "Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you." Sarah asked Allah again and he became alright. He then called one of his guards (who had brought her) and said, "You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil." The tyrant then gave Hajar AS A GIRL-SERVANT TO SARAH. Sarah came back (to Abraham) while he was praying. Abraham, gesturing with his hand, asked, "What has happened?" She replied, "Allah has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel (or immoral person) AND GAVE ME HAJAR FOR SERVICE." (Abu Huraira then addressed his listeners saying, "That (Hajar) was your mother, O Bani Ma-is-Sama (i.e. the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, Hajar's son)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 578; see also Volume 3, Book 34, Number 420)

Therefore, we challenge MENJ to produce a single verse in the Quran where it states that Abraham had more than one wife. We also challenge him to show us from the Quran alone that Hagar is Abraham's wife and the mother of Ishmael. We know that he cannot which only proves that the Quran is incomplete and miserably fails to compare with the detailed narratives of God's only true and pure Word, the Holy Bible.

In light of the preceding considerations, one wonders what excuse will the "Terrorist" have for failing to quote the context of Genesis 25 which clearly demonstrates that no true contradiction exists in regard to the biblical depiction of Keturah. What excuse will he have for failing to inform his readers that the very same chapter he quoted to show that Keturah was a wife of Abraham goes on to call her a concubine, in perfect agreement with 1 Chronicles 1:32?

Such shallow reading and shoddy scholarship is inexcusable to say the least.

Sam Shamoun

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