BIBLE STORIES (26): KETURAH & ABRAHAM’S LAST DAYS

There was a time when my “BIBLE STORIES” blog posts were few and far between. It’s only testament to a few changes I’ve made in my life, and the things that I’ve decided to prioritize presently (like taking my Sabbaths more seriously than I used to), that the posts have become more frequent. As a disciple of Heraclitus, with the belief that Life’s in a constant state of flux, understanding that this situation may not always subsist in future, I’m totally enjoying every bit of the present, while hoping that you also find engaging and enlightening these missives as I present them. It will cause me great joy should I be able to cover the whole of the Bible/Scriptures (including the Apocrypha, and others not considered by some, worthy to be a part of the Bible) this way in my lifetime.

Recall that in the last installment of this series, Abraham after the death of his wife, helped find a wife for his son, Isaac. Once the couple had settled in as man and wife, Abraham “… took a wife and her name was Keturah” (Genesis 25:1). As simple as this verse is, the message speaks volumes and I will highlight them for you.

"THEN AGAIN ABRAHAM TOOK A WIFE, AND HER NAME WAS KETURAH" (GENESIS 25:1)
“THEN AGAIN ABRAHAM TOOK A WIFE, AND HER NAME WAS KETURAH” (GENESIS 25:1)

1. At a time polygamy was widespread, Abraham remained with Sarah for many years, even without child(ren). Interestingly, it wasn’t that his childlessness didn’t bother him because his frustration was duly recorded in Genesis 15:2, but he continued to believe YAHWEH till his wife Sarah, came with an ingenuous plan that made Abraham a father for the first time by her maid, after which she went ahead to thwart what she initially orchestrated much later, when she eventually had a child of her own.

2. Abraham waited till Sarah died before remarrying, having remained with Sarah who couldn’t bare anymore children after Isaac, even though it was common knowledge that he was quite virile after Ishmael from Hagar (Sarah’s maid and mother of Abraham’s first child and son), and Isaac. In the period in which he’d sent Hagar away on Sarah’s promptings, Abraham remained with Sarah till she breathed her last. He didn’t, as have become rampant in many an African culture to this day, insure himself against likelihood of having his name disappear from posterity (due to childlessness), by having if not other wives, concubines that will give him sons while his wife still lived, for fear that he might not outlive her and because of not wanting to hurt her. jeopardize his chance at “immortalization” should anything happen to Isaac (or he be likewise childless), or Ishmael (who may have offsprings, yet out of anger at the treatment meted out to him and his mother disown Abraham as father).

3. He waited till he’d found a wife for Isaac his son before moving on to remarry. There are so many reasons why men remarry after losing their wives to the cold hands of death. Some crave companionship, others someone to warm their beds at night, and the list is endless, with all the reasons applying to some men in many cases. Abraham had servants at his beck and call, who delivered anything he wanted and needed, so you could tell by the aftermath of his marriage to Keturah what his intentions were from onset. His intentions appeared to be that of having children, and as many as he could for that matter, and Keturah was quite forthcoming, in delivering “… Zimran¹ (tentatively identified by some with the Arabian town of Zabran, between Mecca and Medina), Jokshan, Medan, Midian (with which the children of Israel, Isaac’s son will have many interactions, contentious and otherwise in the future), Ishbak, and Shuah” (Genesis 25:2).

In one of my posts in this series, I wrote about how I’ve learnt to stop disregarding genealogies, or simply skimming over them when I encounter them in a biblical passage, seeing as they have in themselves quite a message that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how trivial. Of the children of Keturah, emphasis again was placed not on all, but on Jokshan and Midian. Jokshan is said to be the father of “…Sheba² ({not to be confused with one of the sons of Cush, son of Noah} of which a tradition is mentioned to the effect that, after being founded by the children of “Saba”, son of “Joktan”, there was a succession of sixty female rulers up until the time of Solomon, King of Judah {whom a Queen of Sheba met}, considered by Ethiopians as their primary ancestor), and Dedan” (v.3), while Midian had “…Ephah, and Epher, Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah” (v.4) as sons. It is imperative to note that there’s a tendency in biblical writings to mention names in genealogies that will be implied or related with in future stories especially in their dealings with Israel, hence the need for us as scholars to note these when we come across them, if not for anything else, but for their historical importance, for the time the scripture spoke of, even as now.

Before I go any further, I will like to bring to your attention, in case you missed it, that from the immediate paragraph above, I have related the ancestry of Ethiopians to Sheba, the son of Joktan, the son of Abraham by Keturah, and as for Judaism amongst Ethiopians, you needn’t look any further than that visit to Jerusalem by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon of Judah, whose relationships with women is well documented, to assume that she didn’t return to her kingdom “heavier” than she’d come (a topic for another day).

One could infer that, to forestall the kind of problems usually associated with polygamous homes, especially after the demise of the patriarch, Abraham we are told, gave gifts unto the sons of his concubines, “… and sent them away from Isaac his son (seeing that it was with him that YAHWEH intended to fulfill all his promises to Abraham and would do well without the distractions that Abraham’s tending to the polygamous could engender), while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country” (v.6), thereby setting his household in peace in his lifetime. In Africa, where speaking of ones’ mortality is taboo, many families including monogamous ones have been thrown into confusion and years of endless litigations and wars, physical, spiritual and diabolical at the demise of a patriarch who failed to envision his passing. Abraham who lived well, according to the Bible also planned well for his death, though not much success was achieved in his plan to protect Isaac’s son, Jacob’s descendants from the trouble some of the offsprings of his sons from his concubines visited ‘pon the former’s descendants in the long run, even to this day, as exemplified by the imbroglio in the middle east.

Therefore when Abraham died at the age of a hundred and seventy-five years, “… an old man, and full of years”, (v.8) he had set his “house” in order. He was buried in “… the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite….” (v.9) “… which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth” (v.10), by his sons Isaac and Ishmael, where his wife Sarah was also

"AND (ABRAHAM'S) SONS ISAAC AND ISHMAEL BURIED HIM IN THE CAVE OF  MACHPELAH, IN THE FIELD OF EPHRON THE SON OF ZOHAR THE HITTITE, WHICH IS BEFORE MAMRE" (GENESIS 25:9)
“AND (ABRAHAM’S) SONS ISAAC AND ISHMAEL BURIED HIM IN THE CAVE OF MACHPELAH, IN THE FIELD OF EPHRON THE SON OF ZOHAR THE HITTITE, WHICH IS BEFORE MAMRE” (GENESIS 25:9)

buried. Pardon me if I’ve stated this before, but I stand to be corrected, that no where else has any relationship between man and YAHWEH as recorded in the Bible, resulted in the man been called a “Friend of YAHWEH”, as with Abraham (Isaiah 41:8), and that simply because “… he believed YAHWEH, and it was imputed into him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of YAHWEH” (James 2:23). It is no wonder, everyone wants to be related to Abraham, especially to claim the blessings of that Great Man of Faith. I have gained spiritual uplifting from the story of Abraham, especially since I started writing about him in this series, I hope you also have found him impactful. Let’s take a breather for now, thank you for your time.

‘kovich

REFERENCES:
1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimran
2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheba
– Genesis Chapter 24 Verses 63-67, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000

PICTURE CREDITS:
https://rastafarirenaissance.com
https://commons.m.wikimedia.org

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