Keturah was Abraham’s second wife. Keturah’s descendants were proof that blood is not necessarily thicker than water. Genesis provides no background on Keturah—she is simply (and quickly) introduced as Abraham’s second wife. They married some time after Sarah died and Abraham’s son Isaac had begun his new life with his bride, Rebekah.
In one of the Bible’s most extensive genealogies, the chronicler does not even acknowledge Keturah as a full-fledged wife— merely as “Abraham’s concubine” (1 Chronicles 1:32). Nevertheless, Keturah bore Abraham six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Keturah’s sons, however, did not share in Abraham’s inheritance—everything went to Isaac.
Shortly before he died, Abraham sent Keturah’s sons away, though he did not dismiss them empty-handed. Abraham may well have felt fatherly affection for the children he had with Keturah, prompting him to give each child an unspecified gift. Still, he wanted to put some distance between them and his beloved son Isaac.
That distance would not prevent their stories from interweaving— sometimes with explosive results. Keturah’s sons settled in Arabia, where one of them became the ancestor of the Midianites. It was Midianite merchants who sold Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Later Moses fled to Midian, where he married the daughter of a Midianite priest named Jethro. The Midianites conspired with Moab to curse the Hebrews as they entered the Promised Land—and during the time of Gideon, the Midianites were responsible for repeated incursions into Hebrew territory.
Keturah played an important role in fulfilling God’s covenant with Abraham. God did not just promise to make Abraham into a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2); He also swore that Abraham would become the father of “many nations” (Genesis 17:4). This promise was fulfilled, in part, through Keturah’s offspring.