Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. (Genesis 16:1-4)
Alice C. Linsley
Abraham is a pivotal figure of history. He is a sent-away son who established control over a territory that extended between Kiriath-Arba (Hebron) and Beersheba. His territory was entirely in the region of ancient Edom (Idumea) and he was kin to the Horite rulers of Edom listed in Genesis 36.
Abraham's first wife was Sarah, his half-sister. Sarah resided in Hebron. His second wife was Keturah, one of his patrilineal cousins. Keturah resided in Beersheba. Both Hebron and Beersheba were in the land of Edom, called "Idumea" by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people." Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in Edom.
It was the norm for Habiru rulers to have two wives. They often had two concubines also. Abraham's concubines were Hagar, the mother is Ishmael, and Masek, the mother of Eliezer. Neither of these sons was the "proper heir" to Abraham according to the Habiru marriage and ascendancy pattern. Eliezer was Abraham's heir according to Horite law, only until Issac was born. The proper heir for the Horite Habiru rulers was always the first born son of the half-sister wife.
According to Genesis 16, Sarah was barren and had given up hope of having a child. This is after she and Abraham had been living in Canaan for 10 years. During those years Abraham had already taken his second wife, Keturah. She born Joktan (Yaqtan), Abraham's first born son. However, Joktan was not Abraham's proper heir. As the son of the cousin bride, Joktan was named after his maternal grandfather in whose kingdom he would serve as a high ranking official. According to Genesis 25, Keturah bore Abraham six sons: Joktan, Yisbak, Midian, Zimran, Medan, and Shuah. The name Yishbak means “sent away.”
Abraham had four first born sons: Joktan, Ishmael (Yishmael), Eliezer, and Isaac (Yitzak), probably born in that order. Joktan became the head of the Joktanite tribes of Arabia. Yismael became the father of the Sinai Bedouins. His Paran settlement was on the way to Egypt as indicated by these words: This is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham. And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth, then Kadar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and settlements… (Gen. 25:12-16).
No sons are named for Eliezer. He may have been a eunuch, not necessarily a castrated man, but perhaps one who is impotent, celibate, or not inclined to marry and procreate for legal reasons.
Yitzak fathered Jacob (Yacob/Yisrael), and Esau the Elder. Esau and Jacob were contemporaries of Seir the Horite, named in Genesis 36. The initial Y in these names indicates divine appointment by being overshadowed by the Sun. It is the symbol of the long horns of the bull and represents a solar cradle.
|Clans related to Abraham's wife Keturah and her father Joktan the Edler|
The first born sons ruled among the related clans of Horite Habiru. Abraham’s people. However, the first born sons of wives ranked above the first born sons of concubines. Joktan ranked over Eliezar, and Issac ranked over Ishmael. Joktan was a governor in the southern settlements of his maternal grandfather (Dedan, Ramaah and Sheba) and Isaac ruled the northern settlements of his father Abraham (Hebron, Beersheba, Gerar and Engedi).
Sarah's barren state would have caused her even greater misery after Abraham took his second wife and began to bear him sons. Here we find echoes of the Rachel-Leah conflict and the Hannah-Penninah conflict. In these narratives, the scorned or barren wife is vindicated by divine action on her behalf. Her long years of waiting were turned from sorrow to joy.
See the pattern? We await the return of the Promised Son, the Heir to the eternal kingdom. He has overcome death by death. He will turn our sorrow to joy and wipe away every tear.
Related reading: Who Was Abraham?; Abraham's Sons; Abraham's Complaint; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Abraham's First Born Son; Edom and the Horites; The Barren and Grieving Rejoice