Alice C. Linsley
Abraham had at least eight sons, probably nine, since the Septuagint states that Eliezar was Abraham's son by a concubine named Masek. His first-born son was probably born of his cousin wife Keturah, and his name was Joktan/Jachin or Yaqtan. The initial Y, a solar symbol, designates him as a divinely appointed ruler. Among the early Hebrew, divine appointment was indicated by "overshadowing" of the sun. Four of Abraham's sons had names beginning with the letter Y: Yitzak (Isaac), Yishmael (Ishmael), Yaqtan, and Yishbak.
Jews insist that Isaac was Abraham's first-born son, while Muslims insist that Ishmael was Abraham's first-born son. However, the evidence of the canonical Scriptures indicates that Yaqtan was the first in the birth order. He was likely born before Sarah conceived Isaac. His birth to Abraham's second wife, may have prompted Sarah's attempt to gain a son by Hagar as a surrogate.
Hagar and Masek are to Abraham's household what the concubines Zilpah and Bilhah are to Jacob's household. If the biblical pattern is to be trusted, we may reasonably suspect that Hagar and Masek were the servants of Sarah and Keturah, just as Zilpah and Bilhah were the servants of Leah and Rachel (Gen. 30). That Masek was Keturah's servant is supported by the fact that the name Masek is still found among the south Arabian Mahra who dwell in Yemen, Oman, and Southern Arabia.
It appears that Abraham's son Yaqtan became an official in his maternal grandfather's territory, after whom he was named. Yaqtan the Elder was Keturah's father, a chief of high standing in the royal house of Sheba. Isaac ruled Abraham's territory between Hebron (Sarah's settlement) and Beersheba (Keturah's settlement), and Abraham's son Yaqtan resided in the territory of his maternal grandfather, probably in the territory of Sheba. Keturah resided at the Well of Sheba (Beersheba), and that is where Abraham's spent his last years.
The rulers of the Hebrew clans living in Sheba, Raamah, and Hazarmaveth/Hadhramaut (Talmud - "Chatzarmavet") formed alliances by the marriages of their sons and daughters. According to Rabbinic tradition, Joktan/Yaqtan was a "humble and upstanding citizen."