Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 20, 1961

Abraham's Second Family

O. E. Watts, Craig, Colorado

Bible students are aware of a seeming difficulty in regard to the son's of Abraham. Thirteen years after Ishmael's birth it took a special miracle for Abraham to father Isaac (Genesis 17 and 18), and yet, more than thirty-eight years still later, he married again and became the father of six more sons. (Gen. 25:1-2)

Two explanations have been advanced to account for the apparent discrepancy. One is the stock statement that "the deadness of Abraham's body was merely the deadness of Sarah's womb." But these were not the same, even in the most highly figurative sense. Abraham laughed and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" (Gen. 17:17) Abraham was "as good as dead" as concerned posterity. (Hebrews 11:12) Certainly "his own body being as good as dead" was something different from the "deadness of Sarah's womb" according t o Romans 4:12.

A second position maintains that Abraham was married to Keturah while also married to Sarah. It is claimed that Keturah's six sons were older than Isaac. Adam Clarke held this view and wrote at length to sustain it. But this theory creates more difficulties than it solves. Would Sarah share her husband through the birth of six sons when she objected so much to the presence of only one, Ishmael? Why were the six never mentioned in connection with Sarah and her husband, while at Genesis 17:18 when Abraham said unto God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!" would he not have added, "....or Zimran!"

This writer believes that still another explanation is the correct one. It does not present the contradictions of the first nor the involved added difficulties of the second. God rejuvenated Abraham. His ability to father children was restored. And it lasted! Why must we conclude that the effects of the miracle were for a short time only? 'The reasonable position is that the results endured long enough for him to remarry and begat six other sons after the death of Sarah. We recommend this as the solution in harmony with God's Word which "is simplest and explains the most."