Entry 20


Avraham took another wife, whose name was K’turah. Genesis 25:1

We first learn of K’turah in Chapter 25 of Genesis. We know nothing of her lineage or her relation to Avraham, prior to their meeting. Who was this strange woman, whom Avraham married and with whom he sired six children?

Since we have no information in Torah, other than her name and the name of her children and her grandchildren, we are left to speculate who she was. And speculate we have done.

Ancient rabbis, notably Rashi[1], have associated K’turah with Hagar, whom Avraham took as his wife, when he was 85, and with whom he sired Yishma’el. Now, fifty years later, she returns to Avraham’s land and they reconnect. Once again, we have legend to help us understand this process.

It seems that Isaac traveled to where Hagar was living, still feeling fondly towards her, and brought her back to continue her life with her husband. Following her banishment from Avraham’s camp, Hagar never remarried, keeping pure and clean, in Yahveh’s eyes, as she was taught by Avraham.

K’turah has a strong connection with ‘incense’, in Hebrew, the word ketoret, used for a fragrant aroma for Yahveh, in the Temple. Why would her name have been changed? K’turah also means bound, alluding to the speculation she felt bound to Avraham all these years.

Why is it important for us to know about K’turah and her re-uniting with Avraham? There are two messages for us in this story.

First, we are told that marriage is a sacred vow, bringing people together for life. Yes, Avraham already had a wife, in Sarah, before he met Hagar. Did his marriage to Sarah not mean his marriage to Hagar was null and void? In those times, it was a custom, obviously sanctioned by Yahveh, for childless couples to include the wives’ hand maidens in their relationship, in order to continue the family lineage. Remember, when Ya’akov, Jacob, married both Leah and Rachel, Leah began to produce children immediately, but Rachel was barren. Thus, Rachel was barren. She gave her handmaiden, Bilhah, so Ya’akov’s lineage might continue through her. Thus, even though Avraham slept with Hagar once, there was the marital bond between them.

The second possible reason for Isaac to bring K’turah/Hagar to his father, may lie in the command from Yahveh for married couples to produce children. Isaac obviously felt this requirement strongly and, knowing his father was still quite young and vigorous, knew he could sire more children.

This command to sire as many children as we can may seem strange today, as we live on a planet, where millions of children are starving in third-world countries, and where we are slowly destroying the very world we claim to uphold.

Obviously, we have moved away from Yahveh’s commandments to treat our world with care and compassion. Instead, we have ravaged it and created the conditions for its destruction – hardly the legacy that Avraham envisioned.

Beloved, what are your learnings from the story of Avraham and K’turah? May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.

[1] Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki; 1040-1105; foremost commentator on the Torah and Talmud; leader of the Jewish community in Alsace-Lorraine.

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