The average person, like myself, has been taught that Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. The book of Genesis, however, mentions that Abraham had many sons. Do we know who these individuals are today? Did they carry on the Jewish traditions?


In Genesis 25:1-6, the Torah recounts that after Sarah's death Abraham married a woman named Keturah,1 and fathered six children. According to the account in Genesis, before his death, Abraham sent off the children whom she bore "eastward, to the Land of the East."

They are not considered a part of the Jewish nation. For G‑d told Abraham:2 "Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his seed after him..." "For in Isaac will be called your seed..."3 They and their descendents are therefore not bound by the commandments of the Torah, which was given solely to the Jewish people, Isaac's progeny.

The only command that was given to Abraham and his children was circumcision.4 Nevertheless, according to many,5 the children other than Isaac were not commanded to continue this practice for future generations.

In Biblical times, there were certain nations who were specifically identified as the descendants of Keturah, such as the nation of Midian. Today, however, the children of Keturah have more or less assimilated in with the children of Ishmael.6

Best wishes,

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson