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Answering The Atheist
February 8, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 6

Was Keturah Abraham's wife or concubine? Genesis 25:1 says "wife", but 1 Chronicles 1:32 says "concubine". Is there a contradiction?

I'm interested to know what the questioner believes a concubine is. If I understand correctly what a concubine was, she would be a wife, but of secondary ranking. Though ranked lower than a man's primary wife (ie. Sarah), the concubine was still considered to be a wife.

The word used for "wife" in Genesis 25:1 simply means woman (generally married). It has no inference to rank. Thus, even concubines were called wives (Genesis 37:2; Judges 19:3-5).

Why would Keturah be referred to as a concubine, since Sarah had already passed on prior to Abraham marrying Keturah (Genesis 23:19). I cannot say. The Scriptures do not reveal such. Perhaps to Abraham, Sarah did and always would hold the distinction of being his primary mate, and no woman, not even Keturah could take her place. I'm not sure. However, the details are of no consequence. A concubine is still a wife.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible