Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

After reporting Sarah's death and burial, B'reishit 25:1 tells us that Avraham had several children by Keturah. Avraham was 137 when Sarah died. Earlier (17:17), Avraham had laughed at the idea of having children at the age of 100, yet neither the text nor Rashi makes any comment about these later children.

Is there an interpretation that has this happening earlier, during Sarah's lifetime? If so, details please?

If the plain reading is correct, then was it unusual for a man of 137+ to sire children? If it was unusual, does anybody comment on it?

share|improve this question
judaism.stackexchange.com/a/22229/1362 this answer addresses your final question – Danno Apr 11 '13 at 2:11
up vote 6 down vote accepted

As far as I know, there are three approaches to this:

  1. This was a natural occurrence. This is the opinion of Ramban, as is explained in this answer. This approach is also taken by R' David Tzvi Hoffman, who adds that given Avraham's lifespan at 175, his age at the time of marrying Keturah (about 140) is comparable to the age of 56 for someone of a more contemporary average lifespan (70-year). The only miracle in Yitzchak's birth is the fact that Sarah was previously barren, not having had a child in 90 years. [See here (p.383) and here (p. 262).]
  2. This was a miraculous occurrence. This seems to be the approach of Abarbanel, who is bewildered at what possessed Avraham to do something like this. He discusses six reasons why God wanted Avraham to have more children at this late point in his life. (See here.)
  3. This happened way earlier in Avraham's life, certainly long before Sarah's death. This is the opinion of Shadal. (See here.)
share|improve this answer
Wow, thanks! Are any of the six reasons in #2 noteworthy? (Once again, defeated by my inadequate linguistic skills... which is totally my fault, not a comment on your helpful answer.) – Monica Cellio Apr 11 '13 at 19:01
@MonicaCellio, The reasons seem to revolve around either fulfilling the promise made to Avraham in Gen. 17:5, or emphasizing the fact that Yitzchak was his main progeny and/or the fact that Yishmael wasn't "pushed aside" because he was necessarily inferior. Another reason is to show that Avraham's milah was not a deteriorating event (by showing the other extreme). – jake Apr 11 '13 at 22:11

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.