#3 - How many sons did Abraham have?
Hagar 1 (Sarah's handmaid)
Sarah 1 (first wife)
Keturah 6 (second wife)
Genesis 16:15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram's son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son Hagar had.
Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Genesis 25: 1-2 Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah, and she bore him: from Keturah. Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
1 Chronicles 1:32,34 The sons born to Keturah, Abraham's concubine: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Abraham fathered Isaac.
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:Genesis 21:12 But God said to Abraham, "Do not be concerned about the boy and your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your offspring will be traced through Isaac. (through: Jacob-David-Jesus)
“only begotten son”
Isaac was Abraham's "only-begotten son" in respect of Sarah and the promises: he sent away his other sons, by other wives (Genesis 25:6). Abraham is a type of the Father not sparing His only-begotten Son to fulfil the divine purpose of love. God nowhere in the Mosaic law allowed human sacrifices, though He claimed the first-born of Israel as His.
John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:
he had a promise made him that he should have a son, and that a numerous issue should spring from him, which should inherit the land of Canaan; yea, that the Messiah himself should be of his seed: and he had received these promises; given credit to them, and firmly believed them, and fully expected the performance of them; as he had reason to do, since the first was fulfilled, the son was born; and yet now he is called to offer him up, on whom his expectation was placed; everything was trying; it was an human creature he was called to offer, whose blood is not to be shed by man; a child of his own, a part of himself; a son, an own son; an only begotten son; a son whom he loved; an Isaac, a son of joy; a son of promise; and his heir, the son of his old age, and who was now a grown up person. The Jews are divided about the age of Isaac at his binding: Josephus
The critic claims Abraham had only one son.
Heb.11:17: By faith Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac, ... his only begotten son.
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole BibleGen.22:2: Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, ... and offer him there for a burnt offering.
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham - When God made that glorious trial of him. Offered up Isaac - The will being accepted as if he had actually done it. Yea, he that had received the promises - Particularly that grand promise, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Offered up - This very son; the only one he had by Sarah. Genesis 22:1.
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible:The critic claims Abraham had more than one son.
Genesis 22:2 And he said, take thy son - Not thy bullocks and thy lambs; how willingly would Abraham have parted with them by thousands to redeem Isaac! Not thy servant, no, not the steward of thine house. Thine only son - Thine only son by Sarah. Ishmael was lately cast out, to the grief of Abraham, and now Isaac only was left and must he go too? Yes: take Isaac, him by name, thy laughter, that son indeed. Yea, that son whom thou lovest - The trial was of Abraham's love to God, and therefore it must be in a beloved son: in the Hebrew 'tis expressed more emphatically, and I think might very well be read thus, Take now that son of thine, that only son of thine, whom thou lovest, that Isaac. And get thee into the land of Moriah - Three days journey off: so that he might have time to consider it, and if he do it, must do it deliberately. And offer him for a burnt offering - He must not only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, with all that sedateness and composedness of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt - offering.
Gen.16:15 And Hagar bare Abraham a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael."
Gen.21:2-3 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son is his old age .... And Abraham called him Isaac.
Gen.25:1-2 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
Gal.4:22 Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free woman.
John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:
Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
that Abraham had two sons,
not two sons only; for besides the two referred to, he had six more, (Genesis 25:2) but it being only pertinent to the apostle's purpose to take notice of these two, he mentions no more, though he does not deny that he had any more. These two sons were Ishmael and Isaac:
the one by a bondmaid. Ishmael was by Hagar, Sarah's servant, who represented the covenant the Jewish nation was under the bondage of.
The other by a free woman. Isaac was by Sarah, Abraham's proper and lawful wife, who was mistress of the family, and represented in figure the covenant, and Gospel church state, and all believers, Gentiles as well as Jews, as under the liberty thereof.
Response by Dave Marr Dan of Israel
The skeptics' problem: Abraham had only one son.
"By faith Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac, ... his only begotten son." Heb.11:17Abraham had more than one son.
"Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, ... and offer him there for a burnt offering." Gen.22:2
"And Hagar bare Abraham a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael." Gen.16:15First of all, it should be noted that Hebrews 11:17(New Testament) is based on, and referring to, Genesis 22:2(Old Testament) because it is addressing the same event. Also, take particular notice that Galatians 4:22 says “Abraham had two sons”, but not “only” two sons.
"For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son is his old age .... And Abraham called him Isaac." Gen.21:2-3
"Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.” Gen.25:1-2
"Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free woman."Gal.4:22
In this discussion regarding “sons”, or offspring, in relation to the Bible, the covenant of marriage is a crucial consideration. God intended that Man should have only one wife. As Genesis 2:24 says:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”To give an exposition, I will provide an excerpt(preview) from my upcoming article:
“Perhaps the most important aspect to realize about marriage is that the Woman is ‘flesh of [Man’s] flesh’ and ‘bone of [Man’s] bones’. Since God did not create the people that followed out of thin air, but rather had them pro-create together, then this union and this physical bond was required to be carried on symbolically. ‘And they shall be one flesh’. The sexual act completes and fulfills this fusion. Additionally, the covenant should only be through two partners because 1.) God would have created a woman for Adam(the first Man) besides Eve(the first Woman) if she couldn’t meet Adam’s needs by herself, and because 2.) a second wife joined with the same man would create two different types of flesh when fused together. As Jesus Christ said, ‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.’ From a legal standpoint, that is the same reason why remarrying is not allowed under the New Covenant while the spouse is still alive, because it would destroy the bond of ‘one flesh’.”In this sense, then, God only recognizes the sexual union between a man and his wife, and He only allows for one wife. Abraham’s only wife was Sarah. Sarah’s only son was Isaac. Therefore, Isaac was the only true or rightful son from God’s perspective. Nevertheless, He recognizes the human reality of the biological production of other earthly sons given to Abraham, so He provides for Ishmael(the firstborn earthly son) and his mother Hagar. (Genesis 21:18-20) Hagar was a bond-woman who Abraham was not authorized to have sexual relations with(it was Sarah’s idea, since she was barren), so God did not recognize Ishmael and the other sons(other than Isaac) as Abraham’s sons in the spiritual or divine sense.
But one might ask, "What about Jacob, and his sons from bond-women: who were obviously recognized by God?" Indeed, I agree that they were viewed as sons from God's perspective. Jacob also had two wives; Jesus Christ descended from Judah, who was the son of the wife Jacob was tricked into marrying. However, to reconcile this difficulty, here is the verse that denotes the exception in the case of Jacob:
"And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thou name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name; and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply: a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give it." Genesis 35:10-12
Because God made the special blessing to Jacob's(Israel's) seed, all of the sons of Israel were granted blessings and recognized by God in the divine sense, regardless of by his wife or by bond-women. However, this unusual exception God only permitted to Jacob and his immediate offspring.