Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Ketura and Kezia women of fragrance

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

You may not realize that there are about 300 women mentioned in the bible. Today I am looking at Ketura, one of Abraham's wives. We hear a lot about Abraham and Sarah and their long awaited son Isaac. You probably remember Sarah's Egyptian maid who gives birth to Ishmael. Abraham has yet another wife, Keturah from whom he has six sons. Joktan – Keturah’s firstborn son
Midian, Zimran, Medan, and Shuah.  He also has another concubine Masek, probably the maid of Keturah, who is the mother of Eliezar of Damascus who would have inherited the right to rule from Abraham had Issac not been born.  

It seems that the Horite people had a sister wife and a cousin or niece wife. Generally they would keep the wives on opposite borders of their lands and would travel between them. It was a way of keeping control of their lands. Alice Linsley, a Christian Apologist, and pioneer in the field of Biblical Anthropology has a really interesting blog called Just Genesis that I have had a wonderful time reading today. I have always wondered how the whole multipul wife thing could really work with out being a total pain in the neck. The idea of wives holding one territory helps me put that in a better perspective.
It seems that even then most men would have one wife unless you were a tribal leader or a priest. Pure bloodlines were very important to these people so they would always marry with in the family.
So there is the Sister wife with a different mother but sharing the same father. The cousin wife would be from your mothers family. It seems that there were generally three sons and one is generally hidden.
The sister wife's son would inherit the right to rule the mothers fathers clan.  I think Alice Linsley sums it up pretty well as follows.

"Analysis of the structure of the Genesis "begats" reveals that lineage was traced through both the ruling father (patriarch) and the mother, if she is the cousin or niece bride. All the rulers of Genesis had two wives. One was a half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and the other was a patrilineal cousin or niece (as was Keturah to Abraham).  The first wife was the sister bride, married at a fairly young age. She was the wife of the man's youth. The second wife was taken close to the time of the man's ascent to the throne.

The firstborn son of the sister wife ascended to the throne of his biological father. So Isaac ruled over Abraham's territory. The firstborn son of the cousin/niece wife ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, after whom he was named. So Joktan ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather. Joktan is the progenitor of the Joktanite clans of Arabia."

To the sons of ones concubines gifts were given and they were sent off to make their own way in the world.

I think it is interesting that this fragrant woman has probably grown up in the home of a priest and the burning of incense. "According to Selbie, Arab genealogists maintain there was a tribe called Katura living in the neighbourhood of Mecca. Herodotus (ca. 490-425 BCE) stated that: “Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ledanum” (Histories, III, 107), and adds: “Concerning the spices of Arabia let no more be said. The whole country is scented with them, and exhales an odour marvellously sweet”

Interestingly one of the ingredients in Holy incense is Frankincense. It is also one of the gifts given by the Magi at the birth of Jesus. 

The other woman named Kezia is the second of Jobs daughters after God restore him. Interestingly both of these women's names have to do with being fragrant. Ketura means incense and Kezia means cassia a fragrant spice used in holy anointing oil. Her fragrance is similar to cinnamon but not as sweet.

So this caused me to wonder how many other women's names had to do with fragrance. Abital means fresh, Bashmeth  means sweet smelling, and Tapath means drop of myrh. There were some women named after flowers like lilies and roses. I think if I could dig farther I could find the thread that connects these two women. Both women speak of holy fragrances.

Accepted are my prayers as incense before Thee (Ps. 141:2).

"diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing" (2 Cor. 2:14-15).
Proverbs 27:9 (NKJV)
9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

Any way Jobs daughters were included in his inheritance and were among the most beautiful in the land.

Job 42:
12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

So these two fragrant women are a reminder to all of us that our prayers rise as incense before the Lord.

Psalm 45:8
New King James Version (NKJV)
8 All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.

I thought this informations on the use of perfumes was very interesting.

"The free use of perfumes was peculiarly grateful to the Orientals, (Proverbs 27:9) whose olfactory nerves are more than usually sensitive to the offensive smells engendered by the heat of their climate. The Hebrews manufactured their perfumes chiefly from spices imported from Arabia though to a certain extent also from aromatic plants growing in their own country. Perfumes entered largely into the temple service, in the two forms of incense and ointment. (Exodus 30:22-38) Nor were they less used in private life; not only were they applied to the person, but to garment, (Psalms 45:8; Song of Solomon 4:11) and to articles of furniture, such as beds. (Proverbs 7:17)"  Smith Bible Names Dictionary

Prayer: Lord I pray you will lead us to deeper understanding of the ancient people of the bible and of our precious word. I pray that our prayers would would be fragrant before you. That our hunger to know you more would be richly satisfied as we dine at your banquet table.

Sorry my studying of this topic was so rich today that I never got a chance to do a drawing.  My post is probably too long but it has been like going to an amazing smorgasbord and every bite was so delicious that I wanted to share it all with you.

I found this too about Biblical Fragrances for your further study.


Frankincense: used on the Altar of Incense in temple times, one of the 3 gifts brought to Messiah (intercession) Song of Songs 3:6, Isaiah 53:5, Hebrews 3:24

Myrrh: Queen Esther bathed in oil of myrrh for six months before her presentation to the King (purification, dying to self, and preparation for the KING) Esther 2:12, Song of Songs 1:13

"Holy Fire"/Hyssop: exotic Biblical plant used in cleansing rituals and in certain sacrifices of the Hebrews (cleansing, purification) Psalm 51:7

Cedars of Lebanon: fragrant wood used to build Temple and also to anoint a restored leper’s house (strength, permanence, wholeness, restoration) Psalm 92:12

Pomegranate: highly prized fruit from ancient times, its motif was used to decorate the temple and was embroidered on high priest’s garment (fruitfulness, abundance, blessings, favor of God) Numbers 13:23

Spikenard: fragrant oil used by Mary to anoint head & feet of Jesus (intimacy, extravagant worship) John 12:2-3

Rose of Sharon: flower depicting the beloved (beauty of the bride) Song of Songs 2:1

Lily of the Valley: white delicate flower (honor & purity of heart) Song of Songs 2:1

Cassia: one principal spice of the Holy Anointing Oil used to anoint priests, kings and their garments. The coming King Messiah’s robes will smell of cassia (humility, being stripped of pride, set apart or holy with a servant’s heart) Psalm 45:8

Ketubah: a special blending of the fragrances of the Bridegroom (Frankincense & Myrrh), the Bride (Spikenard) and the Spirit of G-d (Hyssop/Holy Fire) (marriage covenant in Hebrew) Ex 24:1-8

Henna: shrub producing small, heavily fragrant flowers; root word means "emotional tenderness" (broken spirit/repentance) Song of Songs 1:14, Psalm 51:17"



  1. very interesting post. this reminded me that I overlook other people in the Bible if they weren't mentioned in my Sunday school classes as a child. :)

  2. Hi. I have always found the importance of fragrance in the bible interesting--in particular the use of incense. I'm still not sure I understand it. Also, hearing about Ketura made me think of Mormon women in the LDS church, which I'm not. Read A Mormon Mother in a Women Studies class in college, and found the author's story enlightening (Annie Clark Tanner). Slowly catching up here...and hope you keep these posts up for awhile longer.


God's Original and Final Intent part 5

This is my final paper for The International Healing Rooms School of Transformation in Spokane Washington. Its is very long paper so I ...