“Yoqshan begat Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Ashshurim, Letushiym, and Leummiym.”
Moses gives us the genealogies of only two of these sons of Abraham and Keturah. That does not mean that the other sons did not have children, but simply these sons were marked as examples of Abraham’s fruitfulness and, with respect to the children of Midyan (in the following verse), he is most likely the great granddaddy of the Midianites who will eventually cause the Hebrews such grief. In terms of Yoqshan’s (or Jokshan) descendants, do not get them confused with the sons of Raamah (Genesis 10:7) who is the grandson of Ham. There seems to be no connection other than the use of the same names, not a terribly uncommon occurrence even today.
- Sheba: Probably this is an abbreviated version of the word bAbDv (shebab), meaning “to cut or chop” — as one would do with firewood. The plural of this word is used in Hosea 8:6 to refer to the calf of Samaria being broken into pieces. Scholars believe that it is from this son of Abraham that the Arabian tribe of Sheba developed which would lead rise to the later Queen of Sheba who arises in Solomon’s throne-room.
- Dedan: Likely derived from the Hebrew håd∂d (dadah), which means “to toddle or hop.” Again, it seems that these sons migrated south and that the Arabian tribe of the same name finds its ancestry in this son of Abraham.
- Ashshurim (Asshurim): Traditionally, this name has been understood to mean “those who are in want” which perhaps comes from the later use of the term to refer to those Asshurim as people of a lower class on the social scale. Note that all three sons of Dedan are given names in the plural (the im/iym ending). It is very possible that these refer not so much to specific sons as to Arabian tribes that descend from Dedan. Assuming that this is the same group of people that will later be referred to as Asshur, then once again we have a group of raiders that will bring grief to the people of Israel (Psalm 83:8).
- Letushiym (Letushim): A name meaning “manual craftsman.” Similar to the Ashshurim, this seems an indication of their being a working class group of people.
- Leummiym (Leummim): Translated by some as “hordes,” an apt description of an Arab tribe if I have ever heard one. As with Letushiym, this is all we know of this line of descendants.
The bottom line is that the sons of Abraham are spreading out, this group to the south, and nations will arise from them. Sadly, most of these nations will reject the God of their great ancestor, Abraham, and will pursue idols of their own making. This will bring judgment to them, but also a great deal of grief to the nation of Israel as she is born. It is through Isaac that God’s covenant will move through and God is withholding his Spirit from all others. This is one more reminder of God’s doctrine of sovereign election. All these tribes had the same father, but only one son will follow the God of the universe. Those who come to the Son must be brought by the Father (John 6:44).