Though our portion this week is entitled “Life of Sarah,” it curiously records both her’s and Abraham’s death, though, in actuality, he lives another 38 years. Scripture inserts the death of the saints in the narrative when their mission is complete. Like Noah and Shem before him, Abraham remains alive in the background to influence and intercede for his descendants.
Because Sarah’s demise follows on the heels of the akeida [binding of Isaac] which we studied last week, many commentators believe that Sarah’s death was somehow attributed to it. The classical rabbis have puzzled over this and speculated much as to the reason why Sarah was at Hebron and Abraham was at Beersheba. As the story unfolds, we see that Isaac appears to be in yet a third location and no conversation is recorded ever again between father and son after the trip to Moriah. The akeida resulted in the separation of Abraham’s camp. As the deeds of the fathers are a portent for the children, we can look to history being repeated and, most certainly, we find that in the aftermath of the crucifixion of Jesus/Yeshua, God’s family was divided.
Returning to Hebron
It is my belief that before Abraham left for Mount Moriah “early the next morning,” he informed Sarah of his mission. In desperation, did Sarah return to Hebron to remind God of His promise and plead for Isaac? “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be.”
A number of other important events are recorded at Hebron. It was there that Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
It was also at Hebron where Sarai had entreated Abram to make Hagar his wife. Remembering the grief and pain of her decision, perhaps Sarah thought Abraham was about to make a similar mistake.
Thirteen years later, it was at Hebron where Yahweh promised Abraham that “Sarah your wife will have a son and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him” (Gen. 17:19)
It was in Hebron where Abraham circumcised himself and all of the men in his camp.
Lastly, it was in Hebron, where, as we saw last week, Yeshua, Yahweh in the flesh, visited Abraham. (Gen 18:1 ff) On that “great day,” as we might call it, Sarah received the unbelievable glad tidings of great joy that she would bear a son “next year” and Abraham was given the unbearable news that Sodom, where Lot dwelt with his family, was about to be destroyed. Picturing the Bride, Abraham had seized the opportunity to intercede for “the righteous” and was rewarded by the deliverance of Lot and his daughters, who would become, through Ruth the Moabite, the ancestors of Messiah!
We are not told where Abraham’s tent was located when God instructed him to go to Moriah. If the narrative is chronological, perhaps he was sojourning in the land of the Philistines, possibly Gerar or Beersheva.
No doubt, Abraham had wrestled all night with God. Did he wake Sarah and pour out his heart? Did she think her husband had gone mad? She knew her husband’s fierce determination to obey. If Abraham believed he had heard God’s voice, he would most certainly do it.
The grief-stricken Sarah’s only hope, I believe, was to rush to plead with God at the very location where God made the promises. If she was in Gerar or Beersheva, it would be a two day journey of some 50 miles for an old woman. But, she had time. Abraham’s journey to Moriah would take three days. We can only imagine the haste with which Sarah gathered her belonging, the tears that watered the road to Hebron, and the depth of supplication Sarah made on behalf of husband and son.
What happened upon reaching her destination is uncertain; the next thing we read is:
“Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep/bewail her.” (Gen 23:2)
Whether he met a messenger on the road back from Moriah we can only guess; but, there is no need to speculate as to the enormity of Abraham’s shock and grief upon learning of the loss of his wife. While God had spared Isaac, incredibly, now, Sarah was dead. But, Abraham’s excruciating pain would have to wait. The grieving patriarch must set aside his emotions in order to secure a burial plot.
“Abraham rose up from before his dead” (Gen 23:3) to pay a visit to the Hittites, one of the ten nations of whom God said Abraham’s descendants would receive their land. (Gen 15:20) Abraham presented his request to the elders at the city gates.
“I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” (Gen 23:4)
The irony of this request is that though Abraham has now lived in the Promised Land for more than sixty years, he possesses not even so much as a scrap for a burial plot. Ah, but God will use this occasion to give Abram much more than a tomb. Though it will prove to be very costly, God apparently wants him to have an entire “field.” We will come back to that curious thought; but let’s listen in to the negotiations.
The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” (Gen 23:6)
Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.” (Gen 23:7-9)
Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” (Gen 23:10-11)
When approached about the sale, Ephron effectively responds in the hearing of the locals, “It is my privilege to give it to you!” Some commentators believe this is a ruse; others believe it is simply the model of Eastern negotiating.
Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” (Gen 23:12-13)
Ephron saw a golden opportunity:
Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” (Gen 23:14-15)
We will see that this was an exorbitant price; yet, Abraham did not bat an eye. .
Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants. So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. (Gen 23:16-18)
Jewish tradition teaches that Abraham jumped at the chance to own this property because he knew that Adam and Eve were buried here. The Jewish Encyclopedia reports that “Machpelah” means “the doubled one” because it was a 2-story cave of four compartments that ultimately would contain the graves of four couples, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. Other sources point to it further as the gateway to the Garden of Eden.
According to rabbinic sources, Abraham paid a total of one million shekels for the cave. The Scripture says, “four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.” (Gen 23:16) The rabbis interpret this as international rather than local currency and speculate each coin was valued at 2500 ordinary shekels! Consider that Jacob would later pay only 100 shekels for a plot of ground in Shechem (Gen 33:19) and Jeremiah paid a mere 17 shekels for a field in Anatoth at a much later date. (Jer 32:9)
After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites. (Gen 23:19-20)
May She Rest in Peace
There is so much that could be said; but we must move on. So, with hearts of gratitude for Sarai, the “princess” and Sarah the “noblewoman” who taught us how to submit to our husbands, how to gracefully pack up and leave home, culture, and comfort zone, even at age 65, we say goodbye to the grand and beautiful lady whose sole desire was to love a nomadic shepherd bent on telling the world about his great God and to be the mother of his children.
A Bride for Isaac
With Sarah’s passing, Abraham turns his attention to a bride for Isaac. How else can Abraham receive all of the promises of God? No doubt this had been the subject of many a discussion between Abraham and Sarah, and, perhaps, Isaac was included. Surely the righteous couple had tearfully explained to Isaac their mistake of getting ahead of God; and, surely there had been much pleading to Heaven on Isaac’s behalf, lest another “Ishmael” be the result.
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had…” (Gen 24:1-2)
This “servant” is most likely Eliezer, the one whom Abram had once assumed would be his heir. (Gen 15:2) If so, he would have been in Abram’s employ for over sixty years. The rabbis say he was far more than a servant; he was the “rosh yeshiva” or head of the school where Abraham trained disciples. As such, he would have been a man dedicated to prayer, an excellent judge of character, and, therefore, the natural agent for such a task. Before Abraham sends him out, he makes certain “the servant” understands the importance of the mission.
“Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (Gen 24:3)
In Abraham’s day, it was customary for people to place one’s hand on a sacred object before making an oath. The heathen would use symbols of their gods for such a purpose. (This is the origin of people today placing their hand upon the Bible before giving testimony in court.) But, because Yahweh allows no images of Him, Abraham sought for another way to underscore his servant’s assignment. “Put your hand under my thigh” is a euphemism. Whether literally or figuratively, the patriarch actually asked the servant to place his hand on Abraham’s circumcised male organ as a reminder of the covenant, Abraham’s commitment to God, and, as well, to Isaac’s miraculous birth. His request, though perhaps shocking to our culture, would have been quite meaningful to the trusted servant, who had been with his master through thick and thin, and was certainly among those whom Abraham had circumcised.
The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter. (Gen 24:5-9)
Abraham’s instructions were implicit; Isaac must never, under any circumstances, go to Babylon. Rather, Abraham’s instruction is emphatic. The bride was to “come out from among them.” If the woman refused, the mission was to be abandoned. There was no “Plan B.” If the bride refused, there would be no marriage, no consummation, no descendants. The promise that Abraham would be a blessing to all the families of the earth would be aborted.
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia [later called Babylon] to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Gen 24:10-14, brackets mine)
Note that, like Gideon, this man of faith understands how to use a “fleece” to determine God’s will in a particularly important or difficult assignment. While the servant left nothing to chance, he relied fully on the Providence of God. What an example for us!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
“For the eyes of the LORD roam to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking how to strongly support those whose hearts are fully His.” (2 Chron 16:9)
The servant’s faith was not in vain. So eager was the LORD to answer this prayer that before it was even out of the servant’s mouth, the bride appeared!
Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. (Gen 24:15)
These names present quite a picture. Nahor, Rebekah’s grandfather (Abraham’s brother), means “snorer.” His wife Milcah’s name means “queen” or “ruler.” Milcah is sister to Lot, whose name we learned last week means “veiled,” another way of saying that he was “blind.” Bethuel, Rebekah’s father, means “destroyed of God” and there is no mention of his having a wife or Rebekah having a mother. Most interesting is that Rebekah means “ensnarer.” Yikes! Who would give their children such names! Don’t forget that down the road it is Rebekah who will tempt Jacob into pretending to be Esau and, indeed, cause him to fall into the snare of the fowler. Parents, be very careful what you name your children!!!
The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not. (Gen 24: 16-21)
Like Gideon’s “fleece”(Judges 6:38), the answer to the servant’s prayer could only be possible with God’s intervention. The Sages say that it would have taken TEN “pitchers” (or large jars) of water for EACH of the ten camels. National Geographic reports that a thirsty camel can drink 30 gallons in minutes. To water ten camels was no small feat. Eliezer knew that no ordinary woman would offer such service and, minus the power of God, no woman could have done it. God supernaturally empowered Rebekah in order to assure the servant had found the bride of His choice. The bride for Isaac would be just as eager to serve a stranger as were Abraham and Sarah.
When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. (Gen 24:22-28)
The text is undoubtedly speaking of her grandmother Milkah. The “Queen” or “Ruler” will attempt to delay Rebekah’s leaving, as we will see. At the appearance of the jewelry, brother Laban rushes into action.
Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD [Hebrew: YHWH, pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah]. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” (Gen 24:29-31)
We have to stop here and consider that these people know God by name! Though Abraham’s father, Terah, was an idol maker; his great-grandson uses the name of Yahweh. Somehow, the gospel, or at least part of it, has made its way into this household. was it because of Abraham’s influence before he left Haran?
There is much symbolism in the gifts for the bride-to-be. The nose ring indicates the Bride will be taken to places she does not necessarily want to go. She is called to suffer with her husband. The weight of her nose ring is a half shekel. This was the weight in silver that each person numbered among the tribes of Israel was to give as an acknowledgement of redemption. (Exo 30:15) Perhaps the gold of Rebekah’s nose ring represents true faith as Peter sees it,
“…so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)
In addition, Rebekah received two bracelets, each ten shekels of gold. These, I believe, represent the Ten Commandments, which were written on two tablets, to which she would willingly bind herself. Remember, the LORD said, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Gen. 18:19).
The servant of Abraham refuses any refreshment for himself until he recounts the drama of his master’s instructions, his own prayers, and Rebekah’s appearance and actions. He closes his speech by saying,
“Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” (Gen 24:49)
Ruach Ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit) is pictured by this faithful servant! He speaks nothing of himself, he seeks nothing for himself. He speaks only good and true things about his master. He is expedient and diligent. He does everything possible to grant success to his master’s mission. He follows his master’s instructions implicitly. He finds the perfect bride for Isaac and he doesn’t stop until he brings her to the Promised Land.
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.” (Gen 24:50-51)
Again, on the surface, these people appear to know God. Hearing their consent, the servant bowed himself to the ground before the LORD to offer praise; then he distributed more jewelry and clothing to Rebekah, as well as gifts to her relatives, before finally eating and drinking himself.
The next morning, as he was preparing to leave, Laban and Milkah said together,
“Let the young woman remain with us for a while; at least for ten days. After that she may go.” (Gen 24:55)
While this might seem a reasonable request to us today, Laban will later prove in response to a similar request by Jacob, that ten days might well turn into ten years. When the servant wisely insisted on immediate departure, Rebekah was summoned and asked, “Will you go with this man?” (Gen 24:58) Surely, her family must have reasoned, she will beg for time to prepare herself to leave her country, her family, her father’s house, and her comfort zone! But, to their great surprise, I’m sure, Rebekah readily agreed to leave immediately. Selah! My children, selah!
So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!” Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way. (Gen 24:59-61)
How quickly one’s status can change! It reminds me of Joseph’s being in prison, when Pharaoh sent someone to fetch him. In the twinkling of an eye, he was made second-in-command to Egypt. Could it be that Rebekah was also in captivity of sorts? Did God, in response to Abraham and Sarah’s intercession, open Rebekah’s blinded eyes to see her dangerous state? Did He enable her to perceive that her father’s house was soon to be destroyed because of the sleeping grandfather and the ruling queen? Were her eyes opened to see the “ensnarer” crouching at the door of her home in Babylon? Had the LORD been preparing her to lech lecha (go out for yourself!”), even as he had done for Abraham and Sarah? Did He whisper to Rebekah the words He would later speak through Jeremiah and Isaiah and Paul for His people to flee idolatry?
The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. “Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:10-12)
And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed. The nations shall no longer flow to him; the wall of Babylon has fallen. “Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every one save his life from the fierce anger of the LORD! Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful at the report heard in the land, when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, and ruler is against ruler. “Therefore, behold, the days are coming when I will punish the images of Babylon; her whole land shall be put to shame, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, shall sing for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north, declares the LORD. Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth. (Jer 51:44-49)
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corin 6:17-18)
The Haftarah for this week’s portion is about another beautiful virgin who was sought to serve King David.
Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king and be in his service. Let her lie in your arms, that my lord the king may be warm.” So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not. (1 Kings 1:1-4)
Just as King David is a type of Jesus/Yeshua, so is Abishag a type of those who serve the Savior. Though Abishag served the king, she did not receive the king’s seed. In the parable of the sower, Yeshua said the “seed” is the “word of God.” (Luke 8:11). There are people who appear to be close to God and who serve Him and even call Him by name; but, they do not receive the “word of God.” We have established that “the word,” the Torah,” and “the covenant” are equivalent terms. Those who fail to receive the king’s seed do not enjoy the intimacy that He freely bestows to those who keep His commandments. Further, they are barren, failing to produce the fruit of the seed, which is to raise up godly offspring, as God expected Abraham, and teach disciples.
God passionately pursued Abraham because Abraham kept His commandments, statutes, and Torah (Gen. 26:5).
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Gen. 18:19)
“For I know him” is a term of intimacy and “the way of the LORD” is a euphemism for the marriage contract, or “ketubah” that was presented to Israel, the Bride, at Mount Sinai.
“The king knew her not.” This phrase makes me shiver as I recall Yeshua’s words.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mat 7:21:23)
We have examined this in recent lessons. To be “lawless” is to be without Torah. The Bridegroom says to His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” echoing the words He spoke to Israel at Mount Sinai Exodus 20:6. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:6)
Abishag’s name means “my father is in error” or “my father is a blunderer.” It carries the idea of unintentionally going astray, as in this verse:
“Before I was afflicted I went astray [in error, wandering in sin], but now I keep your word.” Psalm 119:67
To keep God’s word is to stay on the narrow path so that we can be holy as our God is holy. His instruction shows us how to maintain the righteousness we obtain when we come to belief in Jesus/Yeshua. It defines sin and shows us how to be blameless or tawmeem. For a complete study on this idea, see Noach and Lech Lecha.
Isaac’s Prayer Answered
It had been about 3 years, according to the sages, since the akeida and Sarah’s death, when we see Isaac coming from Beer-Lahai-Roi, the place in the wilderness that Hagar had named “The well of the God Who Sees.” Did he go there to plead for himself?
What Isaac’s eyes beheld was exceedingly, abundantly more than all he could ask or think. But he wasn’t the only one.
And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. (Gen 24:64-65)
I am told the Hebrew literally says that Rebekah “fell off her camel!” Never in her wildest dreams did Rebekah imagine such a husband. Modestly, she veiled herself until she could recover from the long journey and prepare for a proper meeting.
Meanwhile, the servant reported to Isaac the amazing answers to Abraham’s prayer. No doubt, Isaac was as captivated (shall we say “ensnared”?) by the servant’s report as he was with Rebekah’s beauty. What follows is a wedding!
“Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen 24:66-67)
The bride settled into Sarah’s tent, Abraham’s mission is nearly complete. But, first, he marries Keturah, whom some believe was actually Hagar with a new name, indicating a new heart. Keturah’s offspring will be both friend and foe to Israel, as we shall see. That Keturah bore Abraham six sons demonstrates his restored virility extended far beyond Isaac’s conception.
Abraham died at 175 years of age, having spent 100 years in the Promised Land. Before his death, Abraham sent Keturah’s sons away “to the east country.”
Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham in the cave at Machpelah. The sages propose that the enmity between them was thus put to rest. Could that portend for the future? Does Ishmael’s circumcision foreshadow a change of heart for the Egyptians at the end of days? According to Isaiah, the day is coming when Abba will say, “Blessed be Egypt, MY PEOPLE!” (Isaiah 23:13)
And, so, along with Sarah, we say goodbye also to Abraham aveinu (our father). What a truly remarkable life!
In our quest to understand what caused God to passionately pursue this great man, we have developed a list of attributes, most certainly not exhaustive. Please include your additions and thoughts by way of comments.
- In obedience, Abram departed from Ur, along with his father, to head for the land of Canaan. (Gen. 11:31)
- Abram “made souls” in Haran (Gen. 12:5); therefore spreading the gospel.
- In obedience, Abram departed his father’s household (12:5) who “served idols” (Joshua 24:2).
- Abram left the land of Babylon and took the souls they had made in Haran. (12:5)
- Abram did not stop until he arrived in the land of Canaan. (12:5)
- Abram built altars to Yahweh and called upon His name (12:8, 13:18, 22:9)
- In obedience, Abraham walked the land and claimed it for his descendants. (see last week)
- When famine came, Abram did not return to Babylon. He went to Egypt; but, the land promised to Abraham includes a portion of Egypt.
- Abram avoided becoming a reproach to the name of Yahweh by urging Lot to separate from him.
- Abram remained in the land of Canaan even though the “cities of the plain,” which Lot chose, were green and well-watered.
- Abraham intervened when Lot was taken captive.
- Abraham refused the spoils of Sodom.
- Abraham “believed God.”
- In obedience, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.
- In obedience, Abraham circumcised himself and all of his men immediately.
- In obedience, Abraham offered Isaac.
- In obedience, Abraham kept God’s commandments, statutes, and Torah.
- Abraham did not flinch at the cost of buying the field.
The author of the Book of Hebrews sums it up:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him…By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Heb. 11:6,8-19)
In closing, Sarah’s departure and the bride’s arrival are curiously connected with a “field.” In His Parable of the Sower, Yeshua teaches that the world is “the field.” (Mat 13:38) He told His disciples that the “field” is “white unto harvest” (John 4:35) and that the “field” contains the “pearl of great price.” (Mat 13:44) The purpose of the Bride, according to Yeshua, is to “go therefore into all the field [world] and make disciples, teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you.” I submit to you that just as Abraham paid an exorbitant price to purchase the field where his wife would be buried (hidden), so did Jesus/Yeshua pay an exorbitant price to purchase the field [world], where His bride would be hidden. Selah!
Dear children, the question posed to the bride should be ringing in your ears as this lesson comes to an end.
“Whose daughter are you?” (Gen 24:23)
May it be that when we meet Abraham and Sarah, and Rebekah and Isaac, that they “lift up their eyes, and see and behold!” and even fall off their camels when they see us appearing!
Until next week, shalom!