The mother of the nation died

Sarah, that great silent partner of Abraham, finally reached the end of her long journeys and slept.

Sarah may well have found out about Moriah before her death, but the nature of the event on that sacred mound was something that would normally not have been shared beyond the men directly involved.

Ultimately, Abraham preserved the record anyway, for the sake of posterity, but his servant Eliezer may have been the one to pass it on. Then again, Isaac, who outlived Abraham by many decades, could have transferred the story orally to the next generation, but the formal record would have been entrusted to faithful custodians, someone like his faithful servant, Eliezer.

At 127 years of age, Sarah breathed her last. She was an ancient woman of profound and immense human experience. She was a worthy mother of peoples, who had followed her husband into vast unknown lands to become a coheir of the inheritance of Israel. She was the progenitor of a great people who have left an indelible mark on human history.

Although she died in Canaan, the land bequeathed to Abraham by Jehovah, he was at that stage still an alien and he said as much to the Hittites: direct descendants of Noah’s son, Canaan. But they already saw Abraham as a great man and esteemed him as a prince, gladly selling the field of Machpelah for 400 shekels of silver. Ephron, who owned the cave in that field wanted to give it to Abraham, but the old man insisted on paying. Such was his heart towards his wife and God that he felt honor-bound to buy the cave so that it might be his forever – and so it was, for he was also buried there.

The name of Sarah’s final resting place, means “place of the double tombs”, suggesting that he deliberately purchased it so he could lie beside his lover, friend and life-time companion, where together they could keep an eye on their children and their children’s children. That site, in Hebron, is now deeply revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The cave was also located near Mamre, so that Abraham could stay close to the place where God originally covenanted with him. In a sense Abraham symbolically suggested that He would thus watch over the God who had covenanted to watch over his children, but it also meant he would rest easy in the knowledge that they would be in good hands.

In such a simple way, Abraham purchased a place of perpetual ownership in the land that would eventually belong to his descendants. He so cherished the future that God had promised to Him and his descendants, that He was that determined to find a place of lasting rest in the land that would ultimately define the borders of Israel.

This was a couple of towering faith and writing about them has helped me to see Abraham in a whole new light. Truly I too esteem them as some of the greatest souls that ever graced this planet and I will gladly queue to meet him when I reach that distant shore.

© Peter Eleazar at

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