Chayei Sarah – “The Life of Sarah”

The name of this week’s parasha is Chayei Sarah, which means “the life of Sarah”, and covers Genesis 23:1 through 25:18.  In this parasha, we learn about Sarah’s death and burial, Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, Abraham’s death and burial, and Ishmael’s sons and his death.  The parasha begins with the death of Sarah at 127 years of age in Hebron.  After her husband Abraham mourned for her, he went to the Hittites to purchase a burial site for Sarah.  He negotiated a deal with Ephron the Hittite to purchase Ephron’s field in Machpelah, and buried Sarah in the cave located in that field.  We see later in Genesis that not only was Sarah buried there, but Abraham, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah would be buried there as well.

In chapter 24, Abraham is described as elderly, and Adonai had blessed him in every way.  Abraham tells his chief servant Eliezer to swear an oath that Eliezer will find a wife for his son Isaac.  Eliezer must not get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites but must go to Abraham’s country and select a wife from Abraham’s relatives.  Eliezer must not take Isaac back to where Abraham came from – Adonai brought Abraham from his father’s house and the land of his birth and swore to Abraham that He would give this land to Abraham’s descendants.

Eliezer was told by Abraham that God would be with him and Eliezer quickly swore the oath.  He traveled with 10 camels to the city of Nahor and after his arrival there, Eliezer prayed to Adonai that the woman who honors his request for water by offering water to him, and who also provides water for his camels, would be the one Adonai had appointed for Isaac’s wife.

Eliezer didn’t have to wait long for Adonai’s response – before he finished praying, Rebekah (who was Abraham’s grandniece) arrived at the well with her jar.  She is described as very beautiful, and as a virgin.  When Eliezer asked her for a drink, she gave him a drink and even drew water for his camels, just as he had prayed!

Eliezer accepted the invitation to come to her father’s house but would not eat before telling of his business.  Eliezer told them about Abraham, the oath he swore, how God answered Eliezer’s prayer, and he asked them if they would let Rebekah leave with him to be Isaac’s wife.  They agreed to his request.

After staying overnight there, Eliezer requested the next day to travel back to Abraham.  Rebekah’s brother and mother asked if she could stay 10 more days, but Eliezer refused.  They asked Rebekah if she would go with Eliezer and Rebekah agreed to go, so she left with Eliezer.  The chapter ends with Isaac taking Rebekah as his wife and loving her.

Chapter 25 opens with Abraham taking a new wife, Keturah, and lists their descendants.  Abraham gave everything he had to Isaac, but he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines while he was still alive and sent them away from Isaac to the land of the east.  Abraham lived to be 175 years of age; when he died, his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him with Sarah in the cave of Machpelah.  Isaac was blessed by Adonai after Abraham’s death, and the parasha ends with the records of the sons of Ishmael, who died at 137 years of age.

Parasha Chayei Sarah shows us what it looks like to faithfully trust God from the examples shown by Abraham, Eliezer and Rebekah – they showed great faith by trusting God through their actions and did so without hesitation.  Even when they didn’t have all the information immediately available, they pressed on anyway in faith.

We see that Abraham faithfully trusted God to keep His promises when he gave Eliezer instructions regarding the selection of Isaac’s wife – Isaac wasn’t to take a wife from the Canaanites (who were notorious for their paganism), nor would Isaac go to where Abraham came from, but Abraham had faith that Isaac would have the appropriate wife according to God’s purposes.  And we can rejoice that through the lineage of Isaac and Rebekah came the promised Redeemer, Messiah Yeshua!

Eliezer is shown to be a faithful servant who immediately obeyed Abraham’s instructions and followed through on his oath to bring Isaac a suitable wife.  He didn’t hesitate in doing what he was called to do, but faithfully carried out his responsibilities.

Rebekah is shown to be a woman of great character and faith.  Not only did she immediately provide water for Eliezer and his camels, her strong faith is shown here in that she left her family without hesitation to travel to another land with a man she just met the day before, to marry a man she hadn’t met before.  Just like Abraham, Rebekah left her family and land for the Promised Land without hesitation because of her trust in God.

Even though we may not understand everything in God’s plan for our lives, just remember that He is good, and His way is perfect, so let’s imitate the examples of faith we see in this parasha by faithfully trusting in God no matter what the circumstances.  And let’s show our obedience to what God has commanded and loyally follow Messiah Yeshua as Lord and Savior and experience the blessings that He desires to give us!