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Sarah (Hebrew: שָׂרָה, Śārāh; Arabic: سارة, Sāra ; "princess") or Sarai (Hebrew: שָׂרַי, Śārāy), (2018 AM—2145 AM, or 1986 BC-1859 BC), is a biblical matriarch and the wife of Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Life and Family

Sarah was actually Abraham's niece, the daughter of Haran, Abraham's elder brother.[1][2] Her sister, Milcah, married her other uncle Nahor. She also had a brother named Lot.

Sarah is described as "barren," not able to have a child.[3] She would, however, have one child, Isaac, before she died.

Departure into Canaan

In 2083 AM (1921 BC), she accompanied her husband Abraham into Canaan, after Abraham received a summons from God to enter that land.[4] In 2084 AM (1920 BC), a famine struck the land, and Abraham's household traveled to Egypt, where food was available. There Abraham introduced Sarah as his "sister" to the Egyptians. Sarah was taken into the palace of the Pharaoh, but was later released unharmed and untouched. The Pharaoh gave Abraham's household many gifts. These included a servant girl, Hagar, who was handmaid to Sarah.[5]

Hagar and Ishmael

Sarah despaired of actually having a child of her own. So in 2093 AM (1911 BC) she asked Abraham to take Hagar as her surrogate. Abraham did, and Ishmael was born as a result of this union.[6]

When, thirteen years later, three angels delivered a direct message from God that Sarah would have a son of her own, she laughed in disbelief. She was, after all, 89 years old at this time, and was post-menopausal. She tried to deny laughing, but God knew the truth.[7][8]

Birth of Isaac

When Sarah was 90 years old, her son Isaac was born.[9] Five years later, Abraham declared a feast throughout his camp in Isaac's honor. On that occasion, Sarah saw Ishmael behaving toward Isaac in a mocking manner. She then prevailed upon Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. She never saw either person again.[10]

Chronological note

Some authorities have traditionally held that the "four hundred years of evil treatment" (Genesis 15:17 ) begin with this incident. In fact, the Exodus of Israel from Egypt did take place four hundred years later.[11]

Death and Burial

Burial of Sarah, by Gustave Doré

Sarah died in 2145 AM, having lived for 127 years. Upon her death, Abraham bought a burial cave at Mearat Machpelah (the Cave of the Patriarchs) to bury her in. He himself was buried later in the same place. Eventually all the patriarchs and all the matriarchs but Rachel would be buried there.[12]

Related References

  1. Genesis 20:12
  2. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pgh. 65
  3. Genesis 11:30
  4. Genesis 12:1-5
  5. Genesis 12:10-20
  6. Genesis 16:1-2
  7. Genesis 18:11-15
  8. This is how Isaac got his name, which means "he shall laugh."
  9. Genesis 21:1-6
  10. Genesis 21:9-11
  11. Jones, Floyd N. The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004 (ISBN 9780890514160), pp. 53-61 and Charts 3, 3A, and 3B.
  12. Genesis 23

See also