It’s all too easy in today’s crave-the-cutting-edge lifestyle to forget who got us to where we are today. Abraham is called “father of us all” because his trust in God is the model for saving faith in God’s Son, Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) (Rom. 4:16–5:2). In this week’s Torah portion, חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“Sarah’s life,” Gen. 23:1–25:18), we learn how important Abraham’s wife Sarah is in The Way from our old way of life to our new one in Mashiakh.
The traditional complementary (haftarah) reading for Chayei Sarah is 1st Kings 1.
Companion readings from the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) from MessianicJudaism.net (also has through-the-Bible readings for prophets and B’rit Chadashah) and First Fruits of Zion:
- Matthew 8:19-22, 27:3-10; Luke 9:57-62 (Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern)
- Matthew 2:1-23 (First Fruits of Zion)
The following are notes and recordings of studies by Hallel Fellowship teachers Richard, Daniel and Jeff on Chayei Sarah and related passages.
When we are pushed to our limits, God promises us that the ways of the Kingdom of God are far more profitable in the long term than trying to avoid pain. That’s what Abraham and Sarah learned over many years of their lives. It’s all the more relevant today for increasing social and physical pressure put on believers in the Holy One of Israel and the Anointed One of God.
Why did Abraham the nomadic “father of faith” pay so much for a tomb for his wife Sarah? What’s the connection between Abraham’s and King David’s picking a certain son as the successor over other, older sons? Are does the symbol of a well in the account of Yitzkhak marrying Rivkah and in Yeshua’s encounter with the Samaritan woman teach us about the Mashiakh’s work of bringing new life out of death?
The events around Sarah’s death are not mentioned simply as a marker of time. She was a prominent person in her own right. Her Biblical biography is the only one of a woman that mentions her age at the time of her death as well as the elaborate negotiations surrounding the location of her final repose. The negotiations for her burial place have implications into the present day.
This chapter sounds like a drawn-out real estate transaction, but it shows two things: Abraham was so important that Hittites, people of a major international power at the time, had great respect for him. Abraham’s first title to land in Canaan was to bury Sarah, who was very significant as the mother of the promised son by way of God, Yitskhak (Isaac).
The punchline of Yeshua’s parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31: Abraham used wealth to buy God’s “beachhead” in the world, so the time is now to get on the winning side.
We learn about the Near Eastern customs of how to find a wife for a prominent family. From Abraham’s request to acceptance by Rivkah (Rebecca), Yitzhak is not a part of this story until the very end, when he greets Rivka and acknowledges her as the wife God has chosen for him.
God had a wife in mind for Yitzhak. Although the servant Abraham sent to find her didn’t know who she was or whether she would respond to the call, God knew who He had chosen, and Abraham had faith that God would send His angel ahead of the servant.
A common perception of an “angel” is a cute winged chubby baby, something as innocuous as a fairy, or a passive messenger. “The angel of the LORD” — Malakh YHWH in Hebrew — is a quite different figure that shows up throughout the Bible with massive power and authority. Who is he?
After Sarah’s death Abraham married again and had other children . Here we learn how his estate was divided up between his heirs. We also learn how Yiskhak deals with his status as a wealthy patriarch in a hostile land and how his twin sons start fighting over Yiskhak’s estate before they are born and continue fighting over it when they are adults. The fight appears to end with Esau “despising” his birthright, granting it to Ya’akov (Jacob). But does this really end the dispute?
What is the connection between this account of the death of Abraham and the prophecy of warring children in the womb of Rivkah and the accounts of Creation and of the Flood?
Haftarah: 1st Kings 1
Solomon’s assent to kingship mimics Yeshua’s triumphant entry into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).
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