Every week in Jewish synagogues around the world a section of the Torah (the five books of Moses) is read. This week the "weekly reading" is found in Genesis, chapters 23:1 to 25:18 and is called Chayei Sarah.
|Tomb of the Patriarchs (Machpeilah) in Hevron|
We begin by learning that Sarah lived 127 years and died in Kiriath arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan (now Israel). Avraham negotiates with Ephron the Hitite to purchase Machpeilah "the double cave" or "the cave of the couples", which is at the end of his field; for a full price saying to the people of Het "let him give it to me in your midst for burial property". Although Ephron offered to give the land as a gift, Abraham insists on purchasing it, paying 400 premium silver coins. This is one of the three places which the nations of the world cannot accuse Israel and say, "You have stolen them." The three places are: the Cave of Machpeilah, the site of the Holy Temple, and the tomb of Joseph at Shechem.
After Sarah is buried, Avraham summons his servant and charges him with the mission of finding a suitable wife for his son Isaac. Abraham has his servant swear that he will not take a wife for Isaac from the local Canaanite women, rather, he sends him to Charan, his native land, to search for Isaac's wife.
Abraham's servant, Eliezer, is sent laden with gifts to Charan. At the village well, Eliezer asks G-d for a sign and decides that; when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well, shall be the one destined for his master's son. Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham's nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the "test".
Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day's events. Rebecca's family agrees that the match was divinely ordained, and consents to the marriage. Rebecca's family celebrates the engagement with Eliezer. Next morning, he insists on immediately returning to his master, and after Rebecca agrees, the two set out for Canaan. There they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac sees Rebecca, takes her into the tent of his mother Sarah. And she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted for the loss his mother.
Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar) and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 (2123-1638 BCE) and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
In the final verses Ishmael's progeny are detailed. Ishmael passes away at the age of 137.
Next week we will read how Rebecca finally conceives, her difficult pregnancy, and the discovery that she has "two nations in her womb"