skip to Main Content
Parsha Chayei Sarah Genesis 23:1-25:18

Parsha Chayei Sarah Genesis 23:1-25:18

This portion begins with the words, “Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan…” Is it not rather strange to name this portion “the life of Sarah” when we immediately read of her death? Why would it be called this, when all we read about, is the story of her passing away?
In the book of Mark, chapter 12, the Sadducees confront our Master Yeshua concerning the resurrection. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the rising of the dead and sought to question Yeshua concerning this important and interesting topic.
I would encourage everyone to go and read the whole story, but here is Yeshua’s reply to their question. “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God…concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses…God spoke…saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.”
Here is a great explanation to why we call this portion “the life of Sarah” rather than “the death of Sarah.” Because God, our God, is the “the God of the living.” 
The title “the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob” would mean we worship a God of dead men…if there was no resurrection. But from this statement Yeshua makes, we can understand the reality of the resurrection and the certainty that we serve a God of life.
In the Talmud, in tractate Berachot 18a-18b, we read these words, “For the living know that they will die, these are the righteous, who even in their death are called living… In contrast to the righteous, who are referred to as living even after their death, the verse (from Ecclesiastes 9) states explicitly: ‘The dead know nothing.’ These are the wicked, who even during their lives are called dead.” From these verses we learn the idea that the righteous are called “living” even after their death, while the wicked are considered “dead” even before physical death overcomes them.
Yeshua tells Martha in John chapter 11, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” The Psalmist writes in Psalm 118, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”
All this we learn simply from the words, “This the life of Sarah.”  Those who choose to follow God, who love righteousness and hate wickedness, find life in Him. There is no “death” for the righteous, because death to a righteous person is seen as a welcoming doorway from one existence, to the next life of glory. This is why it is from “glory to glory” that we are being transformed to be “righteous, just as He is righteous.”
 
If we take a closer look at these two verses about Sarah, it is interesting to note in the first verse that both times it mentions “Sarah’s life—the life of Sarah” it is written in Hebrew as “Chayei Sarah.” The words “Chayei Sarah” can be translated as “the lives of Sarah.”
Plural “lives” versus “life.” It is also interesting the way the Torah gives us Sarah’s age at the time of her death. Instead of plainly stating “Me’ah V’esrim V’sheva Shanim—One hundred and twenty seven years,” it says instead, “Me’ah Shanah V’esrim Shanah V’sheva Shanim” which would literally be translated as “One hundred years and twenty years and seven years.” We see Sarah’s life divided, in a sense, into different “lives.” The years of Sarah’s life were separate and distinct. The Rashi explains as written in Tur HaAroch that the reason the word “years” is repeated is “…to draw our attention to the fact that each period…represented a separate part of her life. She was as free from sin at 127 as she had been at the age of 7 and as beautiful at the time of her death as she had been at the age of 20.” In other versions this statement is written as “…at 100 she was as beautiful as she had been at 20, and at 20 she was as free from sin as at 7.” Sarah went through many different stages, times and trials in her life, but what really made her beautiful, in my humble opinion, was her purity and freedom from sin.
Rashi also comments concerning the last part of this verse “THE YEARS OF SARAH’S LIFEThe word years is repeated and without a number to indicate that they were all equally good.” What he means by this is that no matter where Sarah was in her life, each of her “lives” (which I would like to define as “seasons of life”) were as good as the ones before it.
Everyone knows the saying “Behind every good man is a great woman.” This was definitely the case between Abraham and Sarah. Just as Abraham is the Father of our faith, so too, Sarah is the Mother of our faith. 1 Peter 3 tells us that a wife ought to be submissive to her husband even as Sarah was…“Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good…” Sarah is the role model of a praiseworthy wife. She is also mentioned in the famous “Hall of Faith” chapter in the Bible. In Hebrews 11 we read, “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” It was Abraham and Sarah’s faith that brought about the birth of Isaac. So Sarah is also a role model of having faith in the faithfulness of God. Finally, in last week’s portion, we read about when Sarah had Hagar and Ishmael sent away. In the story it says Abraham was displeased, but God instructs him, “Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her voice.” Sarah is a role model to every wife on how to help a husband in the hard decisions of life.
This is just the “tip-of-the-iceberg” of the character of the admirable woman who stood alongside her husband, Abraham, who we know today as, the father of all of us who believe.
“Abraham and the Three Angels”
 By Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1598-1669) 
There is so much we could learn just from the story of Abraham and Sarah. Here are some things for this week’s takeaway from this observation.
 
As children of Abraham, grafted into his family, we can look forward to a future resurrection, were we go from “life to life.” Our God, “the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob,” is not the God of three dead men…He is the God who keeps the covenants He has sworn to the people He will resurrect, so we can be with Him for eternity.
The children of God do not fear death because the righteous never truly die. Death is just the threshold we (as the righteous) crossover from one life to the next. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15, “Death is swallowed up in victory!” And the Apostle Paul writes, “Messiah will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Messiah, and to die is gain.”  Ephesians 2 is probably the best chapter explaining the salvation we experience, (Go read the whole chapter for yourself) “He made (us) alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” because when we believe in Him, we “pass from death into life.” Our hope is in the resurrection, not just because we want new life, but also because without the resurrection, our belief in Yeshua as the Messiah is for naught. (See 1 Corinthians 15) But because we know that He is risen, “even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.”
Sarah’s life gives testimony to the trials, difficulties and hardships of life. But through it all, she had faith in the Faithful One. Even through all the “lives” (seasons of life) she experienced, she kept her faith and hope in God. She remained a beautiful woman well into her old age because she was a woman of purity and free of sin.
 
My prayer for all of us is that we would live lives that emulate Abraham and Sarah—that we would be lights into the pagan and ever-increasing dark world around us. For what makes us different from the world? It is that we have no fear of death and we believe in the resurrection…because we believe in the one who is “the resurrection and the life.” 
 
Even so, come quickly Lord!
Shabbat Shalom,
Samuel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

×Close search
Search