(c.1540 - c.1677 BCE)
The biblical matriarch Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac.
Information about Sarah comes from Genesis chapters 11-23.
Abraham and Sarah lived and were married in Haran.
When Abraham was 75 years old, God commanded him to leave his home,
and Sarah followed her husband to Canaan.
The first incident where Sarah figures prominently
in the bible occurred when she was 65 years old and journeyed to Egypt
with Abraham during a famine in Canaan. Despite her age, Sarah was beautiful,
and Abraham was scared that if Pharoah knew she was his wife, Pharoah
would kill him and take her. He therefore pretended Sarah was his sister,
and Pharoah did take her, giving Abraham many material possessions in
exchange. God then sent plagues to punish the house of Pharoah until
Pharoah released her and sent Abraham on his way.
A similar incident transpired later in the bible with
King Abimelech of Gerar. He also took Sarah, thinking she was Abrahams
sister. God told him the truth in a dream and Abimelech returned Sarah
to Abraham, along with a present of animals, slaves, gold and silver.
The first piece of information the bible gives about
Sarah is that she was barren. This was significant since God promised
Abraham earlier that his children would become a great nation. After
ten years of living in Canaan, when Sarah still had not conceived, she
gave Abraham her maid, Hagar, as a concubine. Once Hagar conceived,
Hagar lowered her opinion of Sarah, and Sarah began to treat her harshly.
Hagar ran away and returned only after God spoke to her, blessed her
and ordered her to go back to Sarah. When Abraham was 86 years old,
Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.
Until this point, Sarahs name was actually Sarai.
When Abraham was 99 years old, God spoke to him and blessed him with
children and land. He changed his name from Abram to Abraham and his
wifes name from Sarai to Sarah. God also promised Abraham that
Sarah would have a child, and that God would maintain his covenant with
this child, Isaac.
Three days later, three men approached Abrahams
tent. He invited them in and Sarah went to prepare food for them. She
was listening from the opening of the tent, however, when one of the
"men," who were really messengers from God, predicted that
she would have a child. She laughed; after all, she was 90 years old
and Abraham nearly 100! Yet God predicted that in one year, she would
give birth. One year later, when Abraham was 100, Sarahs son,
Isaac, was born.
Once Isaac and Ishmael began to grow up, Sarah asked
Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away and not to allow Ishmael to share
an inheritance with Isaac. Biblical commentators disagree as to the
reason why she did not want Ishmael in her house. Some say Ishmael was
worshipping other gods, others say he was teasing Isaac or bragging
that, as firstborn, he would receive a double portion of the inheritance.
God told Abraham to listen to Sarah and the next morning, Abraham sent
Hagar and Ishmael away.
Sarah died in Kiryat Arba (what is now Hebron)
at the age of 127. Abraham bought the Cave
of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite and buried Sarah there.
Britannica. "Sarah". Volume 10, 15th Edition,
Judaica. "Sarah." 1978 Edition; Scriptures: Genesis. The
Jewish Publication Societys translation, New York: 1985.