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Home > Secteur-English > General > Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 - 25:18)

Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 - 25:18)

Sarah lives 100 years, 20 years and seven years. One hundred and 27 are the years of Sarah’s life. She dies in Hebron in Canaan, where Abraham goes to eulogize and to bewail her.
Rising from his wife, Abraham speaks to the surrounding people : “I am an alien and a resident among you. Please,” he asks, “grant me a piece of land to bury my dead.”
The children of Chet, the council Abraham is addressing, responds : “You are a prince of God, Abraham ! Pick the choicest field, the most premiere patch. We will not withhold. It is yours. Bury your dead.”
Abraham, always rising and bowing and rising and bowing, rises and bows to the people and says : “If you’re being real, talk to Ephron of Zohar that he should grant me the Cave of Machpela at the edge of his field. I will pay the fullest price to bury my people — my family — there.”
Ephron, of course, sits among the children of Chet and hears Abraham’s request. Cutting out the middlemen, he replies right then and there : “No ! Listen ! The field — it is yours. The cave within the field — take it. Gifts for you. Bury your dead.”
The ever-humble servant bows before Ephron and the esteemed council and says : “No ! Listen here ! I’ll pay you the full price of the field and the cave. Take it. Then, I will bury my dead.”
And Ephron : “Good Lord, my lord, listen ! This land — it’s nothing. Worth 400 shekels. Tops. Between two good friends such as us, what is 400 shekels ? Take it. Bury your dead.”
Abraham stops listening at first mention of a price and begins weighing out the shekels. Among his people, Ephron accepts the offer, and thus the field and the cave become Abraham’s property. And it is confirmed by the council’s witness. And Abraham buries Sarah in the Cave of Machpela in Hebron in the land of Canaan.
Abraham’s getting up there in years, and God has already blessed him with so much. With everything, in fact. So Abraham says to his right-hand servant, Eliezer : “Swear to me by the God of heaven and earth that you will take a wife for my son from my land, from among my kindred. No Canaanite meets Isaac’s caliber.”
Eliezer has doubts : “What if this hypothetical wife doesn’t want to follow me back here. Should I take Isaac to your old hometown ?”
Says Abraham : “No ! Don’t take him there. Gd — the one who promised me all that great stuff, remember ? — will send an angel before you. A ‘guardian angel,’ as they say. You’ll be fine. You’ll find a wife for my son. But ! If she doesn’t want to follow, so be it. In that case, you’re absolved of this oath. Just don’t take Isaac there. Seriously. Don’t.”
So Eliezer swears an oath, takes 10 camels and Abraham’s bounty, and sets out for Nachor, the land of his master’s kin. In one verse’s time, Eliezer reaches a well outside of the city. While the camels rest, Eliezer talks to Gd, asking that the Master of his master to arrange things that Abraham should be pleased. “I’m standing here by a well, God. Maybe you can make a the women of the town come here to draw water. And maybe I’ll ask for water from them. And maybe the one who gives me water will even offer to give water to the camels. And maybe she’ll be Isaac’s bride. And this way I’ll know that Abraham will be pleased because she will have been sent by you. What do you think ? Maybe ? Gd ? Are you—“
And suddenly, Gd’s reply comes in the form of Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, who was the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Rebecca approaches the well with a jug, and Eliezer sees that she is beautiful and that she is a virgin. Rebecca fills her jug and is leaving when, remembering his charge, Eliezer runs toward her and says : “Please ! Fair lady ! Can I have a sip of your water ?” And Rebecca replies, “Drink !” and waits for Eliezer to finish before saying, “The camels ! They must be thirsty. Let me water them, too.” While she does this, filling the jug many times, Eliezer reflects on the so-far success of his journey. In fact, he’s astonished. He puts a golden ring in her nose and two bracelets on her arms and asks, “Whose daughter are you ? Is there room at your house for me to sleep the night ?”
“I’m Rebecca. Bethuel is my father. He’s the son of Milcah. She’s the wife of Nahor. We’ve got space and straw and food. Come with me.”
Eliezer bows low. To the ground even. He prostrates himself and thanks God for showing kindness to Abraham and bringing him to this well and this woman...

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