Parashah 5: Hayyei-Sarah (Sarah’s Life)

Parashah 5: Genesis 23:1-25:18

“Sarah lived to be 127 years old; these were the years of Sarah’s life” (Genesis 23:1).

I read a cute little cartoon with Abraham and Sarah sitting in chairs with their backs to each other.  Abraham says, “I must be getting old.  I just can’t remember what this week’s parsha is.”  Sarah replies, “The story of my life!”

This parashah, as all of them, are subtitled with the first few words of the weekly reading.  Sarah’s life does not cover two chapters of Scripture, but this is where the rabbis, who developed the Torah divisions, decided to begin this particular one.

Sarah lived 127 years and died in Hebron and Abraham mourned for her.   This is the extent of her life mentioned in this passage. 

When Sarah dies, Abraham buys a plot of land for burying his wife.  He approaches Efron, the son of Tzochar to purchase the cave of Makhpelah with the agreement that he would pay full value for the property, the cave and all the trees in and around it.  Efron deeded the property to Abraham and it became his possession. Abraham owned the land on which he buried his wife long before Joshua enters the same area and takes possession of it for the children of Isra’el.

Makhpelah means ‘cave of the double tombs.’  Ancient Hebron is found on Tel Rumeida in the modern-day city of Hebron, south of Jerusalem in the mountains. This is the same location where giants were expelled from the land by Caleb and David is anointed King of Isra’el.  Hebron also became one of the six cities of refuge and remained part of Isra’el, known as Samaria, until the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.

318 and Eleazer

After Sarah’s death, Isaac needs to be comforted.  Abraham decides that his son, who is between 30 and 40 years of age, needs a wife.  Finding the right wife for Isaac is prophetically important for the promise El Shaddai gave to Abraham to be realized.

Abraham sends his servant, Eleazar, whose name means ‘my Elohim is help’ back to his homeland to choose a wife from one of his family members; not from the Canaanites.

When Abraham went to fight Kedorlaomer and rescue Lot, he took 318 ‘trained men.’  The Hebrew word for ‘trained men’ has its root in chanak which means ‘dedicated’ and Eleazer is a ‘dedicated’ servant of Abraham. Elohim always has a purpose for giving exact numbers so what is the significance of 318? 

In Hebrew, there are no actual written numbers so they are represented by individual letters of the alef-bet.  For example, the number 5 is represented by the letter hey; the number 50 by the letter noon; the number 100 by the letter koof.  By using this system, the numerical values Hebrew names and words can be calculated.   

The name Eliezer has a numerical value of 318, the exact number of ‘dedicated men’ that Abraham took with him to fight the king of Ilam. Is Eliezer the evidence  that Abraham had 318 warriors or was Eliezer the only warrior he took with him because he was Abraham’s help from El Shaddai?

Putting a hand under the thigh is the way an oath was taken during this time period though it is still done in India.  Putting one’s hand under another’s thigh is symbolic of being under another’s authority.  It also shows that the two people taking the oath are standing very close to one another and are most likely having serious eye contact.  Because the thigh is very close to the genitals, only people who share a deep love for one another and are highly respectful of one another would engage in this type of oath taking.

The Number 10

Abraham’s servant takes 10 camels and gifts on his journey.   He goes to the city of Nachor, the city of Abraham’s brother.  When the women come to draw water from the well, the Eleazer has his camels kneel.

Ten is the number of divine order in Biblical symbolism. There were ten generations from Adam until Noach, ten generations between Noach and Abraham.  There are Ten Commandments, ten plagues that Elohim brought on Egypt as judgment, ten spies are sent to scope out the Promised Land and there are ten virgins waiting for their bridegroom.  A gathering of ten is called a minyan and is necessary for certain observances in Judaism to be completed. Ten or a minyan is the number of men from the nations that will take hold of the tzizit of one Jew (Zechariah 8:23).  In this passage, ten camels kneel while Eleazer prays for Elohim’s divine order to come to pass.

The third letter in the Hebrew alef-bet is gimel and means ‘camel.’  The Hebrew word picture for gimel symbolizes pride or being raised up. Eleazer has the camels kneel, a necessary action in order to dismount a camel; however, kneeling is symbolic of humility.  By his actions, Eleazer humbly seeks the Elohim of Abraham for favor and wisdom.   Eleazer also ‘puts out a fleece’ so that he will know the answer to his prayer.  God is faithful to Eleazer and opens his eyes to the woman who would become the wife of Isaac.

Rebekah or Rivkah is the daughter of Betuel, the son of Milkah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother and niece.  She comes to the well to draw water and sees Eleazar.  She not only draws water for him, but also for his camels.  After learning that Rebekah is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, Eleazer places a ring in her nose and gives her gold bracelets.

Piercing Rebekah’s nose with a ring was not a fashion statement, it was a Middle Eastern symbol of betrothal.  Though a nose ring or a jewel place on the forehead was a sign of wealth, it may be that Eleazer saw a beautiful woman who showed great humility and discretion.

When Rebekah chooses to marry the son of Abraham, her mother and brother bless her, “Our sister, may you be the mother of millions, and may your descendants possess the cities of those who hate them.” 

This prophetic blessing is still spoken over daughters every erev Shabbat, “May you be like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah” in honor of the faithful matriarchs and the millions of their children. 

Eleazar takes Rebekah, along with his camels and returns to his Abraham.  From a distance Isaac can see the ten camels, El Shaddai’s divine purpose for Eleazer’s  journey has been successful.

The Bridal Veil

Rebekah also sees Isaac in the distance and covers herself with a veil.  Veiling was a  custom of the time, especially for an unmarried woman who was in the presence of her betrothed.  The veil, according to Sha’ul, contains a spiritual aspect regarding the glory of Elohim, the glory of man, and the glory of woman who are to reflect the glory of Messiah.

The most detailed description regarding the woman’s veil is found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.  These verses, however, are usually taken out of their spiritual context and attributed to something from ancient times or some culture where men were wearing hats giving it no relevance for the Body of Messiah.  The deeper purpose of men and women reflecting the glory of Elohim and not their own glory has been completely removed from what all of the congregations did and a ‘tradition’ that was commended by Sha’ul.

Corinth learned from following the tradition that has deep spiritual purpose.  When Sha’ul writes a second letter to them, he includes words that show the Corinthians learned from the first letter the deeper meaning of the veil, “With unveiled faces, we see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord as we are being changed into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The veil, because of it being a sign of power, also has a negative side.  In Ezekiel 13:17-23 and the veils of false prophetesses are removed so they no longer lead the people of Elohim astray.  Today, the veils of women in western cultures have been removed not only because of a misunderstood tradition, but the Body of Messiah has lost the idea of a line of authority when women and men pray or prophesy.

In Exodus 34:34, Moshe put on a veil.  He only removed it when he was in the presence of  Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh  and spoke with Him.  The first time he veiled himself was when he came down from the mountain and the glory of Elohim radiated from his face and he had to protect the people from the glory of Elohim.

There was also a veil in the Tabernacle which separated the people from the presence of Elohim’s glory in the Holy of Holies.  This veil was torn in two at the time of Messiah’s death thus allowing the man-glory of Elohim, Yeshua, to be revealed.

As Isaac’s betrothed, Rebekah veiled herself, keeping her glory only for her husband.  This is a tradition that even modern-day brides do,  but its greater significance of glory, authority, praying and prophesying should be re-considered by any woman who considers themselves part of the Bride of Messiah.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Isaac (He laughs) or Yitz’ak  יץחק – yod, tzadik, chet, koof

the finished work of the righteous one protects and follows

Rebekah (To Bind) or Rivkahרבקה – resh, bet, koof, hey

the head of the house, that follows, behold

Abraham’s Other Children

After Sarah dies, Abraham takes another wife named Keturah, meaning ‘fragrant  incense.’   Through her Abraham’s grief is satisfied.  Together they have six children who become tribes that move south and east of Canaan.  Some speculate the descendants of these sons became the founders of the eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shinto.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Zimran (Musical) – זמרן – zayin, mem, resh, noon

divide the head waters of life

Jokshan (Snarer), who settled near the Persian Gulf, – יקסן – yod, koof, samech, noon

finished work behind the twisting of life

Medan (Contention), who settled Indonesia – מדן – mem, dalet, noon

chaotic pathway of life

Midian (Strife), Moshe married a Midianite – מדין – mem, dalet, yod, noon

chaotic pathway finished work of life

Ishbak (Leaving) – ישבק – yod, shin, bet, koof

finished work consumes the family behind

Shuah (Humiliation) שוח – shin, vav, chet

consumed and bound to the inner chamber

Abraham’s wives Sarah and Keturah along with his concubine, Hagar, birth the descendants of the three great nations.  Through Hagar came the Arab nations including Saudi Arabia. Through Keturah came the nations of Assyria including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Jordan.  Through Sarah came the nation of Isra’el.

Isaac received the entire inheritance from his father, Abraham, while the sons of Keturah received ‘grants’ and were sent far away, east of Canaan.  When Abraham died, Isaac was 75 years old.  Isaac and Ishmael buried their father in the cave on the land that their father owned.

The Tribes of Ishmael

In the genealogy of Ishmael, it is recorded that he had 12 sons who became the 12  wandering bedouin tribes in and around the Middle East.   Many of the names of his sons are found in the Hebrew Scripture as the lands they possessed.

Navayot (Firstborn)

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, this tribe was known as the Nabateans and were famous for raising sheep.

“All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered for you, the rams of N’vayot will be at your service; they will come up and be received on my altar, as I glorify my glorious house” (Isaiah 60:7).

Kedar (Sorrow)

This tribe settled around the Persian Gulf, Sinai Peninsula and became the  lineage of the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

“For this is what Adonai has told me: “Within a year [and not a day more], as if a hired worker were keeping track of the time, the glory of Kedar will come to an end.  Few of Kedar’s valiant archers will be left. Adonai the God of Isra’el has spoken” (Isaiah 21:16).

Adbeel or Idibilu (God’s Servant)

This tribe settled in northwest Arabia.   Historically this tribe was defeated in battle and became the border guards for Egypt.

Mivsam (Smiley)

This tribe is believed to have intermarried with the Simeonites and disappeared from history as a separate entity.

“The sons of Shim‘on: N’mu’el, Yamin, Yariv, Zerach and Sha’ul.  His son was Shalum, his son was Mivsam, and his son was Mishma. The descendants of Mishma: his son Hamu’el, his son Zakur, his son Shim‘i. Shim‘i had sixteen sons and six daughters, but his brothers did not have many children, so their clans did not increase like those of Judah” (1 Chronicles 4:24-27).

Mishma (Obeyed)

This tribe settled in what is known today as Jebel Mishma in the vicinity of Dumah. Dumah or the Idumaea, a city located in Canaan, became associated with Edom and Seir.   Dumah el Jandal are at the southeastern end of Al Jawf situated between Syria and Mesopotamia and was an oasis for travel between Syria and Babylonia.

“A prophecy about Dumah: Someone is calling to me from Se’ir: “Watchman, how much longer is it night? Watchman, how much longer is it night?” The watchman answers: “Morning is coming, but also the night. If you want to ask, ask! Come back again!” (Isaiah 21:11-12)

Massa (Nightfall)

This is the probably location where the Israelites murmured, if they crossed the Red Sea into Arabia.  Found in the records of Tilgath Pileser III saying that Massa and Tema offered him gifts.

“The place was named Massah [testing] and M’rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra’el and because they tested Adonai by asking, “Is Adonai with us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

Hadad (Rolling Stone)

This may be the Hadad tribe in Arabia which are now Christians and located throughout Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Tema (Good News)

Known today as Taima is located in the Nafud desert.  Tilgath Pileser III receives tributes from Tema as well as Massa.  The Assyrian King Sennecherib named one of the gates in the city of Nineveh, the Desert Gate, and records that the Teymeite enter through it.  The father of Belshazzar (Daniel 7:1) made the city of Tayma his residence.   This land was part of the caravan route from Babylon to Sheba.

“A prophecy about Arabia: You caravans of D’danim will camp in the desert growth of Arabia. Bring water to the thirsty, you who live in Teima, greet the fugitives with food …” (Isaiah 21:13-14).

Y’tur (Rebel)

Was known as a tribe of robbers

Nafish (Genuine)

Kedmah (Scout)

This tribe settled in the wilderness of Kedemoth, today known as es-Za’feran.

Ishmael also had a daughter named Basemath who became the third wife of Isaac’s brother, Esau.

Yeshua and the Bride

“As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf,  in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect“ (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his Bride has prepared herself — fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear. (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.”) (Revelation 19:7-8)

One of the seven angels having the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues approached me and said, “Come! I will show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb.” He carried me off in the Spirit to the top of a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God.  It had the Sh’khinah of God, so that its brilliance was like that of a priceless jewel, like a crystal-clear diamond” (Revelation 21:9-11).

“I, Yeshua, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the Messianic communities. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone who is thirsty come — let anyone who wishes, take the water of life free of charge” (Revelation 22:16-17).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

1 Kings 1:1-31

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Matthew 8:19-22

Matthew 27:3-10

Luke 9:57-62

James 14-24

Midrash Chayei: The Ruach Elohim

Eleazer is a ‘type’ of Ruach HaKodesh (or Holy Spirit).  Discuss the purpose of the Ruach HaKodesh according to Yeshua and Sha’ul (John 16:8-12, Romans 14:16-18).  Discuss why King David asks Elohim to not take His Ruach HaKodesh from him (Psalm 51:13, 1 Samuel 16:14).

©2013 Tent Stake Ministries

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