Sarai (later changed to Sarah) is written about from Genesis 11: 29 to Genesis 23: 20. She was the wife and half-sister of Abraham.
At age sixty-five, Sarah left Haran with Abraham and travelled to Canaan. When famine struck, they fled to Egypt. Abraham, fearing that he would be killed when the Egyptians saw Sarah’s beauty, passed Sarah off as his sister rather than his wife. Pharaoh, believing that Sarah was Abraham’s sister, took her into his court and treated Abraham well. When the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his household, Pharaoh recognized the deception and sent them away (Genesis 12: 10-20).
An almost identical situation transpired later, when Abraham and Sarah were travelling in Gerar. Again, Abraham said that Sarah was his sister. Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah in, but God warned Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was a married woman. Abimelech restored Sarah to Abraham, saying that they were welcome to live in the land, and he gave Abraham several gifts (Genesis 20).
Disappointment turned to Joy
God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12: 2), but at age seventy-five Sarah was still barren. She gave her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham so that he could father a child; however, she expressed resentment toward Hagar when she had conceived. Hagar later gave birth to Ishmael (Genesis 16).
When Sarah was ninety years old, far beyond her childbearing years, she gave birth to Isaac – the child of promise (Genesis 21: 1-7). At the celebration of Isaac’s weaning, Sarah witnessed Ishmael mocking the young child, and had Abraham, with God’s approval, send both Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21: 8-21).
Sarah died at the age of 127 in Hebron, where she was buried by Abraham in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre (Genesis 23).
Scriptural References to Sarah
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of Abraham and Sarah as the father and mother of the faithful (Isaiah 51: 2). St. Paul states that “the deadness of Sarah’s womb” did not cause Abraham’s faith to waver (Romans 4: 19); and that her conception of Isaac was an example of God fulfilling a promise (Romans 9: 9). Although she is not named, Sarah and her heirs are contrasted with Hagar and her heirs (Galatians 4: 21-31). St. Peter speaks of Sarah as an example of the holy women of old who trusted in God, and who had a proper regard for their husbands (1 Peter 3: 5, 6).
Our text mentions Sarah as a heroine of faith. Although her faith may have temporarily wavered, it was assuredly recovered. Even though she was past the age of motherhood she believed God, for “she judged him faithful who had promised.” She is one of those with whom Hebrews 11: 13 applies: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises [the things promised], but having seen them afar off [with the eye of faith], and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Sarah a Picture of the Sarah Covenant
God has been pleased to use Abraham’s wife Sarah, and his two concubines, Hagar and Keturah, to picture His three great covenants – the Sarah Covenant, the Law Covenant and the New Covenant respectively. The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12: 2, 3), which consists of seven promises, is a summary of God’s Plan. Its first promise, “I will make of thee a great nation,” is elaborated in Genesis 22: 16-18, where it is called the Oath-bound Covenant, because of God’s oath added to it.
The three promises of the Oath-bound Covenant that form the Sarah Covenant are the following: (1) “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven”; (2) “Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies”; and (3) “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” These three promises are spoken of as the mother of our Lord Jesus and His Church, because they provided Them with the spiritual nourishment and development that They needed to be ready for birth on the Divine plane, just as a natural mother provides the nourishment and development that an embryo needs to be ready for birth.