Sarah and Abraham: their story in the Bible book of Genesis

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Abraham expels Hagar and Ishmael from the tribe

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The story of Abraham

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The story of Isaac

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Sarah's story - Genesis 11-21

Sarah's Family  Genesis 11

29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 
30
  Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.
31
  Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.
32
  Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

God calls Abram   Genesis 12

1  The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2  “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
4  So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

I AM, painting by Colin McCahon

 
5
  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6
  Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 
7
  The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Tents of nomadic herders 8  From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9
  Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Sarai and Abram in Egypt

10  Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 
11
  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 

12  When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 
13
  Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14  When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 
15
  And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 
16
  He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17  But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 
18
  So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 
19
  Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 
20
  Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Hagar and Ishmael   Genesis 16 

1  Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 
2
  so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 
3
  So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 
4
  He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 
5
  Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

Hagar expelled by Abraham and Sarah, Peter Paul Rubens

Hagar leaves the house of Abraham, Peter Paul Rubens

6  “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7  The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 
8
  And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”   “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 
9
  Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 
10
  The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 
11
  The angel of the Lord also said to her:   
“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12  He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
13
  She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 
14
  That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 
15
  So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 
16
  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

The Covenant of Circumcision    

Genesis 17

1  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 
2
  Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
3
  Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 
4
  “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 
5
  No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 
6
  I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 
7
  I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 
8
  The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
9
  Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 
10
  This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 
11
  You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 
12
  For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 
13
  Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 
14
  Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” 
15
  God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 
16
  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 
17
  Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 
18
  And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 
19
  Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 
20
  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 
21
  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 
22
  When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

23  On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 
24
  Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 
25
  and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 
26
  Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 
27
  And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

 

The Three Visitors   Genesis 18

1  The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 
2
  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3  He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 
4
  Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 
5
  Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6  So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three measures of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7  Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 
8
  He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9  “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said.
10  Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 
11
  Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 
12
  So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13  Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 
14
  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15  Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”  But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

 

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God Warns Abimelek Off Sarah   Genesis 20

1  Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 
2
  and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3
  But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.
4
  Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 
5
  Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6
  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7
  Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
8
  Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 
9
  Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 
10
  And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11
  Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 
12
  Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 
13
  And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
14
  Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 
15
  And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”
16
  To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
17
  Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 
18
  for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
 

The Birth of Isaac   Genesis 21

1  Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 
2
  Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 

3  Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 
4
  When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 
5
  Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6  Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 
7
  And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8
  The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 
9
  But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 
10
  and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11  The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 
12
  But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 
13
  I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14  Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

Farewell to Ishmael, George Segal

15  When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 
16
  Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17  God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 
18
  Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
19  Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20  God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 
21
  While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

 

Sarah Almost Loses Isaac   Genesis 22

1  Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”   “Here I am,” he replied.
2
  Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3
  Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 
4
  On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 
5
  He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6
  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 
7
  Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”   “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.   “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8
  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9
  When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 
10
  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 

Abraham and Isaac, Caravaggio

11  But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”   “Here I am,” he replied.
12  “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13
  Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 
14
  So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15  The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 
16
  and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 
17
  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 
18
  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19
  Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba
 

The Death of Sarah   Genesis 23

1  Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old.
2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

The Burial of Sarah

 

 

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