The first interesting point in this week’s parasha is the puzzling name for the parasha chosen by the Sages. Chayei Sarah translates to “Life of Sarah” but the first part of the portion is about Sarah’s death and burial. The intention here, if I understand it correctly, is to demonstrate the legacy of Sarah. Even though she has passed away we see the influence of her life on Isaac as he takes Rebecca as a bride, Abraham as he sends away the “concubine-children” [Gen. 25:6] from Isaac just like Ishmael, and Ishmael himself as he comes back to fulfill the mitzvah of burying his father.

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitudes – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:11-13

In parasha Chayei Sarah we see the progressive fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham and Sarah. These promises continue even to this day. Though their lives ended HaShem’s promises are amaranthine. We can learn from how Abraham and Sarah lived out their faith. Yes, Sarah lived to see her promised son Isaac born but she did not live to see kings of peoples rise from her. [Gen. 17:16] Abraham lived to see G-d do as He promised to Sodom and Gomorrah but he did not live to see his offspring become increased like the stars in the heavens. [Gen. 22:17] Nevertheless they feared G-d and obeyed His every word. Even so, we may not live to see the second coming of Yeshua but we should, by faith, live as though it were today. If you knew Yeshua was coming back today, how would that change your walk?

Other interesting concepts in this week’s parasha are the similarities between Abraham and his brother Nahor’s family despite the physical distance. In regard to hospitality both entreat their guests to stay, wash their feet, and provide food. We know this of Abraham from last week’s parasha and we know this of Nahor’s son and grandson here:

“He said, ‘Come, O blessed of HaShem! Why should you stand outside when I have cleared the house and place for the camels?’ 32 So the man entered the house, and unmuzzled the camels. He gave straw and feed for the camels, and water to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Food was set before him, but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have spoken my piece.’” Genesis 24:31-33

It appears that hospitality was a defining characteristic in Abraham’s family. Was Terah the person who inculcated generous hospitality? It would seem so since we read accounts of Abraham’s hospitality [Terah’s son], Lot’s hospitality [Terah’s grandson], and Laban’s hospitality [Terah’s great grandson]. Here we have a beautiful example of generational faithfulness specifically relating to hospitality.

Here is another similarity between Abraham and Nahor’s family in regard to blessing:

[Laban and his Mother to Rebecca] “They blessed Rebecca and said to her, ‘Our sister, may you come to be thousands of myriads, and may your offspring inherit the gate of its foes.’” Genesis 24:60

[G-d to Abraham] “that I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offspring like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy.” Genesis 22:17

Did Abraham’s family know the blessing G-d gave him after the binding of Isaac? Either way the blessing given to Rebecca was prophetic. My intention for highlighting similarities between both families is to emphasize the importance of the biblical selection process for a spouse.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Abraham knew the importance of Isaac finding a virtuous woman which is why he forced his servant to take such a strong oath.

“And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh,” Genesis 24:2

Interestingly enough the word here for thigh is יְרֵכִֽי which can also be understood as loins or related to the word for descendants as it is in this verse:

“All the descendants of Jacob [ יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹב ] were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.” Exodus 1:5

It was as if Abraham was swearing an oath on his descendants! In other words, Abraham declared that the fulfillment of the oath [finding a wife for Isaac from his country and his family] was directly related to the fulfillment of G-d’s promise of innumerable descendants! Both were dependent on G-d. Abraham’s servant realized this which is why he relied solely on G-d for the success of the quest. Finding a righteous wife was an essential ingredient for generational faithfulness and the servant used a revealing test. Would this beautiful young woman willingly demonstrate righteousness and love beyond what is requested? Rebecca completed the challenge and agreed to be Isaac’s wife.

Too often marriages are formed based on emotion. Marriage is too important to rely on ourselves. This passage in Genesis is just one of the many places where G-d reveals His process for selecting a spouse. Notice the important traits of Rebecca: Generous, loving, obedient, pure, beautiful, AND she demonstrated these characteristics before she knew someone was even interested in her! When these traits are faked or they manifest themselves during the “in love” euphoria it is easy to fall prey to the call of the siren. Brothers and sisters, I implore you to heed the wise words from the Song of Solomon and “..not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” [Song of Solomon 2:7] We have been promised that our inclusion of G-d and stringent selection criterion will evoke blessing.