CHAYEI SARAH | WEEK 5
By Hylan Slobodkin
Gen 23:1 – 25:18
There is so much we could talk about in the parasha, but there’s not enough time to cover it in this short blog…I would like to focus on two things: the place of Sarah’s burial and the servant Abraham sent to find a wife for Isaac.
Sarah died in Kiriat Arba, also known as Hebron, about 18 miles south of Jerusalem. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, this is the same place where Abraham settled after his long journey from Ur. It’s the place where he put his tent pegs down and raised his family. And it is the same place where Abraham encountered three men in Genesis 18, two of which were the angels that went down to Sodom, and the third was the Lord Himself.
Here are some key facts. Hebron is the second most ancient city in Israel, built 7 years before Zoan in Egypt. The Patriarchs spent most of their lives here. It was captured by Joshua and given to Caleb as promised by Moses. Hebron became one of the 6 Cities of Refuge, a place of justice, safety and shelter for those who committed accidental manslaughter where they could claim the right of asylum.
The Lord told David to live in Hebron. He was anointed king there. David ruled from Hebron for 7 ½ years, and most of his sons were born there. After the exile, Jews returned from Babylon and settled in Hebron.
Like Jerusalem, Hebron is one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the planet. Conquered by Saladin in 1187, it became a Muslim city. By 1900, there were about 4500 Arabs and about 100 Jewish families. Today there are over 200,000 Arabs and about 800 Jews.
Abraham needs a place to bury his wife, so he buys the field of Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver.
So what’s the big deal about Hebron? What’s the fuss? Plenty. In the center of town is the Cave of Machpelah. Not only was Sarah buried there, but also Rebekah, Leah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the burial site of the Matriarchs and the Patriarchs, a holy site to Jews and Muslims. Therefore, contention over who owns the land. However, as we just read, Genesis 23 is the title deed, and Abraham is the land owner. Notice Isaac, not Ishmael, is buried there along with Isaac’s son, Jacob, and Isaac’s wife and Jacob’s wife. So, on the surface, it would seem this is a Jewish holy site. Yet because of Abraham, the father of Isaac and Ishmael, we have contention.
By faith [Abraham] lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Jews consider Hebron the second most holy site next to Jerusalem, and Muslims regard it as one of four holy cities. Hebron capsulizes the struggle for Jerusalem. It is a testing ground for Palestinians as they look toward Jerusalem. David, a Jewish king, ruled there before he moved the ark to Jerusalem. Another Jewish king, Yeshua, will also rule from Jerusalem when He returns in great glory with the shout of the archangel and the blast of a trumpet. Will you be ready?
Let’s talk about the servant Abraham sent to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham didn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman, so he sent his servant back to Mesopotamia where Abraham was from, to find a wife from his relatives. I want to talk about the characteristics of this servant, a faithful servant.
A faithful servant prays and acknowledges the God of the universe. A faithful servant is a person under authority. “The God of my master Abraham.”
A faithful servant recognizes God’s sovereignty and his dependence on God’s grace and favor. “Please grant me success today.” Literally, “Make something happen for me today.” A faithful servant is dependent on God…every day! “Give us this day our daily bread.” Manna was supplied daily. God wants to give us what we need for today, so that we trust Him for tomorrow.
A faithful servant is concerned about His master’s well-being before His own. “Show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.” Show chesed, mercy and grace, to my master. No hint of selfishness or personal gain here.
A faithful servant prays believing. When I pray, I can see the answer to my prayer.
A faithful servant gets excited when God answers prayer. Don’t be shy or subdued. Let God know how much you appreciate his response to your prayer.
A faithful servant sometimes has to wait for an answer to his prayer. Wait for confirmation from the Lord.
A faithful servant is a worshipper of God Most High.
A faithful servant acknowledges God’s guidance by the Spirit of God.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
A faithful servant uses what God has given him or her, no matter how little or how seemingly insignificant, and God will multiply and bless it. Everyone has gifts, abilities and talents. Use them for God, for the Kingdom of God, for the glory of God, and He will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”
About the Author
Hylan Slobodkin was born into a Jewish family in Los Angeles, CA. His grandparents emigrated from Russia and Romania to Chicago around 1910, escaping the anti-Semitism of eastern Europe. Hylan went to Habonim Camp as a child and had his bar mitzvah when he was 13. He and his wife, Rita, were products of the 60s, experimented with drugs, were initiated into Transcendental Medication in 1967 and joined an ashram to study yoga. On their way to India to find a guru, they met their Messiah at L’Abri Fellowship, the community of Dr. Francis and Edith Schaeffer in Switzerland. Hylan and Rita went on to live a year in Israel, learning Hebrew and working on a kibbutz. Upon returning to the States after traveling for two years, they moved to northern California and joined a Jesus Movement, charismatic church. There Hylan was discipled, licensed and ordained into the ministry. They helped plant a church in Phoenix, AZ for ten years, and then moved to Seattle, WA where they were called to lead Congregation Emmaus, now called Beit Tikvah Messianic Congregation, where they have been for 22 years. Hylan and Rita have three children and eight grandchildren. They give God glory for all things.
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