THE LIFE OF SARAH
PARSHA CHAYEH SARAH
This week's Torah reading, Genesis 23:1-25:18, is the story of Abraham's wife Sarah and, more particularly, Abraham's purchase of the field and cave of Machpelah for 400 shekels of silver from Ephron, the Hittite, of Mamre in Canaan, Hebron, as a burial site for Sarah.
A slight digression: This piece of land is one of three pieces of Canaan, the land YHWH gave to Abraham and his descendants, that are recorded as being purchased for a particular sum of money. The next one is Joseph's tomb in Shechem, modern Nablus, purchased by Jacob for 100 pieces of currency; transaction recorded in Joshua 24:32. The third is a threshing floor on top of mount Moriah, purchased by King David for 50 shekels of silver; the property would later become the Temple Mount when Solomon, David's heir on his throne, built the first Temple there; transaction recorded in 2 Samuel 24:24.
Reason for the digression: Precisely these three locations, in present day Israel, are the sites that the Arab/Palestinians are most irrationally contesting and claiming as theirs. Joseph's tomb in Shechem has been vandalised many times by local Arab/Palestinian residents, even after assuring Israel that they would protect it. The Temple Mount is under the protection of Jordan's Muslim Waqf, and Jews are not generally allowed on it, and definitely not to worship. (Israel does not always make wise decisions; but that would be the subject for another time).
Back to the Machpelah story. Between the end of the 1948 Arab war to exterminate the Jews, when the State of Israel was founded, and the Jewish victory in the 6-day war of 1967, in which the aggressor Arab States' declared agenda was, again, the extermination of the Jews in the State of Israel, the Jordanians did not allow Jews into Hebron to pray at Machpelah at all.
Today, after the Jewish victory of 1967, the Jews are allowed in 20% of Hebron, and they may worship at Machpelah in a smaller part of the structure that houses the cave and the tombs; in the larger part, the Hall of Isaac, Muslims allow Jews only once a year, this coming weekend, to enter for prayer. (Again, the "wise decisions" question). This larger hall is the one that is located over the opening to the cave and actual burial site, thus it is controlled by the Muslims.
This coming Shabbat, November 14th-15th, there will be a large gathering of Jews from all around Israel and the world to pray in the Hall of Isaac and worship as they should be able to do all year round, were it not for the Arab/Palestinian claims.
During the rest of the year Jews are allowed in the smaller Abraham and Jacob Halls; where we were privileged to worship and pray with them.
Because of the significance of this burial place, in which all of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, except Rachel, are buried, Abraham's sojourn in Hebron and the fact that Hebron was King David's first Royal Residence and National Capital, Hebron is considered the 2nd most Holy site in Israel.
Again, why Israel would allow Arab/Palestinian, Muslim, control of 80% of Hebron is beyond me. I understand why, but it is not right.
My apologies: I have just returned from the land, and my feelings about the terrorist activities being done there by the Arab/Palestinian people, whose lives have been improved so greatly by the Israeli government, above the lives of ordinary Arab residents in the surrounding Arab Nations, are still rather raw. Hence my comments about the injustice done to the Jews, the rightful owners of the land; the contributions to this injustice by the EU, UN and the US are equally disturbing.
Hebron is also known in Scripture as Kiryat Arba, the City of Four; because, according to Jewish tradition, of the four couples buried in the Machpelah tomb. Three of the couples are recorded in the Bible, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah; according to tradition, the forth couple is Adam and Eve. This same tradition also suggests that the cave in which the bodies are buried is the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Needless to say, for Jews this is a very important site and this weekend will be a glorious celebration.
If you are reading this before the end of Shabbat, please pray for the safety of the worshippers. If after, continue to pray freedom for Jews in their own land to gather for worship wherever they wish to pray and worship, including the Temple Mount, their most Holy site.
Pray also for the recovery of Rabbi Yehuda Glick who suffered four bullets to the body in an assassination attempt on his life by an Arab/Palestinian because he actively worked toward the Jews' freedom to worship on the Temple Mount. The assailant was a man who had worked in the cafeteria of the Begin Center in front of which the assassination attempt occurred. Does that make any sense?
The Temple Mount, a location that King David actually purchased, as mentioned earlier, has become the focus for Arab/Palestinian violence in Jerusalem.
For us Gentiles, people who, as Yeshua followers, have been joined to the family of our Father Abraham through faith, the Temple Mount is of paramount importance because of our family connection and its centrality in prophecies regarding the "last days". We need to do what we can, and prayer is a beginning, to support the Jews in their right to worship on this location.
Now they are limited to the Western Wall, the Kotel, which is merely a retaining wall for the Temple Mount. Their worship at the Kotel is fervent and constant. The left image below shows the thousands gathered on the Eve of Teru'ah, Rosh Hashana, this September. What a joy to be a witness and participant!
In the midst of the current waves of violence perpetrated by the terrorists, PRAY with us for the "Peace of Jerusalem".
At least four Israelis, one young baby, have been murdered by terrorists in Jerusalem in the last month. Arab news agencies, including the PA/PLO leader Abu Mazen's Facebook, are calling the terrorists heroes. Something is drastically wrong here.
We are called to be Watchmen on the Wall: PRAY!