Even when Sarah was advanced in years, it would appear that she had not lost her attractiveness. When Abraham went further south and dwelt in Gerar, he was afraid that his wife's beauty would imperil his life, and he again resorted to the stratagem of calling her his sister. His fear was not unfounded, for Abimelech, the King of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. But the Lord troubled him by a dream, and he restored her to her husband.
The sacred narrative does not usher in the crowning event of our heroine's life with special notice. The long-foretold son was born, we are simply told, and he was circumcised and named Isaac.
Sarah had now attained the height of her ambition, the dignity of motherhood. A halo of Divine favour was around her infant's cradle, for to him was to be given the fair land of Canaan, and his descendants were to become a great nation, but as he grew in beauty and strength day by day the fierce eyes of Hagar watched with smothered jealousy the supplanter of her son.
The crisis came when Abraham made a great feast to celebrate the weaning of Isaac, who, according to custom, would be some three years old at the time. Sarah was, perchance, fondling her precious child, decked out for the feast, when she saw Ishmael mocking. Her mother's heart turned to fierce anger. "Cast out this bondwoman and her son," she demanded of her husband, "for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."
It is difficult to judge Sarah's attitude. Maternal love absorbed her being and warped her sense of justice. Up to this period Hagar and her son had enjoyed the privileges of the patriarchal system, and from Sarah's outburst of anger it would appear that Ishmael was to inherit a portion of Abraham's possessions. In justice to Sarah, it must be remembered that the Divine promise of inheritance had been to her son only, and not to that of the bondwoman. Such proved to be God's will, and Abraham was commanded to send Hagar and her son away.
Our pity must needs go out to the bondwoman in her lonely exile, cut off from home and plenty, with nothing to sustain her in the wilderness save the bottle of water which Abraham hastily placed upon her shoulders as she departed. But Divine Providence watched over the broken-hearted Hagar. The voice of God directed her to a well of water, and cheered her with the promise that her son should yet become the founder of a great nation.
The stirring drama of Sarah's life closes with the departure of Hagar. We may assume that she never saw the bondwoman and her son again. Sarah dwelt in peaceful serenity, her life centred in Isaac. It is not recorded that she was aware of the trial of faith to which Abraham was subjected when the Lord bade him offer up his son, even Isaac, and she did not live to welcome Rebekah as a daughter-in-law.
Sarah died at Hebron at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven, supreme in her husband's affection to the last. And "Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep tor her," and he purchased a fair burying-ground for her remains. She was laid to rest in the cave of Machpelah before the grove of oaks at Mamre which for years had shaded her tent.
Photo, W. Dighton