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The Significance of Sarah's Death in the Abrahamic Traditions

김윤이 1

1서울기독대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

Sarah, in the Abraham's narrative, plays her important role as a direct passage of God's blessing toward Abraham, which is of 'descendants' and 'land'. It is unfortunate that so little is heard about Sarah's role in many commentaries of Genesis. And it is worrying that the tendency to highlight only the prominent figures in the Bible may yield a partial understanding. The present study will see how the promise of God, in Genesis 23, toward Abraham could be achieved sacrificing Sarah. Comparing the chapter with 1 Chronicles 21, how the promise of God toward Davidic dynasty was also realized sacrificing his people will be examined. The faith of Abraham and Sarah, interpreted in Hebrews 11 in the New Testament, will be examined to reinterpret the meaning of sacrifice in the Bible, especially worked out in the thoughts of the salvation history. Particularly this study employs the literary-historical criticism, a method of reading the bible as a whole and the hermeneutics of 'suspicion and memory', reconsidering the function and sacrifice of Sarah and people. In Genesis 23 the bitter death of Sarah the priestess is followed by the realization of God's promise to Abraham concerning land. As her death and burial occurred, the ownership of the land in Hebron shifts; it may imply the shift of the ownership of all the land in Israel, which is significant in the salvation history. It could be compared to the instance of Jeremiah's purchase of Hanamel's field in the time of judgement (i.e. destruction of death) as it symbolizes the restoration of God's promise and Israel as a nation. 1 Chronicles 21's report of purchasing the field in which a temple would stand, as God promised, also begins from 'the death(ל󰘶󰗁) of the people', being followed by the realization of the promise (rescuing from judgement). Here the people's death (sacrifice) was of great effect just as Sarah's death was. God's judgement was cancelled as a consequence of their death; it was followed by David and the elders' prayer of repentance and the rest of the Israelites could save their lives. In the end, with the enthusiastic participation of the gentiles, the ground for redemption and worship was confirmed and chosen. The contents and themes in the two narratives, Genesis 23 and 1 Chronicles 21, are paralleling. Theses are, first, misery of the people related to death or sin; second, purchasing the fields from the gentiles; and, third, realization of God's promises and restoration of the relationship with God. Thematically all the two narratives have a motif of 'death/ or sacrifice', and the realization of the promise, overcoming the death, that is associated with the salvation history. (Heb 11) The two narratives also reinterpret the theological meaning of sacrifice. There were many sacrifices occurred in fact behind the anecdotes of the prominent figures in the Old Testament. A number of women, children, followers and people sacrificed, while Sarah and David's people are good examples. Without their sacrifices there might have been no heroes such as Abraham and David, and no salvation history of God. Among the sacrifices Jesus' one is fundamental in the salvation history, which then could possibly extend its limit reaching to all the people. Just as the New Testament recalls and inscribes the sacrifices in the Old Testament (see Heb 11), they are to be reminded continually and newly in our current situation. The reinterpretation of the sacrifices in the Bible, practised in the present study, may give us a clue to correct the problems of today's churches that overtly adore selfish capitalism and materialistic growth.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.