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Sarah was the wife of Abraham and his half-sister. Sarah was approximately ten years younger than her husband. She was considered beautiful to the point that Abraham feared that when they were near more powerful rulers she would be taken away and given to another man. Twice he purposely identified her as being his sister so that he would be “treated well” for her sake. She was originally called “Sarai”, which is translated “my princess”.
Later she was called “Sarah”, i. Abram was 75 at this time. On the journey to Egypt, Abram instructed Sarai to identify herself only as his sister, fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take his wife, saying, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘this is his wife. Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you. Sarai said that Abram was her brother, and the king thereupon took her into his palace and bestowed upon the latter many presents and marks of distinction.
It is possible that Sarai acquired her Egyptian handmaid Hagar during this stay. However, God afflicted Pharaoh’s household with great plagues. Pharaoh then realized that Sarai was Abram’s wife and demanded that they leave Egypt immediately. Sarah is seen at the left, looking on. After having lived in Canaan for ten years and still childless, Sarai suggested that Abram have a child with her Egyptian handmaid Hagar, to which he agreed. Sarai complained to her husband that the handmaid no longer respected her. At one point, Hagar fled from her mistress but returned after angels met her.
Abram was eighty-six years old. God gave Sarai the new name “Sarah”, and blessed her. Abraham was given assurance that Sarah would have a son. Not long afterwards, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three men. One of the visitors told Abraham that upon his return next year, Sarah would have a son. While at the tent entrance, Sarah overheard what was said, and she laughed to herself about the prospect of having a child at their ages.
The visitor inquired of Abraham why Sarah laughed at the idea of bearing a child, for her age was as nothing to God. Sarah soon became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, at the very time which had been spoken. Abraham held a great feast on the day when Isaac was to be weaned. Hagar be removed from their company. Abraham was initially distressed by this but relented when told by God to do as his wife had asked.
Abraham again claimed that Sarah was his sister. Later, God came to Abimelech in a dream and declared that taking her would result in death because she was a married woman. Abimelech, who had not laid hands on her, inquired if he would also slay a righteous nation, especially since Abraham had claimed that he and Sarah were siblings. In response, God told Abimelech that he did indeed have a blameless heart and that was why he continued to exist. However, if he did not return Sarah to Abraham, God would surely destroy Abimelech and his entire household.