Summary: The last years of Abraham's life have less coverage than his middle years, between leaving Ur and settling in Beersheba. Even so, several events happened, so let's take a last look at Abraham's live
Introduction: Abraham, like most Bible characters, had his high and low points. The highest point, arguably, would be the episode where he was commanded to offer Isaac as a burnt offering but was stopped before he actually did so (Genesis 22). The last years of Abraham’s life don’t have much coverage in the Scriptures but they do merit at least one final look.
1 The death of Sarah
Text, Genesis 23:1-2, KJV: 1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
Verse 1 states Sarah died when she was 127 years of age. Her age when she, then known as Sarai, married Abram (as he was then known) in Ur of the Chaldees is never stated, but she was 65 when they arrived in Canaan—and, when they arrived in Egypt (Genesis 12). She was 90 when Isaac was born—the first miracle baby in the Bible, born to a barren woman—and was known for laughing (and lying) when the LORD renewed His promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 19).
Besides these facts, we really don’t know much about Sarah other than she was a believer in the God of Abram/Abraham (would she have gone with him on his journey otherwise?) When this happened is never specified, as is the case with many Old Testament saints. She did have a bit of a vindictive spirit, such as when Hagar, her female Egyptian servant, became pregnant with Abram’s child (and heir)—and then was so furious at this that she kicked Hagar out of the household (Genesis 16). The irony is that she had suggested Abram take Hagar as a second wife so that Hagar could give Abram the child Sarai never could (at the time, or so she thought). And over 13 years later, when Isaac, her own son, was born and weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael, son of Hagar “mocking”. The precise action is not stated but Sarah, again, was so furious she demanded Abraham cast her and her son out of the household: this time, for good.
Sarah’s last years, after she weaned Isaac, are passed over in silence but she no doubt gave Abraham and Isaac the best she had to offer. Even so, she is mentioned three times in the New Testament, Romans 9:9, Hebrews 11:11, and 1 Peter 3:6. But eventually her earthly journey was completed, and she died. Abraham mourned for her and wept for her but he knew he had to find a burial place. The rest of this chapter describes how Abraham negotiated with the residents of the land to find a suitable place, a cave, where he could bury Sarah’s body. He did this, and then decided it was time to do something for his son, Isaac.
And Abraham had some very specific guidelines in place.
2 A bride for Isaac
Text, Genesis 24:1-9, KJV: 1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had died at the age of 127; Abraham would be 137 and Isaac 37 at this time. Although Isaac was his legitimate son, and heir, Isaac was still single. Why he hadn’t married before this time is not mentioned in the text but there is a clue in verse 3. Abraham did not, quite specifically, want Isaac married to any of the (pagan?) “ . . daughters of the Canaanites” who were living near Abraham’s home. This was wise: a marriage between a believer and unbeliever seldom works well. Paul would emphasize this, many years later, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, warning believers to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.