Sarah:  The Last Moment
of Innocnese

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In her day Sarah was regarded as the most beautiful woman in the land. She was known for her wisdom and sound advice. At the time of this story there was famine in Israel.  Abraham, Sarah's husband, and his followers decided to go to Egypt to escape the famine.

It was common practice in those days for the various desert tribes to abduct a beautiful woman from another tribe and to kill her husband. To avoid this horrible fate, Abraham made two requests of Sarah, first, was to tell everyone that Abraham was her brother, and secondly, he would smuggle her into Egypt by hiding her in the cargo.

Abraham did hide Sarah in a container for the journey. When they were stopped at customs, Abraham was so cooperative (to the point of paying all fees and tariffs asked

without the traditional haggling), that the customs officers became suspicious and opened the box revealing Sarah. This painting depicts that moment, which I think of as "The Last Moment of Innocence." In this single moment, Sarah's life changed and she was forever transformed from innocent to defiant. Thus, the second painting is entitled "Defiance." Her expression in this painting is intended to convey that she has become steeled to her fate. Innocence is replaced with inner strength, but also ultimately with acceptance.

When the custom officers saw her, they saw that she was indeed the most beautiful woman they had ever beheld. They agreed that she was fit only for the Pharaoh and abducted her to be the Pharaoh's concubine. Abraham accompanied her keeping his identity a secret. He was acknowledged as her brother becoming wealthy due to his association with the royal court.

Though she was living in luxury, the situation was terribly painful for Sarah. According to legend, even God could stand it no longer and sent an angel to Sarah. She is the only human being in the Bible who was allowed to determine the punishment for those who had wronged her.

When the truth of her relationship to Abraham was revealed, the Pharaoh apologized for keeping her as his concubine. He said that they were free to go with their followers and to 

keep all the wealth Abraham had accumulated while at his court. To me this shows great love for Sarah. Sarah must have been very angry with Abraham for allowing the situation and perhaps this is why she did not conceive a child with him until she was in her nineties.

When she was 96 years old, three visitors came to her home and Abraham instructed Sarah to prepare a feast for these visitors. Supposedly angels from God, the three strangers told Abraham that he was to have a son. When Sarah heard this, she laughed. She may have laughed because she was so old, or she may have laughed because it was such a preposterous idea that now, after so many years she would finally conceive. She could have laughed because they thought Abraham was impotent. However, regardless of the reason, her joy and mirth were

Sarah:  Defiance
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Sarah:  Mirth
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remembered as the way that she came to find out she would bear Isaac, whose very name refers to laughter. The last painting of Sarah is titled "Mirth' which means gladness or gaiety as shown by or accompanied with laughter. This third painting conveys that the mother of all the Jewish people was not just a great beauty. Her value was character, and her ability to accept life with joy and good humor, even in the face of adversity.

Both of these stories of Sarah are metaphors for the potential of human sprit. From innocence to inner strength, from struggle to acceptance, from bitterness to joy, Sarah's story can teach us that we all have the potential to grow from life's challenges and to find peace, whatever our circumstances.

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