After Eve, the next woman mentioned by name in the Bible is Sarah, the wife of Abraham. She plays an important role in the history of salvation, even though she initially doubts God’s plan for her. Sarah’s most well-known attribute is her untimely sense of humor.
Here are five fast facts about Sarah that will provide an added depth the next time you read Genesis.
1. Sarah’s name means “princess”
In Genesis Sarah’s was first named, “Sarai,” which in Hebrew means “my lady” or “my princess.” Then God named her “Sarah,” a similar Hebrew name meaning “lady,” “princess,” or “noblewoman.”
2. She was so beautiful it worried Abraham
When they traveled to Egypt, Abraham said to her, “I know that you are a woman beautiful to behold; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account” (Genesis 12:11-13).
Her beauty was affirmed in Egypt and she was taken into Pharaoh’s harem, where she was protected by God and the truth about her eventually came out.
3. Sarah and Abraham had a sense of humor (but bad timing)
When God approached Abraham and Sarah about giving birth to a son, both laughed hysterically. Abraham, “fell on his face and laughed” while Sarah, “laughed to herself” and even tried to deny it. She should know better to try to fool God who said to her, “No, but you did laugh.”
4. She was 90 years old when Isaac was born
Abraham and Sarah were quite old when Sarah was pregnant. There was no natural way possible that they could conceive a child. Abraham exclaims, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Genesis 17:17) She did — and named him Isaac, which means “laughter.”
5. Her tomb is still venerated today
Sarah lived to be 127 years old and her burial is the first one to be mentioned in the Bible. She is buried in the “Cave of the Patriarchs” and traditions says that both Abraham and Sarah (as well as Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah) are buried there.
In the opening pages of the Bible, the author of Genesis presents the creation of the first humans. Adam is created first from the “dust of the ground” and then God desires that Adam be given a “helper fit for him.”
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
She was the first woman and her actions deeply impacted the rest of Salvation History. Here are five fast facts about Eve that are not always caught after an initial reading of Genesis.
1. Her name is more of a verb than a noun
The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that the name Eve “is connected etymologically with the verb meaning ‘to live’: ‘And Adam called the name of his wife Eve [hawwah]: because she was the mother of all the living.’ The Septuagint rendering in this passage is Zoe (=life, or life-giver).”
Through Eve life is born into the world, something that Adam was not able to do on his own.
2. Eve was created to be Adam’s equal in dignity
Many commentators over the centuries have highlighted the fact that Eve was created from Adam’s side, not his head or feet. One 18th-century biblical exegete put it this way, “[Eve was] not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”
As the Catechism affirms, “Man and woman were made ‘for each other’ — not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons (‘bone of my bones. . .’) and complementary as masculine and feminine” (CCC 372).
3. She had at least three children (maybe more)
Adam and Eve raised three children who are recorded in the Bible: Cain, Abel and Seth. However, the book of Genesis states, “The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4).
Eve’s death is not mentioned in the Bible, nor is Adam ever connected to any other women. Therefore, it is possible that Eve had other children, not mentioned by name in the Bible.
4. Eve is regarded as a “saint” in many Christian churches
While not officially canonized, there is an ancient tradition (enshrined in the Creed) that after his death Christ “descended into the dead” to bring forth the righteous into Eternal Life. An ancient homily narrates the event.
He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”
With this in mind, Adam and Eve are considered “saints” because of their union with God in heaven.
5. Her feast day is on December 24
The medieval church honored Adam and Eve on December 24, the day before the coming of the savior on Christmas. They put on “Paradise Plays,” where a tree was the central focus and later inspired the tradition of Christmas trees.