We began this session with a midrash from Sefer HaYashar (chapter 9), a 16th-century Yemenite (?) source (not this one), which we read in English. The midrash picks up with Avraham's lie to Sarah that we covered last time, but suggests that she's on to him:
Sarah took her son Isaac to stay in her tent that night [...] She said to him, "my son, how can my soul separate from yours? Then she kissed and hugged him more, she cried with him, and she instructed Avraham.
Essentially she gives Avraham the "take care of my baby" speech, the sort you might give on the eve of a long journey or going off to college or something like that. That's not how Avraham represented this trip to school.
In the morning Sarah took a beautiful and exquisite garment from those in her house which Avimelech had given her. She dressed Isaac her son and put a turban on his head in which she placed a precious gem.
Avimelech is the king who tried to marry Sarah after Avraham lied about her being his sister instead of his wife. (He was afraid that if he told the truth the king would kill him to take Sarah, but I've never been clear on why this lie was supposed to work, since instead of saying she was married he seemed to be saying she was available.) Rabbi Symons pointed out the significance of the garment from Avimelech: this places a visible reminder of the Avimelech incident in front of Avraham for the journey. Perhaps she is saying "you failed me; don't fail my son".
Now here's an interesting bit:
Sarah also went out with the servants to see them off. They said to her "return to your tent". Sarah listened to her son Isaac's words. She cried a great deal; her husband Avraham also cried with her. Those who went out to send them on their way cried a great deal also.
According to this midrash, everyone -- even the servants! -- seems to know that something big is going on here. Yet Sarah does not try to keep them home, and Isaac seems to be silent through all of this. (There's a reference to his words, but we don't actually get his words. And anyway, he's not bolting.) It's almost as if everyone knows, but is distinctly not talking about, God's command to Avraham. Probably even Isaac. (If so, his question three days later "where is the lamb?" would have to be rhetorical, or perhaps a way to try to get his father to actually speak directly to him about what's coming. I don't have this source's midrash on that part of the story.)
Then we returned to the text we've been working on. Here's the (scanned) Hebrew text: Read more…