Sarah: Abraham’s Sister?

Question

How can Abraham refer to Sarah as his sister?

Gen 11:27 Haran begot Lot
Gen 11:29 Haran was the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah

(1.) Why not write Haran begot a son, Lot, AND two daughters, Milchah and Iscah, in one sentence versus listing separately (in two different verses)?

Gen 11:31 Terah took Abraham his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson
The concept of grandchildren was known because Lot is referred to as Terah’s grandson.

Gen 20:12 Sarah is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.

(2.) If Sarah was Iscah, then Abraham married the daughter of his brother Haran. Therefore, Sarah was Abraham’s niece, not his sister.
Sarah was not the daughter of Terah, Abraham’s father.
Sarah was Terah’s granddaughter. As stated previously, the concept of grandchildren was known.

(3.) Sarah is not the daughter of my mother implies that Abraham’s father(Terah) had two different wives – one was the mother of Abraham, one was the mother of Haran, and one of them was also Nahor’s mother.

Please provide answers. Thanks.

1 month

Answers

  1. As you write, Sara was Avraham’s niece – not his sister. Our Sages discuss Avraham’s statement and cite the Midrash HaGadol, which teaches that it was the norm for close relatives to call themselves brothers and sisters. Subsequently, as Sarah was Avraham’s niece, it was perfectly acceptable to call her his sister. Coupled with that is the fact that Avraham was concerned that his life would be in danger in Egypt if they knew that he and Sarah were married.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team

  2. Any thoughts about item 1, also about item 3 about Terah possibly having multiple wives.  Thanks.