Sarah died in Kiriath Arba, which is Hebron . . . and Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her. . . . And afterwards, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah . . . and the field and the cave within it were established to Abraham as burial property.” (Genesis 23:2, 19–20)

This painting was part of a commission to paint the elemental aspects of the four holy cities of Israel. The quintessential image of Hebron is the Cave of Machpelah. Machpelah comes from the root Hebrew word kaful, double, referring to the double cave and to the four special couples buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.

The first time Abraham entered the cave, he saw Adam and Eve and a light emanating from the Garden of Eden (Zohar 1:128b). In the painting, a procession of people enters under a vaulted ceiling into hidden chambers within. They proceed towards a light which shines and illuminates the scene. It is here in Hebron that the end of temporal life connects to the next world and eternity.