The question may naturally be asked why Abraham hid his wife from the
gaze of others first then and not before. The reply is to be deduced
from the following double rendering of Gen. xii. 11:--"Behold now I know
that thou art a fair woman." As if to say, "Usually people lose their
good looks on a long journey, but thou art as beautiful as ever." The
second explanation is this:--Abraham was so piously modest that in all
his life he never once looked a female in the face, his own wife not
excepted. As he approached Egypt and was crossing some water, he saw in
it the reflection of her face, and it was then that he exclaimed,
"Behold now I know that thou art a fair woman." As the Egyptians are
swarthy, Abraham at once perceived the magnitude of the danger, and
hence his precaution to hide her beauty in a chest.
_Zeenah Ureenah_ (1877 in Russia), fol. 28, col. 1.
When Abraham came to the cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah, Adam and Eve
rose from their grave and protested against his committing her to the
dust in that receptacle. "For," said they, "we are ever ashamed in the
presence of the Holy One--blessed be He!--on account of the sin which we
committed, and now comest thou to add to our shame by the contrast
therewith of the good works which ye two have done." On Abraham's
assurance that he would intercede with God on their behalf that they
should not bear the shame any longer, Adam immediately retired to his
sepulchre, but Eve being still unwilling to do so, Abraham took her by
the hand and led her back to the side of Adam; and then he buried Sarah.
THE TALMUD, _Yalkut Chadash_, fol. 14, col. 3, sec. 68.