“These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.” Gen. 25:7-8
Just as with Sarah, we see some redundancy in the language used mentioning their death, drawing us instead to their abundance of life. In this case, it tells us of the “life” that Abraham “lived”, and goes on to inform us he was satisfied with life. Jesus the Messiah told us He came that we might have life and have it abundantly, and I believe some of the patriarchs (and matriarchs) of the faith embodied this.
Although Abraham lived 175 years, we only know part of the story of his life; the most significant of which happens within only a 25 year period. Genesis chapter 12 introduces us to an already 75-year-old Abraham (Gen. 12:4), and the long awaited birth of Isaac happens at age 100 (Gen. 21:5). Things like this should be a reminder that we do not know the whole story, it is not all recorded either in the bible or the Talmud.
These verses are likely not chronological, but rather the death of Abraham is probably mentioned earlier in the scriptures for sake of a concrete ending, allowing the narrative to move on.
Last we see that Abraham was ‘gathered to his people’. This phrase is used multiple times in the scriptures, but what exactly does it mean here?
As Abraham just bought a family tomb (the Cave of Macpelah, where only Sarah is buried thus far), it cannot simply mean he will be buried with those who went on before him. As for Abraham’s close family, we know of his nephew Lot, his father Terah, and his brothers Nahor and Haran. If this is speaking of Abraham going to be with those who died before him, this may cause us to pause, as Abraham was obviously the one following God most closely; Terah was an idolator, and Lot picked up what he could from Abraham but it did not stop him from making bad decisions in his lifetime. If we envision a spiritual afterlife, I would say many of us would not necessarily picture Abraham in the presence of these family members, yet it says ‘gathered to his people’.
Verses like this should challenge our understanding of what we think happens when people pass on, based on their beliefs and actions in this life.