The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
29.2 THE SPRING AT MATAREA - ABRAHAM LIVES A LONG TIME BY IT.
When Abraham was in Egypt, he also had his tents beside this spring,
and I saw him teaching the people here.  He lived in the country
several years with Sarah and a number of his sons and daughters whose
mothers had remained behind in Chaldea. His brother Lot was also here
with his family, but I do not remember what place of residence was
assigned to him. Abraham went to Egypt by God's command, firstly
because of a famine in the Land of Canaan, and secondly to fetch a
family treasure which had found its way to Egypt through a niece of
Sarah's mother. This niece was of the race of the shepherd-people
belonging to Job's tribe who had been rulers of part of Egypt. She had
gone there to be serving maid to the reigning family and had then
married an Egyptian. She was also the foundress of a tribe, but I have
forgotten its name. Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, was a descendant of
hers and was thus of Sarah's family. 
The woman had carried off this family treasure just as Rachel had
carried off Laban's household gods, and had sold it in Egypt for a
great sum. In this way it had come into the possession of the king and
the priests. This treasure was a genealogy of the children of Noah
(especially of the children of Shem) down to Abraham's time. It looked
like a scales hanging on several chains from inside a lid. [Please
refer to Figure 22.] This lid was made to shut down onto a sort of box
which enclosed the chains in it. The chains were made of triangular
pieces of gold linked together; the names of each generation were
engraved on these pieces, which were thick yellow coins, while the
links connecting them were pale like silver and thin. Some of the gold
pieces had a number of others hanging from them. The whole treasure was
bright and shining. I heard, but have forgotten, what was its value in
shekels. The Egyptian priests had made endless calculations in
connection with this genealogy, but never arrived at the right
Before Abraham came into their country, the Egyptians must have known,
from their astrologers and from the prophecies of their sorceresses,
that he and his wife came from the noblest of races and that he was to
be the father of a chosen people. They were always searching in their
prophetic books for noble races, and tried to intermarry with them.
This gave Satan the opportunity of attempting to debase the pure races
by leading the Egyptians astray into immorality and deeds of violence.
Abraham, fearing that he might be murdered by the Egyptians because of
the beauty of Sarah, his wife, had given out that she was his sister.
This was not a lie, since she was his step-sister, the daughter of his
father Terah by another wife (see Gen. 20.12). The King of Egypt caused
Sarah to be brought into his palace and wished to take her to wife.
Abraham and Sarah were then in great distress and besought God for
help, whereupon God punished the king with sickness, and all his wives
and most of the women in the city fell ill. The king, in alarm, caused
inquiry to be made, and when he heard that Sarah was Abraham's wife, he
gave her back to him, begging him to leave Egypt as soon as possible.
It was clear, he said, that Abraham and his wife were under the
protection of the gods.
Figure 22. Family treasure of Abraham -- a genealogy of Noah's children
down to Abraham's time.
The Egyptians were a strange people. On the one hand they were
extremely arrogant and considered themselves to be the greatest and
wisest among the nations. On the other hand they were excessively
cowardly and servile, and gave way when they were faced by a power
which they feared was greater than theirs. This was because they were
not sure of all their knowledge, most of which came to them in dark
ambiguous sooth-sayings, which easily produced conflicts and
contradictions. Since they were very credulous of wonders, any such
contradiction at once caused them great alarm.
Abraham approached the king very humbly with a request for corn. He won
his favor by treating him as a ruler over the nations, and received
many rich presents. When the King gave Sarah back to her husband and
begged him to leave Egypt, Abraham replied that he could not do this
unless he took with him the genealogy that belonged to him, describing
in detail the manner in which it had come to Egypt. The king then
summoned the priests, and they willingly gave Abraham back what
belonged to him, only asking that the whole transaction might first be
formally recorded, which was done.  Abraham then returned with his
following to the land of Canaan.
I have seen many things about the spring at Matarea right down to our
own times, and remember this much: already at the time of the Holy
Family it was used by lepers as a healing well. Much later a small
Christian church was built on the site of Mary's dwelling. Near the
high altar of this church one descended into the cave where the Holy
Family lived until Joseph had arranged their dwelling. I saw the spring
with human habitations round it, and I saw it being used for various
forms of skin eruptions. I also saw people bathing in it to cure
themselves of evil-smelling perspirations. That was when the
Mohammedans were there. I saw, too, that the Turks always kept a light
burning in the church over Mary's dwelling. They feared some misfortune
if they forgot to light it. In later times I saw the spring isolated
and at some distance from any houses. There was no longer a city there,
and wild fruit trees grew about it.