Sarah and Abraham Laughed │ Lessons in Building Faith

Abraham Laughed

When Abraham heard that God promised to bless  Sarah  and give Abraham a son through her, Abraham fell on his face and laughed 1The Hebrew term “laughed” (“וַיִּצְחָק”–waw consecutive imperfect) means laughter; the issue is what king of laughter: scoffing? amusement? pure joy?. and said in his heart 2Notice here that Abraham was speaking inside himself, “in his heart” (“וַיֹּאמֶר בְּלִבּוֹ”)., saying, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 3Genesis 17:17, page 23. Notice that Abraham “laughed” as he considered the promise that Sarah would bear the child. At that time, Ishmael, the child he had with Hagar, was already thirteen years of age.

In my view, Abraham absolutely believed that God would provide a son through Sarah, just as he promised. I believe that Genesis 17:18, page 23, proves that Abraham absolutely believed that Sarah would bear a male child and she would be the mother of nations and the kings of people would come from her, just as God said. The proof of Abraham’s faith lies in his statement about Ishmael: “Oh that Ishmael might live before You.” This short statement shows that suddenly, Abraham had great concern for his son Ishmael, because God was going to fulfill the promise of the covenant through the son of Sarah, leaving Ishmael out of that covenant promise. Abraham understood immediately the full gravity of the prophecy for Ishmael, whom Abraham loved deeply.

Therefore, I do not believe that Abraham was scoffing in his laughter, but rather happy and amused that God would fulfill the covenant promise of offspring using two old people beyond their normal child-bearing years. Abraham believed God so completely that he was concerned about Ishmael. God then continued to speak to Abraham: “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. 4Genesis 17:19, page 23. The Hebrew term “Isaac” (“יִצְחָק”) here means “laughter.” For Abraham, the name Isaac (“laughter”) will remind him of how he laughed in a positive way upon learning that Sarah would have the child of promise. God further promised that God would continue His covenant with Isaac for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 5Genesis 17:19, page 23. Yet, God also promised that he had heard Abraham intercede for Ishmael, and so God said He would bless Ishmael and make him fruitful exceedingly. Ishmael would become the father of twelve princes, and God would make him a great nation. 6Genesis 17:20, page 23. God had another meeting with Abraham to tell him about the coming child of the covenant through Sarah.

The Oaks of Mamre

At the oaks of Mamre,  Abraham sat in the door of his tent during the heat of the day. 7Genesis 18:1, page 24). Three men approached him, and he called: “My lord, 8The Hebrew term “My lord” (“אֲדֹנָי”) may refer to God or to humans. if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.”  9The New American Standard Bible translates the passage with the “Your” capitalized, indicating deity. Abraham commanded Sarah to prepare a meal for the three men and they ate. While Sarah was in the tent, one of the three men prophesied: “I will surely return to you at this time next year; 10The Hebrew phrase for “appointed time” (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”) literally means “as this time of life,” translated as this time next year. See also the use of the same phrase with Elisha promising the Shunamite that next year  (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”)  she would have a son (2 Kings 4:16, page 596). and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind the speaker. Sarah reacted differently from Abraham to the prophecy that she would bear a child within the year. 11Genesis 18:2-14, page 24.

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The Hebrew term “laughed” (“וַיִּצְחָק”–waw consecutive imperfect) means laughter; the issue is what king of laughter: scoffing? amusement? pure joy?.
2. Notice here that Abraham was speaking inside himself, “in his heart” (“וַיֹּאמֶר בְּלִבּוֹ”).
3. Genesis 17:17, page 23.
4. Genesis 17:19, page 23. The Hebrew term “Isaac” (“יִצְחָק”) here means “laughter.”
5. Genesis 17:19, page 23.
6. Genesis 17:20, page 23.
7. Genesis 18:1, page 24).
8. The Hebrew term “My lord” (“אֲדֹנָי”) may refer to God or to humans.
9. The New American Standard Bible translates the passage with the “Your” capitalized, indicating deity.
10. The Hebrew phrase for “appointed time” (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”) literally means “as this time of life,” translated as this time next year. See also the use of the same phrase with Elisha promising the Shunamite that next year  (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”)  she would have a son (2 Kings 4:16, page 596).
11. Genesis 18:2-14, page 24.