Genesis 21:6
And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6, 7) God hath made me to laugh.—Sarah’s laugh was one of mingled emotions. Joy was uppermost in her mind, but women do not laugh for joy at the birth of a child. Doubtless she called to mind the feelings with which she listened to the announcement of her bearing a son, made by those whom she then regarded as mere passing wayfarers (Genesis 18:12), but whom she had now long known to be the messengers of God. And still the event seemed to her marvellous and astonishing, so that “all that hear,” she said, “will laugh with me”—Heb., for me, or over me—not “will ridicule me,” but will be merry at the thought of an old woman of ninety having a son. Deeper feelings would come afterwards, and the acknowledgment that that which was contrary to nature was wrought by Him whom nature must obey; but surprise is uppermost in the little poem in which Sarah gives utterance to her first feelings:—

Who would have said unto Abraham

Sarah suckleth sons?

For I have borne a son to his old age.

Genesis 21:6. Sarah said, God has made me to laugh — Not through diffidence and irreverence, as my own distrustful heart before made me to laugh; but through excess of holy joy. He hath given me both cause and a heart to rejoice. And it adds to the comfort of any mercy to have our friends rejoice with us in it, Luke 1:58. They that hear will laugh with me — Will rejoice in this instance of God’s power and goodness; and be encouraged to trust in him.21:1-8 Few under the Old Testament were brought into the world with such expectations as Isaac. He was in this a type of Christ, that Seed which the holy God so long promised, and holy men so long expected. He was born according to the promise, at the set time of which God had spoken. God's promised mercies will certainly come at the time which He sets, and that is the best time. Isaac means laughter, and there was good reason for the name, ch. 17:17; 18:13. When the Sun of comfort is risen upon the soul, it is good to remember how welcome the dawning of the day was. When Sarah received the promise, she laughed with distrust and doubt. When God gives us the mercies we began to despair of, we ought to remember with sorrow and shame our sinful distrust of his power and promise, when we were in pursuit of them. This mercy filled Sarah with joy and wonder. God's favours to his covenant people are such as surpass their own and others' thoughts and expectations: who could imagine that he should do so much for those that deserve so little, nay, for those that deserve so ill? Who would have said that God should send his Son to die for us, his Spirit to make us holy, his angels to attend us? Who would have said that such great sins should be pardoned, such mean services accepted, and such worthless worms taken into covenant? A short account of Isaac's infancy is given. God's blessing upon the nursing of children, and the preservation of them through the perils of the infant age, are to be acknowledged as signal instances of the care and tenderness of the Divine providence. See Ps 22:9,10; Ho 11:1,2.Isaac is born according to promise, and grows to be weaned. "The Lord had visited Sarah." It is possible that this event may have occurred before the patriarchal pair arrived in Gerar. To visit, is to draw near to a person for the purpose of either chastising or conferring a favor. The Lord had been faithful to his gracious promise to Sarah. "He did as he had spoken." The object of the visit was accomplished. In due time she bears a son, whom Abraham, in accordance with the divine command, calls Isaac, and circumcises on the eighth day. Abraham was now a hundred years old, and therefore Isaac was born thirty years after the call. Sarah expressed her grateful wonder in two somewhat poetic strains. The first, consisting of two sentences, turns on the word laugh. This is no longer the laugh of delight mingled with doubt, but that of wonder and joy at the power of the Lord overcoming the impotence of the aged mother. The second strain of three sentences turns upon the object of this admiring joy. The event that nobody ever expected to hear announced to Abraham, has nevertheless taken place; "for I have borne him a son in his old age." The time of weaning, the second step of the child to individual existence, at length arrives, and the household of Abraham make merry, as was wont, on the festive occasion. The infant was usually weaned in the second or third year 1 Samuel 1:22-24; 2 Chronicles 31:16. The child seems to have remained for the first five years under the special care of the mother Leviticus 27:6. The son then came under the management of the father.3, 4. Abraham called the name of his son … Isaac … and circumcised—God was acknowledged in the name which, by divine command, was given for a memorial (compare Ge 17:19), and also in the dedication of the child by administering the seal of the covenant (compare Ge 17:10-12). Before, my own distrustful heart made me to laugh, now God makes me laugh, not through diffidence and irreverence, as before, Genesis 18:12, but through excess of holy joy.

All that hear will laugh with me; or, at me; some through sympathy rejoicing with me and for me, laughter being oft put for joy, as Isaiah 54:1 Galatians 4:27, &c.; other’s through scorn and derision, as at a thing which well may seem incredible to them, because it did so to me. See Genesis 17:17 18:12,13,15. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh,.... This she said on occasion of the name of her son Isaac, which name her husband had given him by divine direction, and to which she assented. This doubtless brought to her mind her former laughing, when she first heard that she should have a son, which was in a way of diffidence and distrust; but now God having given her a son, laid a foundation for laughter of another kind, for real, solid, joy and thankfulness:

so that all that hear will laugh with me; not laugh at her, and deride her, as Piscator interprets it; but congratulate her, and rejoice with her on this occasion, as on a like one the neighbours of Elisabeth did with her, Luke 1:58.

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. God hath made me to laugh] R.V. marg. prepared laughter for me. Once more in connexion with the birth of Isaac the thought of laughter recurs: see Genesis 17:17 (P), Genesis 18:12-15 (J). This time we have the tradition preserved by E. It is not clear that the two clauses of this verse mean the same thing. According to R.V. text, the first clause refers the laughter to Sarah’s own happiness and exultation: the second clause refers it to the merry reception of the unexpected news by those who would laugh incredulously. According to R.V. marg., the latter meaning attaches also to the first clause; and both clauses, meaning the same thing, are explained by Genesis 21:7. The R.V. text is perhaps to be preferred. It preserves two traditional explanations of the laughter associated with Isaac’s birth. Certainly the laughter of Sarah’s personal happiness seems to be the point of St Paul’s quotation from Isaiah 54:1, “rejoice thou barren that bearest not,” in a passage where the Apostle is allegorizing this chapter (Galatians 4:22-31).

with me] Better, at me. The preposition “with” is hardly correct, though it is supported by the LXX συγχαρεῖται, Lat. corridebit mihi. The original represents Sarah as the object of the laughter; and amusement, not derision, as its cause.Verse 6. - And Sarah said, - the spiritual elevation of her soul being indicated by the poetical form of her speech. Differing from Mary s magnificat in having been uttered after, and not before, the birth of the promised seed, the anthem of Sarah was obviously designed as a prelude to that loftier song of the Virgin (cf. Luke 1:46). It consists of two sentences, the first containing two, and the second three lines - God hath made me to laugh. Or, retaining the order of the Hebrew, To laugh hath made me Elohim; the emphatic position of צְחֹק, containing an allusion to the name Isaac, probably indicating that Sarah's laughter was of a different character now from what it had previously been (Genesis 18:12); and her ascription of it to Elohim intimating that him whom she formerly mistook for a traveler she now recognized to be Divine ('Speaker's Commentary'). So that all that hear me will laugh with me. Not, will laugh at me, deridebit me (Peele), a sense the words will bear (Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though in the instances adduced (Job 5:22; Job 39:7, 18, 22) צָחַק לְ rather conveys the idea of despising difficulties (Kalisch); but, will laugh with me, συγχαρεῖταί μου, congaudebit mihi (LXX., Vulgate, Targums, Calvin, Dathe, Keil). After this reparation, God healed Abimelech at Abraham's intercession; also his wife and maids, so that they could bear again, for Jehovah had closed up every womb in Abimelech's house on Sarah's account. אמהות, maids whom the king kept as concubines, are to be distinguished from שׁפחות female slaves (Genesis 20:14). That there was a material difference between them, is proved by 1 Samuel 25:41. כּל־רחם עצר כּל does not mean, as is frequently supposed, to prevent actual childbirth, but to prevent conception, i.e., to produce barrenness (1 Samuel 1:5-6). This is evident from the expression "He hath restrained me from bearing" in Genesis 16:2 (cf. Isaiah 66:9, and 1 Samuel 21:6), and from the opposite phrase, "open the womb," so as to facilitate conception (Genesis 29:31, and Genesis 30:22). The plague brought upon Abimelech's house, therefore, consisted of some disease which rendered the begetting of children (the coitus) impossible. This might have occurred as soon as Sarah was taken into the royal harem, and therefore need not presuppose any lengthened stay there. There is no necessity, therefore, to restrict ויּלדוּ to the women and regard it as equivalent to ותּלדנה, which would be grammatically inadmissible; for it may refer to Abimelech also, since ילד signifies to beget as well as to bear. We may adopt Knobel's explanation, therefore, though without approving of the inference that Genesis 20:18 was an appendix of the Jehovist, and arose from a misunderstanding of the word ויּלדוּ in Genesis 20:17. A later addition Genesis 20:18 cannot be; for the simple reason, that without the explanation give there, the previous verse would be unintelligible, so that it cannot have been wanting in any of the accounts. The name Jehovah, in contrast with Elohim and Ha-Elohim in Genesis 20:17, is obviously significant. The cure of Abimelech and his wives belonged to the Deity (Elohim). Abraham directed his intercession not to Elohim, an indefinite and unknown God, but to האלהים; for the God, whose prophet he was, was the personal and true God. It was He too who had brought the disease upon Abimelech and his house, not as Elohim or Ha-Elohim, but as Jehovah, the God of salvation; for His design therein was to prevent the disturbance of frustration of His saving design, and the birth of the promised son from Sarah.

But if the divine names Elohim and Ha-Elohim indicate the true relation of God to Abimelech, and here also it was Jehovah who interposed for Abraham and preserved the mother of the promised seed, our narrative cannot be merely an Elohistic side-piece appended to the Jehovistic account in Genesis 12:14., and founded upon a fictitious legend. The thoroughly distinctive character of this event is a decisive proof of the fallacy of any such critical conjecture. Apart from the one point of agreement-the taking of Abraham's wife into the royal harem, because he said she was his sister in the hope of thereby saving his own life (an event, the repetition of which in the space of 24 years is by no means startling, when we consider the customs of the age) - all the more minute details are entirely different in the two cases. In king Abimelech we meet with a totally different character from that of Pharaoh. We see in him a heathen imbued with a moral consciousness of right, and open to receive divine revelation, of which there is not the slightest trace in the king of Egypt. And Abraham, in spite of his natural weakness, and the consequent confusion which he manifested in the presence of the pious heathen, was exalted by the compassionate grace of God to the position of His own friend, so that even the heathen king, who seems to have been in the right in this instance, was compelled to bend before him and to seek the removal of the divine punishment, which had fallen upon him and his house, through the medium of his intercession. In this way God proved to the Philistine king, on the one hand, that He suffers no harm to befall His prophets (Psalm 105:15), and to Abraham, on the other, that He can maintain His covenant and secure the realization of His promise against all opposition from the sinful desires of earthly potentates. It was in this respect that the event possessed a typical significance in relation to the future attitude of Israel towards surrounding nations.

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