Hespeler, 23 October, 2016 © Scott McAndless – Baptism
Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7, Psalm 126, Luke 6:20-21
f you are going to understand the two stories that we read from the Book of Genesis this morning, you need to learn the meaning of one Hebrew word. If you do not know this word, you totally miss the point of both of the stories. The word is yitschaq and it is the Hebrew word for laughing. It has been suggested that it might be an onomatopoetic word – that is, a word that sounds like the thing that it describes (you know, like the word quack sounds like the noise a duck makes and the word bark, like the noise of a dog). Apparently, to an ancient Hebrew ear, laughter sounded a little bit like somebody going “yitschaq, yitschaq, yitschaq.” I guess that some ancient Hebrews just had weird laughs.
That Hebrew word is important because laughter is an important theme in both stories we read this morning. In one, Sarah laughs in her tent when she hears an angel promise her husband that she will have a child even though she is far too old to do so. She laughs because the promise is so impossible as to be ridiculous and later she denies having laughed. In the second story, when the promised child is actually born, Sarah laughs again for the absurdity of her having a child in her old age but she is also laughing for joy.