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(Gen 18:1 - 22:24)

B'resheet/Genesis 21:6   And Sarah said, "G-d has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh for me."


This verse contains two instances of the root , to laugh: a noun , meaning laughter or ridicule, which is only used twice in the Hebrew Scriptures - here and in Ezekiel 23:32; and the verb , Qal prefix 3ms, meaning "he will laugh". Normally, according to Davidson, when is followed by the preposition - as it is here in both cases - it takes on the meaning "to laugh at", so that would translate this verse as a lament: "G-d has laughed at me and so will everyone who hears" as if G-d is turning Sarah's laughter at Him when He told Sarah that she was to have a child in her old age (cf. B'resheet 18:9-15) back on her. None of the translations take it that way, however; the NASB chooses, "Everyone who hears will laugh with me" attaching a footnote: "Lit., 'for'". This follows What Is ...

Targum Onkelos: An early (1st-2nd Century CE) translation/paraphrase of the Torah into Aramaic; attributed to a Roman convert to Judaism, Onkelos; used in Babylonian synagogues during the Talmudic era
Targum Onkelos where the Aramaic word means "he will rejoice", giving the idea that whoever hears about Sarah will rejoice with or for her.

Commenting to this phrase, Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi says, "Many infertile women were remembered along with her. Many sick people were cured on that day. Many prayers were answered along with hers. And there was much cheerfulness in the world." This comes from B'resheet Rabbah 53:8, where "R. Berekiah, R. Judah ben R. Shimon and R. Hanan said in the name of R. Samuel ben R. Isaac: when the matriarch Sarah was remembered [i.e., gave birth], many other barren women were remembered with her, many deaf gained their hearing, many blind had their eyes opened, many insane became sane." Why should this be? The sages connect this verse to Esther 2:18: "[the king, Ahasuerus] made a holiday for the provinces and gave gifts according to the king's bounty" (NASB) - where a gift is given, it is given to the whole world, so also in Sarah's case, as she was given a gift, G-d also gave similar gifts to others in the world. We might be tempted to dismiss this as simple rabbinic wishful thinking were it not for two passages in Matthew's gospel.

At the start of Yeshua's ministry, Matthew records a significant aspect of what Yeshua was doing. "Yeshua went all over the Galil teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, and healing people from every kind of disease and sickness. Word of Him spread throughout all Syria, and people brought to Him all who were ill, suffering from various diseases and pains, and those held in the power of demons, and epileptics and paralytics; and He healed them" (Matthew 4:23-24, CJB). There is no record of Yeshua not being able to heal anyone who came to Him; on the contrary, the emphasis seems to be that anyone and everyone was healed - a sign of the proximity of the Kingdom as Yeshua said, "Turn from your sins to G-d; for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!" (Matthew 4:17, CJB). When G-d's power for healing was being poured out, it was poured out for everyone who was in the neighbourhood, all who needed and would receive it.

More significantly, in Matthew's account of the crucifixion we find: "At that moment, the parokhet in the Temple was ripped in two from top to bottom; and there was an earthquake, with rocks splitting apart. Also the graves were opened, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life; and after Yeshua rose, they came out of the graves and went into the holy city, where many people saw them" (Matthew 27:51-53, CJB). At the outpouring of energy at the cross and resurrection, other people were also affected that were in the vicinity and other bodies were raised from the dead - a foretaste of Isaiah's words: "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits" (Isaiah 26:19, NASB).

When G-d's power and grace are being poured out, we should expect that many people will be affected. Jonathan Edwards reports that during the Great Awakening, people passing by a room or a house where a prayer meeting was in progress would be overcome by the presence of G-d. In these days, when the Kingdom of Heaven is again drawing near, breaking through into our every day world, we must cling on to G-d's coat-tails and watch to see what He will do. We dare not hold back or stifle the movement of the Spirit, for He is the very breath of G-d in us who wants to touch and impact our communities.

Further Study: Acts 19:11-12; Acts 5:12-16

Application: Where is the power of G-d in your area? Look for the signs of the Kingdom and follow Him. Don't be deceived by froth and bubbles, but where lives are being changed and the fruit of the Kingdom is show, G-d is surely at work among His people!

© Jonathan Allen, 2007

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