Sarai Laughs and The Role of Patriarch in Family Life

Finger Pointing UpNow I understand why we’re circumcised, but at 100 years old I bet that would really hurt.  Is Sarah really going to have a baby at the age of 90?  You also blessed the wild man, but I guess You did that for Abraham since it was his son.”

Now that’s quite the trick, making it so an old lady can have a baby.  Yes, this dude can do anything.  Now I understand why we’re circumcised, but at 100 years old I bet that would really hurt. 

Is Sarah really going to have a baby at the age of 90?  You also blessed the wild man, but I guess You did that for Abraham since it was his son.

“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

1. grove of trees
The name of the grove of trees is evidently considered as derived from this sheikh or chieftain.

The “oaks” (“terebinths”) of Mamre where Abram pitched his tent (Genesis 14:13; Genesis 18:1) are described (Genesis 13:18) as “in Hebron.”

Later on MACHPELAH (which see) is described as “before,” i.e. “to the East of Mamre” (Genesis 23:17; Genesis 25:9; Genesis 49:30; Genesis 50:13), and Mamre is identified with Hebron itself (Genesis 23:19).

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

And said, My Lord 1, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.  And they said, So do, as thou hast said” (Gen 18:1-5).

“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 

And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.  And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 

Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 

Is anything too hard for the LORD? 2  At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 

Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid.  And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

2. Tree of Mamre
The Tree of Mamre was the place where Abraham pitched his tent. After God called Abraham out of Haran to go to the place God had chosen for him, Abraham first pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai.

Bethel and Ai were sister cities no more than a few miles apart. They had close relations with each other.

Abraham’s tent had to have been on the road between the two towns, so everyday he saw the people of the two towns walking to-and-fro.

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 

And the LORD said,3  Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD” (18:9-22). 

1 Abraham knew the men were angels, one of them could have been God Himself since Abraham addressed him as Lord, besides, Abraham was friends with God (Jas 2:23, Is 41:8), but he was also a prophet (Gen 20:7).

2 There is nothing God cannot do (Jer 32:17, Matt 3:9, Lk 1:37).

3 Here God is talking about Jesus being born from Abrahams bloodline.  .…and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, by Jesus.

The Role of Patriarch
in Family Life

In order to understand the description of Abraham as the founding father of Israel’s faith, we do well to recognize the key role a patriarch such as Abraham played in family life during this pre-monarchic period.

Yesterdays nomads on donkeys and camels.
Today, millions of people live as nomads in the Orient raising sheep as their main income.
The camps with black tents made of hair from goats, the large herds of goats, flock of sheep and the shepherds on their donkeys and horses still make a fascinating picture in the landscape.
Nevertheless, a large part of the nomadic culture is disappearing as the nomads tend to be more “resident”.
The reason for this is that they find areas where the conditions are so good that they can stay for longer periods without having to move so often.
Slowly they are changing into some kind of “resident nomads”.
Today most nomads get around with jeeps and motorcycles,
Modern day nomads often graze their cattle in the proximity of cities.
Todays nomads walk their sheep much closer to the cities.
a sight very different from the one we have with a nomad and his camel for example.

The social structure of the time had three tiers: tribe, clan and family/house­hold (Josh 7:14). The fundamental unit was the household (Hebrew bet av, meaning “house of a father”).

It consisted of a patri­arch—responsible adult male — his wife, his sons and their wives, his grandchildren and various other dependents.

Since line­age/descent in patriarchal societies was passed along through sons, married daugh­ters joined their husbands’ households.

Exploration of Iron Age I settlements, although they existed later than the patriar­chal period, tells us much about Israelite patri­archal society.

They indicate that such social units likely inhabited clusters of compounds with a few houses around a court yard, encir­cled by a low wall.

The elder patriarch and his immediate descendants would occupy one of the homes, with his married sons and their families living in other houses within the compound.

In like manner Jacob, along with his sons and their families, sojourned as a small, patriarchal clan (Gen 46:5-7).

Various Biblical passages reveal much about Abraham’s patriarchal household. The patriarch was responsible for the socioeco­nomic and religious well-being of his entire household (Gen 14:13-16). 

In Genesis 18, for example, Abraham’s hospitality toward his three visitors reflected kinship responsibili­ties that even included the protection of vul­nerable sojourners or resident aliens (cf. Lev. 19:33-34).

Providing water for dusty feet and serving an elaborate meal conferred honor upon guests, and, as in Abraham’s case, indicated his generosity.

At the same time, Abraham in Genesis 18 may have realized that he was entertaining heavenly guests and thus have been espe­cially hospitable.

The bond established during their subsequent table fellowship engen­dered a blessing from one of the guests and established a basis for Abraham’s intercession for Sodom.

The sacrosanct nature of patriarchal hos­pitality recurs as a metaphor for God as the host of a feast in Psalm 23:5-6 (cf. Mt 8:11; Lk 13:29).

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