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Genesis 17:15-19

Context

17:15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; 1  Sarah 2  will be her name. 17:16 I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. 3  Kings of countries 4  will come from her!”

17:17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed 5  as he said to himself, 6  “Can 7  a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? 8  Can Sarah 9  bear a child at the age of ninety?” 10  17:18 Abraham said to God, “O that 11  Ishmael might live before you!” 12 

17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. 13  I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual 14  covenant for his descendants after him.

1 tn Heb “[As for] Sarai your wife, you must not call her name Sarai, for Sarah [will be] her name.”

2 sn Sarah. The name change seems to be a dialectical variation, both spellings meaning “princess” or “queen.” Like the name Abram, the name Sarai symbolized the past. The new name Sarah, like the name Abraham, would be a reminder of what God intended to do for Sarah in the future.

3 tn Heb “she will become nations.”

4 tn Heb “peoples.”

5 sn Laughed. The Hebrew verb used here provides the basis for the naming of Isaac: “And he laughed” is וַיִּצְחָק (vayyitskhaq); the name “Isaac” is יִצְחָק (yitskhaq), “he laughs.” Abraham’s (and Sarah’s, see 18:12) laughter signals disbelief, but when the boy is born, the laughter signals surprise and joy.

6 tn Heb “And he fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart.”

7 tn The imperfect verbal form here carries a potential nuance, as it expresses the disbelief of Abraham.

8 tn Heb “to the son of a hundred years.”

9 sn It is important to note that even though Abraham staggers at the announcement of the birth of a son, finding it almost too incredible, he nonetheless calls his wife Sarah, the new name given to remind him of the promise of God (v. 15).

10 tn Heb “the daughter of ninety years.”

11 tn The wish is introduced with the Hebrew particle לוּ (lu), “O that.”

12 tn Or “live with your blessing.”

13 tn Heb “will call his name Isaac.” The name means “he laughs,” or perhaps “may he laugh” (see the note on the word “laughed” in v. 17).

14 tn Or “as an eternal.”



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