Add parallel Print Page Options

Then they asked him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He replied, “There,[a] in the tent.” 10 One of them[b] said, “I will surely return[c] to you when the season comes round again,[d] and your wife Sarah will have a son!”[e] (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him.[f] 11 Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years;[g] Sarah had long since passed menopause.)[h] 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking,[i] “After I am worn out will I have pleasure,[j] especially when my husband is old too?”[k]

13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why[l] did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really[m] have a child when I am old?’ 14 Is anything impossible[n] for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.”[o] 15 Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But the Lord said, “No! You did laugh.”[p]

Read full chapter


  1. Genesis 18:9 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) often accompanies a gesture of pointing or a focused gaze.
  2. Genesis 18:10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (one of the three men introduced in v. 2) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Some English translations have specified the referent as the Lord (cf. RSV, NIV) based on vv. 1, 13, but the Hebrew text merely has “he said” at this point, referring to one of the three visitors. Aside from the introductory statement in v. 1, the incident is narrated from Abraham’s point of view, and the suspense is built up for the reader as Abraham’s elaborate banquet preparations in the preceding verses suggest he suspects these are important guests. But not until the promise of a son later in this verse does it become clear who is speaking. In v. 13 the Hebrew text explicitly mentions the Lord.
  3. Genesis 18:10 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic, using the infinitive absolute with the imperfect I will surely return. If Abraham had not yet figured out who this was, this interchange would have made it clear. Otherwise, how would a return visit from this man mean Sarah would have a son?
  4. Genesis 18:10 tn Heb “as/when the time lives” or “revives,” possibly referring to the springtime.
  5. Genesis 18:10 tn Heb “and there will be (הִנֵּה, hinneh) a son for Sarah.”
  6. Genesis 18:10 tn This is the first of two disjunctive parenthetical clauses preparing the reader for Sarah’s response (see v. 12).
  7. Genesis 18:11 tn Heb “days.”
  8. Genesis 18:11 tn Heb “it had ceased to be for Sarah [after] a way like women.”
  9. Genesis 18:12 tn Heb “saying.”
  10. Genesis 18:12 tn It has been suggested that this word should be translated “conception,” not “pleasure.” See A. A. McIntosh, “A Third Root ‘adah in Biblical Hebrew,” VT 24 (1974): 454-73.
  11. Genesis 18:12 tn The word “too” has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  12. Genesis 18:13 tn Heb “Why, this?” The demonstrative pronoun following the interrogative pronoun is enclitic, emphasizing the Lord’s amazement: “Why on earth did Sarah laugh?”
  13. Genesis 18:13 tn The Hebrew construction uses both הַאַף (haʾaf) and אֻמְנָם (ʾumnam): “Indeed, truly, will I have a child?”
  14. Genesis 18:14 tn The Hebrew verb פָּלָא (palaʾ) means “to be wonderful, to be extraordinary, to be surpassing, to be amazing.”
  15. Genesis 18:14 sn Sarah will have a son. The passage brings God’s promise into clear focus. As long as it was a promise for the future, it really could be believed without much involvement. But now, when it seemed so impossible from the human standpoint, when the Lord fixed an exact date for the birth of the child, the promise became rather overwhelming to Abraham and Sarah. But then this was the Lord of creation, the one they had come to trust. The point of these narratives is that the creation of Abraham’s offspring, which eventually became Israel, is no less a miraculous work of creation than the creation of the world itself.
  16. Genesis 18:15 tn Heb “And he said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.