|"Sarah" by Indira Bailey|
The first verses of Genesis 21 return us to creation story mode; we are speaking in poetry, a poetic couplet:
The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised...
Sarah did indeed conceive, beautiful ninety-year-old Sarah... but for the next several lines, the narrative celebrates, not the son of Sarah's old age, but of Abraham's.
Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Scripture tells us stories of remarkable women. That we even know their names is remarkable, for the culture of patriarchy which brought us their stories. This passage firmly reminds us; this is a story about men and their nations, men and their accomplishments in old age, men and their sons.
The story returns us to the foreshadowed joy of chapter 18 in the next verses, though, and Sarah pushes her way to the forefront of the narrative again.
Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
It is a brief moment of recognition, affirmation, even speech. Sarah gets to speak, and this time, not in her fury, but in her joy.
It does not last long.