Who is Sarah in the Bible?

Why would God actually consider Sarah a part of the Hall of Faith in Hebrews?  Her lack of common sense, conniving ways, and bad connotations are what we seem to focus on when reading her surprising story in Genesis. 

And, to be totally transparent, Sarah was not only of my favorite heroines in the Bible. Yet, God does put her on a pedestal of faith for a reason and it’s our duty to find out why. 

Who are Abraham and Sarah in the Bible?

Let’s back up a minute here and talk about who Sarah is in the Bible. She was the wife of Abram, later changed to ‘Abraham’, a man who was actually her half-brother and later dubbed the ‘Father of Many Nations’. Her name originally was Sarai. Notice the difference in spelling? We’ll get to that later. Essentially, she becomes the matriarch of the Jewish people with a reputation of a strong and independent character. 

Yet, she had to go through many trials, tribulations, and tests of faith. Kind of what happens to us, right?!! Have you ever made decisions that tarnished your reputation and don’t feel you’ll ever been redeemed? Read on, my friend.

As we catch a glimpse at Sarah at the beginning of her Biblical story in Genesis 12, we find her at times impatient, rude, cantankerous, complaining, and the attitude of someone a bit spoiled.

 Speaking of spoiled, as her story unfolds in the Bible at the ripe old age of 65, the Bible hints at why she may have acted entitled during this time. Even at 65,  the scripture reminds us repeatedly that Sarai was a stunning beauty.

Since Sarah is so ‘fair’ to look upon, we find Abraham showing his weak character by telling a Pharoah and even a king that she was his sister. While that is true, he hid the fact that she was actually his wife but he was trying to avoid getting killed by powerful men.

 In addition, the scriptures consistently showcase her as one of many beautiful women like Rebekah (Genesis 24:16) and Esther, who won the great Persian beauty contest (Esther 2:2-4). 

Who is Sarah in the Bible? 

Though the Bible says that beauty itself is vain, it also reminds us that a beautiful person can be wise and godly, plus a blessing to herself and others. Examples are not only Sarah but Abigail and Esther are included in this exclusive club. 

Sadly, Sarah makes some seedy decisions when having trouble conceiving children. She was still childless and postmenopausal at 75 years old. She still wanted desperately to have a baby of her own. All Biblical accounts suggest an ill temper with strife grew because of her frustrations of being child-free.

To be honest, it would be hard humanly speaking to believe in God’s promise swhen you are that old. No one was having babies at her age. Maybe she heard wrong? Maybe they misinterpreted what God said? Doubt crept through her mind and it was contagious. It spread to Abraham too, the seeds of doubt. Yet, she should have had faith and rely on God’s Words but she let her thoughts overwhelm her.

Do we believe in the promises of God when life seems to be in turmoil and torment? Instead, do we ask ‘why God, why me?’. Maybe we should embrace the rough times as God is building our godly character.

About Sarah in the Bible

Let’s get back to the story. Sarah’s obsession at this point is now out of control and it becomes so unbearable that she conceives a concoction of immortal, unrighteous, and outrageous behavior. 

Yep, she makes a crazy decision that affects not only her family but also the world.

Her plan is to use her housemaid Hagar to conceive a child with her own husband. Oh my, can you imagine that one?!!

How desperate was she? She was really desperate and stressed at this point. Her lack of faith has consumed her at this point.

And, she even persuades her husband Abraham to father a child with Haggar the maid! 

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you’ll do anything to get it?

Abraham and Sarah in the Bible

Regrettably, this is the first case of polygamy ever recorded in the Bible involving a godly man. Their decision starts huge precedence of horrible implications. If you think about it, this actually ignites a significant line of polygamy beginning with Jacob, Issac’s son, who took 2 wives, Leah and Rachel, and concubines. Then, you’ll discover David takes on many concubines in 2 Samuel 5:13. And, of course, his son Solomon goes to the extreme with his father David who has a harem of over a thousand women (1 Kings 11:1 – 3)! 

Let’s get back to our Sarah Bible Study. While Sarah thinks this is the solution to her sadness, she realizes immediately after discovering Haggar is with child that it IS the wrong plan.

Sarah and Hagar in the Bible

Now that Haggar gets pregnant, she begins acting nasty toward Sarah her master. Not a good choice for Hagar as the indentured servant. So, Sarah put her in her place after Abraham’s blessing and dealt harshing with her, causing her to run from her presence. 

Haggar the housemaid does end up conceiving a child with Abraham and calls the child Ishmael based on an angel’s prophecy visiting her during a time when she ran away. 

Abraham and Sarah Learn their Lesson

Haggar has Ishmael and life goes on. Year after year, Sarah still holds on to hope. She is now 89 years old, and Abraham is 99 years old. They learn many lessons during this time. Don’t we always learn the most while we’re going through trials and afflictions?

At this age, the Lord appears to Abraham and renews his covenant. He reveals several promises and commands:

  • God changes his name from ‘Abram’ “exalted father” to Abraham “father of many names”
  • He instructs Abraham to circumcise himself and all males in the household. This is the formal seal of the Abrahamic Covenant. 
  • God reveals a new name of “El Shaddai” in Hebrew meaning “Almighty God”
  • He renames Sarai “my princess” to Sarah “princess” and mother of nations
  • Abraham and Sarah will name their son Isaac
  • Abraham pleads with God to not forget Ismael
  • God promises that while Isaac will fulfill the covenant, Ishmael will be fruitful

Romans 4:20-21 speaks of this moment stating that Abraham did not waver through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.

Plus, in Hebrews 11:11, we are reminded that Sarah received strength through her son because she was faithful. God didn’t reward her until she realized God was her redeemer. 

Why did Sarah Laugh in the Bible?

God visits Abraham again through angels. This time, Sarah can hear their conversations. Genesis 18 describes the discussion; one of the visitors tells them that Sarah will have a son.

Sarah, hearing this statement, laughs to herself. Then, obviously one of the visitors is Jesus as the scriptures say, “And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?…Is anything too hard for the Lord?” 

Sadly, Sarah denies laughing, but we know that’s not true in her thoughts.

Why did Sarah laugh inside and what was she laughing about? This one is up for debate. While we can’t know for sure Sarah’s intentions of her laugh in the Bible, we do know that Sarah was deemed as faithful according to Hebrews 11:11. So, she was not laughing with a lack of faith.

So, she may have been laughing about the thought of her and Abraham in their old age having pleasure together conceiving a child. Or, she may have been laughing at the thought of raising a child with Abraham, stricken with many years. Only God knows what was on her heart on that day.

Sarah’s Meaning of Laughter in the Bible

Did you know that the name “Isaac’ means laughter? Laughter is a gift from God and should be used in a wholesome, righteous manner. “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that will hear will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6) 

They laughed at how God was so wonderful when He gave a little boy in His own timing. A time when Abraham and Sarah were strong in their faith. That little boy brought such joy in their lives and he was well worth the wait. 

Sarah’s Respect for Abraham in the Bible

How does Sarah and Abraham get along as husband and wife? Sarah does have a deep respect for her husband, she calls her husband lord (1 Peter 3:5-6). Calling her husband lord was certainly a good reflection of her heart attitude; She had a spirit of godly submission and honor that is recorded in Scripture as a great example for all women.

When Peter says in verse 6 that Sarah obeyed Abraham, she actually was a wonderful helpmeet. Sarah obviously took care of Abraham’s emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. 

In reverse, Abraham listened to his wife and weighed her thoughts. On one occasion he followed Sarah’s counsel when he should not have rejected her proposal (Genesis 16:2). On another occasion, though, God actually persuaded him to follow Sarah’s advice (Genesis 21:9-12). 

Meaning of Sarah and Sarai

What does Sarai Symbolize?

Interestingly, Sarai’s name means ‘my princess’. Makes sense since she seems to have an ‘entitled’ attitude, yet, God changed her heart and then revised her name to Sarah.  Sarah has a similar meaning, but she was no longer ‘my princess’.

What does Sarah symbolize?

Sarah is the name of the biblical wife of Abraham. It is a Hebrew word meaning noblewoman or princess. 

Who is Sarah’s Mother and Father?

Terah is both Sarah’s and Abraham’s father as revealed in the Bible. Yes, they were half-siblings before being spouses. Sarah’s mother is different than Abraham’s but her name is not told in scriptures. 

In addition, Terah was a manufacturer of idols in the idolatrous city of Haran. He is listed as the son of Nahor and father of the patriarch Abraham. In other words, he is the descendant of Noah’s son Shem. 

Who is Sarah’s Son in the Bible? 

Sarah technically has only one son with Abraham and his name is Isaac. Their son Isaac eventually ends up having two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob’s name is later changed by God to “Israel” and he becomes the father of 12 tribes of Israel. 

Characteristics of Sarah in the Bible

Despite Sarah’s earlier reactions with occasional flairs of a hot temper and the stresses of discouragement, Sarah built her character into godliness and God rewarded her for it.

Let’s glance at some additional strong, godly characteristics we notice in the Bible:

  • Hospitality – Sarah didn’t hesitate to take care of unexpected visitors. 
  • Contentment – Sarah learned to live without a child and to be content with her life.
  • Discernment – She made a good decision telling Abraham that Hagar & Ishmael must go.
  • Obedience – She called her husband ‘lord’ and listened when he asked her to provide.
  • Patience – The mother of nations learned to wait on God’s timing, not hers. 
  • Faithfulness – Sarah’s trial of waiting helped her to build loyalty to God’s purpose. 

Lastly, Sarah had good sense of humor as indicated in Genesis 21:6, “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.“ Laughing at life is a gift from God when it’s done in a none-offensive manner. 

Lessons from the Life of Sarah in the Bible

The lessons Sarah learned we can also glean from the extraordinary story of Sarah. Despite the situation or timeline, we all go through difficulties that seem impossible to overcome, yet, God performs the impossible! Here are some takeaways from Sarah’s Story in the Bible:

  • Trials and tribulations makes us stronger and gives us courage.
  • It’s never too late to build your faith in God. 
  • We can also transform from selfish to self-sacrificing in our ways.
  • God can change any bleak situation into a redeemable pathway. 

Sarah isn’t so bad after all. I misjudged her based on a few poor decisions. Isn’t that just like us though? What if God based our character based on one bad lack of judgment? I’m so glad God doesn’t think like me. He saw how much she changed over her trials of missing a child and rewarded her for her faithfulness and belief in his promise. What patience the Lord has in all of us!

Is there a situation in your life that doesn’t seem redeemable? If so, your lack of faith as ‘Sarai’ can be transformed into the faithful ‘Sarah’ God wants you to be!  What is your Biblical story? What would God write about you in his Book of Knowledge? 

Today is your day, my friend. Live it the way God wants you to live – by faith, not feelings! 

For the entire story directly in the Bible, start with
Genesis 11:27

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