The story of Isaac and his mother Sarah is one of the most well-known in the Bible. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Isaac’s mother was Sarah, the wife of Abraham.
In this approximately 3000 word article, we will take an in-depth look at the story of Isaac’s mother Sarah, her relationship with Abraham, and her significance in the Bible.
Sarah’s Background and Marriage to Abraham
Sarah’s family and early life
According to biblical accounts, Sarah (originally named Sarai) was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac. Not much is known about her family or early life, but she was likely born in the Mesopotamian city of Ur in the 20th or 19th century BCE.
As Abraham’s wife, she accompanied him on his journey to Canaan as described in Genesis.
Sarah’s beauty and marriage to Abraham
Sarah was considered extremely beautiful and due to her charm and looks she caught the attention of Abraham. Abraham, originally named Abram, was the son of Terah and lived in Ur before God called him to travel to Canaan. When Abraham set out on his journey, Sarah went with him and they were married.
Although Abraham and Sarah were related, marrying within families was more common at that time.
Sarah’s barrenness and desire for a child
Despite being married for many years, Sarah remained unable to have children which caused her grief. At the time, barrenness was seen as a sign of divine disfavor. Still, God had promised Abraham innumerable descendants even with Sarah’s struggles to conceive at a very old age.
Her fervent wish and prayer was to finally bear Abraham’s child as fulfillment of God’s covenant. When she was around 90 years old, three visitors brought news that she would give birth to Isaac within a year’s time.
God’s Promise of a Son
God’s covenant with Abraham
God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, promising to make him into a great nation, bless him, and make his name great. As part of this covenant, God told Abraham that through his offspring, all nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).
At the time, Abraham was already quite old, and he and his wife Sarah did not have any children. Yet God promised Abraham numerous descendants.
Years went by, and Abraham and Sarah still did not have a child together. Yet God appeared to Abraham again in Genesis 15 and reiterated His promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5).
God told Abraham that He was the Lord who had brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give him the land of Canaan (Genesis 15:7). Abraham believed God’s promise, and God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Initial disbelief by Abraham and Sarah
Though Abraham believed God’s promise, as more years passed without a child, Abraham and Sarah began to doubt. In Genesis 16, Sarah proposed that Abraham sleep with her maidservant Hagar in order to have a child through her. Abraham agreed, and Hagar conceived Ishmael.
Later, God again appeared to Abraham in Genesis 17 and said that He would establish His covenant with Abraham and his offspring, confirming the promise to greatly multiply Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 17:2).
God declared that Abraham would be the father of many nations, and his name would be changed from Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5).
God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, promising that He would bless her and give Abraham a son through her as well (Genesis 17:15-16). Though Abraham fell facedown laughing at the prospect of having a child with Sarah in their old age, nothing is too wonderful for the Lord (Genesis 17:17, 18:14).
Despite their initial disbelief, God graciously reaffirmed His promise to give them a miraculous child.
Renewed promise from God
In Genesis 18, God again appeared to Abraham and said that in just one year, Sarah would have a son. Sarah laughed silently to herself when she overheard this, thinking she was past childbearing age. Yet the Lord gently challenged Sarah, asking “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).
Though it seemed impossible by human standards, God renewed His promise that Sarah would bear Abraham a son in their old age.
Just as God had promised, Sarah conceived and bore a son named Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Genesis 21:1-2). Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise to give Abraham and Sarah a child of their own.
Despite their initial disbelief, God graciously allowed Abraham and Sarah to conceive a son in their old age, demonstrating that nothing is too wonderful or difficult for Him.
Through the miraculous birth of Isaac, God displayed His faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant with Abraham. The birth of Isaac pointed forward to the birth of Jesus centuries later, the long-awaited Messiah who would bless all nations.
Just as God accomplished the impossible through enabling Sarah to conceive, His plans and promises can always be trusted, even when they seem improbable by human standards.
The Birth of Isaac
Sarah’s laughter upon hearing the news
Sarah was already quite old when she received the incredible news from God that she would give birth to a son. According to the Bible, Sarah was around 90 years old at this time while her husband Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17:17).
When three men (who turned out to be angels) visited Abraham and told him that Sarah would have a son, Sarah laughed in disbelief, saying “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:12).
Though Sarah doubted, God’s promise came true – she did miraculously conceive and give birth to Isaac in her old age.
The miracle birth of Isaac in Sarah’s old age
Against all odds and expectations, Sarah gave birth to a son named Isaac when she was around 90 years old. This was nothing short of a miracle, as women past childbearing age do not normally give birth. Yet God enabled Sarah’s aged womb to conceive.
The Bible says that Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him, and circumcised him when he was eight days old as God had commanded (Genesis 21:2-5). For Abraham and Sarah, Isaac’s birth was the fulfillment of God’s promise to give them a child in their old age.
It demonstrated God’s faithfulness and power.
Sarah’s love for her son Isaac
According to the Bible, Sarah deeply loved her miraculous child Isaac. When tensions arose between Sarah and her maidservant Hagar, and Sarah no longer wanted Hagar’s son Ishmael to inherit along with Isaac, God told Abraham to listen to Sarah and send Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21:12).
This showed how protective Sarah felt of her son Isaac’s inheritance rights. Later, when God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, it must have grieved Sarah immensely, though she is not mentioned in the account.
When she died, Isaac was the one “she had borne” that Abraham lamented for (Genesis 24:67). Though Sarah laughed in disbelief initially, her motherly love for Isaac was great once he was born.
Sarah’s Significance as Isaac’s Mother
Sarah as matriarch of the Jewish people
As the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, Sarah holds a prominent position as the matriarch of the Jewish people. Though unable to bear children for most of her life, Sarah’s perseverance and unwavering faith was ultimately rewarded with the miraculous birth of Isaac in her old age.
Isaac would go on to father Jacob, whose 12 sons would form the 12 tribes of Israel. In this way, Sarah laid the foundation for God’s covenant people.
Sarah’s unwavering faith despite trials
Sarah’s life was marked by difficult trials that tested her faith. She endured periods of famine, exile, and danger due to her husband Abraham’s calling from God. Though promised that Abraham would father a great nation, Sarah remained barren for decades.
When she still had no children at the age of 90, Sarah laughed in disbelief at the prospect of bearing a son. Yet amazingly, she conceived and gave birth to Isaac. Despite formidable trials, Sarah’s steadfast faith and trust in God’s promises shone as an example.
Lessons from Sarah’s life story
Sarah’s epic life story provides inspirational lessons even today. Her perseverance, courage, and devotion in the face of adversity still encourage people to keep faith through their darkest hours. Sarah teaches us that with steadfast trust and hope in God’s plan, miraculous blessings can occur even when all seems impossible.
As one Rabbi put it, “Sarah is a spiritual mother to multitudes – a woman of valour whose torch still lights the way.”
Sarah in Later Biblical Stories
Sarah’s protection of Isaac
Sarah, the matriarch of the Jewish people, is a pivotal figure in the biblical stories involving her son Isaac. Though Sarah died before Isaac was fully grown, her legacy lived on through Isaac’s upbringing and pivotal life events.
According to the biblical account in Genesis 21, Sarah protected Isaac by demanding that Abraham banish Hagar and Ishmael from their camp after Isaac was weaned. This was likely an attempt to prevent conflict over inheritance rights in the future.
Though seemingly harsh, Sarah’s decisive action secured Isaac’s status as Abraham’s heir.
Later, in Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. But just as Abraham raises the knife, an angel stops him, sparing Isaac’s life. Abraham then sacrifices a ram provided by God instead. Many see this story as foreshadowing God’s later sacrifice of his own son Jesus.
Though Sarah was not alive for these pivotal events, her earlier actions paved the way for Isaac to fulfill his destiny. As the son of the promise, Isaac inherited God’s blessings and went on to father Jacob, whose name God later changed to Israel.
The death and burial of Sarah
According to Genesis 23, Sarah died at age 127 in Hebron in the land of Canaan. Abraham mourned and wept for her. He then had to negotiate with the Hittites to purchase land for her burial, as he was still a foreigner in Canaan.
Abraham ended up purchasing the Cave of Machpelah and surrounding land to establish a family burial ground.
Though very old when she died, the Bible emphasizes Sarah’s beauty even in death (Genesis 23:1-2). She is the only woman in Scripture whose age is recorded at her death. This indicates her importance and special status in biblical history.
To this day, the Cave of Machpelah in modern-day Hebron is revered by Jews as the burial place of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah. Though little remains to mark Sarah’s burial place, her legacy lives on as the wife of Abraham and mother of the Jewish nation.
In summary, Isaac’s mother Sarah occupies an integral place in the Bible as the wife of Abraham and mother of the Jewish nation. Despite facing obstacles such as infertility, Sarah demonstrated strong faith in God’s promise that she would give birth to Isaac in her old age.
Her miraculous story provides an inspiring example of perseverance through trials.
Sarah’s motherhood of Isaac marked the beginnings of the formation of the people of Israel. Her life story provides timeless lessons about faith and God’s providence that resonate with readers generations later.