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וַיִּקְרָ֨א אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֶֽת־שֶׁם־בְּנ֧וֹ הַנּֽוֹלַד־ל֛וֹ אֲשֶׁר־יָלְדָה־לּ֥וֹ שָׂרָ֖ה יִצְחָֽק" 3

‏וַתֹּ֣אמֶר שָׂרָ֔ה צְחֹ֕ק עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים כָּל־הַשֹּׁמֵ֖עַ יִֽצְחַק־לִֽי" 6

"And Abraham called the name of his son that Sarah bore him, Isaac... And Sarah said, 'God made me laugh; all that hear will laugh (with) me.'" (That's my rough understanding of the Hebrew but I'm a noob at it so I may have gotten some things wrong.) What I'm asking about is the connotation of "יִֽצְחַק" and "צְחֹ֕ק" in these verses.

I'm using Strong's Hebrew lexicon and it states:

H6711 צחק צָּחַק tsâchaq tsaw-khak‘ A primitive root; to laugh outright (in merriment or scorn); by implication to sport: - laugh, mock, play, make sport.

Also for Isaac's name (which is I think the Qal Imperfect Singular 3rd person?) it says:

H3327 יצחק יִצחָק ‎ yitschâq yits-khawk‘ From 6711 laughter (that is, mockery); Jitschak (or Isaac), son of Abraham: - Isaac. Compare 3446

Both of these seem to imply that "צָּחַק" is being used in a connotation of mocking more than of innocent laughter. Is this correct? It doesn't seem to me like Sarah wants other people to join her in mocking in verse 6, but if she is, say, giving those who mocked her for being childless the proverbial taste of their own medicine, it seems to change the understanding of these verses and (at least) Sarah's understanding of Isaac's name.

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  • Regardless of the language, laughter has multiple meanings, being associated with multiple emotions; tz-h-q can refer to the basic meaning of laugh, and still be used for "mocking" in one verse and "sharing joy" in another. I think that's what's going on. Mar 6, 2021 at 4:47

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Let me suggest why Sarah laughed - she was flabbergasted and had trouble believing such a miracle could occur. That is, Sarah felt a mixture of emotions that ranged from outright disbelief, confusion, bewilderment and amazement. Here are more examples of a similar reaction:

  • Gen 6 - I am sure that many many times during Noah's 120 years preparing for the flood that he was roundly mocked as mad by many observes.
  • Gen 18 - Sarah laughed when told that at 90 years old she would bear a son.
  • Gen 19:14 - So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
  • Mark 3:20, 21 - Then Jesus went home,d and once again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples could not even eat. When His family heard about this, they went out to take custody of Him, saying, “He is out of His mind.”
  • John 10:19, 20 - Again there was division among the Jews because of Jesus’ message. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and insane. Why would you listen to Him?”
  • Acts 12:14, 15 - When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that she forgot to open the gate, but ran inside and announced, “Peter is standing at the gate!” “You are out of your mind,” they told her. But when she kept insisting it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”

The meaning of צְחֹק could include all this.

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  • I like this answer, but I'm not sure it ties all the uses of צָּחַק with respect to Isaac together the way I'm looking for, so I'm holding off on marking it accepted for now. Mar 8, 2021 at 1:02

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