Abraham's wife Sarah is the only female in Genesis for whom an age is ever mentioned. We can read the span of her life (127 years per Genesis 23:1). However, even in advance of when she became pregnant, Abraham notes she'd "give birth at 90" (Genesis 17:17).

Why might Sarah have had her age recorded in these passages thereby making her the only woman for whom an age is ever mentioned?

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    Specifying Sarah's age could be the author's way of underscoring the miraculous nature of the pregnancy. Who would ever have thought a 90-year-old woman could give birth to the son of promise, Isaac? The answer: no one, including Sarah, who laughed at such a preposterous thought (hence the name given the child--"he laughs")! When God makes a promise, however, He can be counted on to fulfill that promise, regardless of the seemingly impossible odds of its fulfillment. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 21:28
  • I agree. One parallel with Sarah and her daughter-in-law Rebekah seems to be with Mary and her relative Elizabeth. Part of that is that none would have become pregnant without God's help. Sarah laughed at God, and Mary questioned it in a different way. Both were told anything's possible with God's help. They merely had to listen and accept. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


Sarah's lifespan was part of an elaborate numerology hidden in the story of the patriarchs. True, her age when she gave birth (90) might have inspired awe among the earliest audience of this story, as would that of Abraham (100) but these numbers were probably chosen mainly because they were easy for tradents to remember as they passed the stories down orally to the next generation.

Sarah's lifespan of 127 years fits into the formula for the three patriarchs, but at a secondary level:

  1. Abraham lived to 175 (5 X 5 X 7)
  2. Isaac lived to 180 (6 X 6 X 5)
  3. Jacob lived to 147 (7 X 7 X 3


  • The lifespan of each patriarch involves a perfect square (5, 6, then 7 in a numeric series)
  • the third factor also forms a series (7, 5, 3)
  • in each case the sum of the factors is 17.

Furthering the above formulas, Sarah lived to 127 years, which is the sum of these consecutive square numbers plus 17 (127 = 5 squared + 6 squared + 7 squared + 17). The early Hebrews found the number 17 to have mythic significance. Of all the people in the Book of Genesis, they saw the patriarchs as most important, and Sarah was the supreme matriarch.

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    This strikes me as rather speculative. For any given set of numbers it is usually possible to find some pattern that they all fit. Finding such a pattern doesn't actually mean the numbers were contrived to fit it. Where does this theory originate and who actually holds that it is part of the meaning of the text?
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 12:48
  • Controversial perhaps, but be fair - this is not speculative. Statistically there would be less than one chance in a million that the patriarchs and Sarah alone would fit this particularly elegant pattern so well. Yet all the ancestors of the patriarchs also have ages that appear to be based on the number 17, except just two. One of these is Enoch, in Jewish tradition the inventor of the calendar, who is said to have lived to 365 years. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 2:26
  • I would say this would fall under speculation simply because this is one's own views and not confirmed by any sources. For example, where do you see significance in 17? If anything, 18 seems more likely (gematria of חי- life). All 17 seems to be is 10 + 7 (two important numbers used throughout Sefer Yetzirah) but that would be as significant as 8 (7+1) or 13 (10+3). Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 22:06
  • Having read EW Bullinger's book Numbers in Scripture, I find this interesting. I'll throw you an upvote if you can cite sources that early Hebrews found the number 17 of significance.
    – Bob Black
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 16:26
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    While there is a very low statistical chance (one-in-a-million) that the numerology in Genesis would fit that pattern, there is a very high chance that it would fit a pattern. For example, there is a very low chance that a given phrase would appear when applying the bible code, but a very high chance that some meaningful phrase will appear when applying enough variants. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 19:03

enter image description hereI consider this more of an observation than an answer. (If there’s somewhere else I should place this, please let me know).

There are nine numerical signs in Genesis, each having to do with parenthood, each linking parallel Genesis stories with Gospel stories. Jesus’ numbers (i.e. 30, 33, or 3) had to be included in each equation). The totals for these are mostly 333’s, but the final two are 9,999 and 3,333. Sarah’s numbers are required for 4 of the signs, because she had so many parallels with Jesus’ mother Mary.

The signs obviously prove nothing. E.G. Sign #2: Enoch was the only person in Genesis assumed into heaven, 300 years after the birth of his son, Methuselah. Jesus was assumed/ascended into heaven 33 years after the birth of a son (Him). The two together total 333.

Signs #3 through #9 would only be obtained under the following beliefs: • Fatherhood starts at conception • Motherhood starts at conception • Childhood / “life” starts at conception

Sign #3: Sons Sacrificed: Abraham’s “whole span of life” was 175 years. Sarah’s “span of life” was 127 years. They therefore lived to the ages of 174 and 126, respectively. Add 33 years for Jesus from birth to death and the total is 333.

Sign #8: All Genesis Parental Years: This sign requires every number in Genesis (*) in order to calculate all parenthood years for Jesus’ forefathers in Genesis and reaches 9,874. However, when the parallels for Joseph and Mary (i.e. Jacob’s son Joseph who saved his family by getting them to Egypt, and Sarah have their paternal and maternal years added), with 3 for Jesus, the total becomes 9,999.

For Sign #9: All Parental Years After the Flood: All Genesis years prior to the flood must be removed, with Noah having only some paternal years after the flood. Including Joseph’s, Sarah’s, and Jesus’ years the total is 3,333.

Again, these were only numerical signs that proved nothing. However, halfway through finding these I was able to solve the “Two Years After the Flood” enigma, by applying the 3 beliefs noted above, and then look for two more enigmas. All three had the same solution. Genesis supports Pro-Life, mathematically.[https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/8365/2873]3 https://www.johnmmartin.com/?page_id=936

(*)-The 6 “exceptions”, miscellaneous numbers never used in the 9,999 or any other numerical sign were the following: • Abram’s age when Ishmael was born: 86 • Ishmael’s age at circumcision: 13 • “Span of Ishmael’s life”: 137 • Esau’s age at marriage: 40 • Jacob’s age at marriage: 40 • Joseph’s age when sold to Egyptians: 17

They happened to total: 333

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