Thursday, 21 January 2010

Humour in the Bible (6) and final

As I have tried to identify some humour in the bible I’ve also come to realise that there are but a few references to laughter or laughing in holy writ.

Those references most  often have to do with the Lord laughing at his enemies, or the fear that G-d’s people will become a laughing-stock.

References to human laughter are rare.  The most wonderful exception is the laughter of Abraham’s wife Sarah, when she is told that she, in her 90’s, will conceive.  Genesis 18 v 12 says that “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure’”

I like to think that this is a full belly laugh; that Sarah is tickled pink that she and her 100 year old husband will again enjoy sexual intercourse, and that she will become pregnant.

Other interpreters would say that her laugh is the laugh of a cynical woman who had long since given up the hope of bearing a child.

Much later in biblical chronology Jeremiah has good things to say about what will happen when the people of Judah are restored to their homeland.

Jeremiah states that in this restoration the streets will be filled with “the voices of those who make merry” (Chapter 30), and “the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness” (Chapter 33). 

“Making merry”, “mirth” and “gladness” certainly imply laughter!

Psalm 126 also states that in the restoration of the people after exile there will be laughter: Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing”

My series on “Humour in the Bible” has this far draw only from the Hebrew Scriptures (the “Old Testament”).

I think that there are also references in the Gospels which would lead us to understand that Jesus was a very funny man.  But I must draw my breath for a few or more days, before I blog about the humour of Jesus.


  1. I found your words about humor in the Bible encouraging. In fact I tried to put them to good use yesterday, 24 Jan, when I read 1 Cor 12:12-31A. Paul talks about the human body and makes what to me are some interesting remarks about one part without another.

    Paul, then, of course, makes the equation of the metaphor to the body of Christ. The absurdity of his comments, however, put me in mind of the absurdity of some of the distinctions that are made between "my way or the highway" kinds of Christianism.

  2. I will add that Jesus probably loved to sing and dance and drink!!! I am very glad to read that the person who had charge of wine at a wedding in his time was the groom!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!

  3. PS: I looked up this date as I turned 69 today! I am SO happy to be older! Besides the point that I am old because I didn't die young, I no longer hold onto OLD things in my house or in my head or heart. I am forever young! I no longer hold my stomach in either! YAY!