Sarah arose early in the morning. She looked out and saw Abraham saddling the donkey as though for a journey. Later he came in and said, “God has commanded me to bring Isaac up to a mountain that he will show me, there to offer a sacrifice.” Sarah watched them ride off together.
She had seen that Abraham brought no lamb for the sacrifice, but she had said nothing.
On the morning of the third day, Sarah looked up and felt the veil of her heart rend in two. She remembered laughing when she had heard the promise, not quite believing that an old man could give pleasure to her withered body so as to make a son. She began as it were to feel once again the pangs of birth—a task, she had thought at the time, meant for younger women.
“I know what Abraham is doing on that mountain,” she said to herself, “but it is nothing that I did not do first. When in the throes of labor I felt myself on the edge of death, I thought it cruel that God would kill the promise with me. I, too, have seen the constellation of generations darken in an instant, feeling the loneliness of the cosmos as if burdened with wood for the altar of my own immolation. At every moment when I thought my capacity to labor was spent, I myself held the knife to Isaac’s throat. And yet on the very verge of death’s triumph over both me and Isaac, the angel of deliverance appeared, and I received my son as though returned from the dead. In his first cries, I heard once again the voice of God: ‘Because you would not withhold from me your only son, you will be a mother of many nations, blessed with children as the stars of the Milky Way. Your children will possess the gates of life, and through them all the earth will be blessed.’” She had laughed once again to think that something so improbable had occurred, and with that laughter she named the promise.
She had treasured these things in her heart, not speaking of them to Abraham. Nor did he speak to her when he returned with Isaac several days later. Without speaking at all, they both knew and were glad not to be alone.