Collection Hermitage Museum

Sarah and Abraham rush to bring cakes and meat to three angelic visitors gathered at a table outside their tent. One angel promises Abraham, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” (Genesis 18:10), thereby prompting laughter from the 90-year-old mother to be. “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?” asks Sarah (Genesis 18:12). God further assures the couple, “Kings will issue from you” (Genesis 17:6). God keeps his promises, and Sarah gives birth to Isaac, ancestor of David.

God’s promise seems an anomaly in the days of the patriarchs; only in the tenth century B.C.E., during the time of the monarchy, would such a promise of royal heritage have held any real meaning.