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Meaning and etymology of the name Sarah, Sarai

Sarai Sarai, Sarah Sarah

Sarah is the half-sister of Abraham, Nahor and Haran (same father; Genesis 20:12), who becomes Abraham's wife. Note that the later Levitical code prohibits marriage between siblings (Leviticus 18:9). Sarah is the fourth woman mentioned by name in the Bible, and the first in the line of Seth.

The name Sarah comes from the verb sarar (sarar) meaning to rule, reign, be princely, govern (Judges 9:22, Numbers 16:13). The feminine derivation Sarah (sara) is identical to the name Sarah, and is used for royal ladies of the court (Judges 5:29, Isaiah 49:23).

For a meaning of the name Sarah, both NOBS Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Princess.

Before the conception of Isaac Sarah was called Sarai, probably also a derivation of the same word, meaning my princess. Possibly, the name-change indicates a step from local to global, or specific to general (see our article on The Function of Names in Scriptures).

Read about the Hebrews' powerful invention of the vowel notation - which made the writing of names such as Sarah and Sarai possible - in our article on Yahweh, the name of God.



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