Laughter in the Bible: A Quiz

by Steve Ray on April 7, 2014

1. Which couple laughed at the incredibility of God’s promise to them?

2. Which son brought laughter to his mother?

3. Which king was laughed at when he invited people from all over Israel to celebrate the Passover?

4. Who advised that laughter should change to mourning?

5. Who referred to himself as laughingstock?

6 Who laughed at Nehemiah’s attempt to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls?

7. Who told his friend that God would fill his mouth with laughter?

8. Who said laughter was mad?

9. Who was laughed at when he said that someone was not dead but only sleeping?

10. Who was afraid the townspeople might laugh at him because of his relations with “a prostitute”?

In no one gets them all, I will post the answers in a few days :-)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Steve Ray April 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

1. Abraham and Sarah. Before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Abraham was 100 years old, God promised him that Sarah, who had been barren all her life, would give him a son. “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, ‘Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ ” (Genesis 17:17). Abraham was later visited by three men at the Oaks of Mamre. Sarah overheard the visitors telling Abraham that she would bear a son and laughed to herself. However, before her son was born, she denied having laughed at God’s promise, afraid that she had angered Him (Genesis 18:12–15).
2. Isaac. God kept his promise that Sarah and Abraham would have a son although Sarah had been barren and they were both old. When Isaac (whose name mean: “he laughs”) was born, Sarah said, God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me (Genesis 21:6).
3. Hezekiah. After purifying the Temple, King Hezekiah of Judah sent couriers with letters throughout Israel and Judah, entreating the tribes to return to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The proclamation of the Passover celebration signified the desire of Hezekiah for the northern tribes to return to their former homeland. However, when the couriers arrived with the message, they were met with laughter and ridicule, and “only a few men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulon humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 30:11).
4. James. Writing of submission to God, James suggests that his readers, who have grown pompous from coveting worldly things, should purify their hearts. One way to humble themselves, he counsels, is to change laughter to mourning and joy to gloom (James 4:9). Similarly, the author of Ecclesiastes writes “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad” (Ecclesiastes 7:3).
5. Job. God allowed Job to suffer in order to test his faith. Because Job’s friends subscribed to the doctrine of retribution for wrongdoing, they believed Job must have done something to deserve his suffering. His friend Zophar, in particular, doubted Job’s innocence and encouraged him to trust in the secret wisdom of God. In his reply to Zophar, Job complained, “I am a laughingstock to my friends; I, who called upon God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, I am a laughingstock” Job 12:4).
6. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down, he mourned and prayed for days. He expressed his desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to the Persian King Artaxerxes, and the king gave him permission. When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab heard about Nehemiah’s plan, they ridiculed him and the other builders and insinuated that rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls was an act of rebellion against Artaxerxes. Nehemiah replied, “The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we his servants are going to start building; but you have no share or claim or historic right in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:20).
7. Bildad. In his first attempt to comfort and counsel Job, the Shuhite Bildad suggested to Job that he was being punished for the sins of his children and that he must confess his own sinfulness to be vindicated by God. He assured Job that God would not abandon a blameless person and promised him that God “will yet fill your mouth with laughter” (Job 8:21). Bildad’s prophecy came true when God restored Job’s fortunes.
8. Ecclesiastes. The author (Qoheleth in Hebrew) of this book recounts his search to discover what aspect of life is meaningful and to what man should dedicate himself (such as work, Wisdom or pleasure) in order to give life purpose. The author writes that for a while he looked for meaning in a life dedicated to laughter and pleasure, but he soon realized their vanity. “I said of laughter, ‘It is mad,’ and of pleasure, ‘What use is it?’ ” (Ecclesiastes 2.2). However, he later concludes that there is a time for everything “under the sun,” including a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
9. Jesus. A leader of the synagogue in Galilee asked Jesus to revive his dead daughter. When Jesus arrived at the leader’s house, he told the crowd to go away because the girl was not dead but only sleeping. The crowd laughed at him, but after they were sent outside, Jesus “took [the girl] by the hand, and the girl arose” (Matthew 9:25). The news then spread rapidly throughout the district.
10. Judah. On the way to Timnah, Judah, Jacob’s fourth son, mistook his daughter-in-law, Tamar, a childless widow, for a prostitute and impregnated her. He promised to send her a kid (baby goat) as payment and gave her his signet, cord and staff as collateral. However, when Judah’s friend Hirah went to give “the prostitute” the kid and collect Judah’s belongings, he couldn’t find her, and the townspeople told him that no prostitute had been there. When Hiram recounted this to Judah, “Judah replied, ‘Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her’ ” (Genesis 38:23). Tamar did return to Judah his belongings, however, revealing to him that it was she with whom he had slept, and that by him she bore twin sons.

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