Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The name Isaac means laughter

The root-verb צחק (sahaq) means to laugh, or rather: to have fun, in pretty much the same range of applications as in English (Genesis 39:14-17, Exodus 32:6, Judges 16:25).

Laughter makes us human and was the first formal result of the covenant God made with Abraham.

The first people to laugh in the Bible are Abraham (Genesis 17:17) and Sarah (Genesis 18:3, 21:6), but when Ishmael, the son of Abraham with Hagar also starts laughing, Sarah drives him and his mother out (Genesis 21:9). Sarah's son Isaac is named after the verb to laugh, and as he marries Rebekah, he appears to have ways to make her laugh as well. That their 'laughing' wasn't restricted to mere merriment is attested by the outcry of the local king Abimelech, "Behold, certainly, she is your wife!" (Genesis 26:8).

Laughter, like speech, is an acquired ability which developed in our past for reasons that have long been obscure. This obscurity in turn was due to the obvious fact that laughter is a continuation of the fear reflex — that's why it's so contagious, so hard to stop when you're at it and often so unclear whether someone is laughing or crying: it's basically the same sound produced by the same body parts.

In the last few decades, the study of natural synchronicity has made the connection clear. Humanity's incredible success in the world is not due to our intelligence, but much rather to our ability to tune into each other: synchronicity, or the mentally blending together at the reflex and subconscious level. Many closely monitored and double-blinded experiments have shown that humans (and particularly kin and romantic partners) have the ability to synchronize their heart beat, skin conductivity and even general mood. Women living together often menstruate at the same time.

In the natural world, one "naked ape" isn't much of a foe, but fifteen of them could be problematic, unless of course these fifteen don't want anything to do with each other. Should they, however, demonstrate a very high level of synchronicity, namely by exclaiming their alarm cry in utter synchronicity (perhaps even in multiple voices and snazzy rhythms, hence vocal music) any enemy with any sense at all will realize that the group is not simply fifteen times a naked ape, but rather one super-organism like a dragon with fifteen heads and a transparent body.

Human singing and laughing originated not in entertainment but in shows of force and are similar to an animal's standing upright, showing teeth or flapping brightly colored feathers. The name Abraham means Their Strength (or They Are Now Protected) and expresses international synchronicity. His son's name Isaac means Laughter.

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