Six barren women in the Bible that finally gave birth.
Sara, Abraham’s wife:
“The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai … But Sarai was barren and had no child”, Gen. 11: 29-30.
When God called Abraham to leave Ur and go to Canaan, he promised to make him “a great nation,” Gen. 12: 1. Then God told him that from him a large people would come out like the sand of the sea and like the stars of the sky that cannot be counted; that through that people he would bless all the families of the earth: he would give them the Scriptures, the revelation of Himself in the multiple precepts and ceremonies rich in symbolisms and teachings, which would be the framework for the manifestation of the Messiah, the supreme fulfilment of all His love for man.
Abraham and Sara were tested. They were already old and, to complement the apparent problem, she was also sterile. Both were tempted to think that the offspring could only come through Hagar, Sara’s servant. The custom then was to consider the servants as a possession of the patriarchs and that the children procreated with them were legitimate. However, that was not the divine plan.
When Ishmael was born, Abraham was already eighty-sixed years old. The punishment for this failure was the rivalry between Hagar and Sara and between their respective children, which culminated in the expulsion of the slave girl and her son. However, we see here the mercy of God, by promising Abraham that from Ishmael a nation would also come to be also his descendant, Gen. 16: 10-12; 21:13, 18, 20.
After their unfortunate failure, the faith of Abraham and Sara had to wait almost fourteen years until the birth of Isaac, the legitimate son of the promise. The patriarch was already one hundred years old. And yet Abraham’s faith was proved once again, by asking God to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Epistle to the Hebrews states that: “By faith, Abraham, when tested, offered Isaac; and he who had received the promises offered his only begotten, having been told: ‘In Isaac, you will be called offspring; thinking that God is powerful to raise even from the dead, from where figuratively, he also received him again”, Heb. 11: 17-19.
More than one man desperate for not having a family of a sterile wife has been tempted to be unfaithful, and the consequences have been painful. Although Hagar and Ishmael were the object of God’s mercy and received promises, they were expelled from the patriarchal house and, quite possibly, the consequences of that error, have an impact on the ethnic, racial, political and religious rivalry between Jews and Arabs, the respective descendants of Isaac and Ishmael.
In the case of Abraham, God had already arranged what he would do in due course. The patriarch’s faith was tested and strengthened and, despite his failure, he earned the title of Father of Faith. Abraham’s descendants would remember that the origin of his people was through a miracle: the son of a hundred-year-old elder and an old woman who had been barren all his life.
2. Rebekah, wife Isaac:
“And Isaac prayed to Jehovah for his wife, who was barren; and Jehovah accepted it; and Rebecca conceived his wife. … When his days to give birth were fulfilled, behold there were twins in his belly. … And Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth”, Gen. 25:21, 24, 26.
Isaac, who inherited the promise that a large town would come out of him to bless the world, was also tested when his wife Rebekah also proved to be barren as mother Sara. In conciseness of the story, it is not said how long this obstacle overwhelmed him, but he says that he prayed for his wife “, and Jehovah accepted it; and Rebecca conceived.” Another miracle that would have to tell their descendants about God, who keeps his promises.
3. Rachel, Jacob’s wife:
“And Jehovah saw that Leah was despised, and gave him children, but Rachel was barren”, Gen. 29:31.
“Seeing Rachel, who did not give children to Jacob, she was envious of her sister and said to Jacob: ‘Give me children, or else I die. “Gen. 30: 1.
“And God remembered Rachel, and God heard her, and granted her children. And he conceived, and bore a son, and said: ‘God has taken away my affront’; And Joseph called his name, saying, ‘Add Jehovah another son . ‘Gen. 30: 22-24.
Rachel, the wife for whom Jacob had worked hard for fourteen years for his uncle Laban, was barren. She loved her husband and wanted to please him with giving her offspring too. It was an affront not to be able to conceive. Rachel knew that about her other wife and her two maidservants, who had already given her men, Jacob had a special love for her and also wanted to have a part in giving her the children who would fulfil the promise of a great nation. Thus, in his time, God granted him to be the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. In desperation, he had already expressed that if he had no children, he would rather die.
For the vast majority of husbands, being parents is a fundamental part of their realization as people, and they much desire to have children. Some succeed, in part, by becoming adoptive parents; but this generally does not fully satisfy them as being biological parents.
Marriages without children have every right to pray and ask others to pray for them so that God may grant them the blessing of fatherhood and motherhood. However, they must finally accept God’s will for their lives. He knows what is best, according to Rom. 8: 26-28.
4. Manoa’s wife:
“And there was a man from Zora, from the tribe of Dan, whose name was Manoa; and his wife was barren and had never had children. To this woman, the angel of Jehovah appeared and said: ‘Behold, you are barren, and you have never had children; but you will conceive and give birth to a son”, Thu. 13: 2-3.
“And the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. And the child grew, and the Lord blessed”, Jue. 13:24.
Manoah’s wife was also infertile. However, God had plans for her and her husband. He sent an angel with the message that he would have a son. This man would be something special; he would be separated from his mother’s womb with the “Nazarite vow”, separated for the service of God. He should not drink wine or cider, or cut his hair, so his mother should also refrain from drinking liquor from pregnancy, and not eat anything unclean. As an adult, this man would be a judge over Israel and free his people from the oppression that the Philistines inflicted on them.
The angel that Manoah and his wife saw was the very presence of God in pure form.
5. Ana, wife of Elcana:
“And he had two women; the name of one was Anna, and the name of the other, Penina. And Penina had children, but Ana didn’t have them.”
“And her rival irritated her, angering her and saddening her because Jehovah had not granted her to have children. So it was every year; when he went up to the house of Jehovah, he irritated her like that; for which Ana cried, and did not eat. And Elcana her husband said: ‘Ana, why are you crying? Why don’t you eat And why is your heart afflicted? Is not I better for you than ten children?’
And Ana got up after she had eaten and drunk in Silo; and while the priest Eli was sitting in a chair by a pillar of the temple of Jehovah, she bitterly prayed to the Lord, and wept abundantly.
And he vowed, saying: ‘Jehovah of armies, if you deign to look at the affliction of your servant, and remember me, and do not forget your servant, but give your servant a male child, I will dedicate it the Lord every day of his life, and not razor over his head'”. I Sam 1-2; 6-11.
“Eli responded and said: ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you the request you have made.’ And she said: ‘Find your servant grace before your eyes.’ And the woman went on her way, and ate, and was not sadder.
And rising in the morning, they worshipped before Jehovah, and returned and went to his house in Ramah. And Elcana became his wife Ana, and Jehovah remembered her. It came to pass that, after the time had elapsed, after having conceived Anne, she bore a son, and named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked Jehovah.”
“‘I prayed for this child, and Jehovah gave me what I asked. I also dedicate it to Jehovah; Every day I live, it will be of Jehovah. ‘And he worshipped the Lord there.” I Sam 1: 17-20; 27-28.
Ana, like Raquel, suffered from not having children from her husband and suffered the mockery of Penina, her rival, Elcana’s other wife. One day he poured out his heart before God, asked for a son and offered to give it to God for His service. And he kept his word. That son became the great prophet Samuel, priest and the last judge of Israel, of whom the Scriptures say: “And Samuel grew up, and Jehovah was with him, and he did not let any of his words fall to the ground.” I Sam 3:19
6. Elisabet, wife of Zacharias:
“There was in the days of Herod, king of Judea, a priest named Zacharias, of the class of Abiah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and his name was Elisabet. Both were righteous before God, and walked irreprehensible in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. But they had no son because Elizabeth was barren, and both were already old ,” Luc. 1: 5-7.
“It happened that when Zacharias exercised the priesthood before God according to the order of his class, according to the custom of the ministry, it was his turn to offer incense, entering the sanctuary of the Lord. And the whole crowd of the people was out praying at the time of incense. And an angel of the Lord appeared standing on the right of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled to see him and fear was overwhelmed. But the angel said to him: ‘Zechariah, do not fear; because your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will give birth to you a son, and you will call his name John. “
“After those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord had done for me in the days when he looked on me to take away my reproach among men'”. Luc 1: 24-25.
“When Elisabet had her birth time, she gave birth to a son. And when they heard neighbours and relatives Lord had shewed great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her”, Luc. 1: 57-58.
This is another story of a barren old woman, who at the end of her life was blessed with motherhood.
Zechariah did not believe the word of the angel Gabriel, and therefore, the angel told him that he would remain silent until the day of the birth of his son. When he was born and suggested that his name be Zacarias as his father, his tongue was unleashed, and he said his name would be Juan, as Gabriel announced.
Zechariah and Elizabeth “were righteous before God and walked irreprehensible in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. But they had no son because Elizabeth was barren, and both were already old.” Not having children was not a punishment from God, because He had chosen them beforehand to bring to the world who would be the forerunner and presenter of the Lord Jesus Christ. John presented Jesus to his disciples as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, John 1:29; and then, by baptizing him in the Jordan, the Holy Trinity manifested and thus approved the ministry of Jesus, John 1:33 and Matt. 3: 16-17.