What does the Bible
say about childless women?

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QUESTION: Were women in the Bible who were unable to give birth (childless) used by God even though they were considered cursed?

ANSWER: From my Bible studies I found at least SEVEN women who were initially childless (or what God's word calls barren). Six of these seven finally did have children after several years. In those days it was a shame for a wife not to bear children for her husband. Although many times it was the female in the marriage who was physically incapable of bearing kids, there were no doubt instances where it was the male who could not engender offspring.

The summary of the benefits and curses of the Law as given to Moses by God shows that if the nation were to be obedient there would not be any childless couples, or even animals, among the people. It also shows that God himself is capable of either shutting up the wombs of women or opening it as he wishes (Exodus 23:26, Deuteronomy 7:14).

The first female listed as being childless (barren) was Sarai, the wife of Abraham, who was later renamed Sarah. She waited until she was in her nineties before she bore Isaac which means laughter. He was the child of promise and from her barrenness all the nations would be blessed so in a sense this one child is the beginning of that blessing to all of the nations mentioned in Isaiah 54:1 above. See a better explanation in Galatians 4:27.

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The second childless woman mentioned in Scripture was Rebekah. Not only was Isaac's mother Sarah initially barren so was his own wife Rebekah. The odds of this happening in three consecutive generations naturally are phenomenal. She prayed and then Isaac petitioned God and when she finally conceived after twenty years of marriage she had twins. These two sons, Jacob and Esau, were battling in her womb for the full nine months and distressed her so much that she asked the Lord God why this occurred. His answer was that two very different nations were inside her.

The third woman was Jacob's beloved wife, Rachel. She was the younger of two sisters. Jacob's uncle deceived him as he had deceived his father Isaac. Rachel produced two very important sons but only two. Joseph who symbolized the Christ in Egypt for his family because his character brought physical salvation to them from a severe famine. The youngest child in this family was Benjamin and Rachel lost her life giving birth to this child. Rachel's surrogate child through Bilhah her maid was Dan who is also represented in this list.

The fourth woman in the Scripture who was childless was Samson's mother, the wife of Manoah of the tribe of Dan. She was miraculously healed and bore a son who was to be one of the strongest Judges in Israelite history. Samson was dedicated to be a Nazarite from birth so that he could save God's people from the forty years of bondage the Philistines put them under (Judges 13:1).

The fifth woman was the second wife of Elkanah the Ephraimite who was called Hannah. She also prayed and they thought that she was drunk but the Lord God heard her prayer and she was given a son called Samuel. She too was grateful and dedicated her only son to the priests of the Lord God of Israel. After he was weaned he lived in the High Priest's house and took over the judgeship when Eli's and his own sons died for their sins. Samuel was responsible for anointing both Kings Saul and David.

The sixth woman was the first wife of David, Saul's daughter Michal. She loved David but her father took her out of David's house and annulled their marriage and gave her to another. She was the prize for the man who could bring down the dreaded Goliath of Gath. There is some jealousy and broken promises in this story.

The seventh and final childless woman of the Scripture was Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias who was barren but in her old age conceived a son. This son was the cousin of Jesus of Nazareth. He was the son of the Levitical priestly clans and was called John the Baptist. Jesus called him the greatest man born of woman. He was killed by Herod the Great to please his stepdaughter's lustful wishes for a charming dance on his birthday.

The firstborn sons of the above females played a vital role in the history of the Nation of Israel and their spiritual or symbolic counterparts in her future. The tribes represented by these six sons are Israel and Esau, Joseph, Ephraim, Dan, Levi, Benjamin. The only one whose womb remained closed was the first wife of David, Michal. When healed, the first child produced by these initially childless women were used to fulfillĀ a special purpose in the plan of God.

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