Menopause and the Bible

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Where is menopause found in the Bible? How many women miraculously bore children after experiencing it?

The dictionary definition of menopause is that it begins after a woman ceases to have normal menstrual cycles for at least twelve months. At this point in her life, she is no longer fertile and is unable to bear children (short of a miracle from God). In the United States, the average age a woman has her 'change of life' is 51.

The circumstance of being barren is related to menopause in that it signifies a woman is not able to conceive and bear children. Being barren is a condition where a woman is sterile and unable to have children during a female's normal fertile years. In the case of Sarah, Abraham's wife, she was barren before her 'change of life' occurred.

Scriptural references

The first place menopause is mentioned in the Bible is when it euphemistically calls it the 'manner of women.' Genesis 18:11 states, "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in days, and it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women" (HBFV).

Jesus Blessing the Children
Jesus Blessing the Children
Lucas the Elder Cranach, 1535 - 40

Jesus, in the form of a man, personally visited Abraham and Sarah to let them know that any physical difficulties would not be an issue in producing a son at their advanced age. When Sarah heard this announcement, she laughed to herself and said, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" (Genesis 18:12).

The idea of enjoying intercourse with a person's husband is hard to believe when one has already experienced menopause and is past childbearing years. Sarah had tried for a very long time to have a son by Abraham but could not. She gave up trying to become pregnant and asked her husband to take her servant Hagar as his concubine. Abraham and Hagar produced Ishmael who was thirteen years old when Isaac was born.

Another woman who experienced menopause but later miraculously had a child was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron and her husband was of the tribe of Levi who served at the temple of God in Jerusalem.

Seven barren women

Of the seven barren women mentioned in the Bible (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Samson's mother, Hannah, Michal, Elizabeth), four of them were healed and able to bear children before menopause. Two of them (Sarah and Elizabeth) were healed after they reached their "change of life" and bore a child, and one (Michal) was childless all her life.

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