Digging Deeper posts are intended to help us go farther into God’s word than a simple surface reading
and are designed to help us discover new tools in the process.
Curious as to why we Dig Deeper? Here’s Why!
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.
And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.
1) Why is Sarai’s description in v.1 important to her story?
2) How common at this time was it for women to give their servants to their husbands?
3) What is the significance of Abram “listening” to his wife in this matter?
4) Where is Canaan and what is its importance in the story of Israel?
A trip to www.studylight.org is in order here.
We will get super cozy with this site as we study Scripture together!
Just type in the verse you’re looking at and Boom!
It’s right in front of you in English and Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament), which are the original languages the Bible was written in.
Want to know more about a specific word in a verse?
Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Find super awesome stuff like “origin”, “definition”, and even all the different ways that single word has been translated into English! If you want to be geeky, you can even click the word and hear its original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!
Want to get more background on a word or phrasing or passage?
Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))
The Findings for Original Intent
1) Sarai is described in v.1 as “bearing him no children.” She is barren and that is extremely important to her personal story. The Israelite culture valued women who could bear lots of children. It was a mark of God’s blessing in your life if you had a large family, especially if you had boys. It was a culture driven by family, community, and legacy. Children carried the family name into the next generation and the legacy and heritage of a family rested on the shoulders of the women bearing children.
2) It was not God’s original intent for men to have a harem of women. In Genesis 2, God clearly designs the marriage relationship with one man and one woman. However, in Genesis 4:19 we see Lamech taking two wives which would be the first time in Scripture that we see multiple wives. Throughout the Old Testament we see men taking many wives, including King David and King Solomon. In the New Testament, Paul clearly delineates marriage between one husband and one wife. We do not see the same pattern of multiple wives under the New Covenant.
3) As we read through Scripture there are times when the original meaning of a word can give a clearer definition. In 16:3 we are told that Abram “listened to the voice of Sarai”. The word listen there implies obedience, perception, understanding, and yielding to. When we have that word foundation the statement that Abram listened to Sarai tells us Abram was prepared to obey his wife, he was yielding to her request.
4) Canaan was the son of Ham, who was the son of Noah. The land of Canaan was settled and enlarged according to Genesis 10. Terah, Abram’s father, left the land of Ur to travel to Canaan but they settled in Haran. Terah stayed in Haran but Abram and Sarai, along with Lot, Abram’s nephew continued on to Canaan. Canaan is very significant in the history of Israel because it is the land that God promises to Abram in Genesis 17. Canaan is considered present day Israel (Gaza and the West Bank), as well as parts of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Some Applications for Our Everyday Lives
1) In her culture, Sarai was shunned because of her barrenness. In her desperation to “save face”, she concocted her own plan instead of trusting God’s promise. Are you tired of waiting on God’s plan to unfold? Are you tempted to take matters into your own hands? Even in our darkest hours of waiting on God, clinging to the Truth to what we know of His character, His will, and His timing is our only protection. In Genesis 21, Isaac was born and in v. 2 it clearly states, “at the appointed time.” God knows our heart, our desires, and He simply asks that we trust Him with our worth, our value, and most importantly our lives!
2) Sarai “owned” Hagar as a slave and gave her to Abram as another wife in hopes of bearing children through her. Sarai got what she wanted, however, her decision only created bitterness and strife. Although she had her own plan and still had to live with the consequences of that plan, God’s plan was not thwarted! Despite our sin and disobedience God is steady and His plan is eternal, but our lives will be sweeter if we choose submission to Christ instead of our own ideas apart from Him.
3) Abram “listened”. It seems simple enough but when his wife approached him with her plan to speed up God’s plan, Abram simply listened. He did not question her. God had already made the promise to Abram that he would have descendants. In Abram’s defense, he probably wanted to make his wife happy. But in his attempt to make her happy, he missed the mark on holy! Our happiness, our desires do not trump the holiness that God has called us to. We need Godly men and women in our lives to question our motives, to force us to question ourselves when we put our happiness, our desires before God’s will and His desire for holiness in our lives.
4) Canaan represents freedom and points to a faithful God that had made a promise to the Israelites. Current day Jews see what would have been Canaan as their territory for the nation of Israel. As believers we can read Revelation 21 and see that our promised land is the New Heaven and the New Earth where Christ returns and there is no more sin, sadness, brokenness or pain. Canaan represents a two-fold promise by God, one that has been literally fulfilled when Joshua and the Israelites walked into the land flowing with milk and honey, and a promise for what is to come, the glory of eternal life! It may seem long in coming, but remember that freedom in Christ is promised by a faithful God; salvation is sure for those choosing Jesus as Lord!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!
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