Jesus called the woman whom He healed after she was bent over for eighteen years a ‘daughter of Abraham’ indicating that women have an equal place in the covenant God established with the nation of Israel (Lk 13: 16) but there are specific blessings in the Old Testament to the matriarchs which may surprise you!
Sarah and Abraham (Sarai and Abram) receive new names in Genesis 17. God is establishing His covenant with Abraham and the generations that will be produced from the union of Abraham and Sarah. Sarai becomes Sarah, which means ‘queen,’ while Abram becomes Abraham, which means ‘father of many.’ God describes Himself in scripture as both a father and a king/ ruler. Here we see the duel nature of God described in the naming of the patriarch and matriarch of the future nation of Israel. Interestingly God gives Abraham the title of father, the paternal, nurturing side of God, while He grants Sarah the title of queen, the ruling, more authoritative role. This is very counter-cultural, even for today. What this shows us is that Abraham and Sarah are a team, and that together they represent the fullness of what God has planned for Israel.
Abraham also has other children. While we all know of his child, Ishmael, by Hagar, it is sometimes missed that he has other children by concubines and his second wife, taken after the death of Sarah, Keturah. (Gen 25: 1-6, 1 Chron 1:32) There is something special about the motherhood of Sarah, and it is through the union of Abraham and Sarah, not just the descendants of Abraham alone, that God establishes the covenant. It is not good enough to be fathered by Abraham to be a son or daughter of the covenant. One must be fathered by Abraham AND his wife Sarah to receive this commission. While Abraham is an awesome man, there is something special about his wife Sarah that makes the combination exactly what God desires for the parentage of His people.
There are also blessings for the matriarchs. They mirror the covenantal blessings, so they are often overlooked. The fact that the blessings of the covenant are repeated to the women, as well as to the men, indicates that this is not a covenant that is merely passed down through the male line, but a covenant for all of Israel, male and female. The women, as well as the men, are important. We see this emphasized in the unfortunate fact that of the godly kings of Judah, of which there are few (and this is the unfortunate part), all have Jewish mothers, while the less godly kings are the result of their fathers taking pagan wives. While there are exceptions, like Bathsheba, Tamar, Ruth and Rahab, there is a pattern. These ‘exceptions’ however, while not born Jewish, are women who come to faith in God, indicating that the blessings of the covenant are not so much for those born of a certain race, but for those who have faith in the One true God as well.
The blessing of Sarah is found in Genesis 17: 16 which reads, ‘And I (God) will bless her, and give thee a son also of her, yea, I will bless her, and she shall be the mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her (KJV).’ Rebekah too is blessed by her family prophetically in Genesis 24: 60 ‘And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.’ These blessings show that the covenant is established with both the man and the woman, and, like with the men, it is renewed in each generation.
Marriage is the union of two people who become one unit. In scripture we see the importance of both the husband AND the wife in the activity of God and His people. And, just to make it interesting, God gives the queen/ ruler designation to the woman (Sarah), and the father/ parental-nurturer designation to the man (Abraham)! As the people of the time tended to follow societal traditions, ascertaining what this truly means is difficult. What we know for certain, through examples and scriptural commands, is that the woman has wisdom and a man would be a fool to ignore the counsel of his godly wife and believe that he is to shoulder all of the responsibilities of the household alone. (Think: Abigail and Nabal, Proverbs 31, Samson’s mother, etc.)
September 4, 2019