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A MAN WITH TWO WIVES (1) ABRAHAM
History often repeats itself. "There is no new thing under the sun," says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Adam, our ancestor and the first man created by God was made overseer over everything in the world until God created Eve out of his ribs. And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23).
Thus God made woman to help man in his sojourn on earth. God made Adam first, and then He created Eve out of the rib bone of Adam. Hence, Adam was head of the household. The marriage should consist of man, woman and GOD. Man is made head of his household and woman, his help mate, but God is over all. Why is there no new thing under the sun?. Man is inclined to listen to his wife just as Adam listened to Eve. Years later, Abraham did the same thing and listened to Sarah and took Hagar for his wife. He forgot about God's promise that He would give Abraham a son. He preferred to listen to his wife than to God. That is man's weakness.
MAN IS HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
1 Corinthians 11:3
- But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
1 Peter 3:7
- Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
- Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Man is head of his household and should make decisions for his family. Adam made a mistake in allowing his wife, Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Abraham also allowed his wife to make the decision by going in to Hagar, and contravening God commandments of one wife, one husband.
Abraham had a wife called Sarah who was childless. God had promised that He would bless Abraham with a son. Abraham was getting old and Sarah was still not pregnant. While they were sojourning in Egypt, Abraham told Sarah to tell the Egyptians she was his sister. Pharaoh took Sarai (Sarah) into his palace, and God plagued the household of Pharaoh, and he realized that Abraham was lying about his wife. He got rid of Sarah and gave Abraham cattle and slaves, and Hagar was one of the slaves given to Abraham. According to the Muslims, Hagar was the daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt.. Sarah must have panicked when she could not get pregnant and God had promised Abraham that his inheritants would be very populous. Sarah then told Abraham to go into her slave, Hagar who would bear him a son and he would be a son to Sarah and Abraham. (Gen. 16:1-3).
The Chinese also has this custom of concubines bearing children on behalf of the first wife, who acknowledges the children as her own. The children of the concubines called the first wife, "Mother"., and referred to their own mothers as "Yee Ma" which means "second mother" and so on.
SARAH'S ACTIONS LED TO THE CONFLICT
God told Sarah that she would give Abraham a son and eventually she did. But Sarah did not believe God and instead had Hagar give birth to Abraham's son.
Since Sarah did not listen to God, it led to many problems between Hagar and Sarah. Sarah did not follow God's instructions and created her own problems. She should have relied on God and not do anything on her own.
The third reason that led to the conflict was because Sarah blamed other people for the problem. First, she blamed Hagar and then Abraham. She never thought it was her own fault for disobeying God. Blaming others do not solve problems. They only aggravate the matter.
Hagar was an Egyptian slave to Sarah in Abraham's household. She was probably very much younger than Sarah in her mid seventies. Slaves are sold mostly when they were young to the households of the rich. Hagar probably felt elated when her employer wanted to have a child with her. As a slave, she would now have a better status for she was a surrogate mother for her employer. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarah was despised in her eyes. Sarah complained to Abraham about her behaviour, and was told to deal with her as she felt. She was probably severe with Hagar who ran away from Sarah and fled into the wilderness by the fountain on the way to Shur.
The angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands (Genesis 16:9). And the angel said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude (v.10). And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: (v.11).
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE WIVES
Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael (Genesis 16:16). The conflict started when Hagar was pregnant and she looked down on Sarah who was not pregnant. Sarah told Abraham about the situation and Abraham replied that she could deal with Hagar as she wished. The Bible did not say what Sarah did to her, but when Sarah "dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face (Genesis 16:6).
Probably Sarah must have been rather severe to Hagar for her to run away when she was pregnant. But the angel of the Lord persuaded her to return to her mistress and that the Lord would bless her descendants. "And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael: because the Lord hath heard thy affliction (Genesis 16:11).
Fourteen years had passed and there was no more mention of the conflct between Sarah and Hagar. It could be that Sarah had felt that she gained the upper hand because Ishmael was in the eyes of the people her son though she did not give birth to him.
Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a great feast. Sarah saw Ishmael mocking, and she told Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."
This matter caused Abraham a lot of grief for he was the father of Ishmael. God spoke to Abraham, "Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of the bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed" (Genesis 21:12-13).
Abraham's grief was brought upon himself by not waiting for the Lord's blessing of a son, but listening to his wife's pleading to take another wife in order to have an heir. His sin is like that of Adam, who also listened to Eve, his wife. They were eventually cast out of the garden of Eden. When we run the race of life, we must run with patience waiting for the instructions of God. We cannot short circuit the route and not run the complete race set by God. All the misery of this life is caused by avoiding God's command. The contention between Sarah (Israelite), mistress, and Hagar (Egyptian) servant, would be a conflict of culture, religion and status of classes.
Psalms 123:2 writes: "Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us."
Hagar had been raised from a servant to that of wife of a master, and having a first born son raised her status from that of a servant. She, being a mother, felt superior to the childless Sarah. She might not take any orders from Sarah. On the other hand, Sarah who was a mistress and had servants under her control felt slighted by Hagar's behaviour. So the conflict fostered and came to a climax when Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away because now Abraham listened to God and obeyed Him.
The action of sending away Ishmael away must have been tremendously painful for Abraham. What father can part with his son, even if it is from another woman and not his legitimate wife? He is still his flesh and blood.
Both Sarah and Abraham were at fault in disobeying God. In the case of Sarah, she coaxed Abraham into accepting Hagar as a surrogate mother. Abraham, like Adam did not sin until their wives pleaded with them, though they really did not put much resistance in their behaviour. In this entanglement, Sarah and Abraham were guilty of recklessness, but Hagar was not because a slave has no choice of decision in the mattter. She just obeyed instructions.
Genesis 2:23-24 records, "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, for she was taken out of Man. Therefore shalt a man will leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
God created man and then made woman to complement him. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18).
Eve was created to be alongside Adam as his "other half," to be his aid and his helper. A man and woman, when married, become "one flesh." This oneness is manifested fully in the physical union of sexual intimacy. "So they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).
The apostle Paul refers to marriage and how believers are to operate within the marriage relationship. One such passage is 1 Corinthians chapter 7, and another is Ephesians 5:22-33. These two passages provide biblical principles that form a framework for a God-centered marriage relationship.
The Ephesians passage is an example of a successful biblical marriage. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body" (Ephesians 5:22-23).
"Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for it" (Ephesians 5:25).
"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but he nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29).
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother ,and shall be joined unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).
When a believing husband and wife institute God’s principles, a biblical marriage results. A biblically based marriage is one that is in balance, with Christ as the head of the man and the wife together. The biblical concept of marriage is a oneness between two individuals that pictures the oneness of Christ with His church.
DECISION THAT CHANGED HISTORY
The decision of Sarah for Abraham to have a child by Hagar and the fact that Abraham quietly agreed had great impact on the history of the world.
Ishmael lived 137 years (Genesis 25:17). He had 12 sons, who became the founders of Ishmaelite tribes that spread from Egypt to what is today Iraq. Many of the modern-day Arab peoples correctly recognize that they are the descendants of Ishmael, while the Jews, and the rest of the Israelites, are descendants of Isaac - but all are descended from Abraham. (Daily Bible Study - Ishmael.
If Sarah did not get into her head for Hagar to have a son for Abraham, and if Abraham did not agree, then today there will be no Arabs or Ishmaelites. The world would be a more peaceful one today. Both Sarah and Abraham made mistakes for not remembering God's promise. Abraham, however, was redeemed in God's sight by agreeing to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. God said that Ishmael would be a great nation because Ishmael was Abraham's son, though not the promised heir.
media.ctsfw.edu/Video/ViewDetails/1244Galatians- Volume 34 - Why does Paul resort to allegory about Abraham and his two wives in bringing his argument to a close? (Video).
Abraham and Two Wives
Abraham should not have two wives who caused great conflict in the family. Do you agree?
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