Hagar and Judaism
The Scriptures teach us of two types of marriage covenants. They are pictured in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant was mediated by Moses; the New Covenant was mediated by Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant was a marriage of a bondwoman; the New Covenant was a marriage of a freewoman. Paul tells us in Gal. 4:22-26 that it was pictured allegorically by Abraham’s marriage with Hagar and Sarah:
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the freewoman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the freewoman through the promise. 24 This is allegorically speaking; for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
The divine law in Ex. 21:1-9 recognized two kinds of marriage covenants. If a man gave a bondwoman (slave) to his son as his wife, she did not enjoy all the rights that she would have had if she had been a freewoman. This did not mean that she was devoid of rights, for in biblical law, even slaves had rights to fair and equitable treatment. But yet a bond-wife had no right to be involved in the decision-making process of the family. She was, after all, just a slave woman.
Hagar: The Old Marriage Covenant
The Old Covenant was a marriage between God and Israel. In effect, God was marrying a slave-woman named Israel. She had the same relationship to her Husband (God) as Hagar had to Abram. And the “children” of that marital relationship could never produce the promise of God. Even as Hagar could only bring forth Ishmael, so also could that Old Covenant only bring forth spiritual Ishmaelites. This is the inherent nature of the old city of Jerusalem.
Paul tells us later in Galatians 4 that the children of the old Jerusalem persecuted the children of the promise—that is, the Christian believers. Paul knew of this first-hand because he himself, as a child of the old Jerusalem when he was still known by his Hebrew name, Saul, had led the persecution of the early Church (Acts 9:1, 2). In doing this, he was fulfilling the type and shadow of Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac. Gen. 21:9 is the only biblical reference about Ishmael persecuting Isaac. It says only that Ishmael was “mocking” Isaac. This is hardly enough to justify Paul’s statement that Ishmael persecuted Isaac. However, in other ancient writings such as the book of Jasher, we find that Ishmael actually attempted to kill Isaac. Jasher 21:11-15 reads,
11 And Ishmael the son of Abraham was grown up in those days; he was fourteen years old when Sarah bare Isaac to Abraham. 12 And God was with Ishmael the son of Abraham, and he grew up, and he learned to use the bow and became an archer. 13 And when Isaac was five years old he was sitting with Ishmael at the door of the tent. 14 And Ishmael came to Isaac and seated himself opposite to him, and he took the bow and drew it and put the arrow in it, and intended to slay Isaac. 15 And Sarah saw the act which Ishmael desired to do to her son Isaac, and it grieved her exceedingly on account of her son, and she sent for Abraham, and said to him, Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for her son shall not be heir with my son, for thus did he seek to do unto him this day.
This account coincides with Paul’s statement and fits perfectly with the actual persecution of the early Church. Remember, as a spiritual Ishmaelite, Saul had attempted to kill the Christians and had also participated in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Paul later regretted his actions, of course, for he testifies in Gal. 1:13, 14,
13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
Judaism itself is a product of the old Jerusalem and the Old Covenant. It is Hagar and can never bring forth the Kingdom of God, regardless of what many teach today. Judaism will only put people into bondage, for that is its very nature. There are, of course, many outside influences that affect individual Jews, and so one should not lump everyone into a single basket. In fact, it is said that in a discussion between two Jews there are three opinions.
Hagar’s Bondage Manifested in Judaism
Most Christians today think of Hagar and Ishmael only in terms of the Arabs and Islam. In regard to the treatment of women, one of the reasons given for America’s war in Afghanistan in 2002 was to “liberate women.” Hence, America now believes Arab women to be in bondage, and certainly this is so by today’s Western standards.
But Paul showed clearly in Galatians 4 that Jerusalem is Hagar, and its offspring (Judaism) is Ishmael. So in order to understand this Scripture, we will need to focus more on Judaism than upon Islam. If Paul is correct, then there should be evidence even today that Judaism leads people into bondage. And, in fact, we find this to be so in their traditions called the Talmud.
The authority we will use in our study of the teachings of Judaism is Dr. Israel Shahak, emeritus professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was courageous enough to write books that offered an honest critique of Judaism in order to affect changes in their blatant chauvinism. He says in his 1994 book, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, page 36, that Judaism is not based upon the Bible in the same way as the various Protestant religions. It is based upon the Talmud, which is what men say the Bible truly means, even if the interpretation tortures the text into confessing the traditions of men.
“There is yet another misconception about Judaism which is particularly common among Christians, or people heavily influenced by Christian tradition and culture. This is the misleading idea that Judaism is a ‘biblical religion’; that the Old Testament has in Judaism the same central place and legal authority which the Bible has for Protestant or even Catholic Christianity.”
So as we take a brief look at some of the teachings of Judaism, let us keep in mind that this is what Jesus called “the traditions of men.” This is what made void the law of God (Matt. 15:1-9). This is not Old Testament religion, for it does not reflect the heart and mind of God. It will quickly become apparent why Jesus opposed the teachings of the religious leaders of His day and why true Christianity is not simply another sect of Judaism.
Attitudes on Slavery
Judaism tends to produce people who think they have a divine right to rule others as their slaves. In a Jewish Kingdom of God, one Talmudic writer envisions that every Jew will have 2,500 slaves. In The Book of Education, written by a rabbi in 14th century Spain, a book that is very influential even today, he explains the 613 religious obligations of Judaism. Dr. Israel Shahak says in Jewish History, page 95,
“In 322, dealing with the duty to keep a Gentile slave enslaved for ever (whereas a Jewish slave must be set free after seven years) the following explanation is given:
“And at the root of this religious obligation [is the fact that] the Jewish people are the best of the human species, created to know their Creator and worship Him, and worthy of having slaves to serve them.”
This Jewish attitude is consistent with what Orthodox Judaism teaches regarding all non-Jews. Dr. Shahak tells us on page 88 of Jewish History, “all Gentile women are presumed to be prostitutes.” Again, he says on the same page, “Gentiles are presumed to be congenital liars, and are disqualified from testifying in a rabbinical court.” On page 96 he says,
“Anyone who lives in Israel knows how deep and widespread these attitudes of hatred and cruelty towards all Gentiles are among the majority of Israeli Jews.”
Orthodox Judaism’s political attitude toward non-Jews is that they must be enslaved by Jews, for that is their only real purpose in being created. This attitude despising non-Jews and even hating them is instilled in religious Jews at an early age, and it becomes the justification for their goal of enslaving them. If the Kingdom of God were to be established on earth according to the Jewish model, we would soon see a Jewish totalitarian elite ruling over all non-Jews. Dr. Shahak says on his Jewish History, page 103,
“It should be recalled that Judaism, especially in its classical form, is totalitarian in nature.”
The “Satanic Souls” of All Non-Jews
The doctrinal basis of this belief is that the souls of non-Jews are on the level of beasts or are satanic in origin. Dr. Shahak says on page 27 of Jewish History,
“As an example, let us take the famous Hatanya, fundamental book of the Habbad movement, one of the most important branches of Hassidism. According to this book, all non-Jews are totally satanic creatures ‘in whom there is absolutely nothing good’. Even a non-Jewish embryo is qualitatively different from a Jewish one. The very existence of a non-Jew is ‘inessential’, whereas all of creation was created solely for the sake of the Jews.”
This book is widely circulated in the Lubavitcher movement founded by Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of New York City. He died in 1994, and so the movement is now led by Rabbi Schneurssohn. In Dr. Israel Shahak’s 1999 book, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, page 60 includes some of the teachings of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, who taught,
“Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.
“As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both a body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood. There is also a difference in bodies. The body of a Jewish embryo is on a higher level than is the body of a non-Jew. . . . The same difference exists in regard to the soul: the soul of a Jewish embryo is different than [sic] the soul of a non-Jewish embryo. . . . A Jew was not created as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ [Genesis 1:1] means that [the heavens and the earth] were created for the sake of the Jews, who are called the ‘beginning’.”
Rabbi Schneerson’s Lubovitcher sect has influenced millions of Jews today. He died June 12, 1994 at the age of 92. His chauvinistic teaching did not die with him, for it was taught in most Jewish sects long before he was born and has continued after his death as well. He was only one of many who have taught these things in Jewish circles. Even so, let us make it clear that many Jews today totally reject such self-serving racism, but in doing so, they move away from historic Judaism itself as taught in their traditions, the Talmud.
The more zealous and religious they are, it seems the more convinced Jews are that they are better than all other people and have the right to enslave and mistreat others. Shulhan Aruch, composed in the 16th century by Rabbi Yosef Karo, was written for the advanced scholar in Judaism and is often quoted. It says,
“All property of other nations belongs to the Jewish nation, which consequently is entitled to seize upon it without any scruples. An Orthodox Jew is not bound to observe principles of morality towards people of other tribes. He may act contrary to morality, if profitable to himself or to Jews in general.”
Dr. Israel Shahak comments on this principle of sanctified robbery in his book, Jewish History, page 90, where he writes,
“Robbery (with violence) is strictly forbidden if the victim is Jewish. However, robbery of a Gentile by a Jew is not forbidden outright, but only under certain circumstances such as ‘when the Gentiles are not under our rule’, but is permitted ‘when they are under our rule’. Rabbinical authorities differ among themselves as to the precise details of the circumstances under which a Jew may rob a Gentile, but the whole debate is concerned only with the relative power of Jews and Gentiles, rather than with universal considerations of justice and humanity. This may explain why so very few rabbis have protested against the robbery of Palestinian property in Israel: it was backed by overwhelming Jewish power.”
The Palestinians see this attitude first hand today as manifested in the Israeli Likud Party (the party of Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu, and Sharon), and they object to the theft of their property. (See The Struggle for the Birthright, chapters 13 and 14.) Many Christians need to re-evaluate their Zionist position and ask themselves if they would rather support such flagrant injustice or take a stand for the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Dr. Shahak also explains the teachings of the Halakhah, the legal system of classic Judaism, in regard to interest on money, lost property, deception in business, and fraud. He explains that it is “mandatory to exact as much interest as possible on a loan to a Gentile” (p. 89). Likewise, he shows that it is actually forbidden that a Jew return lost property to a Gentile. Regarding deception in business, he writes on page 89,
“It is a grave sin to practice any kind of deception whatsoever against a Jew. Against a Gentile it is only forbidden to practice direct deception. Indirect deception is allowed, unless it is likely to cause hostility towards Jews or insult to the Jewish religion.”
In today’s age of communication, they should understand that sooner or later, their religious practices will become known to all, and then people will react according to their own religious convictions. This has already been done many times in the past, and this is probably the main reason why Jews have undergone persecution over the years. There were always those who hated Jews just because they were Jews; but it is equally true that Jews are often taught to hate and to defraud Gentiles just because they are not Jews and therefore have “satanic souls.”
It is important to understand the Talmudic attitude toward all non-Jews that is taught and believed by Jewish rabbis today, for this lays the foundation and context in regard to their attitude toward women. Talmudic teaching in regard to women is the most relevant subject of our present study of Old and New Covenant marriages. So let us see what many powerful sects in Judaism teach about women.
Jewish Attitudes about Women
Jewish women have long felt the sting of disdain and some very real oppression by their male counterparts. Perhaps this is why so many Jewish women in America such as Betty Friedan have become feminists. She co-founded the National Organization of Women (NOW) in 1966. The fact is, many women really do need liberation, but if they are not Christians, they will inevitably try to achieve it through carnal means. Women often are discontented with the role of a Hagar, but the way to the Sarah relationship is not to be found outside of a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. It is sad that the men did not set them free and that women had to do it themselves. Dr. Israel Shahak writes in Jewish Fundamentalism, page 24,
“Historically, Jewish schooling began with the heder for Jewish male children aged three or four. (The heder, a word meaning ‘room’ in Hebrew, was the name of the traditional elementary school as it existed from Talmudic times in the earliest centuries of the Common Era until the formation of the first modern nation-states at which time many Jews strove to modify or abolish the heder.) The heder was previously for males only. According to the Talmud and the Halacha, females do not need education and are explicitly forbidden from some forms of study. Until modern times, most Jewish women received no formal education and were mostly illiterate.”
Hence, while Westerners may castigate Arabs for suppressing or forbidding the education of women, let us keep in mind that this was not unusual at all in Judaism or even in Christianity until recent times. Modern Israeli Jews are divided, of course. Most are “secular” or “cultural” Jews. And yet most of these cannot help but be influenced by the very religion that has shaped their culture. Then there are the religious Jews, who exert a powerful influence in Israeli politics today. Dr. Israel Shahak says in Jewish Fundamentalism, page 7,
“Israeli religious Jews are divided into two distinctly different groups. The members of the religiously more extreme group are called Haredim. (The singular word is Haredi or Hared.) . . .”
Dr. Shahak goes on to explain that the Haredim are divided into two parties: Yahadut Ha’Torah (Judaism of the Law), which is primarily composed of Eastern European Jews, and the Shas Party, comprised mostly of Oriental Haradim. Then on page 37, 38 he writes,
“By design, Haredi rabbis and politicians select secular women in politics as the primary targets of their attacks, even though they could pinpoint secular men as much, if not more, for transgressions of religious law. The Haredim repeatedly refer to Jewish women, engaged in politics, as witches, bitches, or demons. Although a bit crude at times in the use of descriptive language, the Haredim approach mirrors to a great extent traditional Judaism’s broadly based position regarding women. This position not only restricts the rights of women but in many ways holds women in contempt. Rule 8 in Chapter 3 of the Kitzur Shulthan Aruch (Abridgement of Shulhan Aruch), an elementary textbook for Jews with little talmudic education, for example, dictates: ‘A male should not walk between two females or two dogs or two pigs. In the same manner the males should not allow a woman, dog or pig to walk between them.’ All Haredi boys between the ages of ten and twelve study and are required to observe this rule. (Few dogs and no pigs can be found in Haredi neighborhoods.) Traditional Judaism also prohibits women from playing even insignificant roles in politics. . . .”
America has recently been exposed to the rule in some Arab countries prohibiting women from driving automobiles. But not many realize that there is a similar rule among the Haredi Jews. Dr. Shahak writes on page 38,
“Women are forbidden to drive buses or taxis; they can drive private cars only if no males apart from those in their own families or other women are passengers. These and many rules are followed in Haredi neighborhoods.”
But the most insulting and degrading statement of all is again mentioned by Dr. Shahak on page 38 of his book,
“The numerous misogynistic statements in the Talmud and in talmudic literature constitute a part of every Haredi male’s sacred study. The statement in Tractate Shabat, page 152b, defining a woman is exemplary: ‘A woman is a sack full of excrement’.”
Dr. Shahak, on page 40, quotes a well-known Israeli journalist, Kadid Leper, who wrote an article on April 18, 1997 entitled, “Woman is a sack full of excrement.” Leper’s article stated:
“Beatings, sexual brutality, cruelty, deprival of rights, use of a woman as merely a sexual object; you can find all of this there [in the Talmud] … For two thousand years women had a well-defined place in the Jewish religion [Orthodox Judaism]; this place is different from what the rabbinical establishment describes; according to the Halacha, the place of women is in the garbage heap together with cattle and slaves. According to the Jewish religion [Orthodox Judaism] a man buys for himself a slave woman for her entire life simply by providing food and dress and granting to his wife the sexual act.”
Kadid Leper is describing for us the bondwoman relationship that a wife might have to endure in an Old Covenant marriage modeled after Hagar. Biblical evidence shows that Abram did not treat Hagar as “a sack of excrement,” but the laws of the day would have done nothing to prevent it if Abram had chosen to mistreat her. She was, after all, just a slave.
Dr. Shahak makes it clear that Orthodox Judaism—as currently practiced in the Israeli state—is still very much influenced by the view that women are just so much dung whose place is in the garbage heap. The more religious one is in his practice of Judaism, the more likely he is to be shaped by this view of women. Secular Jews, of course, often sharply disagree with this Orthodox evaluation of womanhood. In fact, this is one source of sharp contention between various Israeli Jews and is certainly one of the reasons why many Jews are “secular.”
Non-Jews are often surprised and even shocked to hear of the true nature of Judaism. If they ask an Orthodox Jew about it, they will often hear strong denials. This is because much of the Talmudic writings are devoted to the question of how to keep the Gentiles from discovering what Jews believe about them. In fact, the Talmud allows most Jewish practices to be set aside momentarily, if these would provoke hostility among the non-Jews. Further, the rabbis openly teach that Jews are duty-bound to lie and deceive others about the true nature of talmudic teachings, because this might prove harmful to Jews.
The Emancipation of Jews from the Rabbis
Until the 1800’s the governments in Europe usually allowed the Jews to govern themselves. This meant that the rabbis ruled their own people and enforced Orthodox Jewish laws. Dr. Shahak says in Jewish History, page 54, 55,
“In addition, the [Jewish] Patriarch was empowered to tax the Jews and to discipline them by imposing fines, flogging and other punishments. He used this power in order to suppress Jewish heresies and (as we know from the Talmud) to persecute Jewish preachers who accused him of taxing the Jewish poor for his personal benefit.
“We know from Jewish sources that the tax-exempt rabbis used excommunication and other means within their power to enhance the religious hegemony of the Patriarch. We also hear, mostly indirectly, of the hate and scorn that many of the Jewish peasants and urban poor in Palestine had for the rabbis, as well as of the contempt of the rabbis for the Jewish poor (usually expressed as contempt for the ‘ignorant’).”
The European monarchs benefited from this arrangement, because 90 percent of the fines paid in the Jewish courts went to the host government. Yet this self-government meant that the rabbis ruled the Jewish people themselves and enforced Talmudic law upon them, subjecting the Jews to the bondage of men’s traditions. After the French Revolution in the 1790’s, Napoleon gave Jews equal status before the law, and by 1830 this emancipation was largely complete throughout most of Europe. They were allowed to be educated and to hold offices and to live where they pleased. Suddenly, Jews began to see the outside world, and this essentially broke the power of the rabbis over them.
Many saw the contrasting freedom of the non-Jewish world and became disillusioned with Judaism itself. This brought about the rise of the secular Jew, who rejected not only Judaism and Christianity but the idea of God Himself. Dr. Shahak says in Jewish History, page 66,
“With the advent of the modern state, the abolition of serfdom and the achievement of minimal individual rights, the special socio-economic function of the Jews necessarily disappears. Along with it disappear also the power of the Jewish community over its members; individual Jews in growing numbers win the freedom to enter the general society of their countries. Naturally, this transition aroused a violent reaction both on the part of Jews (especially their rabbis) and of those elements in European society who opposed the open society and for whom the whole process of liberation of the individual was anathema.”
When Jews began to be allowed access to mainstream European life, they were able to begin to break out of the closed life of the Jewish community. No longer did he have to submit to the government of the rabbis. No longer did he have to abide by the Jewish regulations, lest he be punished by the Jewish authorities. The power of the rabbis over the average Jew began to decline in direct proportion to the rise of the disillusioned (hence, “secular”) Jew. These were finally able to read and discuss new ideas of liberation that were very important to them.
Eventually, women were able to join the class of educated people, and they too became enlightened on the principles of individual liberty in contrast to the bondage of classic Judaism. Hence, today, the classic Jewish attitude toward women is generally held by only the very religious Jews. Even so, it does form the basis of Jewish religion and culture, and even secular Jews are not immune to its influence. For this reason, many secular Jewish women have become activists in the Women’s Liberation Movement. They really did need emancipation from the countless rabbinic laws that had enslaved them to meaningless rituals and to slave-minded men. From a Christian perspective, the problem with that movement lies mostly in the fact that its philosophy is atheistic, for they have discarded God along with Judaism.
Inasmuch as the apostle Paul equated the Old Jerusalem, the Old Covenant, and Judaism itself with Hagar (Gal. 4:25), the foregoing is of interest to us in our study of Old Covenant marriage. Hagar’s marriage with Abram is a picture of Israel’s marriage with God that was performed by Moses at Mount Sinai. It is based upon the Old Covenant, in that it leads to bondage, rather than liberation (or “Jubilee”). While the Bible itself does not advocate modern Jewish attitudes toward women—even under the Old Covenant—nevertheless, Old Covenant marriages did form the basis of marital bondage. This formed the seed of the problem, and men’s traditions (idols of the heart) later turned it into a severe problem. In other words, Abram did not think of Hagar as a mere beast with a satanic soul, and he loved Ishmael very much (Gen. 17:18), even treating him as a full son. Even so, it cannot be ignored that Hagar’s official, legal status was that of a bondwoman.
Old Covenant Marriage
Abraham had two wives, Sarah and Hagar. Hagar was a bondwoman. She was Sarah’s slave that Pharaoh had given her in Egypt as restitution for taking her into his harem (Jasher 15:31). Hagar’s legal relationship with Abraham was different from Sarah’s. But first, let us quote from Gen. 16:3 to bear witness with Paul that Hagar was indeed a “wife,” and not merely a concubine:
3 And after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his WIFE.
The difference between a slave-wife and a free-wife is that a slave-wife is still just a slave in the final analysis. Jesus tells us something about slaves in John 15:15,
15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
When God gave a word to Abraham, he did not need to consult Hagar as a double witness to that word. In fact, he was not required to tell her anything beyond what she was commanded to do. He could merely issue commands, and, as a bondwoman, she was expected to be obedient. She did not have to be given any explanation. She had no input in the decision-making process.
By way of contrast, Sarah did assist Abraham in making decisions. In fact, it was Sarah herself who suggested that Abraham take Hagar as a wife to bring forth the promised son. We read in Gen. 16:2,
2 So Sarai said to Abram, Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her. And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
In the next verse we read that Sarai gave Hagar to her husband Abram as his wife. Hagar belonged to Sarai, so Abram could not violate her rights of ownership by taking his wife’s slave. Sarah not only had property rights, but she also shared her discernments with her husband in order to seek confirmation.
Hagar herself had no choice in the matter, nor is there any indication that she was consulted. The decisions were made for her. She was, after all, only a slave.
Marriage covenants have been made for thousands of years, but there are really only two types of marriage covenant: Hagar and Sarah, or bond and free. In a Hagar-style marriage covenant, the husband is the sole decision-maker, and the wife has no part in the decision-making process. She is only expected to be obedient as a good servant or slave. “Leave the decisions to us,” such men tell their wives. “You need to know your place in God’s order.” Yes, that is God’s order—if one’s marriage is based upon the Old Covenant. Just call such wives “Hagar,” for they are mere bondservants and know not what their master is doing.
What men do not often realize is that if their wives are Hagar, then they are not Abraham, but merely an Abram. Abram begat Ishmael through Hagar. Abraham begat Isaac through Sarah. It was not until God changed Abram’s name to Abraham that Sarah brought forth Isaac, the promised seed. This is an important part of the historical allegory.
The difference between Abram and Abraham is the letter “H” in the middle of his name. When this Hebrew letter appears in the middle of a word or name, it signifies inspiration and revelation. It is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Five is the number of Grace. It is pronounced by exhaling one’s breath. It signifies, therefore, the breath of God, much like God breathing His breath into Adam’s nostrils (Gen. 2:7).
Men who are married to a Hagar can never rise beyond an Abram, nor will their callings exceed giving birth to an Ishmael. If a man aspires to become an Abraham, he must do so through the New Covenant, and He ought, therefore, to be married to a Sarah.
For a woman to move from Sarai to Sarah, the change was also in the letter “H” but this time at the end of her name. When this Hebrew letter appears at the end of a word or name, it means “what comes from.” The Hebrew word Sar means a prince. Sarah means “what comes from a prince,” but because the “H” at the end also makes the word feminine, the name means “princess,” a girl that comes from a prince.
This is NOT to say that one must be married in order for one’s calling to bring forth an Isaac. The principle has applications beyond marriage and family. The same principle is applicable in Church government and in the political realm. The pastor is like the husband, and the congregation is like the wife. If a pastor treats the congregation like Hagar, his ministry will never rise beyond the level of the Old Covenant.
Likewise, in civil government, if the ruling parties treat the people like Hagar, the nation itself cannot rise beyond the level of the Old Covenant and will not manifest the Kingdom of God. One of the early American revolutionary writers, Thomas Paine, wrote in his Dissertation on the First Principles of Government,
“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”
Paine’s definition of slavery was in the context of civil government, but the same definition generally holds true in the relationship between husband and wife. His definition, of course, does not deal with the basic question of happiness or contentment. Some slaves are happy as slaves, because their masters are benevolent and treat them with respect. The same is true with wives who are bondwomen (slaves). However, such a relationship is not the ideal, unless such slaves are incapable of coping with the responsibilities of freedom, where they must earn an honest living and take care of themselves.
In the next chapter we will show the practical differences between Hagar and Sarah and how these women represent two types of marriage relationships today.