Barrenness in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
bar'-en, bar'-en-nes tsiyah; melehah; shakhol; `aqar;
(1) Of land that bears no crop, either (a) because it is
naturally poor and sterile: tsiyah "dry" (Joel 2:20),
melechah, "salt" (Job 39:6 the King James Version), shakhol,
"miscarrying" (2 Ki 2:19,21), or (b) because it is, under
God's curse, turned into a melechah or salt desert, for the
wickedness of the people that dwell therein (Ps 107:34 the
King James Version; compare Gen 3:17,18).
(2) Of females that bear no issue: `aqar: Sarah (Gen 11:30);
Rebekah (Gen 25:21); Rachel (Gen 29:31); Manoah's wife (Jdg
13:2,3); Hannah (1 Sam 2:5); steiros: Elisabeth (Lk 1:7,36).
In Israel and among oriental peoples generally barrenness
was a woman's and a family's greatest misfortune. The
highest sanctions of religion and patriotism blessed the
fruitful woman, because children were necessary for the
perpetuation of the tribe and its religion. It is
significant that the mothers of the Hebrew race, Sarah,
Rebekah and Rachel, were by nature sterile, and therefore
God's special intervention shows His particular favor to
Israel. Fruitfulness was God's special blessing to His
people (Ex 23:26; Dt 7:14; Ps 113:9). A complete family is
an emblem of beauty (Song 4:2; 6:6). Metaphorically, Israel,
in her days of adversity, when her children were exiled, was
barren, but in her restoration she shall rejoice in many
children (Isa 54:1; Gal 4:27). The utter despair and terror
of the destruction of Jerusalem could go no farther than
that the barren should be called blessed (Lk 23:29).
(3) Argos is translated in the King James Version "barren,"
but in the Revised Version (British and American) more
accurately "idle" (2 Pet 1:8).
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