BARREN, BARRENNESS Term used to describe a woman who is unable to give birth to children: Sarai (Genesis 11:30), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 29:31), Manoah's wife (Judges 13:2), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5), and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7,Luke 1:36). Also described as “solitary” (Job 3:7), “desolate” (2 Samuel 13:20; Isaiah 49:21; Isaiah 54:1), or “dead, deadness” (Romans 4:19). Barrenness was considered a curse from God (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 20:18; 1 Samuel 1:5), which explains Elizabeth's statement that God had taken away her “reproach among men”—that she was a sinner and cursed by God as evidenced by her barrenness (Luke 1:25). The barrenness of Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel (the mothers of the Israelite nation) is significant in that their ability to finally bare children is a sign of the grace and favor of God toward His elect people.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.