Barren Women

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Introduction

Tanakh records six cases of women who for a long time had difficulty conceiving but then miraculously give birth to a son:

What caused these women to be barren?  The significant parallels between these six stories suggest that the barrenness of the women was not random, and that both it and the subsequent cure were Divinely planned.

Content Parallels

Literary Allusions

Analysis

Points of Contrast

Conclusion

As seen above, one of the points shared by almost all of the stories is the later importance of the son. In five of the cases,7 the son later becomes a forefather or a leader of the Israelite nation, and in three of these, an explicit promise is made to the parent about this eventuality. In fact, it almost seems that maternal barrenness is a prerequisite for producing a leader of the Children of Israel.8  In light of this, it is important to understand why Hashem caused9 so many of the mothers of the nation to be barren.

There are various reasons for the barrenness posited by the commentators:

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