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528. … Before ever he [Abraham] obeyed God, and left his own kindred with Sarah, he put her under bonds to represent herself as merely his sister, to save his own life from all risk (Genesis 12:13)…

529. Sarah, at this period, lacked self-respect; and Abraham had insufficient respect for her.

530. Sarah ought not to have agreed to such an arrangement with Abraham, and she would not have done it later in life,¾if we read her character aright, in its unfolding. But not knowing any better, God protected her,

537. The legal requirements of King Hammurabi which Sarah obeyed… Par. 144 says: “He shall not take a concubine” if his wife “has given a maid to her husband;” and Par. 146 says, if “she has given a maid to her husband and she has borne him children [and] that maid has made [should make] herself equal with her mistress,” the mistress may reduce her to servitude again, but may not sell her. This is surely wonderful confirmation that Sarah’s treatment of this whole matter, up to the time of Isaac’s weaning, was precisely in accord with the legal provisions and customs by which the country was governed. But when Isaac was weaned, she took another course, and God, by express revelation to Abraham, confirmed her new departure as in the line of His will.

538. It is worthwhile for us to pause long enough to call attention to these very unjust and humiliating laws, as relates to women, engraven on that stone which records the Code of Hammurabi, …

539. Sarah did go through the form of asking Abraham to bear a son by Hagar, but the act should be judged by the fact that a man had legal right to divorce a childless wife, and she was now past seventy-five years of age. That Sarah had had reason to fear divorcement seems certain, because when Hagar became arrogant in her treatment of Sarah, the latter accuses Abraham of being himself to blame for Hagar’s conduct, in the words: “My wrong be upon thee.” The Septuagint gives the idea conveyed by the words as, “I am wronged by thee.” Sarah is opening her eyes in new self-respect; she tells Abraham he had no right to have ever brought Hagar¾the price of her humiliation¾into the family; and then to have so conducted himself as to have created in her the fear of being divorced, through no fault of her own, but merely because she had not fulfilled for him the promises of God, that he should have a son. This is what we understand by her expression, and she adds: The Lord judge between me and thee,” declaring her confidence that her position was just in God’s sight.

540. And Abraham yielded, which he would not have done so readily had he not felt she was right. Then Sarah did the only thing allowable under the law; she attempted to discipline Hagar, and return her to the position of a handmaiden. Sarah was not willing that her household should be polygamous; the law cut Abraham off from the right of a concubine in the family, since Sarah had given him her maid to bear a child for Sarah (see par. 537). But Hagar would be nothing less than a wife, so she left the house, doubtless thinking Abraham, for the sake of his only child, would divorce Sarah and take her back in Sarah’s place. Sarah made no effort to keep the child, so far as we know, which the law allowed.

545. God cannot always elect,¾that is, select¾persons who are ideal, for they cannot be found. He takes faulty ones, but those capable of development. Such was the condition in which he found Abraham and Sarah. It is simply ludicrous to read some of the attempts that have been made by blundering expositors to explain away all the wrong things Abraham did: “Abraham’s venture was not from laxity as to the sanctity of marriage, or as to his duty to protect his wife: it was from a presumptuous confidence in the wonderful assistance of God,”¾thus speaks Lange’s Commentary. Such men, in their strained efforts to make Abraham appear ideal from the day God called him, leave no place for that most valuable and much-needed lesson, as to the wonderful transformation of character which the grace of God can bring about in the faultiest person who will submit to God’s authority, as Abraham began to do when he left his home in Chaldea.

546. The character of Abraham changed greatly under the moulding influence of divine grace, but we will not occupy the space to describe this transformation, for the reason that, as women, we are more interested in the character of Sarah, who, we hold, has been greatly belittled by the same commentators who will not admit that Abraham ever had many faults. Her character underwent a transformation quite as wonderful as Abraham’s. Think what she was, as the servile female who went, apparently without protest, into the harems of Pharaoh and Abimelech, not knowing that she could ever come out undefiled; accepting polygamy weakly, if not happily. Like almost any Oriental woman of today, her husband’s wish seemed as law, even when it bade her do that which was immoral, and which she may have utterly detested to do. She makes no complaint, but obeys.

547. Now study her character a little later, when she wakes up to resent the way she had been treated by Abraham in the matter of Hagar. She accuses Abraham as in the wrong, and appeals to God to judge between them. There were reasons why she might have been very cowardly at this moment, for Hagar was in the ascendancy just then, and was making the most of her position. Sarah might have reasoned: “I must not offend Abraham now, while Hagar seems so much more in his favor because of the boy.” Doubtless Hagar counted on such a compromise. But Sarah was courageous, and met the situation boldly, calling upon Abraham to defend her in refusing Hagar the right to be a concubine, or a second wife, in the family,¾for Sarah had yielded to the provisions of Hammurabi’s Code on purpose to prevent this. (See par. 537).

548. Then follows the later scene. Ishmael is older now, and Sarah demands that the last vestige of the semblance of polygamy be cleaned out of the household. If she again called on Jehovah to judge between her and Abraham, we do not know, but we do know that when she made the demand, God told Abraham to obey what Sarah said, and it was done. If Abraham improved in character and saw the hatefulness of mixed marriage relations in the sight of God, it was under the joint training of God and Sarah. And later, after the old man had lost Sarah, and mourned deeply, her loss, he married one Keturah (Genesis 25:1). But though the word “concubine” is used in the sixth verse of this chapter, since Abraham did not marry Keturah until after Sarah’s death, the word is not used in its ordinary sense, for, too, Hagar never bore this relation to Abraham.

549. But to return to Sarah: How are we to account for this development of such force of character, as that she has become quite “imperious”? Men usually do not like “imperiousness” in women; they think it “unwomanly” and they criticize Sarah because of this trait. But was it not of God’s own planting and development, in Sarah’s case? God called her “Mine Anointed” and God uses no idle words. He anointed her to be the Prince of the tribe, for God gives no empty titles. God commanded Abraham to cease calling her Sarai: “As for Sarai they wife, thou shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah (prince) shall her name be,”¾Genesis 17:15. The older form “Sarai” meant the same as “Sarah” in Chaldea, but it did not in Canaan, hence the change. Sarah means “prince.” We do not say “princess,” for the reason that the–”ss” has been used as rather a wifely termination among us, signifying the rank of the husband. Abraham was not called “Prince” by God. His name was changed from Abram to Abraham, “father of a multitude.” Sarah was constituted by God a ruler, in her own right; she, not Abraham, was the anointed ruler of the tribe. Not because she was a woman, ¾not at all for that reason; but because she had better views than Abraham on the subject of social purity, and probably on other subjects.[3]

550. God had laid His hand upon a previously pagan family, to make of them a Christian household. He began by checking sensual tendencies in Abraham, taught him the benefits of monogamy, and respect for his wife; wrought upon his instincts of fatherhood, and taught him to aspire to have a progeny that would bless the world, because of its excellencies. Furthermore, in receiving a special revelation as to the right course of dealing with spurious matrimonial relations (Genesis 21:12), Abraham must have learned the lesson that the headship or leadership in a household turned not upon sex, but upon which one, husband or wife, know best what to do. As for Sarah, He taught her He was her Protector and Deliverer from peril; trained her in self-respect; restored her to her place as the recipient of His promises when she had yielded it to another to secure a child for her husband; named her the Prince of her tribe, and anointed her for the office. We have shown that the oldest and most inveterate faults of man are the love of ruling and sensuality. Abraham’s training was to correct these. Sarah’s training was in dignity, authority and self-respect; and both in faith.

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785. It was not until after woman had brought the Redeemer into the world,¾not until after she had given her testimony to the most important facts in the Christian’s faith, and convinced the early disciples of their truth; not until long after Paul’s days, when “grievous wolves” had entered the flock, as Paul said they would do (Acts 20:29); and wrested Paul’s language, as Peter said they did (2 Peter 3:15-16), that the teaching arose that Paul had silenced women, veiled them, and subordinated them to men. We have shown that his language is capable of more consistent interpretation.

786. Woman has the honor of being the subject of a GREAT PROPHECY. That prophecy is, that the Seed of the women shall bruise the Serpent’s head; and, as we have shown, that prophecy was only fulfilled in part by the advent of Jesus Christ into this world. He has not yet come in power, to bruise the Serpent’s head; and when He does come the second time, women will have prepared the way by preaching that second coming. Woman is to have a special part with Him in this late war upon Satan; for not only is Christ the enemy of Satan, but we know, by the express word of God, that woman is destined to be the same,¾“I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” is said quite as plainly as,¾between they seed and her Seed.

824…

The agony and travail of the Woman seem to signify some great spiritual travail of soul into which women will be plunged just before the Lord’s second coming; and as a result a large body of men (the man child), of exceptional holiness and devotion will rise; this will be that bringing forth of a man child. The entire sign relates to spiritual transaction; and the man child will be the spiritual, not the physical, seed of the woman.

827. The “childbearing” of Revelation 12 is that same “childbearing” of 1 Timothy 2:15, of which the Apostle Paul speaks prophetically, in connection with those words about the formation of woman after man, in the spiritual sense. He says of woman: “She shall be saved through the childbearing [R. V.], if they continue in charity and holiness with sobriety.”

796. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” Was ever anyone able to change his or her delusions short of aid from without? We doubt it. A cure of the spirit demands the aid of the Spirit. Who does not understand that the chief difficulty that God and Moses had in delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt was not the Egyptians, but the spirit of slavery and the spirit of bondage to pagan gods, to which those Israelites were likewise enslaved? God easily disposed of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, but He could not, in the same easy fashion, drown the spirit of bondage in the Israelites which they had acquired under slavery. Just so with women of today. Except for a mere handful of mistaken men, who could easily be put aside, the men of Christian countries constitute no longer an obstacle to woman’s freedom and preaching of the Gospel.

787.     God revealed to Satan, by this saying, not merely what woman was, not even what she now is, but what woman is to become. And this is the meaning of her sufferings, which were predicted in Genesis 3:16, all through the ages. This is why she corresponds, in shadow, to the substance,¾“A woman of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” Isaiah 53:3; that all the thousands of millions of human beings who have entered this world, came along the pathway of woman’s agony. This is why every woman should have an unutterable horror of godlessness and atheism. Without God, man is Satan’s slave, and woman is the slave of Satan’s slave

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( see also In those days, it was NOT expected that a wife would follow her husband)

56. Dr. A. C. Dixon, in an article in the London Christian (Nov. 16, 1911) says: “Turn to this civilization which God Himself founded, and you will hear Him say: ‘A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.’ Woman is given the pre-eminence. It is not the woman leaving the father and the mother, and cleaving unto her husband; but it is the man leaving his mother and father, and cleaving unto his wife.” At one point we disagree with Dr. Dixon. Civilization founded on this marriage law of God did not make the wife her husband’s superior; but it prevented her becoming his subordinate. ….

63. We have got so far away from God’s law, that today, in British law, the mother is not a parent. …. The English Church is severe against divorce. Yet, read the Lord’s ruling as to divorce, in Matthew 19, and we discover that the conclusion, “Therefore what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” rests upon the premises, “A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall become [R. V.] one flesh.” The Church will never effectually enforce the conclusion of that statute, while it defies the premises upon which it rests.

156… We have pointed out some of the social wrongs growing out of this violation of God’s marriage law.

157. Christ said: “What God hath joined, let not man put asunder.” Now we inquire, “What did God join, when He gave that marriage law which Christ repeats? First and foremost, he joined a man to his wife’s kindred, by the words, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife.” In the second place, God joined the husband to his wife, as indicated by the words,—“and they shall become one flesh.” The R.V.is correct here, in translating, “shall become,” instead of “shall be.” Both the Hebrew of the O. T., and the Greek of the N. T. say “become,” not “be.”

( see also In those days, it was NOT expected that a wife would follow her husband)

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32. …“Adam had lost much of his first perfection before his Eve was taken out of him; which was done to prevent worse effects of his fall, and to prepare a means of his recovery when his fall should become total, as it afterwards was, upon eating of the earthly tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ saith the Scripture. This shows that Adam had altered his first state, had brought some beginning of evil into it, and had made that not to be good, which God saw to be good, when He created him.”

33. …“There must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not an actual fall, in Adam while yet alone in Eden . . . Eve was created [he should say, “elaborated”] to ‘help’ Adam to recover himself, and to establish himself in Paradise, and in the favor, fellowship and service of his Maker.”

36. We do not know certainly how the decline in Adam began, but we should not overlook one fact: The man (the woman side of humanity being as yet undeveloped), was placed in the garden “to dress and keep it” (2:15). Two duties, not one, were laid upon Adam. This second word is the same as used in 3:24, where the “Cherubim, and a flaming sword” are placed, “to keep the way of the tree of life.” Lange’s Commentary says, “Adam must watch and protect it [the Garden]. This is, in fact, a very significant addition, and seems to give a strong indication of danger as threatening man and Paradise from the side of an already existing power of evil.”

37. That “power of evil” manifests itself a little later in the form of Satan. Did not Adam let him enter the garden? Verse 17 goes on to warn Adam as regards “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and it seems legitimate to infer that he was not only to refrain from eating of this tree, but also to protect this tree from being tampered with by others, as it was, later, when Satan induced Eve to partake of it, and then the youthful Eve gave of the fruit of it to Adam, who ate also.

68…… Eventually they both ate of the tree, and God came in the cool of the evening to deal with them. He asked Adam: “Hast thou eaten of the tree?” and the reply was, “The woman that THOU gavest to be with me, SHE gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” God then questioned the woman, and she replied: “The SERPENT beguiled me, and I did eat.” Please note the words we have put in capital letters.

69. I think we are warranted in drawing a contrast between these two answers, for in them we find a clue to what follows. Both confess, “I did eat,” and both tell truthfully the immediate influence that led to the eating. So far they are equal. But Adam is led on to say more. There was a remote cause for his downfall, through Eve,—Satan. But Adam does not, like Eve, mention Satan; and yet he does not remain silent as to a remote cause; he accuses God to His face of being Himself that remote cause,—in giving the woman to be with him. And the worst feature of the case consists in the fact that Satan was present, or near-by, at the interview, and could not have been overlooked, excepting wilfully, if a remote cause was to be mentioned at all. Satan must have rejoiced as much in Adam’s attitude towards God in charging Him with folly, as in Adam’s attitude towards himself, the tempter, in shielding him from blame. Is it not this scene, this conduct on the part of Adam, to which Job refers (31:33) when he complains, “If, like Adam, I covered my transgressions by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom?” Dr. Lange says (see par. 36), “Adam must watch and protect” the garden from an “existing power of evil.” Is not this the reason why Adam does not mention Satan, who has been let inside?

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71 . …Eve, by her exposure of the character of Satan before his very face, created an enmity between herself and him. What followed was the natural outcome of Eve’s better choice. God proposed to draw the woman yet farther away from Satan. He said to Satan, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman (3:15). In effect, he said: “She has chosen to make the breach; I will widen it.”

72. We must not forget that at this time God put enmity between Satan and the woman. This will account largely for a whole train of evils prophesied in the following verse (3:16), which tradition says is the result of Eve’s having introduced sin into the world by eating the forbidden fruit, and giving of it to her husband. Satan’s enmity is the cause of woman’s sufferings. More light on this point follows later in the Lessons.

99. Woman had been constituted by God, in words addressed to Satan: (1) The progenitor of the coming destroyer of Satan and his power; (2) and in her own person also an enemy of Satan. This latter is a point of much importance to women, and generally passed over very lightly. With such an appointment as this to fulfill in life (and none could be nobler), what would Satan, who knew it, wish done to woman, his enemy? It is not difficult to conjecture; he would have her so crippled she could not contend with him successfully. How better could he cripple her than to incite her husband,—the one living closest to her who has strength to do it—to hamper her activities as much as possible? And then, knowing of a Seed whose coming would be his doom, Satan would aim his sorest blows at her function of motherhood, and torture her by every means that could be devised, in her child-bearing. How he would hate her every time she was about to become a mother!

100. Now all this, which common sense tells us Satan would most certainly wish to do, most Bible expositors (as we are about to show), tell us GOD DID. For once then, if God did so, God and Satan would be found working on the same side, for the same result. Can we imagine such a thing as this? God and Satan working harmoniously together in the treatment of women, after the same fashion, from the Fall in Eden as long as this world lasts?

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36. We do not know certainly how the decline in Adam began, but we should not overlook one fact: The man (the woman side of humanity being as yet undeveloped), was placed in the garden “to dress and keep it” (2:15). Two duties, not one, were laid upon Adam. This second word is the same as used in 3:24, where the “Cherubim, and a flaming sword” are placed, “to keep the way of the tree of life.” Lange’s Commentary says, “Adam must watch and protect it [the Garden]. This is, in fact, a very significant addition, and seems to give a strong indication of danger as threatening man and Paradise from the side of an already existing power of evil.”

37. That “power of evil” manifests itself a little later in the form of Satan. Did not Adam let him enter the garden? Verse 17 goes on to warn Adam as regards “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and it seems legitimate to infer that he was not only to refrain from eating of this tree, but also to protect this tree from being tampered with by others, as it was, later, when Satan induced Eve to partake of it, and then the youthful Eve gave of the fruit of it to Adam, who ate also.

94…. God asked Adam, “Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?” and He lays no such charge of express disobedience at the door of Eve. And also note that whereas the Almighty told the Serpent that his creeping gait, dust for his food, and his final mortal injury were to be “Because thou hast done this;” and whereas the Almighty told Adam that his drudgery, his fight with thorns and thistles, and his final return to the dust out of which he was made, were to be “because” Adam has done thus and so, God nowhere says that Eve’s sorrowful and oppressed part is “because” she has done anything. Rather, from the highly honoring words regarding Eve the Almighty has just addressed to the Serpent we have sufficient reasons for concluding that all this might result to Eve because God has elevated her to the honorable position of an enemy of Satan and progenitor of the coming Messiah. William Law says that Adam’s sin, which brought ruin to the world, “is not to be considered as that single act of eating,” but “his express open, voluntary act and deed” of “refusing to be that which God created him to be.” On Romans 5:14, where “Adam’s transgression” is spoken of as causing death to the entire human race, that high authority, Bengel’s Gnomen says, “Chrysostom on this passage shows exceedingly well, what Paul intended to prove by his argument, ‘that it was not the very sin of the transgression of the law [Eve transgressed it, under deception], but that of the disobedience of ADAM, this was what brought universal destruction.”‘ (The capitals are ours.)

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