THE ANCIENT HEBREW FAMILY
In Genesis 16 we are told that when Sarah bore Abraham no sons she gave unto her husband Hagar her Egyptian maid that he might have a son through her. Sarah regarded herself as dishonored by her barrenness and Hagar was so exalted when she conceived that she despised Sarah.
When later Abraham was informed that Sarah herself was to bear a son he laughed and fell upon his face. Sarah was to be blessed and to become a mother of a nation ( Gen. 17:15-17).
The same ideal is repeated in the story of Rachel and Leah. Rachel is the favorite but her barrenness estranges her from Jacob. She accordingly gives her maid to Jacob to be his wife. "And she said, Behold my maid . .; she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her" ( Gen. 29:30, 31; 30:1-3).
The early Hebrews tell us not of the pain but of the joy of childbirth: "And Sarah said, 'God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me!' And the child grew and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned" ( Gen. 21:6, 8).
Modern individualism has taught us today to