Sarah, Sarai, Sara
The Woman Who Became Mother of Nations
Scripture Reference: Genesis 11:29-31; Genesis 12:5-17; Genesis 16:1-8; Genesis 17:15-21; Genesis 18; Genesis 20:2-18; Genesis 21:1-12; Genesis 23:1-19; Genesis 24:36-37; Genesis 25:10, 12; Genesis 49:31; Isaiah 51:2; Romans 4:19Romans 9:9; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6
Name Meaning: Among the classified names of the Bible are those known as sacramental names, and are so-called because they were names given by God Himself, or under His inspiration in association with a particular promise, covenant or declaration of His, as to the character, destiny or mission of those distinctly named. Thus a sacramental name became a sign and seal of an established covenant between God and the recipient of such a name. Two Bible characters bearing sacramental names are Abraham and Sarah, both of which signify the gracious purposes and promises of God.
The wife of the patriarch was originally known as Sarai, meaning "princely" or "a princess." Elsdon C. Smith suggests it may signify "contentious" or "quarrelsome," but was changed, not accidentally, or by the whim of the bearer, but by God Himself that it might be a sign of His purpose, into Sarah, implying the princess, a princess or princesses, the source of nations and kings. Sarah or "chieftainness," the feminine of Sar, meaning a "captain" or "commander" is repeatedly used in this sense as a common noun as, for instance, by Isaiah who renders it "queen" (Isaiah 49:23 ). It has been observed that among ancient Jews there was a sort of a cabalistic translation that "the Hebrew letter yod signifies the creative power of God in nature, while the letter hay symbolizes the state of grace - that state into which Sarah had entered after receiving the covenanted promises." The promise of ancestorship of many nations came with the change of the name of Sarai to Sarah. "I will bless her and she shall become nations." She was thus associated with her husband in the great blessing of the covenant whose name was also changed from Abram to Abraham. The former, original name means a "high, or honored father," the latter, "a father of many nations." The Apocrypha speaks of Abraham as "a great father of a multitude of nations" (Ecclesiasticus 44:19-21).
The root idea of Sarah means "to rule," and fits the personality of the bearer. It was a name intended as a seal of the promise given to Abraham, "kings of peoples shall be of her." Paul has an allegorical reference to Sarah as one who typified the gospel dispensation, "
which is above ... which is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26 ). Thus, Sarah was to be the princess, not only "because she was to be the ancestress of a great nation literally, of many nations spiritually, but also because the rank and power were to be possessed by her descendants, or rather because the people descended from her were to be ruled over by a regal dynasty, by a succession of kings of their own race and lineage, is derived from her." In the genealogy of the descendants of Esau, Sarah's grandson we read, "These are the kings that reigned in the Jerusalem before there reigned any king over the children of land of Edom ." The line of kings descended from Sarah terminated in God's Anointed One, the Messiah, whose "kingdom is not of this world." The sacramental name of Sarah, therefore, also symbolizes the spiritual seed, the whole multitude of believers of all nations who are "kings and priests unto God." Israel