“So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go into my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.” Gen. 16:2
“And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.” The last time such a phrase was recalled, it was uttered by God in cursing Adam at the fall of humanity. Genesis 3:17 reads:
“Then to Adam He said, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it…”
The circumstances are different to be sure, but both Adam and Abram are having their obedience tested. For Adam, stark obedience in the most basic sense; For Abram, to hold out for God’s promise; to have faith, and not doubt. Abram was promised a son whom would eventually grow into a great nation. But Abram aged; his wife was barren, and time was passing rapidly toward his death at 85 or 86 years of age. So in Abram’s case, to have been obedient to the degree God expected, he would have had to fight the temptation to take the situation into his own hands. But when Sarai made a proposition for him to lay with Hagar her servant, it seemed a feasible way to bring about God’s promise, he decided to do just so.
The real point here is not that both Adam and Abram listened to the voice of their wives, but rather they chose to let their wives’ words feed their pride enough to put them in a situation where they had a momentary lapse in their faith, and thus sinned and brought consequences on themselves, and their descendants for centuries to come.
Adam’s disobedience brought about the entire fall of mankind. Abram’s was not quite as far-reaching, however his first son was Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arabs. And the Arabs have been a thorn in the side of the chosen people, the Jews, for quite some time. Even modern Israel is surrounded by Arab states, many of whom follow the Muslim faith and are governed with it’s laws. Ishmael’s descendant’s stayed true to the meaning of his name: “He will be a wild donkey of a man. His hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.” (Gen. 16:12)
Interestingly, Ishmael was not pronounced as a curse against Abram, but rather was a blessing to Hagar, Sarai’s servant, for her obedience. The angel of the LORD told Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her authority, and in return, her descendants (also having come from the body of Abram) would also become a great nation too numerous to count.
In another interesting parallel with Adam and Eve, Eve credits God with the birth of her son Cain in Gen. 4:1 “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.” As Sarai had still been barren, she states that God has prevented her from bearing children (Gen. 16:2)