Galatians 4:26

New Testament

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:“Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains,because the children of the desolate woman are more numerousthan those of the woman who has a husband.” 28 But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.

4 Ezra 10:7

2 Esdras

5 At that I interrupted the train of my thoughts, and I spoke sternly to the woman: 6 ‘You are the most foolish woman in the world,’ I said; ‘are you blind to the grief and sufferings of our nation? 7 It is for the sorrow and humiliation of Zion, the mother of us all, that you should mourn so deeply; 8 you should share in our common mourning and sorrow. But you are deep in sorrow for your one son. 9 Ask the earth and she will tell you; she must mourn for the thousands and thousands who come to birth upon her.

 Notes and References

"... For all Jews, in Palestine and in the Dispersion, Jerusalem is the ‘holy city’ or the ‘mother-city’. Mount Zion is called the ‘midst of the navel of the earth’ (Jubilees 8:19). In apocalyptic apocrypha, Zion-Jerusalem is called the mother of all Israelites (4 Ezra 10:7, 38–44; compare also 2 Baruch 3:1–3) who has brought up her children (Baruch 4:8–10). The Jews, though scattered throughout the ancient world, maintained the bond with the motherland and the holy city ... The earliest indication that Christians regarded themselves as aliens and pilgrims on earth is found in the letters of Paul. Paul believes that Christians belong to the Jerusalem above, or the heavenly community (Galatians 4:26; Philippians 3:20) ..."

Poorthuis, Marcel & Schwartz, Joshua A Holy People: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Religious Communal Identity (pp. 100-101) Brill, 2006

"... Paul is not alone in referring to ‘Jerusalem above’ as being ‘our mother’. There is a rich Jewish tradition lying behind this. The term ‘Jerusalem above’ is also found in Jewish wisdom literature (e.g. Sirach 36:13; Tobit 13, etc.) and in the apocalyptic writings of Second Temple Judaism (e.g. 1 Enoch 53:6; 90:28-29; 2 Enoch 55:2; Psalms of Solomon 17:33; 4 Ezra 7:26; 8:52; 10:25-28; 2 Apocalypse of Baruch 4:2-6; 32:2; 59:4). For example, in 4 Ezra 10:7 Zion is called ‘the mother of us all’. It is represented as a barren woman who becomes the heavenly Jerusalem and finally gives birth to a son (verses 25-57). In addition, in the prayer of Tobit, the vision of the rebuilt Jerusalem shows striking similar characteristics of the New Jerusalem described in Isaiah 54 ..."

Kwok, Hon Lee The Use of Isaiah in the Pauline Letters with Special Reference to His Self-Conception of being an Apostle to the Gentiles (p. 84) The University of Edinburgh, 2009

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