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The English word travail originated from a French word meaning heavy labor - travel originated from the same word (in ancient times, travel was heavy labor). Eventually, travail also came to be used to refer to childbirth, hence the roundabout way that "labor" also came to refer to the birth process. In English versions of the Holy Bible, "travail" is used to translate a number of original Hebrew and Greek words, some of which refer to birth, while others refer to either heavy labor or a severe experience of any sort.

"O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail"

An example of travail meaning childbirth:


"And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also." (Genesis 35:16-17 KJV)

The Exodus was like a birth; The Lord "delivered" the "children of Israel" out of Egypt:

"And Moses [see also The Education Of Moses] told his father in law all that The Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how The Lord delivered them." (Exodus 18:8 KJV)

The true Church of God is like a woman in travail, awaiting the birth of the children of whom God is the Father:

"Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there The Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies." (Micah 4:10 KJV)

Jesus Christ also made reference to the travail of the Church while it awaits the Delivery by the Deliverer:

"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again [see "I've Come To Take You Home" and "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit"], and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16:21-22 KJV)

Used in another way, travail refers to the pain and labour of sinners:

"The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days" (Job 15:20 KJV)

"For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight [see The Decalogue] wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God." (Ecclesiastes 2:26 KJV)

Fact Finder: How did Jesus Christ use "birth pangs" to refer to the events of Prophecy that would occur prior to His return?
See The Beginning Of The Birth Pangs

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