Before Jael is introduced by name, a prophecy is given by the Judge of Israel:
And she said, 'I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.' Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh.
We learn here that God intends to use a woman to defeat the enemy of Israel. Barak, the great general, will not get the glory for what occurs, as God has decided to use one of the powerless to defeat one of the powerful.
Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, 'Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.' So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. Then he said to her, 'Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.' So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. He said to her, 'Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, "Is anyone here?" say, "No."' But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into the ground he was lying fast asleep from weariness and he died. Then, as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to him, 'Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.' So he went into her tent; and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple. So on that day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites. Then the hand of the Israelites bore harder and harder on King Jabin of Canaan, until they destroyed King Jabin of Canaan.
Jael proves to be a strong and determined woman. Many times we are told that strength and determination are solely for men, or at best should only be exercised under the direction of a husband. But Jael takes the initiative not only without her husband's consent, but against her husband's wishes. We know Heber would not have appreciated Jael pegging Sisera as Judges 4:17 tells us, "Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite." Sisera served Jabin; Heber was at peace with Jabin.
Sisera felt safe going with Jael-he trusted her to act according to what her husband wanted. More he was lulled by her feminity. Some authors have noted the innuendo of Sisera falling between Jael's legs, yet we do not have to stretch our imaginations in that direction to see Jael's feminine wiles. She brings him milk to drink, like a mother with her child. She covers him with a rug, as if "tucking" him in. Yet this motherly figure reaches for a tent stake an executes her enemy. In a very real sense, Jael becomes one of the "assassins" mentioned in the Bible not despite but through her sex.
In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans ceased and travelers kept to the byways.
Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. He asked water and she gave him milk, she brought him curds in a lordly bowl. She put her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen's mallet; she struck Sisera a blow, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple. He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead.
The Bible praises Jael, calling her most blessed, then goes on to laud not her submissive, gentle virtues, but her rather gory actions. Notice again, that Jael is praised for killing Sisera, yet does not continues to view her a feminine. Today we seem to live in fear that if women serve the Lord in "non traditional" ways, they will somehow become. More, sometimes we believe a woman who acts in non traditional ways has abandoned, or will abandon her femininity. Jael assumes the traditionally male role of assassin in her service to the Lord; however, she continues to be "most blessed of women". The Bible restates her maternal acts of nurturing-giving milk, echoing the nursing of a child. She brings him curds-much as a modern mother gives her child wholesome oatmeal (porridge, for our UK readers). The final verse, some have suggested, carries overtones of sexuality, of the man falling at her feet. At the time, the Bible provides a graphic (almost R rated) description of the action. Jael strikes a blow, crushes his head, shatters and pierces his temple. These actions stand in stark contrast with the maternal, "feminine" images just before.
But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
The wives of Noah's sons were also on the Ark. Genesis 7:1:
Then the Lord said to Noah, 'Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.'
And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind?every bird, every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in
Noah and his wife and their sons and daughter-in-laws obeyed God and gathered in the ark. The rain began and continued for 40 days. Finally on the fourtieth day Noah opened the window. Genesis 8:15-19:
Then God said to Noah, 'Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh?birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth?so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.' So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives. And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families."
Now when Athaliah , Ahaziah's mother, saw that her son was dead, she set about to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the king's daughter took Joash son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's children who were about to be killed; she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus Jehoshabeath, daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada--because she was a sister of Ahazaiah--hid him from Athaliah, so that she did not kill him; he remained with them six years, hidden in the house of God, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
Jehoshabeath was married to Jehoiada. Jehoiada became the regent for seven year old Joash. More, Jehoshabeath was Athaliah 's sister. With the additional information, her actions have a political overtone.
For centuries, women have been lumped into two categories: "good" or "evil". A woman either acted as a saint, with totally pure and "unsullied" motives, or she was "evil" her every action impure and malicious. The Bible, however, offers a different view. Women like Jehoshabeath did good things, but their motives might not have been totally pure and selfish. This might sound like some of the men in the Bible; many of them did good things for the wrong reasons, too. Instead of perfect people the Bible gives a us role-models who are like us--flawed, imperfect, living in an imperfect world. Occasionally, we do good things--because they are in our own interests.
He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job's daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children's children, four generations.
Jemimah was one of Job's daughters and was one of the most beautiful women in the land. Unusually for the era, she was given an equal inheritance with her brothers.
Her names means "day by day", which reflected Job's struggle.
Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, 'Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.'
Here we meet a very special young lady, and learn the consequences of unwise promises. Jephthah, in an attempt to manipulate God, has promised that if God gives him a victory over the Ammonites, he would offer as a burnt offering whatever or whoever came out of his house first to greet him. He returns home victorious, only to be greeted by his only child-his daughter.
This story is filled with irony. Placed in the middle of Jephthah's story, it contrasts the unwise vow made by the elders who promised to make "anyone" who could defeat their enemy their leader (Judges 10:18) and Jephthah's vow to sacrifice anyone. God did not "raise" up Jephthah in the way He brought forward the other judges. In fact, in 10:13 Israel tried to make to manipulate God too. Having gone off to worship other gods and done as they pleased, they suddenly found renewed interest in God when they were "greatly distressed" (10:9). God responded to them, saying, "Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress" (13-14). They promise to take anyone as leader who "begin the fight against the Ammonites" (10:18), only to discover the last person they want is that man--Jephthah, the man they rejected. Yet God does help deliver Israel (11:21), though Jephthah does not trust in the Lord. Even after the "spirit of the LORD come upon Jephthah" (11:29), Jephthah felt he need the more of an edge, something to push God into doing things his way. He makes his promise, and finds the last person he would want is the object of that promise. More, the rejected man struggling to find a grand place for himself in society, destroys his own line, losing the very thing he sought.
I've read suggestions that the vow was made because Jephthah's heathen up bringing-being the son of a prostitute meant he simply didn't know all God's laws. However, Jepththah was Gilead's son, and was ejected by the family after Gilead died. He had some form of contact with his father, and part of Gilead's responsibility as a Jewish father would have been instructing his son in the ways of the Lord. Too, I always wonder just who or what did Jephthah expect to come out that door? Finally, I here an echo of Adam in Jephthah's lament. Jephthah made the mistake, he's the one who promised unwisely; yet he tells his daughter she's the one who caused problems.
She said to him, 'My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the Lord has given you vengeance against your enemies, the Ammonites.' And she said to her father, 'Let this thing be done for me: Grant me two months, so that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, my companions and I.'
What an amazing level of maturity. Imagine, this young lady, not yet marriageable age, willingly accepts the repercussions of her father's vow. She only asks that she be allowed to mourn with her friends.
'Go,' he said and sent her away for two months. So she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to the vow he had made. She had never slept with a man. So there arose an Israelite custom that for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite."
Jephthah agrees to his daughters request, allowing her time to mourning; then goes through with his vow. Was this a story of human sacrifice? I don't know, though I'm inclined to think so. Some have presented the possibility that the word translated burnt offering here really mean a type of religious order, along the lines of the Nazarites. While that is possible, I feel such an interpretation has more to do with out discomfort than what the Word says.
Now Jephthah the Gileadite, the son of a prostitute, was a mighty warrior. Gilead was the father of Jephthah.
The Bible tells us little about this woman, though we can imagine based on the events in Jephthah's story, her life wasn't easy. The sons of Gilead's wives drive Jephthah away; indicating his mother was probably not welcome as an extended family member. Her own family stands behind Jephthah, however, taking him in when Gilead's reject him. This does present us with the same question we face with Rahab --why was this woman in prostitution? Why hadn't her family come forward to support her as they did for her son? Was this her choice? Was it economic necessity?
Caleb son of Hezron had children by his wife Azubah , and by Jerioth; these were her sons, Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. When Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrath, who bore him Hur.
Jerioth had children with Caleb. The text does not tell us if she was his wife, a concubine or just a woman with whom he had sex. The text also does not make clear if the children listed were hers or Azubah's, or indeed, perhaps she was a slave and any children she bore may have been considered Azubah's.
At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam feel sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, 'Go, disguise yourself, to that it will not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; for the prophet Ahijah is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. Take with you ten loaves, and some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what shall happen to the child.'
The child Abijah had fallen ill, and the family wanted to know what would happen. Instead of sending a trusted servant, a man, Jeroboam entrusted the task to his wife. Yet, he was sending her in disguise, so that Ahijah would not know who sought the information.
1 Kings 14:4:
Jeroboam's wife did no; she set out and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.
Jeroboam's wife travelled, apparently alone, to Shiloh to see the prophet. Again, while scholars often stress the "private" versus "public" spheres of women in the Bible, several accounts challenge that clear deliniation. Jeroboam's wife travelled, without chaperone, to an town. The Bible offers no criticism or indication that such travel was unusual. The Bible does left one question for readers. Why did she need to wear a disguise if the prophet was vision impaired?
1 Kings 14:5:
But the LORD said to Ahijah, 'The wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her.'
Despite Jeroboam's wife having been instructed by Jeroboam, the Lord addresses the situation as if she were the one seeking the information. "The wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire" and the prophet is to say to "her".
1 Kings 14:6:
When she came, she pretended to be another woman. But what Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, 'Come in, wife of Jeroboam: why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with heavy tidings for you.'
Jeroboam's wife does not even reach the prophet before he calls to her, revealing her disguise and that he has a message for her. The "heavy tidings" are for her.
1 Kings 14:7-14:
Go, tell Jeroboam, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: "Because I exalted you from among my people, made you leader over my people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David to give it to you; yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my sight, but you have done evil above all things who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and cast images, provoking me to anger, and have thrust me behind your back; therefore, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country, the birds of the airs shall eat; for the LORD has spoken." Therefore set out, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him; for he alone of Jeroboam's family shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who will cut off the house of Jeroboam today, even right now!
Ahijah tells Jeroboam's wife the message she is to deliver. God had given Jeroboam the kingdom of Israel, but Jeroboam turned from the Lord to other gods. As punishment, Jeroboam would not only lose Israel, but his house would be destroyed. The child would be spared a portion of the curse, however. While all other male members of the family would be denied the honor of burial, the child would receive that honor and the honor of Israel.
1 Kings 14:15-16:
'The LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; he will root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their ancestors, and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their sacred poles, provoking the LORD to anger. He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and which he caused Israel to commit.
The prophecy continued beyond Jeroboam's family. Israel would be punished for its disobedience as well.
1 Kings 14:17:
Then Jeroboam's wife got up and went away, and she came to Tirzah. As she came to the threshold of the house, the child died.
Jeroboam's wife returned with the message. However, the child died when she entered the house, and not the city.
'Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?'"
Jesus had sisters. The Bible does not record the names of these women, or even to what extent, if any, the participated in His ministry.
And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaalof the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made a sacred pole. Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua son of Nun.
Jezebel receives a lot of bad press, much of it deserved while much of it conflicts with what the Bible really says. This passage gives us several bits of information about Jezebel. First, she was a foreign woman, daughter of a King. She was not an Israelite, she did not know the Lord. Next, unlike what we have often been taught, Jezebel did not lead Ahab astray. Ahab chose his own path by marrying Jezebel. Ahab chose to serve and worship Baal. Ahab, not Jezebel, erected the alter for Baal. Ahab provoked the anger of the Lord (though certainly Jezebel did too.) Despite what many people have said, the Bible does not blame or suggest that Jezebel caused Ahab to do these things.
1 Kings 18:3-4:
Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the LORD greatly; when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the LORD, was killing off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah tok a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.
1 Kings 18:13:
'Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred of the LORD's prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water?'
Jezebel did over the killing of God's prophets. Obadiah saved those prophets from death by hiding them in caves.
1 Kings 18:19:
'Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the found hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.'
Ahab ordered the famous showdown between Elijah and the false prophets. From this text, it is often assumed that Jezebel worshiped Asherah, yet that isn't exactly the implication here. Jezebel, at least, offered patronage to these people, but whether she worshipped Asherah is not clear. That said, from the various references to Asherah in the OT, it appears there was an active, and perhaps even official, cult of Asherah in Israel's history. Saying Israel did something does not "make it right", but may give us an impression of just how far from God Israel had fallen under the monarchy. The competition between the prophets is recorded in verses 20-40. Jezebel is not mentioned.
1 Kings 19:1-2:
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, 'So may the gods to do me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.'
Instead of acknowledging the power of God, Jezebel got mad. She chose to seek vengeance, not repentance.
In chapter 21, Ahab wants to take the vineyard of Naboth in order to have a vegetable garden. Naboth reminds Ahab that this would mean giving up his own ancestral inheritance, and said no. At that point, Ahab began to pout.
1 Kings 21:5-7:
His wife Jezebel came to him and said, 'Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?' He said to her, 'Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, "Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it"; but he answered, "I will not give you my vineyard."' His wife Jezebel said to him, 'Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.'
When God warned Israel about the dangers of having a king, Israel answered that they wanted to be like other nations. God agreed to give them a king, though He restated the dangers. He also commanded that Israel not intermarry. In this passage we see why God did not want a king in Israel and why He did not want them to intermarry. Jezebel was a foreign woman, accustomed to living in a system where the king got what he wanted. Imagine her shock when her husband, the king, pouts because one of his subjects says "no". In Israel the king was supposed to serve the people by acts of justice and mercy. Under most monarchal systems, the subjects serve the king.
1 Kings 21:8-14:
So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, 'Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, "You have cursed God and the king." Then take him out, and stone him to death." The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, 'Naboth cursed God and the king.' So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Then they sent to Jezebel saying, 'Naboth has been stoned to death.'
For some reason, I've never heard a teaching on this passage. Jezebel decides to help her husband, by framing an innocent man. She plans to two "scoundrels" will be seated beside Naboth at a feast. According to the law, at least two witnesses must testify against someone to prove guilt. She also decides to accuse him of a capital offense--cursing God. She does all of this in the king's name, using the king's seal.
1 Kings 21:15-16:
As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, 'Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give to you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.' As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to take the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
This entire story is very similar to the story of David taking Bathsheba from Uriah. Ahab had land in abundance, as David had wives in abundance; yet, Ahab wanted the vineyard of another man, David wanted the wife of another man. Naboth's land was rightfully his, and was special for being a valuable vineyard, but Ahab wanted to turn the land into common vegetable garden. Likewise, Uriah's wife was rightfully his, and was special for being his only wife, but David wanted to make her one of many. While David plans and acts on his own, Ahab pouts, leaving his wife to act. Both David and Jezebel send official letters with intricate plot to kill an innocent man. They both use other people to carry out those plans. Then take the dead man's treasure. In both cases, a prophet of the Lord is sent to give sentence.
1 Kings 21:23-26:
'Also concerning Jezebel the LORD said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel." Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.' "(Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done whom the LORD drove out before the Israelites.)
The LORD would punish Jezebel by removing all trace of her. However, her punishment was not unique. All the "belonging to Ahab who died in the city" would be eaten by dogs. 2 Kings 9:6-10:
So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, 'Thus says the Lord the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her.' Then he opened the door and fled.
Jehu was called to defeat Ahab. He would destroy everyone related to Ahab, take revenge on Jezebel.
2 Kings 9:30-37:
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. As Jehu entered the gate, she said, 'Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?' He looked up to the window and said, 'Who is on my side? Who?' Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. He said, 'Throw her down.' So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her. Then he went in and ate and drank; he said, 'See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king's daughter.' But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. When they came back and told him, he said, 'This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, 'In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.'"
But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
The New Testament retells the story of Jezebel. She worshipped other gods, even after God demonstrated His power. Unlike David, when she was confronted with God's correction, she did not repent. Jezebel, like David, serves as more than a warning to a single gender: all Christians need to be wary of turning to false gods, and of failing to heed correction from the Lord.
What can we do when everything seems to be against us? Sometimes we have to be creative--and trust. We meet Moses' mother in the second chapter of Exodus.
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river."
We don't learn this woman's name until chapter 6, but it is Jochebed. Bible does tell us that both she and her husband are of the tribe of Levi. Because they are of the tribe of Levi, their sons will be eligible to become priests when the law is given. In chapter 6 we will learn that she actually married her nephew. In Egypt the Pharaoh had decreed that all male infants of the Hebrews should be killed. He feared the Israelites would take over his land just by shear numbers. In this climate, Jochebed conceived and bore a son. She recognized the beauty in her son; Stephen says that he was "beautiful before God" (Acts 7:20). She disobeys the law, and hides her son for three months. After three months she can not longer conceal the child, and develops a desperate plan. After making a basket water tight, she releases him onto the water.
Moses' sister stays to watch what happens to the baby. Pharaoh's daughter spots the basket and has it retrieved. When she sees it contains a child, she decides to keep it. Moses' sister goes to her, offering to find a nurse for the infant. Exodus 2:8-10 Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Yes.' So the girl went and called the child's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you wages.' So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, 'because,' she said, 'I drew him out of the water.'"
"These are the families of the Levites according to their genealogies. Amram married Jochebed his father's sister and she bore him Aaron and Moses, and the length of Amram's life was one hundred thirty-seven years."
"By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king's edit."
Hebrews indicates Jochebed had faith. Many times we hear that a wife must go through her husband before she can act. But Jochebed acted on her faith without seeking permission or commission from Amram. She demonstrated creativity, problem-solving and devotion to her child that can teach us today. Many of us will not trust the Lord to protect children in schools-Jochebed trusted God to protect her child floating in a basket on a crocodile infested river. God doesn't have a chain of command for creativity or faith. He gifts and rewards us as He deems fit. What was Jochebed's reward for her creativity? She not only got to care for her son, but got paid for doing it!
This woman may be Ahinoam, however Jonathon's mother is not specifically identified. Many mothers and fathers will identify with Saul's statements: When a child causes problems they suddenly become the other parents off-spring.
1 Samuel 20:30:
"Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathon. He said to him, 'You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?'"
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
Judith married into a dysfunctional family, and seemed to make things ever worse. We tend to think of family conflicts as a modern development, but the Bible honestly describes family conflict even "back in the day".
"The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A, and are used by permission. All rights reserved."