At the Mothers’ Union Meeting on the 4th April, Father Philip gave a very interesting talk on mothers in the Bible. After a quiz, in which our members had 100% (with all answers correct!), Fr. Philip circulated a copy of Proverbs 31, the first two lines of which are; ‘A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.’ All the Mothers’ Union Members, being extremely capable themselves, were in total agreement!
Here are my notes from Fr. Philip’s talk.
The talk started with Eve, wife of Adam, whom she caused to sin by his eating the fruit (it doesn’t say apple!) from the forbidden tree. For this reason, Eve is regarded as the one who caused mankind to fall from innocence. In the Creation, Adam and Eve are not historical people. ‘Adam’ means ‘man’ and ‘Eve’ means ‘woman’ – not individuals but as a ‘picture’ of the origins of human life – ‘Eve’ the mother of all the human race.
Sarah, wife of Abraham, was unable to have a child. As the custom was then, she suggested to Abraham that he take Hagar, Sarah’s maid, to give him the heir he wanted. Hagar had a son and he was named Ishmael. However, in later life, when Sarah was very old, God blessed her, giving her a son, Isaac. Because of the way Ishmael treated Isaac, there was enmity between them. This led to Hagar and Ishmael being sent away and, through Ishmael, to the founding of the Arab nations. From Isaac, the descent of the Jewish people continued and later led to the Christian faith – and thus to what are known today as the three Abrahamic faiths – with two mothers, Sarah and Mary, and one father, Abraham.
Rebekah, the wife of Isaac (Abraham and Sarah’s son) gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Rebekah, who is not a good example of motherhood, favoured Jacob and used devious means to gain prominence for him and the all-important blessing of his father.
About Bathsheba, King David’s second wife and mother of Solomon, little is known. However, Solomon, one of her four sons, became the wisest, greatest leader that Israel has ever known.
Jochebed was the mother of Moses. Because of Pharaoh’s decree – on fearing the rapid growth of the Hebrew population – that all male babies should be killed at birth, Jochobed put her baby, Moses, in a basket and placed him in the River Nile. It was Pharaoh’s own daughter that found him and brought him up as her own child. Unknowingly, she hired Jochebed to nurse him.
Hannah, mother of Samuel the prophet, had great influence on Samuel’s life. She had been childless and had prayed for a child, promising that, if granted, the child, when born, would be promised to the Lord. When her prayers were answered and Samuel was born, he became a Nazarite, was given to the Temple and became one of the greatest prophets ever known. Hannah was a prayerful woman and had great faith.
Rachel, one of Jacob’s two wives, had two sons, – Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob favoured Rachel’s sons more than those of his other wife, Leah, perhaps because Rachel died in childbirth with Benjamin.
Naomi, known as the mother-in-law of Ruth, was a Moabite, wife of Elimelech of Bethlehem. Having lost husband and sons, she returned to her homeland and there she helped to bring about the marriage of her daughter-in-law Ruth to wealthy Boaz.
Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, was wife of Zechariah, a priest. She was saddened because she was barren. A woman’s role, and reason for being, in those days, was motherhood. Elisabeth was told by an angel that she would have a son. That child was to become John the Baptist, a hard, uncompromising man but there to do God’s work.
Elisabeth was also cousin to Mary, to become mother of Jesus, who was living in Nazareth.
Mary was given the privilege of being the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary was chosen by God for her godly character and her trust in Him. Because of her complete obedience to God’s will, Mary is thought of as the one who brought about the redemption of the world. She is also thought of as the second Eve.
We see many instances in the Bible of how God uses both mother and child for His purpose. Through Mary’s acceptance of God’s will, peace and joy will come to the world. Through her willing acceptance of suffering and pain and through the life, death and resurrection of her son Jesus – the Son of God – come light and life to all people.
Mothers have two special things – the strength that God gives and God’s own confidence in us to act for Him in the world. So, mothers, here’s your cue!