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The Biblical Role of Women Part XI

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I had promised to look at sacrificial love and respect in marriage in Part XI, but after further study, this post had to come first to lay a proper foundation. Enjoy!

 

dreamstime_l_47405125 copyMan, Woman, and Fire

 

Up until now, we have only explored the roles of the male (zakar) and the female (neqevah).[1] In this post, we will look at what it means to be a man or husband (ish) and a woman or wife (ishshah).

For this reason a man (ish) shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife (ishshah); and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24)

Let’s begin by looking at the ish and ishshah in Hebrew.[2] Below are Brown, Driver, and Brigg’s Hebrew definitions.

אישׁ

BDB Definition: (ish) 1) man 1a) man, male (in contrast to woman, female) 1b) husband 1c) human being, person (in contrast to God) 1d) servant 1e) mankind 1f) champion 1g) great man 2) whosoever 3) each (adjective)

 

אשּׁה

BDB Definition: (ishshah) 1) woman, wife, female 1a) woman (opposite of man) 1b) wife (woman married to a man) 1c) female (of animals) 1d) each, every (pronoun)

Man אישׁ and woman אשּׁה share two Hebrew letters: aleph and shin. The difference between the two is that man has the letter yohd and woman has the letter hey. Interestingly, if we put these two together, it spells Yah (yohd, hey). Yah is the poetic form of God’s Name.[3] In other words, the man and the woman each have a piece of the name and authority of God, but only when they come together as one flesh, can we see the Creator’s Name.

יהּ = Yah

This shouldn’t be surprising considering that it takes both the male and the female to display the image of Elohim (God) in the earth. But before we take this further, let’s see what the ish and ishshah share in common. What does aleph and shin spell in Hebrew?

 

אשׁ = Fire

 Man and woman are beings of fire without the yohd and hey (Yah/God).[4] What does this mean? I believe this depicts two different yet complimentary things to us. I want to explore both. The most obvious side of this issue and the one most often taught is the negative aspect. Fire, burning, and consuming are rarely seen as something positive. In the case of men and women or husband and wife, we understand this all too well. If we say that our marriage is burning, we most likely mean that it is falling apart, collapsing from within, or turning into ashes. Thus, let’s consider this for a moment.

Fire is Destructive

Fire burns. Fire is hot. Fire consumes. Fire can destroy life. If you touch a flame, the effects are painful long after you remove your hand. Nothing hurts quite like a burn. And nothing scars our flesh in a worse way. Flesh can literally melt in a fiery furnace. And yet, at the core of our being, you and I (man or woman) ARE fire (aish). Does that sound scary? You see, we can easily (or maybe not so easily) relate to YHWH as being a “consuming fire”, but how often have you thought of yourself as one?

lion fireThe truth is that with or without YHWH, we are still FIRE. We are truly made in the image of our “fiery” Creator. Do you recall from Part IX how we are either a builder or a destroyer? The analogy is the same here. The question is: “What will you do with your fire?”

If we are fueled by the motives and desires of the flesh, we will burn and consume ourselves and our relationships with a destructive heat. Even if we manage to put the flames out, irrevocable damage and scarring is left in our wake. We must be very careful and intentional with the power the Creator has granted unto us.

Men and women are “hot”, and not in a sexy way. The fact that our FLESH naturally produces heat has a spiritual message to teach. If we live by the “flame” of our desires, we are sure to find ourselves in the Refiner’s fire of correction.[5] (How’s that for a living parable?)

 

Fire Cleanses and Refines

On the other hand, fire can cleanse and refine. Fire can give warmth. Fire can tenderize and cook meat. Fire can form, shape, and create new land. Fire and can refine precious metals. Fire can transform dead soil into a rich fertile environment. Fire can preserve life.

Fire, when handled properly and surrounded by definite boundaries, is a very good thing. Thus, we use phrases such as “I’m on fire” to describe our zeal, compassion, blessed efforts, and the like. We even use it to express a winning streak in life or in a game. Not all fire is destructive.

In fact, there are certain seeds that will not germinate and sprout to life without the intense heat from fire. The giant redwoods (sequoias) are a fine example of this. This is interesting considering that most seeds will sprout in the presence of just water. If we look at this natural picture from a spiritual standpoint, the seeds (Word of God) sprout or produce life in the presence of both water and fire. (Does this remind you of baptism in water and fire? The pillar of cloud and pillar of fire? The judgment of water (flood) and of fire? The river of life and the lake of fire?)

At first glance, water and fire seem like polar opposites. But if Hebraic thought has taught me anything it is that every word has the potential to be a contranym and that two diametrically opposed concepts often have a mighty truth to teach if we will just wrestle with the opposites.

The contrast of water and fire was first given to us in Genesis chapter one. The first reference to the Holy Spirit is on Day one of creation where He is hovering or moving upon the faces of WATER. (Gen 1:2). Then, God says, “let there be light”. Light can easily be associated with fire. We see a repeat of this contrast of water and fire on day two when the heavenly waters (shamayim) are separated from the earthly waters (mayim). (Gen. 1:6-8)

shinThe shamayim (heavens) are quite literally waters (mayim) with a shin prefix. As we mentioned above, shin is not only one of the two letters that make the Hebrew word for fire, but it also physically looks like tongues of fire! Thus, it is quite easy to deduce (as Rashi did) that the heavens are indeed waters of fire or fire waters.[6] For our purposes here, the main point is that from the very beginning until the very end, God uses the imagery of both water and fire to not only express His nature, presence, Word, creativity, judgment, and harvest, but also to express similar things in us! The fact that the Hebrew words ish and ishshah depict the heart of men and women as fire and the scientific fact that our “hot” bodies of flesh are composed of mostly water only reiterates this apparent dichotomy.

cropped-art-fire-and-ice-wallpapers-hd-1080p-high-quality-widescreen-hd-wallpaperAre you fire or are you water? The answer is yes. And both water and fire can either destroy life or preserve it. When our lifeblood begins to boil, will it be in lust? In anger? With envy? Or will we give our warmth over to preserve life? To clothe or feed the naked? To defend the helpless?

The truth is that our fire can only be fueled from two places. We either fan the flames with that which is below the expanse or that which is above the expanse. Will our fire come from our lower earthly nature or from the cool, blue, fiery heavens? Both burn with intense heat, both can destroy or purify, but only one does so with a soothing heat that promises everlasting life.

‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Mat 6:10)

Back into the Frying Pan

Man

I think you get the analogy now. But I want to zoom back in on the differences between the ish and ishshah one more time. Remember that the word for man or husband contains fire (aish) and the letter yohd. The yohd is a pictograph of a hand (yahd) or a fist. It has the numerical value of ten and carries the idea of working or creating.[7]

fire hand 2This is similar to the function of the zakar (male), but with more emphasis. A man or a husband is for all intents and purposes “a hand on fire”. The fire within a man needs to be channeled into working or creating. (Perhaps this is why so many men love to collect tools. Or why they and boys love mission oriented video games.) A man with idle hands will always find trouble and destruction.[8] Thus, a man’s (and a husband’s) greatest strength is found in what he does with his hands. It is his actions that show YHWH to his wife, to his children, and the world at a large. (And actions really do speak louder than words!)

Do you recall from Part I how the zakar literally serves YHWH when he works the ground? A man’s career will bring him the most fulfillment when he labors to till, guard, and keep what YHWH has given him to tend. In marriage, one way that a man serves his wife and children is by reaping the produce of his labor. Ideally, the provision he provides sustains the family. In this way, his “contained” fire preserves life.

The “hand on fire” or the man has great potential. Those fiery fists can accomplish mighty things. If they are fueled by the cool heavenly flames, his hands will become callused and strong by putting food on the table, building the house, leading and blessing his family, and sometimes even wielding a rod that gently corrects the children. All feel safe, secure, and loved by the large worn hands that create and protect a home that is warmed by his fire.

But as you’ve already surmised, this great strength is also a man’s or husband’s biggest test. Hands that strike and abuse, hands that withdraw when they should caress, hands that fail to work, hands that deal under the table, hands that touch what is forbidden… all these things are a misuse of a man’s fire, but are no less powerful. No one is safe, secure, or loved by a man that gives his fire to these destructions. It won’t take long before his house turns to ashes and all of his labors are consumed.

The good news is that we always have a choice to change fuel sources. A man that finds himself wearing sack cloth and sitting in ashes can rebuild. And if he stays the course, those very ashes will make the ground doubly fruitful. There is always hope. YHWH desires reconciliation. And He loves even the fallen.

Woman

 In the case of the ishshah, a woman or wife is fire with the addition of the letter hey. Hey has a numerical value of five and means a breath or to behold.[9] Pictographically, the letter hey portrays a person with arms lifted up or of an open window. Both imply making something known by drawing attention to it. In other words, the fire of a woman is meant to REVEAL something. I hope you recall from Part X that while women are the epitome of what is hidden, they do in fact reveal (prophetic).

They also draw attention to what isn’t easily seen. For example, YHWH is a Spirit. Though we can’t physically “see” Him, it is usually a woman (mother, grandmother, wife, sister, or the like) that first reveals our hidden God to others. (See Part IX for more on this.) As a wife, a woman can often intuit certain motives of people or circumstances that affect her husband and children. Again, this is her revealing something that is hidden. To make these things known, she must use her hey or breath.

fiery breathThus, for all intents and purposes, a woman is a “fiery breath”. Yikes! That sounds too much like a dragon for my liking! Yet, the fact remains that a woman who is not walking uprightly can sure depict this flaming beast. Just ask any man with a nagging, controlling, or contentious wife.

Ideally, a woman’s gentle breath will be a flame of fervent prayers, praises, and edification. In fact, the hey pictures this very thing. In ancient Hebrew, hey looked more like a person standing with arms lifted high. This is a worship pose. It is certainly one of praise! Perhaps this is why so many women are such valiant worshippers, dancers, counselors, and prayer warriors.

In marriage, this strength carries over to her husband as well. How many of you have read in multiple self help books on marriage that one of man’s greatest desires from his wife is praise? Well, the Hebrew is one more witness to this truth. A man is motivated to work even harder and to stoke the flames brighter when he has a woman that gushes his praises.

Like it or not, we were created to function this way as one flesh. When a man functions in his righteous role as that loving hand of fiery work,[10] the woman feels “safe and secure”, which compels her mouth to sing fiery praises to her man.[11] The converse is also true. Actually, the jury is out on which comes first here… the chicken or the egg. What I do know is that the roles are reciprocal and one fans the flames of the other. If we do our part, even when it seems futile or even if it’s the last thing we “feel” like doing and we don’t grow weary, the other half naturally changes. Change always starts with YOU, not your spouse. But I digress… let’s continue with the woman.

The strength of a wife or woman is in how she expresses the praises of both Adonai and her man. With words women reveal the will and Word of God to their husband and children. Words can encourage, inspire greatness, and motivate others. Words can bind up wounds and brokenness. Words can uncover the heart of a matter or situation. Women are far more relational than men. Our lives focus and center around our family and friends and to maintain these relationships we use our words in person, on the phone, and through social media. There’s a reason women are known for “talking”.

refiners-fireBut like our counterpart, the ish, it is also our greatest test. I once heard someone say that our greatest trials and tests are in our strengths, not our weaknesses. The Refiner’s fire isn’t fun, but it is better to suffer for the sake of righteousness than for the sake of unrighteousness.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet. 4:12-13 ESV)

I wonder how many of these “fiery trials” occurs within marriages? I suspect a great deal. And ladies, how often is our strength (our mouth) the reason for our troubles? Dr. Alewine says that women have trouble with “delivery”. She intends the pun because it encompasses childbirth and delivering a message. How we say things, the way it comes off of our lips, MATTERS.

Women can be gossipy, cheeky, and manipulative with words. Women know how to say all the right things, but say it in a way that undermines the very message they are conveying. With a look, sigh (breath), or even a smile, they can tell you everything you need to know about what they are really thinking. That old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie from the pit of hell. Words give or destroy life! And words are indeed associated with fire in the Bible.[12]

When a woman speaks solely from her emotions or feelings her fire can race out of control. The flood from her lips can consume an entire forest. (People are trees!) And because women are gifted with juggling multiple tasks and holding numerous issues, topics, and stressors in the forefront of their mind at one time, this flood can touch EVERY area of the person she spews on at once. Somebody yell, “FIRE!”

We need some water on aisle 9! The good news is that all this destruction can be redeemed. Perhaps, a giant sequoia will grow from the ashes. But of course, the better path is to allow the seeds to sprout after a gentle rain. My prayer is that we LEARN the difference and choose to be a breath of shalom. (By the way, the breath can be another symbol for the Holy Spirit, the ideal role model for the female. See Part V for more detail.)

One Flesh

Now, none of this is meant to limit an ish or ishshah to a one-size-fits-all box. Obviously, men use words and women use their hands! But what this does teach us is that men have more proclivities toward work that involves their hands, physical labor, or just “rolling up their sleeves” to conquer a task (literally and figuratively); whereas, women usually shine brighter when they are able to interact with others in a relational way. There will always be some cross over between the roles of men and women. My thoughts are expressing the general rule based on what I see in real life, the Hebrew language, and the Bible.

Remember, you are not just a light, but also a fire. Burn responsibly.

In upcoming Part XII, we will continue the man, woman, and fire with a tie-in on sacrificial love and respect. For previous posts in this series click here

See also Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel Workbook 3: The Spirit-Filled Family, p. 39


[1] See Part I.

[2] These transliterations are pronounced eesh and eesh-shah. There is NO short English “i” sound in Hebrew. Every time you see an “i” in a Hebrew transliteration, it is marking the long double “e” (ee) sound. For example, Elohim (God) does not sound like the English word “him” at the end. It sounds like “heem”. If you hear someone making a short “i” sound in a Hebrew word, it is incorrect. 🙂 As my Hebrew teacher taught me, Hebrew uses strong pure vowels. I guess she was implying that English is impure, lol.

[3] For example, see Psalm 77:11. ( Strong’s H3050) Many translations simply translate the poetic name Yah with LORD as they do for the Most Holy Name YHWH. You can search online Bibles to see the poetic version for yourself.

[4] Fire is often transliterated as aish, esh, or aysh. Make the English letter “a” say it’s name then add “sh” to the end and you’re saying it correctly.

[5] But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. (Mal. 3:2-4 ESV)

[6] The great Jewish commentator Rashi asserts that in Genesis 1:8, “God mingled fire with water and of them made the heavens“. He bases this on an etymological analysis of the Hebrew word for heavens. Rashi explains that shamayim is a compound of the words for fire (esh) and water (mayim).

I wrote about the spiritual aspect of water (and somewhat on fire) in Miriam’s Cup Part I, Part II, and Part III.

You can also read more about the creation days, including the mayim and shamayim, by studying Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel Workbook One.

[7] For more on the value of ten, see Hebrew Numbers 1-10.

[8] Pro. 19:15

[9] For more on the number five, see Hebrew Numbers 1-10.

[10] This implies much more than a “job”. I mean work in the fullest sense of the word. Work at work. Work at home. Work for YHWH. Work in marriage. No man does this without LOVE, which we will explore in Part XII.

[11] This is respect or reverence, which we will cover in Part XII.

[12] Think of YHWH’s Ten Words coming from a “smoking” Mt. Sinai and the tongues (words/language) of fire that rested upon the disciples in Acts 2. If good and righteous words are akin to fire, you better believe that there is a counterfeit! What do you think the watery river that flows from the mouth of the dragon in Revelation 12:15-16 is metaphorically speaking about? Remember, water and fire mirror one another. (You can see this comparison in my post on The Rivers of Eden.)

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The Biblical Role of Women Part X

Role of Women Main Page

In Part VIII and Part IX, we discovered that women (and men as the bride of Messiah) either build the House of Adonai or they tear it down. We also looked at how YHWH sovereignly chose to first entrust the Torah and the Gospel with His daughters. Again, this is about building His House. It is the mother who first teaches a child the Torah. Then later, as the child matures, the Father brings the stronger correction (mussar).

 

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction (mussar) And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (torah). (Pro. 1:8)

My son, observe the commandment (mitzvah) of your father And do not forsake the teaching (torah) of your mother. (Pro. 6:20)

 

In both of the proverbs mentioned above, the father is mentioned first, but it is the Torah of the mother that is not to be forsaken. To forsake is to abandon or forget – implying something that was learned beforehand. Infants begin life by receiving the nourishing milk of the mother in both the physical and in the spiritual through her teaching. In light of this simplicity, it is easy to understand why the women were the first to receive and proclaim the Torah and the Gospel. The tender mercies of a mother’s teaching are balanced by the stricter judgment/correction of the Father. Both are necessary to bring a child to maturity. (This is true physically and spiritually.)

 

The Hidden Woman and Time

 

I hope that you have noticed a common theme emerging throughout my posts on women. The woman is often “hidden” within the biblical narratives, much like she was once “hidden” within Adam. There is good reason for this when we take the whole of Scripture into account. Righteous women are a living representation of the Holy Spirit; and as such, they also portray the prophetic or what is future.

 

If that sounds too far fetched for your liking, let us first consider the Hebraic concept of time. Westerners typically view the past as being what is “behind” us, whereas the future is what is in “front” or ahead of us. Thus, to encourage someone to stop dwelling on past mistakes, we might tell them to “stop looking back” (past) or to “focus on what is ahead” (future). But in Hebraic thought, these expressions are reversed. The past is what you can see; it’s in front of you (and your eyes). The future (what you can’t see) is behind you. Perhaps the following illustration will flesh out this notion.

 

ff_130330_6339-Edit

In this image, the man is the power (motor/rower) and the one steering. But as such, he faces away from where he is headed. The woman in the boat is the one that can clearly see upcoming obstacles in their path. Can you see the roles of men and women in this analogy?

Imagine someone rowing a boat down a river. The river is time. In order to row a boat, a person must face backwards while rowing forward down the river. What the rower can see with his eyes is the area he has already travelled. (past) Because he doesn’t face in the direction he is headed, he cannot see what is ahead (future). This is truly how mankind experiences time. What has already happened (past) is clearly seen and understood, but the future is unclear and unknown. I know this totally reverses the definitions of hindsight and foresight, but I’ve found that most things in western thought compared with Hebraic thought are (sadly) reversed! Things like this shouldn’t surprise us any more.

 

Do you recall the function or role of the male from Part I? He is to remember (zakar). In order to remember or recall something, the thing being referred to would have already happened. In other words, it requires looking at what’s in front of you on the river of time. (Past) Everything that YHWH has said, the male is to remember and act on that Word. (This doesn’t excuse women from doing the same! The two become ONE flesh.) The man guards and protects all those things that are clearly “written”. Moreover, what is “past” is evident; there is no ambiguity. In other words, the past is firm or set in stone. Just like the written Word of God, it does not change. Can you see how this makes the male a picture of not only a firm foundation on which to build, but also associates him with time past? (Both are firm, set, solid, and reliable.)

 

As the male’s counter balance, the female should then represent the other side of this coin or what is “future”. Does Scripture indicate that this might be true? I believe that it does. Before we look at the Biblical text, let’s first consider the things that women do. They birth, nurture, and build the House or the future of God’s people. The stories involving women in the Bible are more hidden (or obscure) in the text. When we do encounter women in the Biblical record, prophetic (future) things are often being revealed.

 

Moreover, In Part I, we looked at the neqevah or female as a protector and setter of of boundaries. But when we examine the context of this word in its further uses, something awesome is revealed. Often neqevah is juxtaposed with sound alike Hebrew words that deal with future expectation. For example, qevah without the nun prefix means to wait, expect, or hope. All of these words imply looking toward something that is future. [1] But even more interesting, if we add the nun back to qevah as a prefix, it indicates the collective future tense! Reread Jeremiah 31:22 with this in mind and the prophetic picture is heightened to include an expectation for a good future. 

 

Sometimes, at first glance, the motives of women are uncertain. Women usually have a strong sense of “knowing” or great intuition into things that are hidden or concealed from plain sight. They can often pick up on things in the spiritual realm easier than men. This is why most of the great women referenced in the Bible are called “prophetesses”. [2] They represent the future and the prophetic. I could go on, but you get the point. It takes both a male and female to display the image of Elohim in the earth. And life cannot be understood separately from time.

 

Future-Present-Past-1680x1050The Most Holy Name of our Elohim, YHWH (yohd, hey, vav, hey), is the very essence of time. As a form of the verb “to be”, the I Am, He is the One who is, who was, and who is to come. In other words, He is our present, our past, and our future. YHWH is time itself. Thus, it is no coincidence that mankind (male and female) as His image in the earth also typify time.

 

Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together, as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH. Both men and women are equally important in displaying the image of God and His time clock. YHWH’s calendar masterfully weaves together both the past (remember) and the future (what is to come) in His holy moedim (feasts). Women are intrinsically connected to the rhythms and cycles of the Creator’s calendar. You can read more about this in my series entitled Moonbeams and the Moedim.

 

YHWH has plainly told us that His desire is to REVEAL Himself unto His people. Men, in the image of God, represent what YHWH has already revealed of Himself (past). Women represent how YHWH works behind the scenes of our lives and the many promises and plans He has for us (future). If we could just grasp the enormity of what will happen when the woman is revealed, then we’d all be screaming from the rooftops, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’”

 

Key #1 Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together, 
as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH.

 

The Revealed Man and Time

 

For the most part, men (and their role) have stood out in the Biblical text, in history, and within marriages and families. This is to be expected since men are a picture of the past and what is REVEALED. We don’t have to “look” for the masculine. The role of the man stands out, just as they do physically. Nothing is hidden.

 

Conversely, women represent what is HIDDEN. If the role of women were easy to “see” or discern, there would be no need for this series. In the natural, this truth is likewise expressed to us in our most intimate parts that create life. I know this is rather crude, but consider that a woman’s reproductive organs are “hidden”, whereas a man’s reproductive organs stand out. Men are clearly revealed; women are concealed. Do you think this is just happenstance? Can this natural picture also be speaking a spiritual truth?

 

If so, why would we ever consider that one supersedes the other? It takes both male and female “parts” to create life in the natural. Do you suppose it is any different in the spiritual realm? I submit to you that it is not. The ideal function of both man and woman is to express the image of God in the earth. While their “parts” or roles are different, it takes both working together to create New Life. If one side of this coin is shunned, regulated, oppressed, usurped, or gagged Abundant Life cannot grow.

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Why Does This Matter?

 

Abundant life includes happy and healthy marriages. It also includes the entire Body of Messiah (men and women) being able to function within the full capacity of their roles in our assemblies. My hope in the remaining articles of this series is to emphasize the fact that YHWH’s ideal for men and women is to work together. [3] Each is one half of the whole.

 

The problem is with our fallen natures or our evil inclinations. The old man operates from a place of fear rather than love. This is why we still struggle greatly not only in the roles of the sexes, but in every other area of life as well. But our Redeemer beckons us to walk in New Life. We will take a deeper look at this in Part XI, which will explore sacrificial love (daat) and respect (yirat) especially in regard to marriage.

For past articles in this series, click here. For Part XI click here.

See also Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel Workbook 3: The Spirit-Filled Family, p. 40

Key #1 Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together,
as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH.


 

 [1] See The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread Workbook Four, page 140 (2012) by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. Also see Strong’s number H6960 (qevah or kavah). 

[2]  Examples include Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Anna.

 [3] Other areas that this series will look at:

Sacrificial Love and Respect in Marriage

Ish and Ishah (Man and Woman) and Fire

The Hidden Womb of Woman

Character Studies of Biblical Women

 

 

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Miriam’s Cup Part II

In Miriam’s Cup Part I, we looked at the rather new custom of drinking WATER from a goblet inscribed with Miriam’s name during the Passover Seder. We explored where this tradition originated and why it may be important to incorporate into your own Seder. We also discovered the strong connection of Miriam with water. In this post, we will look at how the Holy Spirit is also linked to the imagery of water, wisdom, Pesach, and women.

© Lakis Fourouklas

© Lakis Fourouklas

The Three Leaders of Israel and the Godhead

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam. (Micah 6:4)

The rabbis teach us that there are three good gifts that were extended to the children of Israel– the well, the clouds, and the manna.  The well was provided due to the merit of Miriam, the clouds of glory because of Aaron, and the manna on account of Moses.[1]

The link between the clouds of glory and Aaron is understandable when considering his specific role. Aaron officiated as High Priest in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that was perpetually covered with the protective pillar of cloud that shielded it by day.  He also ministered daily at the burning altar, just as the parallel pillar of fire hovered over the Mishkan at night.[2] Moses’ association with the heavenly manna is equally fathomable. He was the lawgiver and became synonymous with the Torah or Word of God. Bread (manna) has long been a symbol for the Torah and the Word.

What might not be immediately apparent is why the rabbis attribute the well or rock that gushed forth water in the wilderness with Miriam. In the Brit Chadashah (N.T.), we learn that the rock that followed them was in fact, Messiah.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1Cor. 10:1-4)

Is there a contradiction between what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians and what the rabbi’s say about this “rock” or “well”? I hope to show you the harmony in their teachings with all three leaders (Moses, Aaron, and Miriam) and the glorious gifts (clouds, manna, and the well). In Part I, we started building the foundation as to why Miriam is linked to water. I hope to continue with this premise here. In the Book of Numbers, the water from the rock dries up immediately following Miriam’s death.

Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. (Num. 20:1-2)

The Torah seems to beg one to ask the question as to why the congregation had no water immediately following the death of Miriam. In Hebrew, these thoughts run together with a rhythmic flow. Indeed, the people viewed her as a source of life giving waters. Hopefully, you too can make this connection after reading Part I.

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam represented the King of the Universe on the earth. Is it not fitting that there were 3 of them? Isn’t the godhead most often manifested in 3 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? Perhaps what may be eating at you is that Elohim would choose a female to represent one of His roles. Moses is clearly the strong father figure to Israel (as Law giver), Aaron is clearly a mediator and priest (like the Son, Yeshua), so Miriam and the life giving waters must represent the Holy Spirit. If you’ve read the Role of Women, this idea isn’t as threatening as it may first appear.

Hebrew students are fully aware that the Spirit of Elohim is always in the feminine form. (This is true of all spirits.) Thus, its not surprising to find God’s Spirit paired with feminine attributes or given to feminine metaphors quite frequently in the Bible. YHWH is neither male nor female, yet He has qualities that we would associate with each sex. This is why it takes BOTH a male and a female to display the image of Elohim in the natural.

The Ruach Hakodesh in Heaven and Earth

To better understand how Miriam, water, and the Holy Spirit can be equivalent expressions, review the first occurrence of Elohim’s Spirit is in Genesis.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

What is the Spirit of Elohim doing in the beginning? It is hovering or moving over the WATERS. Thus, our first association of the Ruach Hakodesh is with water. The primordial waters are separated into earthly waters (mayim) and heavenly waters (shamayim). Did you notice how waters and heavens sound alike in Hebrew? Can you see mayim in the shamayim?

Interestingly, the word for heavens, shamayim, denotes “fire waters” as it is a compound of the word water (mayim) and fire (esh).[4] We will explore this idea some more in a moment. But first,  look at the word for Spirit in Hebrew: ruach. Most of you already know that ruach is also the word for wind or breath. What might not be immediately obvious is that the air and wind are the heavenly counterparts to the earthly water currents. Wind powers most ocean and air currents. In Hebraic thought these “currents” of the mayim and shamayim reflect one another. Or you could say that “it is on earth as it is in heaven”.

Consider how the birds and fish move, migrate, school, or flock as they follow these currents across the globe — carrying seed. If you find these connections fascinating, I urge you to study Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s Creation Gospel.[5] You’ll never look at creation week or the whole of scripture again without noticing these often repeated themes. Waters and heavens are mirrors of one another; therefore, the notion that the Holy Spirit is both like wind and water is natural in Hebraic thought.

In the Gen. 1:2 verse above, God’s Spirit is moving, hovering, or brooding over the waters. Indeed, the Spirit of YHWH is active like the wind/birds and the water/fish. The Hebrew verb used is rachaph; the AHLB[6] defines it as the following:

Strongs #7363: AHLB#: 2763 (V) Flutter: The stirrings and shakings of a bird in the nest – Flutter: [freq. 3] (vf: Paal, Piel) |KJV: shake, move, flutter| {str: 7363}

Did you notice the tangible picture of a mother bird fluttering, shaking, and stirring her nest? Does this bring other verses to mind about Elohim being a protective mother bird?

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. (Dt. 32:11)

Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it. (Is. 31:5)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Mt. 23:37)

These movements are mimicked in the word for Passover, Pesach. It is a derivative of the protective fluttering actions of a mother bird.[7] [8] Indeed, our Great Elohim moves, flutters, leaps, and hovers over His Creation and His people like a mother protecting her precious chicks. This nurturing aspect of YHWH is divinely displayed in the female creatures of His creation. The Exodus story and the original Passover speak to our initial redemption, which is the Father calling us out for Himself. The “immature” state of the people (and us!) at this initial point of salvation necessitates the tenderness that can only be offered by a mother. Thus, we see YHWH’s Spirit pesach(ing) over the homes of His newborn chicks in Israel.

Pesach and Baptism

By carefully examining what happened when the “death angel” came through Egypt, we see that the same Spirit of YHWH that protected the Israelites also killed the first born of Egypt.

‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12:13)

Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. (Ex. 12:29)

The Ruach HaKodesh can nurture and protect and at the same time bring destruction on His enemies. The Spirit is truly like the “waters” that we discussed in Part I. The difference is that the Holy Spirit is always acting with righteousness, even in judgment. After the Children of Israel are released from the grip of Pharaoh, they flee to the wilderness. Without a constant and considerable food and water source, the fledgling nation would be sure to die.

What happens is follows:

  • After 3 days without water, they reach Marah. The waters are bitter (undrinkable). Moses casts a branch in the waters and they are “sweetened”. (Ex. 15) This was YHWH testing the people.
  • They then find an oasis at Elim where 12 streams water the 12 tribes. (Ex. 15)
  • The people begin to cry out for food. YHWH provides them with the heavenly manna. (Ex. 16)
  • They reach Rephidim and again cry out for water. YHWH instructs Moses to strike the rock at Mt. Horeb and water gushes out for the people. (Ex. 17)

A person can live far longer without food than water. The beginning of Israel’s wilderness journey seems to center around issues of water. Miracles and judgments happen with water. Rejoicing and praise are performed by the edge of water. Bitter water is sweetened as a test. The twelve tribes each find their own refreshing stream at Elim. A miraculous “rock” becomes a well that can sustain millions. That same rock FOLLOWS them!

Water, water everywhere! Though the children can’t see it in the natural, they are surrounded with life giving water. (Does this remind you of the Rivers of Eden?) Is this not just like the Holy Spirit? We can’t see the “Spirit”, yet it is everywhere. One connection to the Spirit and water that is tangible to most all Believers is Baptism (or immersing in a Mikveh).

Baptism is a natural picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in the very beginning. The movement and separation of the mayim (water) and shamayim (fire waters) is the same moving and separating that happens when we experience this ritual.[9] It may be an outward symbol of an inward work, but to assume the Holy Spirit isn’t directly involved (and often in a very visible way) is not true. The washing and filling is pictured by both the water and the holy fire! Sometimes these are simultaneous experiences, and sometimes they are separate. Nevertheless, they reflect one another like the waters and the heavens and like the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. Unlike some, I fully believe this process is in continual motion and cyclical even in our individual lives.

But this still leaves us with our original question. Why are Messiah and Miriam both equated to the rock or well of water in the wilderness? Speaking of Messiah, Paul also has this to say:

  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9 KJV)

Elohim is One (Shema Dt. 6:4). When Yeshua walked the earth, He was the tangible form of the fullness of YHWH. Thus, we see Him in numerous places attributing an action to Himself and then declaring that the same action is really from the Holy Spirit or the Father.

Yeshua will not leave us comfortless, He will come to us, yet the comforter is the Holy Spirit.[10] Yeshua gives us Living Waters, but then proclaims that these waters are the Holy Spirit.[11] Just as Moses and even Aaron were prefigures of the Messiah, so is Miriam. The analogies are similar to both Moses and Yeshua being the Law giver. Or both Aaron and Yeshua being the High Priest. Why would it be any different for both Miriam and Yeshua to be the well in the rock?  Therefore, who is right? The rabbis or Paul? The answer is both!

Stay tuned for one last post in this series. My hope is to conclude by filling Miriam’s Cup with the Living Waters and the Mashiach in Part III.


[1] Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), Tractate Ta’anit 9a:  R. Jose the son of R. Judah says: Three good leaders had arisen for Israel … Moshe, Aaron and Miriam, and for their sake three good things were conferred [upon Israel], namely, the Well, the Pillar of Cloud and the Manna; the Well, for the merit of Miriam; the Pillar of Cloud for the merit of Aaron; the Manna for the merit of Moshe.

[2] Exodus 40:38

[3] See my post The Biblical Role of Women Part V for more on the feminine aspects of the Holy Spirit.

[4] The roots of the word shamayim are אש (esh, fire) and מים (mayim, water) The beginning letter א (aleph) is a silent stand-in for a beginning consonant, nothing more. Dropping it does not change the meaning of the two-letter word. So the Hebrew שמים literally means fire in water. The great Jewish commentator Rashi  says this about Genesis 1:8: The word shamayim is a contraction of [a word for] carrying of water, also [a word meaning] there is water, also esh and mayim, [meaning] fire and water. He blended them with one another and made the heavens from them. For more imagery of fire, see The Biblical Role of Women Part XI.

[5] Thecreationgospel.com

[6] Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner

[7] They share the two letter parent root chet, pey; which means to cover (in protective action).

[8] See my post on the Meaning of Passover.

[9] John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16)

[10] John 14

[11] John 7:38-39

Categories: Moedim, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More Than a Womb-Man

  woman free

   More than a womb-man to me[1] 

You, dear sister, are definitely far more than a “womb-man” to YHWH! That is YOU are more than a man with a womb.[2] Women who cannot or have not had children for any number of reasons can take great comfort in the fact that a woman’s identity is not found in her uterus, but in her unique relationship to the Father and His purpose for her life. A woman can serve YHWH in a vast number of ways that do not involve physical child birth and/or child rearing. And even more importantly, she can find great fulfillment, joy, and happiness as she follows the Master in the Way He leads.

I happen to know several women that are childless. Some of these women are unmarried or widowed. Others have been married for many years, but the King has sovereignly kept their womb closed. One of these women happens to be a very close friend of mine. Therefore, I am sensitive to the plot of these precious daughters of the King. Too often our goodhearted counsel has the opposite effect of what we intend. We haven’t walked in their shoes. We may sympathize with their pain, but we are clueless as to how to express true empathy for this GREAT loss they suffer on a daily basis.

Thus, what we think is encouragement, actually becomes a stumbling block to their healing and/or only a reminder of their lack. Since all women are “built” or wired by the same Creator to be feminine, we all share some innate qualities. Though we are each unique individuals with distinctive personalities, strengths, and gifts; we are, at our core, each still a neqevah (female) that is compelled to surround and protect boundaries[3] that promote growth and maturity. The womb of the woman is an amazing picture of this spiritual reality. And in a perfect world, it is one that every woman would get to experience both physically and spiritually. But we live in a broken world. Things aren’t perfect. Yet, we can learn how to better encourage and minister to these women — and it’s probably not in the way you think.

Some well-meaning teachers bring condemnation upon the heads of these dear sisters without even realizing it by promoting extremist family views that may never be a possibility for this minority. Often these views are out of balance. There is a not a one size fits all rule or commandment for family size, though scripture can be twisted and proof texted to say such.

Women that are unmarried or that have a barren womb are left feeling less than a womb-man to be sure. What is a great blessing to most women in the congregation is a great trial and test for others. The older the woman becomes, the more final the test must feel. And that feeling is often a sense of failure. Failed as a womb-man. Can you even imagine the pain? Even those seasoned and mature in YHWH feel this pain no less. The scab is picked from the wound every time another teacher insists that a woman only finds true fulfillment in birthing physical babies! Again, hear the word failure. Oh my heart cries out for you! And it’s not so much that you’re childless; it’s in the way we have treated you. It’s in our promotion of a narrow-minded view of womanhood that has left you feeling less than a womb-man.

The good news is that these marginalized women are not left in the cold by our great Elohim (even if we inadvertently have). There is more to woman than the physical womb! Thankfully, YHWH is not a “black and white” extremist, nor is He oblivious to the multi-faceted dynamics involved in family, singleness, children, and lack thereof. In fact, there is quite a bit of “grey” area in matters of doctrine, theology, and halachah. Why else do you think it was so vital that Israel institute judges? Matters of faith and doctrine require righteous judgment. There is not a one size fits all answer to every situation or family.

Therefore, when “absolutes” are drawn like lines in the sand, we can be sure that there is a Sith nearby.[4] Perhaps this is why we find Yeshua literally drawing on the ground when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Him. It wasn’t Yeshua that stood on an absolute or rigid commandment; the accusers were the ones pointing to the black and white Law. Yeshua exercised righteous judgment and extended mercy to the woman all while still maintaining or upholding the Spirit of the Torah. We are too often like the scribes and Pharisees, demanding our idea of adherence. Our zeal leaves a wake of bruised and battered bodies —– causalities of our “truth”—- and we never bat an eyelid.

I don’t think the Bee Gees’ had my sentiments in mind with their song More Than a Woman, but as I am writing this post, the tune keeps ringing in my ears. There is a lot faulty etymology out there about the English word “woman”. It has been said that a woman is simply a man —- with a womb. In other words, some well-meaning teachers (falsely) believe that “woman” is a compound of the English words “womb” and “man”. However, even a quick study of the etymology of “woman” will prove this idea to be false.[5] Though being a womb-man appears to be harmless and perhaps even edifying, this concept has and can cause a great deal of damage to the many marginalized daughters of the Most High.

Many people cite Webster’s 1828 dictionary to perpetuate the “womb-man” teaching. Here is Webster’s full entry:

WOMAN, n. plu. women. [a compound of womb and man.]
1. The female of the human race, grown to adult years.
And the rib, which the Lord god had taken from the man, made he a woman. Gen 2.
Women are soft, mild, pitiful, and flexible.
We see every day women perish with infamy, by having been too willing to set their beauty to show.
I have observed among all nations that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings, inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest.
2. A female attendant or servant.
WOMAN, v.t To make pliant.
 
 

While I highly respect (and frequently use) Mr. Webster’s work, it doesn’t make him infallible. I haven’t been able to find any other reference source that even hints to the evidence needed to support Mr. Webster’s suggestion that the English word woman is “a compound of womb and man”. Moreover, no other language ancient and modern (that I can find) shares this leap of faith in the etymology of their word for woman. Therefore, I’m left to conclude that Mr. Webster “assumed” this idea was true just as many other well-meaning people have done in the past and present. (And many of them have done so by blindly accepting Webster’s speculation as truth —- a vicious cycle.)

Where does the English word for “woman” actually originate? Here is Etymology Online’s entry for woman:

(n.) late Old English wimman (plural wimmen), literally “woman-man,” alteration of wifman (plural wifmen), a compound of wif “woman” (see wife) + man “human being” (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Cf. Dutch vrouwmens “wife,” literally “woman-man.”
The formation is peculiar to English and Dutch. Replaced older Old English wif and quean as the word for “female human being.” The pronunciation of the singular altered in Middle English by the rounding influence of -w-; the plural retains the original vowel. Meaning “wife,” now largely restricted to U.S. dialectal use, is attested from mid-15c. Women’s liberation is attested from 1966; women’s rights are from 1840, with an isolated example in 1630s.[6]
 
 

The real etymology of woman has nothing to do with possessing a womb. The counterpart to the Old English “wif” (woman) is “wer” (man).[7] Thus, a male was a “wer” as we still see used in words such as “werewolf”, a man-wolf. None of these old uses are derived from the fact that a female has a womb and male does not.

Please don’t misunderstand my intent in this post. There are some very fascinating truths about femininity and the womb. I am in no way dismissing the importance and significance of the “birthing” nature of women. In fact, I will probably write about the womb at a later date. However, faulty etymology, teachings, and foundations must be removed if we desire to walk in complete freedom and restoration. This is necessary even for those ideas that appear to be harmless and/or helpful. I felt that this issue was vital enough to point out for one reason. We tragically forget that it is the “little” foxes that spoil the vine.

Women have suffered so much throughout the ages. Sadly, our suffering has always been predicated on faulty assumptions, beliefs, opinions, and paradigms. Therefore, I feel it is absolutely crucial that we don’t veer to the left or right as far as we can help it as we seek restoration[8].

Song of Songs 2:15 “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”

I strongly believe that the vineyards of women are truly in blossom. While great truths are being restored to women that are bringing healing, unity, and renewal, there have been and always will be (this side of Kingdom come) little foxes that can and will bring great devastation to our garden in spite of our most diligent efforts.

 

Womb Man

A woman of faith is not solely defined by her physical womb or her children. We must be sensitive to this truth for the sake of our sisters that have closed wombs (or no husband). As I was pondering this delicate issue, I believe the Father revealed to me the heart of the problem and why this uncomfortable reality must be addressed with great compassion.

Consider the mercy and loving-kindness that the Torah extends to marginalized people.

“The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (Dt. 14:29)

“Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. (Dt. 16:10-11)

We are reminded in numerous places NOT to forget the people that do not fit into the ideal “mold” of family. Likewise, those that are poor, different (by status, race, or circumstance) or who have been or are imprisoned are NOT to be forgotten.

How might we forget these souls that are precious to the Father? By forgetting to include them in COMMUNITY. We may be inadvertently doing this by treating them differently because they are unlike our “preconceived” notions of normal. Examples include race, sex, age, weight, health, wealth or lack, marital status, child status, looks, dress, their past, education level, or even their maturity level.

Answer for yourself: How does YHWH look upon these souls He created? Are they made any less glorious than you? Are they not also one made in the image of Elohim? If they are defective in your eyes, does that give you the right to reject them? What if they don’t meet your idea of normal or ideal?

The truth is that we mistreat and ostracize “strangers” all the time. This is a tragedy even if these people are lost pagans. (What a horrible witness!) But even worse, we do this with those seeking and returning to the King and His Torah. Sometimes we miss an opportunity because we are so preoccupied with our own issues and cliques. But more often, we are actually afraid of them. We fear they are going to taint us, our children, and our assemblies. Perhaps we’ve been hurt in the past by a so-called stranger. Perhaps we have encountered wolves along the way. Does our “bad” experience give us a right to shun new-comers or those that don’t fit our ideal mold (and probably never will)?

I’ve heard Dr. Hollisa Alewine say on numerous occasions that ungodly fear is to fear man or circumstances, and anything that we fear — we make holy (set apart)! Read that again. Anything we fear, we make holy. YHWH alone is to be feared (revered) and set apart as holy unto us; therefore, our fear of man and circumstances is irrational and reveals our lack of trust in Him. I hope you let that sink in for moment. I am constantly reminding myself of this truth, because fear loves to pop-up and take you by surprise. We must exercise our faith (trust) like a muscle. Sadly, we often give our strength to the enemy instead.

My focus in this post is marginalized women, but I hope that you will also apply these concepts to all marginalized people. Please consider other passages from the Bible that speak to these issues.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:26-27)

If you forget to bring in a stack of harvested grain, don’t go back in the field to get it. Leave it for the poor, including foreigners, orphans, and widows, and the LORD will make you successful in everything you do. (Dt. 24:19)

Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him: When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death. (Luke 14:12-14)

Oneness versus Singleness

Nothing about the woman BUILT from the side of Adam is male or masculine. In fact, the woman or female is truly the OPPOSITE of maleness. She is feminine. Therefore, there are far more differences between men and women than the physical womb. Dr. John Garr, in his Feminine and Free Series, goes into great detail exploring these differences. Men and women are different (by divine design) physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These differences are how and why the two sexes complement one another. His strengths are her weaknesses and vice versa. For example, women and men often have opposing dispositions, preferences, and purposes. All these differences, ironically, are what make a marriage work. When these variances merge, the couple becomes a picture of the unified Elohim and suitable to display His image in creation.

Each of the sexes exhibit key facets of the image of the One Elohim. Both are equally expressive of the nature of God. One side of this glorious coin can never properly bear the image of the Creator. It truly does, “take two”! The Creator made the one Adam into two distinct yet complimentary beings (male and female) so that they could come back into unity and oneness through marriage.

BUT (on the other hand)!

An unmarried woman is never considered a “sinner” or to be living a life of disobedience if she never marries. While marriage is the great symbol of Messiah and the Assembly, that in no way mandates that every single person on the planet live out this metaphor in the natural. The institution of marriage is the foundation for families and faith; but, we cannot take an “absolute” approach and apply it to every situation. Paul recognizes this truth[9] even though it encompasses a small minority. Hebrew thought is concerned about even the fringes of the camp. YHWH really does care about the one sheep that strays away or that gets left behind. He has provision and purpose for each of us.

Thus, an unmarried and childless woman (or a widow), can and will find great fulfillment if she so chooses. Shaul (Paul) was of the opinion that a woman that had chosen this path would be more blessed/happy (Greek: makarios) than their married counterparts for living in this manner.[10] Sadly, we often only hear one side of this issue from the pulpit. My hope is to lift these women up. They are not black sheep. They are not lost sheep. And they certainly aren’t poor, pitiful, or cursed. In fact, many assemblies and ministries wouldn’t function half as well as they do without the diligence of single childless women and/or married childless women. They are usually a strong bulwark to the whole body! Her service builds strong walls of protection and strength in any ministry she puts her hands to do. We are fools to overlook the line of defense[11] she can provide our assemblies.[12] And we are even greater fools to shun, reject, or pity these power houses of faith.

What sort of role, function, or ministry can these women engage in? Dr. John Garr, in his book Feminine by Design, devotes an entire chapter to the nurturing aspects of women. Dr. Garr believes that “at the very core of every woman’s being…is the nature of nurture.”  Nurture is defined as that which nourishes, promotes growth, educates, trains, raises, develops, offers protection, and encourages.

I want to give you a living example of a single childless woman that I know. This woman has come to the aid of my family numerous times. Her support emotionally, physically, and spiritually has been unmatched by anyone else. She is truly an eshet chayil. She has provided food, prayers, and most importantly TIME. She has tirelessly been at our side when tragedies have struck. The time she devotes is unsurpassed for several reasons. One, she obviously has more time than those with a husband and children. Without these responsibilities, she is able to offer far more than the average person. Second, she has a heart to serve the body in this way, for we are not the only family she ministers to or the only one she has sacrificed her time to help. Third, she is a woman and not a man!

That last reason needs some explanation. While single men can be effective ministers[13], they just aren’t “built” with the same nurturing qualities that a woman naturally possesses. This isn’t a fault on the part of men; it’s simply a difference by divine design. My point is to recognize this strength inherently given to women. Thus, a single childless woman will be unparalleled in the service and ministry given to her by the Creator in areas that require emotional, physical, and spiritual sustenance to those hurting. In this way, she is a “mother” to Israel —- spreading her comforting wings around those that need consoling, edification, healing, or “help” in general. We need to be recognizing these powerhouses in our assemblies. For while they may give all of themselves to us, I wonder how much we offer them in return in the way of edification and validation.

A woman, married or not and childless or not, will be a nurturer in her sphere of influence. The traits of a nurturer are very similar (not surprisingly) to an ezer kenegdo and an eshet chayil. As we discovered in my 7 part series on the Biblical Role of Women, a woman’s desire to function in her purpose is unrelenting. We must be willing to allow these treasures of Elohim to function in the work and service He has for them regardless of their marital or child status. They may have a mighty message to teach us in their lifestyle and service that we may miss if we sidestep their value due to their life circumstance not matching our own.

Singleness can display a powerful facet of the Creator just as Oneness in marriage does. We don’t often like to look at this truth. Catholic priests, monks, and nuns may be the image conjured when we think of abstinence or singleness. While there may be some merit to the Catholic view, I believe it is a twisted version of the Creator’s ideal purpose for these precious souls. In a sense, singleness is truly a higher way of life, because it is also a great sacrifice. This is true whether a person finds themselves in this lifestyle by choice or circumstance. Most, I assume, are there by divine sovereignty, not choice.

Thus, there is great pain and testing for these dear ones as they serve the body. It’s not that they cannot find great joy and fulfillment in their service, but that at their core they are just as human as you and I. They have physical and emotional needs that must be met by faith and not a physical spouse. Perhaps this constant exercise (of their faith) is why so many become living examples of The Comforter and is why their strength in nurturing often borderlines the angelic. For they know better than most how desperately we need these necessities because they struggle daily in the natural in this area.

This is true (though from a different perspective) for married childless women. As women, we are the ones that “birth” or give life in this world. Though men provide the “seed”, we give it the environment, nourishment, and care to see it through to fruition. This is true of far more than physical seed and children. Why do you think women are such fantastic organizers, decorators, and planners? We can often take an idea, subject, or theme and “flesh it out”. Women with children will devote a great deal of this energy into the rearing of her children. (And rightfully so!) But, childless women have these same abilities. Why not give her the opportunity to “flesh-out” all those projects, ministries, and missions that have been left undone? Don’t miss out on the great blessings these women can offer your assemblies.

Celebrate

We must learn to celebrate the diversity within the body of Messiah. The Master seeks out the sick and the lost. He embraced and ministered to the hurting, broken, and sinful. He wasn’t afraid of those that didn’t meet the status quo of the majority’s view of “ideal”. He certainly didn’t fear that the immature, broken, or “different” ones coming into the Kingdom would taint the children. He expressed tenderness, comfort, and mercy to the marginalized people —- all feminine attributes. He came like a mother hen to gather his chicks in comfort and protection. The protection he most offered was from the current rigid religious leaders, not Satan. We must be careful to not duplicate the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees in these issues. We must be willing to offer help to the helpless, love to the unloved, and mercy to the sinner.

Women were created in this image of Elohim. We are the ones that will bring the balance to the masculine in these areas. Both are needed, but the scale is certainly tipped too far toward the hard masculine in the Hebraic Roots/Messianic movement today. If we can humbly seek out the restoration of women, we just might see an explosion of power, creativity, and growth in our assemblies and in our impact on the world. I pray that the Father will give us creative ways to reach out, serve, protect, love, and support these precious daughters of the Most High.

I encourage you to do a concordance search on barren wombs. This search will reveal a powerful truth. Many great deliverers in Scripture came forth from a “once” barren womb. Israel was even born from multiple barren wombs.[14] We cannot overlook the fact that this a physical picture of the spiritual. What appears to be fruitless in our eyes may be the perfect womb (place of growth) that will give birth to the return of the greatest deliverer, Messiah Yeshua!


[1] This, of course, is a play on the lyrics to the Bee Gee’s song More Than a Woman.

[2] I am in no way insinuating that there is not great, even miraculous, power in the womb of a woman. However, as women, we are far more than just a womb. The context of this post is to bring freedom to the daughters of the Most High that have never had or may have physical children.

[4] This is a reference to the newer Star Wars Trilogy when Obi Won Kenobi tells Anakin Skywalker that, “Only Siths deal in absolutes”. A sith is a dark lord. There is wisdom to be gleaned from this fictional discourse if you have ears to hear. J  We never see the Master, Yeshua, acting with the force of rigid cold law. He always found the balance between black hard judgment and white loving mercy. A lack of mercy, compassion, and long suffering indicates a heart that is hard and narrow minded. Such a one is not ruled by the Creative Holy Spirit of Elohim, but of a fearful self-serving spirit of wickedness. The difference is literally life and death. What had provoked this memorable statement by Obi Won was Anakin’s statement that, “If you’re not with me, then you are my enemy”. Anakin’s vision was narrow. He was turning to the dark side (as he later becomes the infamous Darth Vader). It was either his way or the highway. Sadly, we are often like Anakin with our pet doctrines, traditions, convictions, and biblical interpretations. We can only see “our” way; and since we are often steeped in western (Greek) mindsets, we assume everyone else must be wrong. A Hebraic lens however would be more akin to Obi Won’s response. Rigid viewpoints usually lead to the dark lamp and death. They are cold and merciless; there is no room for growth or creativity. There is no, “on the other hand”. I’ll stick with Obi Won and the Jedi on this one! Absolutes and the pursuit of absolute certainty leads you into the dark cave of the sith lord. There is something to be said of divine “tension” and truth resting in the middle of two extremes. You can watch the short exchange between Obi Won Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgpytjlW5wU

[5] Dr. John Garr explores this faulty etymology in his book, Feminine by Design, p. 14-15

[8] By the way, I am completely and utterly aware of my own short comings and finiteness. Therefore, if you see something I don’t or a correction that needs to be made —- PLEASE, by all means bring it to my attention. I promise to explore it thoroughly and prayerfully.

[9] 1 Cor. 7

[10] 1 Cor. 7:40

[11] See my posts on women as “boundary setters” and “protectors of boundaries”. A single and/or childless woman usually has the opportunity to become a builder of the whole body, not just her family. They can meet needs that other women cannot (depending on the season of life they may be in).

[12] This is why we need to be building these women up; not tearing them down (even unintentionally). She will be a strong fortress or she will be block of stumbling. We each have two inclinations! By surrounding these women with our love, appreciation, and encouragement we prepare them to be that strong wall of support. Shunning them or making them feel “un-included” because they don’t share the experience of a husband and/or children may drive them to bitterness. (Think of Naomi) For many this life style wasn’t a choice; it was simply their lot. How the body handles these hidden “treasures” will dictate growth or lack thereof.

[13] Men are more suited and more comfortable (generally) offering themselves or their time in other ways. They often offer their physical strength or support in matters of life, faith, and ministry.  For example, in Bible studies/teachings/discipleship or in physical helps such as carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, etc. Like females, they have their own set of gifts and strengths. Some are more comfortable standing and ministering to the body, others offer physical talents. All are equally important and needed by the body.

[14] The mothers of Israel, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel, were all at one time barren.

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