Posts Tagged With: womb

Moonbeams and the Moedim Part III

If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of Moonbeams and the Moedim, please start there for the best context. In this post, I had planned to cover the Feast Days within the framework of a human gestation cycle, but I felt it was more important to first lay the foundation of why NINE months are necessary for new life. Due to length, gestation and the moedim will be covered in Part IV. Sorry!

Nine

In Part IV of this series, I will enumerate all seven Feasts of YHWH and the two feasts of the people, Chanukah and Purim. All nine of these days will then be compared to the human gestation cycle. Regardless of how you view the latter two festivals, I encourage you to consider my conclusions. If we add the feasts of the people with YHWH’s seven moedim listed in Leviticus 23, we get a total of 9. These nine feasts span an approximate nine month period.[1] Not coincidentally, so does the gestation cycle of a human being.

As it turns out, the number nine, represented with the Hebrew letter tet, harnesses not only the duality of women, but also their associations with concealment, birth, and fruitfulness. I plan on using some space to explore this letter, its meaning, and usage because I believe it is intricately linked to our subject matter. In modern block print, tet looks like this:

tetIn ancient pictographic form, this letter looked like a vessel, basket, or a container. Frank Seekins’ Hebrew Word Pictures suggests that the imagery of tet could also be a coiled snake, implying something that surrounds (like a woman’s womb). Tet actually looks very similar to an inverted letter mem, the other Hebrew letter associated with the womb. We will explore the womb more fully in a latter post. For now, you can view this footnote for a brief explanation.[2] In Modern Hebrew print, this letter still looks like a receptacle with an inverted spout or rim.

While tet is actually the least common letter in the Hebrew Bible, the first time it appears is in the word tov or good, which is used numerous times throughout the Creation story. I hope you just made the connection that like the Holy Spirit, the moon, and women, tet is the least “seen” letter in the Bible. In other words, each has a “hidden” aspect to it. But that is what a womb (and a woman) does. It surrounds and protects new life in order to build the family. Though hidden, this stage is good and necessary.

The goodness of fruit is hidden or concealed within a woman until the fullness of time –nine months. This natural picture of gestation is manifested in the spiritual when we produce the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, both of which are NINE. (Gal. 5:22-23, 1 Cor. 12:8-10) When nine reveals what it conceals inside, we see fruitfulness, multiplication, and the building of the House.

The multiplication aspect of the number nine is extended into the natural through mathematics. If any number is multiplied by nine the resulting digits always add to nine. For example: 2 x 9 = 18 (1+ 8=9); 3 x 9 = 27 (2+7=9); 4 x 9 = 36 (3+6=9) and so on. Also, every multiple of nine will reduce back to nine. This makes a mirroring effect when the multiplication tables are written out. Can you see the reflecting nature of nine in this graphic?

magic9-4Nine is quite a fascinating number! You can view more mathematical tricks of nine here. For now, consider that every multiple of nine remains nine. For example, consider these biblical numbers: 144, 153, and, 666. All reduce to 9 in Gematria.[3] (1+4+4=9, 1+5+3=9, 6+6+6=36=3+6=9)

Moreover, there are some pretty important Hebrew words that also reduce to nine.  Adam, a-men, covenant, light, Shabbat, and chesed (loving-kindness) all equal nine when reduced. These seeming anomalies weren’t lost on the rabbis. True to its pictograph, there is obviously something good about this number, though it appears shrouded in mystery. Perhaps, the most notable word associated with nine, TRUTH (אמת), will help us to understand this.

Not only does truth reduce to nine, but its Hebrew spelling contains the first, middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The rabbis’ say the lesson we are to learn is that something that is true cannot be altered and must be true at the beginning, middle, and end. (I hope this reminds you of Messiah! [4]) In other words, truth is immutable and eternal. Like God, it changes not.[5] Believe it or not, the number nine implies this reality in the natural through mathematics. Remember, every multiple of nine remains to be nine. It will not change!

Maybe this is one reason that the Creator chose to give us life in a nine month gestation cycle. And why the festivals that testify to eternal life also span a nine month period. Fruit, whether of the womb or of the Spirit, is concealed in order to grow, mature, and eventually sprout to new life. The tet pictures all of this and more.

One way in which we connect to the Creator to effect a changed life is through prayer. The Amidah prayer has 18 (1+8=9) benedictions. The ninth hour is not only called the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1; 10:30), but is also the hour that Messiah gave up His Spirit on the Tree (Cross). (Mt. 27:46) By this, He made the ultimate connection between us and the Creator. What was concealed, at last was revealed.  And the mysterious number nine had a role to play in that glorious act.

The Flip Side of Nine

But like most all things Biblical and Hebraic, there is another side to this coin. All words have both a positive and a negative connotation and many words are also a contranym.[6] Tet is no exception. Do you recall all of those wonderful positive words associated with nine and tet like truth, covenant, light, and Shabbat? Well, on the flip side, the Hebrew words satan, and seduce also contain the letter tet. Although tet is a symbol for GOOD, it can also be a symbol for EVIL. In other words, within the letter tet is the potential for duality.

For example, the Hebrew words for pure and impure (clean and unclean) both begin with the letter tet. While neither of these bodily states imply evil, they do suggest dualism. Obviously, women move in and out of purity and impurity in their monthly cycle and after birth. Family purity laws[7] pretty much center on these states of being and their required sacrifices and washings. The Sages make an inference from this that only God, symbolizing Divine Goodness, has the power to make the unclean clean again. In this way, tet unites both the pure and impure in duality to create one renewed entity.

While tet is the symbol for the number nine, the Hebrew word that spells the same number is tayshah. It comes from the root sha’ah,[8] meaning to look to, regard or gaze upon. It is first used when God regarded Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s. Thus, the number nine also implies righteous judgment and discernment.

The dualism continues with the Hebrew tet if we consider our numeral 9. It appears to be an inverted 6 — the number for both man and the beast.  This question from the very beginning is one that we all must answer. Will you be a man created in the image of Elohim or will you, in the end, be found marked with the image of the beast? When the Creator turns us upside down in judgment (9), either a man or a beast (6) will be revealed.

God had Moses make and mount a brass serpent on a pole to heal those that had been bitten by his judgment of fiery snakes in the wilderness.[9] Later, Yeshua tells Nicodemus that He would be lifted up just as that serpent on the pole had been and that by this He would bring salvation to His people.[10] In these accounts, we can see Yeshua associating Himself with the serpent. He is not the serpent, but He is the Seed of the Woman[11] that crushes the serpent’s head. How does one receive healing or salvation in these examples? By looking upon or regarding the one lifted up — this is the goodness hidden/concealed within the letter tet. What appeared tragic or evil was concealed for God’s tov (good) purposes! Thus, tet demonstrates the two postures of man as referenced by this graphic:

tet-dualWe are a builder or a destroyer, a man or a beast, good or evil. But if we are honest in our self-examinations, we learn that each and every one of us is a contranym.[12] Within even the most holy soul on earth, duality is present with the potential for wickedness. We are like the letter tet because we are a vessel with the potential for both good and evil.

Sometimes our goodness is concealed though the possiblilty for actualization is real. Other times we erect our head like a serpent and gnash our teeth at the very One that was lifted on the stake for our salvation. The serpent beast within must learn to shed its skin of pride and take on the weighty humility of truth. The 6 (man/beast) will be inverted through righteous judgment (9). The question is: Will YHWH find a humble man or a striking beast snake when your vessel is turned over to reveal its contents?

Now that we’ve laid the foundation of the importance of nine and hinted at its role in the gestation of new life, my next post (Part IV) will cover the festival cycle and human gestation.

(For even more on tet, please see this video by Rabbi Trugman.)

 


 

[1] For example, this year (2015), Purim begins on March 4th and Chanukah begins on December 6th. There are approximately nine months that this year is pregnant with the feasts of Israel.

[2] There are two Hebrew words for womb: rechem and beten. The former has a mem, and the latter a tet. However, beten is used in a much broader sense and can refer to the bowels of either a man or a woman. Rechem is used exclusively for the feminine womb that carries a child. It is also the Hebrew word for mercy. These things will be elaborated on in a future post on the Biblical Role of Women.

[3] This article from Hebrew for Christians explains Hebrew Gematria.

[4] Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8 CJB)

[5] “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Mal. 3:6 NASB)

[6] A word that can mean the opposite of itself is a contranym. Examples in English: bound (bound for Chicago, moving) and bound (tied up, unable to move), cleave (to cut apart) and cleave (to seal together), buckle (buckle your pants — to hold together) and buckle (knees buckled — to collapse, fall apart), citation (award for good behavior) and citation (penalty for bad behavior), clip (attach to) and clip (cut off from), dust (remove dust) and dust (apply dust — fingerprints), fast (moving rapidly) and fast (fixed in position), left (remaining) and left (having gone), literally (literally) and literally (figuratively), moot (arguable) and moot (not worthy of argument).

[7] Here is an article about Family Purity from the Jewish Virtual Library.

[8] H8159 שׁעה shâ‛âh BDB Definition:

1) to look at or to, regard, gaze at or about

1a) (Qal) to gaze at, regard, behold, look about

1b) (Hiphil) to look away, cause gaze to turn away

1c) (Hithpael) to look in dismay, gaze about (in anxiety)

Part of Speech: verb

[9] Num. 21:4-8  Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey.  (5)  The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”  (6)  The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.  (7)  So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.  (8)  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”

[10] John 3:13-15 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  (14)  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  (15)  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

[11] Gen. 3:14-15  The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;  (15)  And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

[12] See footnote 6. Also see The Creation Gospel Series by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Miriam’s Cup Part I

miriams cup 3

This Passover season, I have given an often overlooked custom a second glance — well more like a long hard stare! Many of you incorporate the mystical and prophetic Cup of Elijah in your Passover Seders. For Believers in Messiah, this cup takes on even more significance because of John the Baptist. He truly paved the Way for Messiah at His first coming. Since we have already seen this “cyclical” prophecy fulfilled once, hopefully we will better be able to discern the spirit of Elijah in these last days.

If you’ve purchased a special goblet with Elijah’s name written on it to use at your Passover Seder, you may have noticed another more obscure goblet inscribed with Miriam’s name. What is this cup for? Is it just to satiate liberals and feminists? Does this “new” ritual have any redeeming value? My hope is to show you the richness and beauty that this tradition can bring to your Passover table, and perhaps even to your weekly Kiddush.

The Cup of Miriam is not part of a traditional Seder, and I can find no mention of it in any of the feast books that I own. (But, don’t let that deter you from reading on!) According to Risa Borsykowsky[1] , the practice of drinking WATER from a special kiddush cup called Kos Miriam, began with Stephanie Loo Ritari and her Rosh Chodesh Boston group in the late 1980s. Reading through the Exodus, one can find numerous righteous women that played significant roles that led up to the redemption of Israel from Egypt.[2] Mrs. Ritari decided to bring these “hidden” women into the “retelling” of the Passover story to not only honor the matriarchs, but as a tool to make the Seder more comprehensive for women and girls. The most prominent woman of the Exodus story is Moses’ sister, Miriam. Therefore, she will be our focus in this study.

The Bible calls Miriam a prophetess of Israel.[3] She alone ensured that baby Moses would live by following him as he floated down the treacherous Nile River.[4] She watched as Pharaoh’s daughter drew Moses from the water, and then cunningly secured Moses’ own mother as his wet-nurse. She helped sustain the Israelites during their trek across the wilderness and she led them in joyous song and dance to praise YHWH for the miracle of parting the Red Sea. Upon her death, the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron for a lack of life giving water.[5]

Did you notice the many connections of Miriam with water?[6]

Though her name can mean bitterness or even rebellion, the Hebrew also reveals that there is another (positive) side to Miriam. This should give hope to us all, as we each have both a good and evil inclination that wars for supremacy. To learn the duality of Miriam is to understand the ancient contradiction of what it is to be human. We all share the life long struggle between spirit and flesh.

Moreover, we would be wise to consider that other than one bad instance, Miriam’s portrayal of rebellion and bitterness was toward the anti-torah decrees of Pharaoh.[7] She and her family risked their lives by rebelling against Pharaoh. The midwives Puah and Shifrah acted similarly by defying Pharaoh’s edict to kill Hebrew male babies. It is interesting that it was the fearlessness of WOMEN that initially ignited the courage of all Israel. These brave lionesses stood firm and earned a spot forever in the Torah of our Elohim. Why would we leave their stories out of our maggid (retelling of the Passover story)?  Would our daughters not be strengthened to hear year after year that they too have this great potential residing within them?

Miriam and Water

As I was studying the many links between Miriam, water, wells, fountains, the Holy Spirit, the Word, Yeshua, and Living Waters, I could hardly contain my excitement! Miriam is spelled mem, resh, yod, mem. Water is spelled mem, yod, mem.

Did you notice how similar these words are in Hebrew? Miriam is water with an added resh, which is pictographically a head. Thus, her name is literally head or lead waters. This meaning can also be demonstrated another way in Hebrew by looking at Miriam as a compound of two words: mar and yam. These words mean bitter/strong and sea (waters) respectively. Hence again, Miriam is associated with the idea of strong (head) waters.

But what do strong waters imply and what are we to learn from this association? In order to get the full impact of Miriam’s role and name, we must first understand WATER from a Hebraic perspective. Mayim (mem, yod, mem) is a word bookended with two mem(s). The Hebrew letter mem is likened to water, a womb (it’s full of water), strength (as in gushing waters), chaos (again like an ocean), and as a preposition “to come forth from or out of”. This letter is one of a handful that has a sofit or final form when it is written at the end of a Hebrew word. A regular mem is open on the bottom, whereas the final form is closed.

mem

Rabbi Michael L. Munk, in his book The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet on the letter mem, states, “The word mayim, water, with its initial and end mem, one open and one closed, depicts the accessible and the inaccessible – an allusion to the waters at Creation.” Thus, mem also illustrates what is revealed and what is concealed. Add to that the letter at the heart of mayim, yod (a hand, work, or deed), and the Creation waters (and all water thereafter) become the same contradiction that we see in Miriam’s name: a work or deed that has the potential for life (strong living waters) or death (bitterness and rebellion).

Water is a place of darkness and yet, great potential in Creation and in a woman’s womb. It can be as powerful and destructive as a roaring ocean and as gentle and satisfying as a trickling stream. It is at the same time both a life giving necessity and a place where chaos and death reign (like at sea). If you read my posts on Crate Trained Believers and The Devouring Lion, you may have noticed the similar imagery. Gentle AND Fierce.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for mother, em (aleph, mem), also has the pictographic meaning of strong waters.[8] It seems as though the very fact that women have a womb that can fill with life giving waters connects them to Miriam.[9] Females made in the image of Elohim are “mothers” of all living. However, like our sisters Chavah (Eve) and Miriam, we also have the potential to bring chaos and death. (Like a tumultuous ocean.) One must learn to turn life’s bitter unruly waters into sweet waters of refreshing. By the way, this is also something men need to learn as well, for both men and women are revealed in the woman as the wife and bride of the Lamb.

This is the real Biblical portrayal of Miriam, the sister of Moses. She is truly a mother to the Israelites and a leader of her people.[10] Since the force and strength of her name is better understood, does this lend fresh insight about Mary (Miriam), mother of Yeshua? Isn’t it fitting that Yeshua should come forth from a womb such as this? How about the many other “Mary’s” mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.)? Will their stories speak a little louder the next time you read them?

There has been a tendency for us to forget that the Body needs both masculine and feminine leadership to keep us in balance and to display the whole image of Elohim (God). It is females that bring qualities such as comfort, nurture, protection, and mothering to the Body of Messiah. They are fierce AND gentle. Without these essentials, we raise nothing more than Devouring Lions.

Miriam is a representation of strength, the womb, mercy, prophecy, and praise. The ancient sages recognized the vital role of women in the Exodus in the Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b:

“If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt”

The rabbis recognized the very thing examined above: women were the progenitors of Israel’s redemption from Egypt.[11] I hope that you will include Miriam’s Cup in your Seder or even in your weekly Kiddush as a commemoration of her vital role in the Exodus and as a role model to your daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives. But, if this isn’t enough to convince you, there is so much more! In Part II, we will look at how water is associated with the rock in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, and Pesach.

 


[2] There is Yocheved, the brave midwives (Puah & Shifrah), Miriam, and Tzipporah. See also footnote 6.

[3] Ex. 15:20

[4] Obviously, the Holy Spirit is what provoked Miriam to do this!

[5] Num. 20:1-2  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.  (2)  There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron.

[6] D. Hollisa Alewine’s Workbook 5 The Torah Portions Volume 2 –Shemot p.7-21 (2013) offers an interesting perspective on the women of the Exodus and Miriam in particular. If you’re ready to dig deep, buy this series and uncover a multitude of treasures.

[7] Numbers Chapter 12.

[8] See Hebrew Word Pictures by Frank T. Seekins (2003) p. 62

[9] The Hebrew word for womb, racham, ends with the letter mem. This is the same Hebrew word for mercy or compassion. Indeed the watery womb is a place of protection, growth, maturity, and nurture. This word shares the resh and mem with Miriam only adding a chet, which is a fence or boundary that protects.

[10] Micah 6:4  “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.

[11] This makes perfect sense considering the “birthing” nature of women.

 

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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