Tag Archives: Old Testament

Lesser Known but great mothers of the Old Testament

May 12, 2017

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Zipporah

Zipporah.  Zipporah was the wife of Moses and the mother of Gershom (Ex 2:21-22; 18:3) and Eliezer (Ex 18:4).  When Moses returned to Egypt, she accompanied him (Ex 4:20), but later Moses sent her back to her father Jethro with their two boys (Ex 18:2) where she raised them by herself.  Zipporah serves as an inspiration to single mothers whose husbands have left to pursue their careers.

Deborah.  Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth (Jgs 4:4) and “a mother in Israel” (Jgs 5:5).  It is not known whether she had one or more children, or how she served as a mother.  She was a prophetess, a holy woman who obeyed God and urged others to do likewise.  She was the fifth judge, and she led Israel’s army against Sisera and triumphed.  In addition to her duties as a mother, Deborah shows that mothers can be powerful forces for spiritual good outside the home.

Manoah’s wife.  Manoah’s wife was childless (Jgs 13:2), and an angel appeared and announced that she would have a miraculous birth (Jgs 13:3-7,9), and as foretold, she gave birth to her son Samson (Jgs 13:24).  She teaches mothers that every child is a miracle and a gift from God.

Naomi.  Naomi was the wife of Elimelech and the mother of Mahlon and Chilion (Ru1:2).  In a time of famine her family moved from Bethlehem to Moab.  She was totally committed to caring for her boys.  Her husband died in a foreign land, and after both her sons married, they also died (Ru 1:3-5).  Heartbroken, she is a touching example of a grieving mother who remained faithful to God, never despaired, returned home, and re-engaged in life with her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Ruth.  Ruth was the wife of Boaz (Ru 4:10,13) and the mother of Obed, who “was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ru 4:17).  Ruth is one of four mothers named in Jesus’ genealogy (Mt 1:5), along with Tamar, Rahab, and Mary.  Mothers have a key place in Salvation History.

Hannah.  Hannah was the wife of Elkanah (1 Sm 1:2).  She wept copiously because she was without child.  She pleaded with the Lord to give her a male child, and promised that if God would grant her request, she would dedicate him to God (1 Sm 1:11).  God gave her a son that she named Samuel (1 Sm 1:20), and true to her word, she dedicated him to God (1 Sm 1:28).  Hannah teaches that mothers should dedicate their children to God.

The widow of Zarephath.  She lived in Sidon with her son at a time of severe drought.  With only a handful of flour remaining, she told Elijah, “When we have eaten it, we shall die” (1 Kgs 17:12).  She was fiercely dedicated to her son.  They lived together, and if need be, they would die together.  She exemplifies the bond between mother and child and doing whatever is necessary for a child’s welfare.

Anna and Edna.  Anna was the wife of Tobit and the mother of Tobiah (Tb 1:9), and she lived in Nineveh; and Edna was the wife of Raguel and the mother of Sarah (Tb 7), and she lived in Ecbatana, Media.  Both mothers were good and faithful Jews who raised their children to be good and faithful Jews, even though they lived far from home in places not supportive of their faith.  They are shining examples of how mothers are to pass on the gift of faith to their children.

The mother of the Maccabees.  She had seven sons (2 Mc 7:1).  During a fierce persecution, Jews who refused to eat pork were tortured and put to death.  The mother had taught her sons to obey God’s laws always and everywhere.  One by one, they were martyred before her, and in the end, she was also put to death (2 Mc 7:41).  She taught her family to love God above all else, and she proved her faith by all she suffered and with her heroic deed.

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Advent’s message of hope: Peace for a violent world

December 3, 2010

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Isaiah holding a scroll reading Ecce Virgo Concipiet, Behold the Virgin Shall Conceive - Photo taken at St. Philip in Litchfield

The Vertical Thread of the Advent Old Testament Readings for Year A. A vertical thread is a spiritual theme that connects a series of readings over a number of weeks.  During Advent, Year A, all of the first readings are taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and each reading is a vision that Isaiah experienced that looks ahead to a new day when peace will prevail.

A World Longing for Peace. Every generation longs for peace.  During Isaiah’s time the Jews of the Northern Kingdom were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC, while the Jews of the Southern Kingdom in Jerusalem were besieged in 701 BC.  All suffered, many died, and everyone longed for peace.  The Jews of Jesus’ time were subject to a cruel Roman occupation force, and they pined for independence and peace.  The people of today are troubled by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constant threat of terrorism, divisions in the Church, violence in our communities, and disputes within our families.  We, too, long for the day when hostilities will cease, peace will be restored, and people of every race, language, and way of life will live together peacefully in mutual respect.

Advent, Week One, Year A, Isaiah 2:1-5. In the first reading for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A, Isaiah describes his vision of peace.  It will be a time when “One nation shall not raise the sword against another” (Is 2:4c).  War will come to an end.  “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Is 2:4b).  The instruments of war will become instruments of peace:  tanks will be converted to tractors, helicopter guns ships will ferry relief supplies, and nuclear weapons will be converted to nuclear reactors that produce electricity for peaceful purposes.  It will be a time when the nations will stream toward Jerusalem (Is 2;2), holy Salem (Gen 14:18), the city of peace.  On that grand and glorious day, the fullness of God’s peace will be revealed, and people of every tongue and nation will be united in peace.

Advent, Week Two, Isaiah 11:1-10. On Week Two, the first reading begins with a description of Immanuel, the one who is the bringer of peace.  Then, in very poetic terms, Isaiah describes his vision of paradise, a place of perfect peace, where the “wolf is the guest of the lamb” (Is 11:6), where the strong will no longer attack the weak, where those who usually are enemies will live side-by-side together in peace.

Advent, Week Three, Isaiah 35:1-6a,10. On Week Three Isaiah’s vision describes the day when conflict will finally come to an end, “Sorrow and mourning will flee” (Is 35:10), replaced by “joy and gladness.”  With the restoration of peace, deportees will be able to return home and “enter Zion singing.”  With war there is death, but with peace there is new life:  “The desert will bloom with abundant flowers” (Is 35:1,2).  With war there is injury, but with peace there is unimagined healing, “the lame will leap like a stag” (Is 35:6).  The flowering desert is a metaphor for a world that has gone from violence and death to renewed life and glorious peace.

Advent, Week Four, Isaiah 7:10-14. On Week Four Isaiah’s vision describes a virgin who is with child (Is 7:14), the one through whom peace will be accomplished.  The newborn son, Immanuel, God with us, is a descendant of David, the king who brought peace to Israel.  The child is the “prince of peace” (Is 9:5).  The promised Messiah will take the throne of his father David (Lk 1:32), and as eternal king, his birth signals “peace on earth” (Lk 2:14).

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