Mothers In Israel? What Does That Mean?
Mother’s Day should actually be ‘Mothering Sunday’, something very different in the life of the church – and worth googling to find out more.
The ‘Mother’s Day’ of this modern age is really an American import with lots of businesses vying for our money, the cost of flowers rising and the ‘guilt-ing’ of people who don’t comply.
For a long time, churches have often bought into it because it fit with what is a limited view and the glorification of being a mother above all else - something that happens all year round.
Being one of those married people who hasn’t had babies, I’ve not fitted the mold of the Evangelical church wife and had many painful chiding comments of ‘what, no kids yet?!’
But I’m not writing about that.
I’m writing about the many people I know who are a mother to many, even though they don’t have their own children.
I have the joy of being God parent to five and a friend to two delightful grown up stepsons. I have mothered many and fit the description of the Biblical ‘Mother in Israel’ – my hero, Deborah.
So, what is a ‘Mother in Israel’?
The expression used to be used much more than it is now as a compliment to ladies whose contribution to a church was considerable.
It is interesting, on Mothers’ Day, to look at what being a ‘mother in Israel’ actually meant when it was first used. We see it in Judges 5 vv 6-7 where it is referring to Deborah.
We know that Deborah was a prophetess, but why a ‘mother’?
We are not actually told whether or not Deborah had any children - so it doesn’t refer to being a physical mother
Judges 4 v 4 refers to Deborah as a ‘woman of Lappidoth’ which may have been a place, or more likely the name of her husband.
Not knowing any Hebrew, I have to rely on others to point out that ‘esbet lappidot’ can also be taken as meaning that she was a fiery woman (I like that meaning), or a spirited woman. Those characteristics would certainly have stood her in good stead as she listened to God and guided Israel.
* So her characteristics & gifts had nothing to do with child bearing, but involved listening to God and sharing counsel, inspiring others, leadership, protection, wellbeing and security, and liberation from oppression. Not the traits we instantly associate with being a mother!
Deborah evidently had some rather determined and formidable women around her too, if you move on in the story you come to the tale of Jael and Sisera - that’s enough to put you off camping for life and not motherhood as we currently understand it!
Maybe as well as rightly remembering our natural mothers, we should all aspire to being ‘Mothers in Israel’ and certainly be grateful for those prayer warriors who enable and facilitate so much that couldn’t happen without them. I remember many with huge thanks – some now with God, some still praying and generally being a huge encouragement to me.
All women can live up to this in some way.
Why not go back to the paragraph I’ve starred and go through that list. Find the ways you already have been and can be a mother in Israel to the children, teens and young adults you have contact with.
I tend to be like a mother bear protecting her young when I see children treated unjustly – especially those with additional needs. I want to see them liberated from oppression and I can be quite fiery about it - like Deborah.
I don’t need to have children of my own to be saddened by the struggle of those who are suffering - as some charity adverts imply (As a mother I can…..)
I pray for many young friends. I lead people and I hope I inspire others to liberate those who are oppressed.
In short, when measured against the original Mother in Israel – I am a mother, along with many more of my friends who do not have children of their own.
To those people I want to say happy Mothers’ Day and thank you for all you do for those children you mother in so many ways. You are amazing.
Jointly written with the hubby - Steve.