Posts Tagged ‘Miriam’

Biblical View of Women

God Made Woman

On the sixth day of creation, God created a woman from the rib portion flesh of man. In Hebrew, man is ish and woman is isha. God named the man ‘Adam’ meaning from the ‘red earth;’ and the woman’ He named was ‘Havah’ meaning to ‘give life.  When the man saw the woman, he knew she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Genesis 2:23). In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Havah were spiritually equal in the eyes of God. God put a high value on the woman because she would bring life into the world. God also promised that through the ‘Seed of woman’ redemption for all mankind would come. They were physically equal as the woman was created complement the man. This is the reason a man leaves his mother, and a woman leaves her home. They are to ‘cleave’ to one another and become ‘one flesh.’

Matthew Henry, a minister and author, was born in Wales but spent much of his life in England. He is known for his volumes of Biblical commentary. He wrote this now-famous poem about man and woman in their perfect created state:

“Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”

After the Fall

Once sin entered the world, the relationship between man and woman changed.  Because the woman did not heed the command of God, but enticed her husband to sin, she would need an authority over her –– to protect her from being deceived again. Though the woman would desire equality with her husband, he would be in authority over her.  God explains this consequences of the woman’s sin:

“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pain in childbirth. You will bring forth children in pain. Your desire will be toward your husband, but he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).

Inequality between man and woman came about because of sin.  This inequality is manifested in broken male-female relationships and marriages. From a more deeply-rooted sin came ownership of women.  This is not a Biblical view, but a godless one.  Nations other than Israel bought and sold women, especially when they were collateral damage from war. Kings  made alliances with other kings through intermarriage without considering the value of their own flesh and blood. This is how King David accumulated so many foreign wives and these intermarriages caused great dysfunction within his family.

Protection of Women

The Torah governed the community of Israel. Everyone was to be treated with respect and kindness — from the intimate relationship of marriage to relationships in the marketplace (Exodus 20:1-17). For example, if a man married a second wife, he was not to deprive the first of “her food, clothing, and marital rights” (Exodus 21:10).  If two fought with each other and happened to hurt a pregnant woman so that her unborn baby dies, the man must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges” (Exodus 21:22).

A woman’s purity and propriety was protected by her father, brother or husband (Deuteronomy 22:13-29). Today, women, women have sold their propriety and moral behavior for sexual promiscuity. Virginity is frowned upon if not blatantly mocked.   Sexual activity outside of marriage, whether it is fornication or adultery, has become normal activity rather than sexual sin. What was once sacred between a man and a woman, husband and wife has become less and less valued.

God had consequences for men who raped virgins or married women.  According to Torah, the man must take responsibility for their actions against women.  It may seem a little absurd today that marriage would be required for raping a virgin, but if we still lived by this simple rule of law, perhaps fewer men would rape women and fewer women would flaunt themselves before men.

Unfortunately, women no longer want to be under the protection of their father, brothers or even husbands. Why is protection considered wrong? Instead, they act and speak like ‘sailors’ as my mom would have said. When they are treated rudely or roughly by men, they refuse to take responsibility for themselves lowering the standard of womanhood. God gave instructions to regulate the relationship between men and women after sin destroyed the partnership. Can He protect women if they live contrary to His commands for purity and morality?

Timothy describes a godly woman. She dresses modestly, with decency and propriety. She doesn’t wear elaborate hairstyle, gold or pearls, or expensive clothes. This doesn’t mean a woman can’t keep a nice hairstyle or wear precious stones, she is just not to bring attention to herself physically; she is to draw people to God with good deeds. She is to be worthy of respect, temperate and trustworthy in everything (1 Timothy 2:9-11, 3:11).

Abraham Protects Sarah

Abraham told Sarah to lie to Pharaoh about being his wife.  He didn’t want her taken from him and raped. This is what foreign kings did to foreign women. They took whomever they wanted; they raped and pillaged. Sarah was safer from such barbarianism if she were Abraham’s sister because men, even barbaric ones, knew they had to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage.

Israel was never to do the same things as foreign kings in a war. Many times the Israelite warriors were commanded to destroy everyone, including women, so immoral practices wouldn’t happen.  If an Israelite man took a foreign captive woman for his own, there were still rules. The woman had to be allowed a month mourning the loss of her family so she could faithfully enter the community of Israel.

What About Hagar?

Hagar was Egyptian and most likely served Sarah when she lived in Pharaoh’s palace in Egypt. Hagar returned with Sarah to Canaan when they left Egypt and became Sarah’s maid. Some scholars suggest that Hagar was actually Pharaoh’s daughter and given to Abraham, as a wife, as an appeasement for the debacle with Sarah. If this is true, another foreign king give away his daughter to make a peace alliance.

Hagar does become intimate with Abraham and gives birth to Ishmael. Eventually Abraham sends her away because Ishmael ‘played’ with Isaac.  The Hebrew word for Ishmael’s actions is the same word for ‘rape’ found in the account of Dinah.  Abraham had to make a difficult decision regarding not only his son, but the woman, Hagar. Ishmael means ‘God hears’ so Hagar is not left alone; God was with her.

The Rape of Dinah

Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, was raped by Shechem. Though Shechem loved Dinah and wanted to marry her, Jacob couldn’t think of an acceptable ‘bride price.’  Dinah’s brothers came up with the ‘bride price’ –– the men in the city needed to be circumcised.  Shechem agreed because he wanted to marry Dinah.  While all the men in the city were in pain from the circumcision, Dinah’s brothers, killed all of the men and removed their sister from the city.   Dinah’s brothers avenged their sister after a rape (Genesis 34).

Paying for a Bride

A ‘bride price’ is not about buying and selling a woman, but giving the father something for the loss of his daughter.  It also tests the true affections of the man for the daughter. Shechem who was a gentile was willing to be circumcised to marry Dinah. Jacob worked seven years to marry Rachel and then seven more after he was deceived into marrying Leah.

Yeshua paid a ‘bride price’ for his Bride. He didn’t pay for us with gold or silver, but with his blood. He paid the ‘bride price’ to our father, the Adversary, with his life (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Queen Esther

King Xerxes was from a pagan culture and used women for his pleasure. When he was done with them, he removed them just as he did with his wife Vashti. Esther was taken to the palace and prepared to be either the next Queen of Persia or join a harem ending the possibility of marrying or having children. Through the protection of God, Esther became Queen.  

Her position gave her the power to sway the King to show favor on the Jewish people, and to stand against the treachery of Haman.   Because of Esther’s courage, the Jewish lineage of Messiah was not exterminated. Esther could have been abused by this King, but God protected her to save His people.

Deborah, the Judge

Deborah was a Judge in Israel because there were no men courageous enough to fight the Canaanites.  The Canaanites used temple prostitution to appease their gods.  This was not done in Israel nor could it be done in the Promised Land.  There are only a few songs recorded in the Bible: The Song of Moses, The Song of the Lamb, The Song of Miriam and Song of Deborah (Judges 5).

The Moabite Woman

Growing up in Moab, Ruth lived with child sacrifice to Chemosh and temple prostitution.  She would have seen and known families who offered their children on the altar of fire.  Maybe she watched as brother or sister put on the burning altar to appease this pagan god. Even the King of Moab offered his child, the crown prince, as a sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27).

When Ruth had the opportunity to leave Moab with her mother-in-law, she didn’t just leave, she embraced Naomi’s God, people and country. In this strange land, she would no longer have to appease a god who required murdering children. She would have the opportunity to find protection and ultimately marriage with a kinsman-redeemer in Boaz. Her baby would not be sacrificed on a burning altar, but grow up to be the grandfather of King David.

Obscure Strong, Courageous Women

There are many strong, courageous women in Scripture. Asher’s,daughter, Serach, is believed to have sung for Jacob when he was told that Joseph was alive in Egypt. Her singing revived his spirit (Numbers 26:46).

Jemimah is one of Job’s daughters. After he lost everything, at the end of his life, God restored his life. He was given three daughters and gave them an inheritance, Jemimah was one of these daughters (Job 42:14).

Tamar should have been given Judah’s last son in a levirate marriage. She dwas considered righteous for deceiving Judah in order to continue the royal lineage (Genesis 38).

Asenath, the daughter of a pagan Egyptian priest, married Joseph and learned about the God of Jacob. She gave birth to two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim who became part of the Tribes of Israel (Genesis 41:45).

Miriam had the responsibility as a little girl to watch her brother float in the Nile River.  She asked the Egyptian princess if she should find a nurse. Many decades later, after crossing the Red Sea, Miriam the prophetess took out the tambourine and led the women in dancing (Exodus 15:20).

Rahab was a prostitute who lied to protect the spies who came into Jericho. When the Israelites came to Jericho to destroy it, she and her family were saved. She married Salmon and became part of the lineage of Messiah (Joshua 2:1-24).

Huldah was a prophetess in Jerusalem who told the King of Judah that he would not see the destruction of the city (2 Kings 22:14-20). There are three gates named after her that the Jews used to enter the Temple area to worship God.

Ya’el  killed Sisera by slamming a stake through his head delivering Israel from the troops of King Jabin (Judges 4:18-22).

Hannah, after waiting many years, gave birth to a son. She relinquished Samuel to the priest to be raised in the Temple.  He became a powerful prophet in Israel anointing David to be King (1 Samuel 1:21-27).

Miriam’s womb was filled by the Spirit of God and she became pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph remained faithful to her and married her. She gave birth to the Messiah of Israel, the ‘Seed of woman’ that will one day crush the serpent’s head (Luke 2:4-7).

Anna was a widow and prophetess who spent her days in the Temple. When she saw Yeshua at the redemption of the firstborn, she told people that the liberation of Jerusalem was at hand (Luke 2:36-38).

Phoebe was a deaconess in the congregation of Cenchrea, a seaport of Corinth where Sha’ul had his hair cut for a vow. Phoebe offered financial help to those in the Body who needed it including Sha’ul.

Lydia lived in Thyatira and was a dealer of purple cloth. Purple cloth was valuable and expensive –– equal to silver. She was a gentile, a God-fearer. When Sha’ul preached the message of Yeshua, Adonai opened her heart. She persuaded Sha’ul to stay in her home (Acts 16:14-15).

Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother taught him Torah on her knee. When he grew up, he put his faith in Yeshua and traveled with Sha’ul (2 Timothy 1:5).

Women found the tomb empty and proclaimed the message of Yeshua’s resurrection. A woman washed Yeshua’s feet because he forgave her sins. Martha had faith to believe that Yeshua could raise her brother from the dead.

Women and Authority

The world has a skewed view of women and the church which doesn’t teach Torah has embraced this view. Young girls are taught that their God-given role as daughters, wives, and mothers, has less value than having a career. Titus outlines the roles of older and young women, the ‘keepers of the home.’ The Greek word for ‘keeper’ is ouros and means ‘guardian’ (Titus 2:3-5).

Women, mothers especially, have relinquished their guardianship over the home. Instead of protecting their children from the evil ways of the world, they open the door and walk out. They allow others to ‘guard’ their sons and daughters while justifying the desire for the ‘equality’ lost in the beginning due to sin.

Because the woman was deceived, God decided she needed a ‘covering.’ This doesn’t negate her value as seen in the women above, but she needed protective ‘authority.’

Sha’ul teaches the Corinthians about the line of authority: God, Messiah, Man and Woman (1 Corinthians 11). This is the governmental order of God’s Kingdom that keeps chaos and confusion out. Being under authority doesn’t mean women have no authority, just that they is under authority like a man is under the authority of Messiah and Messiah is under the authority of his Father. Remember the Centurion? He told Yeshua that he didn’t need to come to his home to heal his servant.  He knew Yeshua was a man under the authority of God; and as a Centurion under authority, he understood that when a command is given, it is followed (Matthew 8:9). 

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]” (Romans 12:2 Amplified Version). 

The Bible says that women are weaker than men but that does not make them less valuable. In fact, Peter says that husbands must treat their wives with respect so that nothing will hinder their prayers (1 Peter 3:1). In Hebrew, Proverbs 31 is called the Eshet Chayil or the ‘Woman Warrior.’ Women are not less equal to men, but co-heirs in the Kingdom of God. In Eternity, there will be a restoration of all things, including the relationship between man and woman that began in the Garden of Eden.

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Miriam and the Oil Lamps

Miriam gazed at the flickering shadow in the room of the one oil lamp sitting on the wooden table.   She could barely recall the story of Judah Maccabee and the desecration of the Temple a hundred years earlier that had been told to her by her grandparents and parents.  This year, like the many years that had passed since she was a young girl,  her heart recalled a personal miracle.

She had just readied herself for the night, and shivering from the winter’s chill slid between coverings on her bed.   In the darkness of the room as she began to warm, she could feel herself slipping into a peaceful sleep.     She thought she was dreaming when a great light suddenly illuminated her room.  She tried to open her eyes, but the light was so bright that she had to squint until the light enveloped her.  A heavenly being stood before her.  She could still hear his words as if that moment had just happened, “Shalom favored woman!  Elohim is with you!”

She had been deeply confused by his words and wondered why she was being greeted by an angel.  She got out of bed and knelt before him with her head bowed.  “Don’t be afraid Miriam for you have found favor with God.  You will be come pregnant and you will give birth to a son.  You are to name him, Yeshua.  He will be great, he will be called the son of the Ehyeh Asher Ehye, the Most High God. Elohim will give him the throne of his father David and he will rule the house of Jacob forever.  There will be no end to his kingdom.”

Astonished with his words, she understood that she had become highly favored.  She was receiving the message of hope that all young women for generations desired –– to become the vessel for the coming Messiah.  She responded with the only words that came to her heart, “I am the servant of the Most High Elohim.  May it happen to me as you have said.” 

Immediately she felt the Spirit of the Living God come upon her. It sweetly and gently touched her womb. She knew that within her body a baby had been conceived.

Gentle chills passed through her body as she remembered the breath of Elohim consuming her womb filling it with a holy life.  She shivered again in the coldness of the winter evening.  It felt like it would snow, but that rarely happened in the Galilee, only on Mt. Hermon.  Her heart warmed with the memory of Yosef’s enduring devotion in the midst of the local scandal.  Being pregnant and only betrothed made her appear to be a fornicator, a common whore.  Yosef, who knew the truth and loved her deeply, remained faithful to her and believed her because he, too, had had a visit from an angel.  

She reached for a jar of oil sitting on the shelf above where the shadow continued to flicker.    The oil of gladness. The oil of anointing.  The oil that miraculously lasted eight days at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.   Tonight her son was in Jerusalem walking in the Temple among the Jewish leaders.  She could almost hear him speaking as she took another lamp, filled it with oil and placed it on the table.  “You have seen me do many miracles –– good deeds that reflect the Father’s power.”

Yes, she had witnessed his first miracle when he changed water into the most delicious wine she had ever tasted at Solomon and Rachel’s wedding.  The whole village of Kana couldn’t stop talking about the quality of that wine, even today Chava told Miriam she wished she had some of that delicious wine for the upcoming Shabbat.   After he raised Lazarus from the dead, all of Isra’el seemed to be talking about her son. Some murmured about him while others wondered at his authority and followed him.  For those in her own village of Nazareth, he was unable to do any miracles because of their unbelief.   They had thrown him out of the synagogue and tried to push him off Mount Kedumim.    

 She went around her simple home collecting several more lamps and filled them with oil.  From the lamp on the table, she lit four lamps and they began burning brightly.  The flames of two lamps lit her path as she walked toward the window holding one in each hand.   As she placed them on the sill,  she looked out over the countryside.  The clear sky allowed the waning moon to shadow the hillsides in the Galilee all the way to the Temple so far away.

She remembered the first time she went to the Temple with her husband and son.  She had just completed her days of purification.  She and Yosef offered two turtle doves for redeeming their firstborn according to the commandment.  Moments after, as they walked through the Temple courts, an old prophet named  Shimon stopped to look at her baby.  His words filled her mind and she again contemplated the prophecy over her son.  “Now, Elohim, according to Your word, your servant is at peace as you let him go; for I have seen with my own eyes your yeshua, which you prepared in the presence of all peoples –– a light that will bring revelation to the nations and glory to your people Isra’el.”

As she turned from the window to retrieve the other two lamps from the table where their flames still burned brightly, a familiar voice echoed off the walls in the quiet room; the voice of her son teaching his younger brothers and sisters who always looked at him with wide eyes, open ears, and tender hearts.  “My sheep listen to my voice.  I recognize them, they follow me and I give them eternal life.”  A smile crossed Miriam’s face as she could still see young Yakov’s upturned face reflecting the radiance of his older and wiser brother. 

The second time she and Yosef visited the Temple they thought they had lost their son in the crowds at Pesach, but they found him teaching in the Temple.  To Yosef’s amazement, he had been instructing the rabbis with the same compassion and authority as he did his own siblings.  She took two more burning lamps to the window sill. She still had two more to go.  Tonight was the sixth night of the Feast of Dedication.  

She lit two more lamps from near her bedside and the room began to glow.  In the midst of the flickering light, she remembered the other prophecy given to her and Yosef at the time of their son’s redemption.  A beautiful old woman with a radiant countenance named Anna came to them and touched the cheeks of their baby.  She smiled at Yosef and then spoke to Miriam, “This child will cause many in Isra’el to fall and to rise, he will become a sign whom people will speak against; moreover, a sword will pierce your own heart too.  All this will happen in order to reveal many people’s inmost thoughts.” 

Miriam spoke out loud breaking the quietness of the room, “My son and His Father are one.”  Perhaps tonight would be the night he would tell our people who he is.  Perhaps he will finally reveal his identity to Isra’el.  Suddenly, her thoughts frightened her.  She wondered what would become of her son as he walked in Solomon’s Colonnade.  Though he always imparted wisdom from his Father, the leaders were always anxious to rid themselves of him.  She had heard rumors they wanted him dead, but could find no reason to pursue it. Would they find a reason tonight? Would they stone him as a blasphemer or follow him as the shepherd of the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el?

Many Jews in Israel died by the sword in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes.  Could it happen again?  Now?  Tonight?  She shuddered as she carried the final two oil lamps to the window.  She noticed that many of the village homes had oil lamps burning in their windows. It seemed as though they lit up the world with the reminder that Isra’el would always be victorious over their enemies.  

After she watched the flames of the village burn for several minutes, she walked across the room toward her rocking chair.  It was made of twisted olive wood and was uniquely fashioned by the hands of her beloved Yosef.  He had been such an honorable husband and a good father.  She missed his tender heart and strong hands. She sat down and began to rock in the glow of the oil lamps.  She could almost feel their warmth as her face reflected the presence of El Shaddai in her home.

Shalom came to her heart with the warm luminescence of the flames and replaced the unwelcome fear with a song, “My soul magnifies Adonai Elohim and my spirit rejoices in God, my yeshua.  Once again, He takes notice of his servant woman in her humble position.”  Comforted by the Spirit of Elohim, she knew nothing could take her from His hands.

As she continued to rock, she gazed around the room where her children used to play with the wooden tops their father whittled for them when they were each old enough to spin one.  Nes gadol haya peh –– nun, gimel, hey, peh –– a great miracle happened here.  Everyone in Isra’el remembered the miraculous days of the Maccabees, but for Miriam the letters on the tops reminded her of her own personal miracle.  She paused in her thoughts.  For a long time she could only treasure in her heart the gift she had been given, the gift to birth the light of the world.  

Immediately after the angel’s visit, Miriam had gone to visit her cousin.  The angel had told her that Elisheva, who was past childbearing years, was also expecting a baby.  Their children would also be cousins!  When she arrived in the Judean hill country where Elisheva and Zechariah lived, she knocked on the door never expecting to see Elisheva’s expanding belly or hear the words that still penetrated Miriam’s soul, “How blessed are you among women!  And how blessed is the child in your womb!”  Elisheva knew.  Elisheva understood.  For the next six months,  they worshiped and blessed the Most High and His miracles to them. 

The oil lamp on the table flickered.  Shadows from the flames in the window danced on the walls.  Miriam hummed and then began singing, “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, routed the secretly proud, brought down rulers from their thrones, raised up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, but sends the rich away empty.”

The lamps on the window sill  burned for several hours until only one continued with its dwindling amount of oil.  A miracle was happening now, in the present.  Her son, no longer a child but the grown Son of the God, would fulfill Elohim’s promises to their forefather Abraham and his seed forever.  Tonight in Jerusalem, her son walked in his Father’s house, the Temple.  His ancestor, King David desired to build a house for Elohim, but was given the greater promise of an eternal kingdom.   Her son was that promised seed, the evidence that the Kingdom had arrived.  

As the last lamp flickered out, Miriam continued to rock and closed her eyes in the darkness.   Yeshua carried his Father’s name, the ‘I Am.’  He was no ordinary son; she was favored to be his mother. He was the reason she dedicated her life and soul to embracing the words of the angel.  They named him Yeshua, the name given to Yosef when the angel spoke with him.  Her son is the Light of the world, the One who fills all lamps with oil.   He is the Miracle who is bringing the eternal Kingdom into this world. Tonight, he would reveal his identity to Isra’el, and Miriam knew that someday in the future a sword would pierce her heart.   

(Exodus 3, Matthew 1, 2, 25, Mark 6, Luke 1, 2, John 2,  10, John 1, 11)

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.