Mothers in the Bible

There are several mothers in the Bible who hold exemplary places in our thoughts. There are also mothers who are hardly mentioned, but we see the fruit of their instruction in how their children live out their faith.

The Christian mystics say that mothers are the closest thing we have to the true heart of Jesus because they alone go to the utter point of death in childbearing to bring forth life. Psalm 139:13 says God formed our inward parts and knitted us together in our mother’s womb. That’s also the place God uses to bring forth his very son. I’ve said often that if men were responsible for childbearing, humanity would be extinct. A mother is, at her best, forgiving and full of unconditional love, encouraging and sacrificial, merciful and emotional. (Fathers are as well, but in a very different way, but that’s for another article.)

In many cases, and it is true in the biblical narrative, a mother is also a wife. So often their graces are felt in the story, if not explicitly part of it. How much did Noah lean on his wife as the world called him crazy? How strong did Sarah really need to be, in spite of the shortcomings that we know, to support Abraham as the father of many nations? And the list goes on: Jacob to Rachel, Zipporah to Moses, Mary to Joseph, Elizabeth to Zechariah.

Here are a few examples of mothers in the Bible. Consider reading through their stories.

Naamah (according to tradition), wife of Noah and mother to Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 4).

Naamah (according to tradition), wife of Noah and mother to Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 4).

Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother to Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 29-48).

Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother to Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 29-48).

Zipporah, wife of Moses and mother to Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 2-18).

Zipporah, wife of Moses and mother to Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 2-18).

Hannah, mother to Samuel who was the greatest prophet of Israel (I Samuel 1-2).

Hannah, mother to Samuel who was the greatest prophet of Israel (I Samuel 1-2).

Elizabeth, mother to John, the prophet crying in the wilderness who goes before Jesus to prepare the way (Luke 1).

Elizabeth, mother to John, the prophet crying in the wilderness who goes before Jesus to prepare the way (Luke 1).

Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother to Isaac (Genesis 17-23).

Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother to Isaac (Genesis 17-23).

Pharaoh's daughter, the adopted mother to Moses (Exodus 2).

Pharaoh's daughter, the adopted mother to Moses (Exodus 2).

Ruth, wife of Boaz, and mother of Obed, in the line of David and eventually Joseph (Ruth and Matthew 1:5).

Ruth, wife of Boaz, and mother of Obed, in the line of David and eventually Joseph (Ruth and Matthew 1:5).

Mary, mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God... (Matthew 1-2, 13, 27-28).

Mary, mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God... (Matthew 1-2, 13, 27-28).

Eunice, mother to Timothy who was a co-worker with Paul and the first bishop of Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:5).

Eunice, mother to Timothy who was a co-worker with Paul and the first bishop of Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:5).

 

written by Zach Kincaid