WHAT'S IN A NAME
(Part 1of 2)
2And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. (Hos 1:)
1Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. (Gen 16:)
In the story of Abraham we encounter our first example of multiple wives. And in this same discourse we find examples of conflict between these mothers, between the children of these mothers, and of names being changed when the notables have performed certain obligations.
Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: The barren wife is to be a common theme throughout our examples. Sarai can have no child, which means Abraham is unable to fulfill the promise that God has made to him. Also, a woman without child is a great shame, both to herself, and to her husband. She is held in low esteem indeed.
The LORD hath restrained me from bearing: Does Sarai blame her circumstances for her lack of children? Does she feel she's being deprived of her God-given right to have children because of any wrongdoing on her part, such as improper diet? No, she comes right out and accuses God of cheating her of her offspring. This is another pattern we'll see continued throughout Biblical history and beyond. One example of this, taken to a greater extreme, is that of Naomi who states that God has taken her sons from her, and left her with no one to care for her in her old age. She has been deprived of her inheritance. Another even more notable example of this is when Job openly said to his friends that it was God who had caused his distress, and that everyone should know this to be true. Some people might say, as did Job's friends, that Job was wrong to accuse God of doing this to Job. And they will say that God condemned Job for accusing Him. But with careful reading of the Book of Job we find that it is obvious that God was responsible for Job's troubles in that He gave Satan the authority to do as he did to Job. God didn't correct Job in regards to whether it was God who had done what He did to Job, but rather if He had the right to do as He did. Jesus said even our hairs are numbered, and that a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground without God knowing it. How then can we believe that the disasters in our lives go unnoticed by our Creator?
Abram. The original name of Abraham was Abram, which means "High father." It's interesting to say the least how often a person's name is indicative of who they are, or what they do (or what they will do). Some names are so clearly designed to illustrate who a person is that it seems absurd that a parent would name their child as they have. A good example of this is Nabal, the man David had helped, and who repaid his kindness with insults. Nabal means: "Stupid, wicked, fool." The words are very similar to what Nabal's servants and wife, Abigail, used to describe him. Can you imagine a parent giving such a name to their child?
Abigail, the very opposite of her husband, is another interesting example of a name being appropriate for a person which we will look into later.
Abraham. The name Abraham's father gave his son (Abram) certainly fit the destiny of his son. We see that Abraham was, and still is, considered to be a "high father." Of course we realize that it's God who is the High Father, but it was common in those days to equate a person, by name, to God in some fashion. I suspect this was the intent of Abraham's father as well.
Abraham, the new name given to the one who was to become the head of the greatest, and certainly the most God blessed nation in the world is almost the same as the name given to him by his earthly father. Abraham means "Father of a multitude." It would appear that this name is more in keeping with the intent of God's plan for Abraham, and with His promise to him.
Sarai. Sarai is an unusual contrast with what we see in most women, as far as names go (as well as in many other aspects). Her name means "Dominative," which means to be conspicuous, to have domination or influence. It can be likened to a tower that can be seen from everywhere. This is a name we would expect to be given to a man in hopes of that person living up to such a name. But for a parent to give this name to a daughter, especially one living in that day and age?
Sarah. The name change seen here appears to be very slight, and so it is. Sarah is now known as "Mistress," which seems to be a come-down from her former position, but in fact this word has been interpreted in other places as "Princess, queen." It carries with it the concept of nobility, not just being dominative. Consider that Jezebel and others of her ilk had much power, but we would hardly consider them to be noble.
Hagar. The name Hagar appears to be of uncertain derivative, and so nothing can be discerned from the meaning of her name. What we do know of Hagar is that she was Sarah's handmaiden, and until she proved herself more fruitful than her mistress, she apparently was in good standing with Sarah.
Hagar was an Egyptian. I find this interesting since Egypt is a great distance from the Chaldees where Abraham and Sarah were from. I'm wondering if there might be some significance in this fact knowing that Egypt represents the worse part of the world, of our nature, and that in due time the descendants of Abraham would be enslaved in Egypt, and will be called out of that land.
Ten years. We find that Sarah waited ten years after her promise from God before she offered her handmaiden to Abraham. She had given up hope by this time of ever having a child, her being much too old and having been proven fruitless. Ten is the number of testing. There were ten plagues of Egypt, God said often that the Israelites tested Him ten times in the wilderness. Might it be possible that Sarah tested God for ten years before taking matters into her own hands? Or is it possible that the "coincidental" names and numbers given to us are less than coincidence? Paul tells us that the things the Old Testament saints went through were for our admonition and learning (1Cor 10:11).
Isaac. Isaac was the son of promise. Did Isaac do anything to cause himself to be chosen for this grand position? Of course not. He had no choice in the matter. Neither did Noah have a choice, nor did Abraham have a choice. We read that Noah was a righteous man and walked with the Lord. But God would have used him, or someone else to save the world from the flood even if Noah hadn't been so righteous. Things don't happen in this world by chance. Consider: What if Sarah was the perfect woman to be the mother of the nation of God, but Abraham was faulted? Is it a coincidence that both happened to be married to one another at the time God needed someone to do His bidding and to begin His plan for creation? Not likely. We especially see this in Jesus. Had Jesus even one speck of failing, God's plan would have been lost. God has it all in hand. Even Judas' failure was part of the plan, whether that concept fits well with our doctrine of freedom of choice or not.
We run into some confusion when investigating the original word for Isaac. The word used for most of the Bible has been interpreted "Laughter," or mockery. And we find that this conforms with the Bible in that both Abraham and Sarah laughed at the thought of two old people having a child. But when we come to the Psalms and thereafter the word changes somewhat and means "He laughed." This tends to indicate that it is no more Isaac's parents who are laughing and mocking, but Isaac himself who laughs. Of course it might be that the "he" who laughs speaks of Abraham. Who is to know? Ordinarily this minor change means very little, except that at this point of a different word being used, the attitude toward Isaac by God appears to have changes from the positive to the negative. Could that be a coincidence? Or might it be an error on my part? Or are we supposed to learn something from this change?
Then we have the Greek word for Isaac used in the New Testament. I thought I might discover something from looking up the word for Isaac in the Greek, since whatever change there might be, if there is in fact a change in altitudes, would be illustrated in the writing thousands of years later. I found instead that the word given for Isaac, in every case, was the wrong word. I looked this up in three sources, and all of them are incorrect, and incorrect in the same way. I've in the past found where a mistake has been made in another edition of the same book, but this is the only time I'm aware of where all editions at my disposal are wrong. The words they list for Isaac do not translate to Isaac, but to "Settle down, cease, desist." Sometime in the future I'll check this out in other references I have, but for the time being, I'll let it slide with what I have since the facts, in this instance, are insignificant to the purpose of this study anyway.
Ishmael. Certain that Sarah could not have a child, Abraham desired that Ishmael might fulfill the promise the Lord had given him. Ishmael was man's attempt to receive the promise God had given him. But God has a way of waiting until everything seems hopeless. It's God's method of doing things. In this way, once we have exhausted our resources, the only glory to be had belongs to God. God gets the glory. God sent Israel into Egypt for 400 years, then to Babylon for 70 years, and into the nations for almost 2,000 years. The rebirth of Israel is a miracle by any standard, even though it is not accepted by everyone as such.
Ishmael means "God will hear." Why did Hagar name Ishmael God will hear? Why did Mary name the Son of God Jesus (or Emmanuel)? Why did Zacharias call his son John in spite of the resistance he faced? Whereas Sarah named her son according to the circumstances of his birth (as was the case with the birth of Samuel), Hagar was instructed to name her son Ishmael, and in spite of the fact he would be against everyone (Ishmaelites are the wanders of the Arabian desert, the tribe which Joseph was sold to by his brothers), God told Hagar that He would listen to Ishmael.
An interesting "coincidence" is that while there were twelve tribes that stemmed from Isaac (through Jacob), the son of Abraham, there were also 12 "princes," or tribes that stemmed from Ishmael. God has so many parallels for us to ponder. If we miss these hidden intricacies, we miss what God wants us to learn. We think of the Bible as a series of stories for our amusement. In fact, it is God's Word to those who are willing to look beyond the surface and find His true meaning. Most everyone who bothers at all to read the Word is only interested in passing the time and claiming to have read the Bible, or they're students of the Bible, looking to find support for the doctrines of their church. Either method of study leaves one far short of the depth of the mystery of God's ways.
Names and numbers are very significant in the Word of God. New translations like to make the Bible easier to understand and relate to, but they rob the reader of the meaning of the words they are reading. For those people categorized above this would mean nothing since it's not the true understandings they seek. But for those who desire for God to lead them to His messages, we must resort to resources that express His Words to us correctly and fully. Usually this means looking into the original language itself. Today we have a multitude of such sources at our disposal. Not very long ago even the Bible itself was a rare commodity, so learning was something to be desired, but remained beyond reach. Along with desire and effort to learn God's will, if we're to learn what is beyond us, we must first be willing to walk in what we have been given. God led Abraham step by step as he passed through the valley he was pointed to. Noah was given instructions to follow if he desired to be saved from the flood. By faith he fulfilled those requirements. Had he not, he would have had no means by which to be saved ("As it was in the days of Noah....")
Names, do they come because of what people are? What they will be? Or because of what we desire of them? Consider Sodom and Gomorrah. We know what these cities were like, and we know what happened to them. Is it possible that God, or at least someone knew ahead of time what would become of these cities? Let's consider their names:
Sodom. "From an unused root meaning to scorch; burnt (that is, volcanic or bituminous) district;" This we know describes Sodom after the destruction that befell them. But we read in Genesis 10:19 that this is what the city was called even before the destruction. Let's take a look at the neighboring town and see what it has to say for itself:
Gomorrah. "From H6014; a (ruined) heap." Again we see a name that describes its final end. But what of it's beginning? I have no information on this, other than we see by Lots choice that these cities were located in the most desired of lands. They are far from that now, and ever since their catastrophe.
11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Rom 8:)
God will do what God will do. We try to force God into a box, twist some Scriptures from His Word, and attempt to make it appear that He promised something He hasn't said. We do this in our sermons, in our prayers, and especially in our songs. God knows His intentions, and His purposes. We're not going to convince Him He meant something other than what He said because we found some loopholes like a crooked lawyer trying to get a three time loser out of doing time.
God makes a rule for us, and He sets a policy, and then He violates that policy at will. We see this illustrated time after time in history, and in the Bible. God tells us to do one thing, and He Himself does something contrary to what we are to do. God did not make laws for Himself, but for us. We consider this to be unfair. But who are we to call our Creator "unfair." If God was fair, and obeyed every law He gave us, I would have been destroyed before I reached the age of ten. How about you? I'm thankful for the fact that God makes exceptions to His rules. Besides this, the rules He's laid out for us, certainly for me, are far beyond my ability to fulfill. I fail miserably every day. God gave us grace, which we are to show to others in return. I'm afraid I'm not very graceful, nor am I very grateful for what He's given me. I try, but trying is like trying to stay above water in a storm in the middle of an ocean. I might flounder for a while, but unless someone saves me, I'll perish.
The elder shall serve the younger. One of the principles and the practices God set up for us is that the elder will rule over the younger, and that the elder will receive most of the blessings. We see this in Jacob's blessings of Joseph's sons. The order there was reversed just as it is here. Was there cause for this reversal of ordinances? None that we're given. Here we see that God said this is how it will be, and our tossing up rules to make God change His mind isn't going to help. God has His plans, and it's up to us to obey, in spite of our clever and appropriate arguments.
Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. This is a hard one for us to swallow. We think God has to work within a text book we've written. In the text book we say that we have God-given rights, that we sow what we reap, that we have freedom of choice. God says we only have as much freedom of choice as He allows us to have. Moses argued with God in an attempt to keep from being the leader of the Israelites. We find this with many of the prophets as well. They didn't choose their destiny, any more than did Paul or Jonah. They were chosen, and that was that.
Before Esau was born, before he had the chance to make any mistakes or to prove himself, He was hated and rejected by God. By our standards this is totally unfair, and not like the God we serve at all. (See Ezek chapter 18 for more on the fairness of God.)
In life, Esau was the one his father (Isaac) favored, in spite of God's rejecting him. Isaac tried to give the blessing promised to Jacob to his favorite son. But Jacob, and especially his mother, connived to steal the blessing from the oldest son. The promise had already been given that Jacob would receive the blessing. Esau disdained the blessing and sold it to Jacob for a bowl of stew, and yet he (Esau) was surprised and dismayed by the loss of what he didn't appreciate. Did God know Esau would be this way before he was even born? According to the doctrines I hear God knows all this from the beginning, even before He created the world. Then why are we punished for something God already knows we're to do? Why does He bother to give us commandments that He knows beforehand we're going to break? And if you figure out the answer to these questions, then you can explain how all this fits in with our freedom of choice. I find something wrong with this thinking. Whether right or wrong, I live as if I have a choice in this world, and I'll be rewarded or punished according to how I live this life. I feel, and I believe, that I was chosen for some things. But in spite of my being chosen, I must do all I can to live up to God's expectation of me. The nation of Israel was chosen, and where are they today? Are they where you would like to be as God's chosen? Judas was chosen, and did he live up to the high standards expected of the Apostles of Jesus? I suspect there's more to being chosen than just resting on faith that I'm special because I supposedly know what's right, if I'm not living what I know to be right.
Esau. The word for Esau is a little harder to define than are some of the others. Essentially it means to "Handle roughly." However the word it is derived from does not necessarily indicate a meanness or a negative connotation, but rather the idea of a workman, a doer, a warrior. We find that Esau fit this picture, being a hunter and one to respond to a request immediately. Though he became exceedingly angry with his brother when he considered himself cheated out of his inheritance and threatened to kill him, we find that upon Jacob's return he greeted him warmly. However, there had not only been a lot of years pass since the event, but while Jacob had been out of the area for 21 years, he held no part of the physical inheritance, the material aspects of the blessing, so Esau might have very well been content. Something else to consider is that the physical part of the blessing, that of the land to be held as promised Abraham, is not the land of Edom where Esau resided, but Canaan, which is farther north, thus constituting no conflict with the blessing to Abraham. The concept of one of them, either he or Jacob, inheriting some spiritual concept hundreds or thousands of years in the future, or being the progenitor of the Messiah probably had no more effect on him than such a blessing mean to any of us today. We now understand what this means, whereas none of them at that time did. Yet I see almost no one in my acquaintance respecting this blessing, nor working toward such a blessing. Myself, though I believe I can see the blessing and what it entails better than most, I find myself totally unable to attain to what I see.
Abraham, Noah and Jacob had a first-hand dealing with God. They knew He was real and worked in the lives of men. Esau, as far as I can see, did not have this experience, as have many of us today. And those I do see who tell me they have had such an experience, do not seem to me to be doing anything out of the ordinary because of that experience.
Esau married a foreign wife. His mother did not approve of his marriage, so he went out and married another forbidden women. From this we can see that Esau was a rebellious person. I hope this is not the unforgivable sin because I have that very nature myself. Tell me not to do something, and I'll probably do it out of spite. I don't take dares, but I do hate to be told what not to do.
The land Esau lived in, and was to become the land of his descendants, is that land south of the nation of Israel that came to be called Edom or Idumea.
From the Edomites came King Herod, who wanted to be respected as a Jew, but did not live as a Jew is required to live. From this we can see that at least for a time the nation of Edom (Esau) ruled over the Jews, the nation of Jacob. We might say the lesser brother (the unloved by God) got his revenge (see Gen 27:40).
Today, as has been for some time, this area is a very aired and barren desert. But at the time of the Old Testament saints this land (I suspect) was very lush and fitted for planting and for cattle. We have a picture of this when Moses sent the spies into the land of Canaan. The spies brought back grapes so large that a cluster had to be carried between two men. The land they explored was that around Hebron, which is close to the land of Edom. Along with this we find that the valley we now call the Jordan where the Salt Sea is located was at the time of Abraham and Lot the best of area, and it was called a "Plain" rather than the deep depression it is today.
These considerations and others cause me to suspect that at one time this entire planet, at least where there was land, was a Garden of Eden (not the Garden of Eden), and because of man's abuse and disobedience it became a wilderness just as occurred with the area of Oklahoma we call the Dust bowl, which was once a fertile land, and what we're doing to the world at large today.
Jacob. Jacob had a reputation of being a trickster, a con man. Whether he was acting out his natural tendencies, or whether he was responding to his environment (being the second born and not especially cared for by his father) I can't say. But whatever the cause, he was found to be living up to his name
Jacob means "Heel catcher, supplanter." In and of itself neither of these words mean anything to me. We know that Jacob caught on to the heel of his older brother as they were born together, and that is where he got his name. But what of it? The timing of their births was almost identical, so it isn't as if Esau was especially or significantly older than the one he was to be blessed above. And what of the word "supplanter"? I think of someone who raises a garden. We find that Abel was a herdsman while Cain was a farmer. That sounds very similar to these two boys, if in fact supplanting has to do with agriculture. Let's go to the dictionary, shall we?
Supplant I discover has nothing to do with growing flowers or corn. It means to "Oust or take the place of." That fits the picture a little better. From this we can see that Jacob did indeed live up to his name. But I say again: What a name for a parent to give their child! Did they expect their newborn son to become something great and honest having to carry around a name like Supplanter or Heel Catcher? Who comes up with these names anyway? I have a perfectly honorable and socially acceptable name, but I don't like it. I go by my nick name, which I strongly prefer. When I was a child my mother called me "Hop Head." If you're not aware, that term is used for a drug addict. I never delved into drugs, but I did become a chain-smoking alcoholic. Then when my brother was born, when I was nearly twelve, he tried to say "brother," and it came out "Bobo." From then on that became my name. What is a Bobo? I know of a clown by that name (or is it Bozo, and what's the difference?) What did my mother expect me to become I wonder? I'm the black sheep of the family, and for good reason. Did I live up to my parent's expectation of me? I suspect I did. Then why were they so surprise, and seemed so disappointed by my having done so?
Again I ask, who comes up with these name do you suppose, and why?
To insure the safety of her favorite son, and to make sure the lineage remains pure, Rebekah, Jacob's mother, sent Jacob to the land of her family in order to acquire a wife. This is interesting in several ways. For one, this means that she is going to have in her family line children born of her own family. If you recall Abraham said that Sarah was his sister, which she was, his half-sister. Then Isaac, when pressed for safety, declared that Rebekah was his sister, which she was, his half-sister, coming from the same family as Laban, the family member she was of herself. Now we find Jacob is again going to marry into that lineage, making the blood how thin? What's the chances of these couples passing the blood test to see if they were compatible in this day and age? It appears that God is not worried about poor blood mixtures. This brings to mind the old question: Who did Cain and Seth marry? I would say their sister. After all, didn't Eve come from a much closer relationship with her husband than that? It's as if Adam married a clone of himself, as if he married himself. We can be so foolish as we delve deeply into obscure elements of the Bible, and miss the obvious. Jesus equated that to straining at a flea, and swallowing a camel (and I don't think He was talking about cigarettes).
Before I move on to the adventures of Jacob, let's look at the name given to Rebekah:
Rebekah. Here we have a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful name. And how many people we find with this name, a name which we (or at least I) admire? Oddly enough the word means "To clog, to fetter." However, there is a proviso placed within brackets that adds ("with beauty"). I suspect the intention is that the girl is so beautiful she holds our attention. I can understand this since I've seen many girls (including those my age, which is over the years promised us in Scripture) that hold my attention by their beauty. I can't conceive of a parent naming their child after a clogged artery or septic tank line, can you?
Rebekah was unique in that it appears she was the only one in her husband, Isaac's, life. We don't see him playing around with concubines and maids as we have (and will) see with the others in the lineage of our Saviour. But I don't think that the lack of such a recording necessarily means that it is so. For the thousand years before the flood we see people living hundreds of years, and often not having kids until they were older than most of our great, great grandparents. I can't imagine a people considered so corrupt that they had to be wiped out, that were thinking of wicked things continually, not having sexual relationships even as teenagers with their hormones raging. This is especially so since their commandment, probably the only one they were obeying, was to go reproduce and fill the world with their own kind. I suspect that just the children of these people selected to lead up to the Messiah was mentioned. If this was not so, then the flood would have had to of been no larger than a very large swimming pool to drown out the entire population. Only the animals and the birds and such would have been fulfilling their duty to fill the earth. With this in mind, it's possible (though unlikely) that there were other women in Isaac's life God didn't care to mention.
We see that Isaac was also wed to a barren woman, and that he didn't have any children (through Rebekah at least) until he was 60 years of age. The pattern we've been seeing of other barren mothers-to-be is of giving their maids to their husband in order to produce a son to have and to hold. Again, this is not to say such a thing happened in this case, just a slight possibility.
Isaac, it appears, led a relatively uneventful life in comparison the others in his lineage. This is one difference between him and others who had come before, and will come after him. He also had no life-changing situations to endure. And we come to find, that neither did he have a change of names. This I do find significant to the story at hand.
Rebekah sent her son (Jacob) to marry from a family that she knew quite well, considering that the woman (as it turned out) was the daughter of her own brother. A very close family we're encountering here. Laban, the brother of the girl Jacob has eyes for, turns out to be even more tricky than Tricky-Dick Jacob. Jacob works for seven years for the youngest daughter, the one with beautiful eyes (notice only eyes are spoken of with these girls, since an unmarried girl wore a vail, and only her eyes could be seen). At the last minute, Laban switched the brides on Jacob, and when he awoke from his drunken stupor, he found himself laying beside his new wife (sans vail) who he least wanted to be wed to, Laban's oldest daughter, Leah.
Laban. Laban's name is derived from a word that means "White," or "Brick layer." Not much I can do with a name like that. In times past, in other countries, people were named after their occupation. We have Goldsmith, or even Smith, or Weaver, and so on. We know what their family did by their family name. Perhaps this is where Laban got his name. In the nation of Israel families were expected to do as their fathers had done, and to be like them. Levites were priest, those from the tribe of Judah were eligible to become kings, and Jesus, being a son of a carpenter (as was supposed) was expected to be a carpenter. Carpentry is what he grew up learning. What else would He become, a muleskinner? What people didn't know is that Jesus was learning His real Father's business at the same time, the business He was going to take over when He came of age (Luke 2:49). We, as sons of God, are to be going about learning our Father's business in order to take over His business at the end of time. What is the Father's business? Have you given this much thought? Is it foremost in your mind and in your life?
Rachel. Rachel we find was beautiful and well favored. Well favored is a hard concept for us to understand, but in the Hebrew it means that she was good to look upon. This might mean her figure, but it's hard to say since in those days short skirts and bikinis were rare and frowned upon. I suspect only men wore them, and then only when doing strenuous work. Rachel means "From an unused root meaning to journey; a ewe (the females being the predominant element of a flock), (as a good traveler): - ewe, sheep." On the surface this sounds like a very odd name to give a pretty girl. But if we consider that this is a lead sheep, a mother, and that she is going to be a mother of nations, then this name takes on more significance. Also, we will discover that Rachel is going to be just one of the mothers (wives) in Jacob's life, even though the favored one, and the mother of favored nations. Add to this what Jesus said about sheep, and their importance, the name becomes that much more important. Am I reading something into this name that isn't there, trying to prove my point? Probably. But let's not negate the possibility just because I might have a devious motive for considering it.
Jacob has now spent 7 years of his life working for a wife he didn't want. He had been tricked, and by someone even more of a master of trickery than himself. When a man thinks he's something when he's not, he's easily overcome and deceived. Con men are adept at using one's confidence and ego against themselves. Jacob thought he was the best (I'm assuming here, so take my assumptions with a grain of salt), so he didn't expect to have been tricked himself. Again, if he hadn't played the party boy the night before the wedding, he might have been clear-eyed enough to see that he was getting the weak-eyed sister instead of the raving beauty he had worked for.
Leah. Leah, we find, was "tender eyed," which means she had weak eyes. Just what this means I don't know, but I don't think she had eyes one would enjoy bathing in. When I was in my late teens I had a girl friend who's eyes I could look into forever. Perhaps you know the kind of eyes I'm talking about. If you don't, that's sad. Leah didn't have eyes such as these. I suspect Rachel did. Leah means: "Weary, from A primitive root; to tire; (figuratively) to be (or make) disgusted: - faint, grieve, lothe, (be, make) weary (selves)." Again, what a name to give a daughter! Did Leah live up to expectations? Or was her name given to her for our edification?
We now have two wives, which is what this study is all about. Jacob, our man of note, has worked for seven years for a wife who has the name (and apparently the nature) of one loathsome, tiring, disgusting. What is Jacob to do now? He's consummated the marriage, so he can't back out of his bargain. But we see that Jacob's seven years has been for less than naught. In order to rectify his situation, he agrees to work for another seven years for the girl he really wants. The first wife, that he didn't want, and is stuck with, he worked for before he was paid. This time he's going to work for the wife he wants after he marries the girl. If nothing else, he's sure of getting his proper pay in return for his labors. Keep this in mind; the sequence of events, and the application of them, play an important part in the study at hand.
Jacob now has a mixed bag of wives. Bypassing Jacob's next years of work in order to gain a means of support (some sheep) in which he proves his superiority over the master trickster, we find Jacob and his family leaving posthaste to his homeland. Now he is not only in betwixt the proverbial rock and a hard place with his wives, but behind him comes an angry father-in-law out to get his revenge; while coming from the south, Jacob's homeland, approaches his brother, who has vowed to kill him. This in the old western movies would be what's called a climactic ending.
Again, sidestepping this exciting climax, we return to the wives. We have Jacob dealing with several situations with his wives. One of these problems his forefathers had to deal with, which we will look at in a bit. The other is that our beautiful Rachel has been found to be an idolatrous thief and a liar. Not content to be the favored wife of her adoring husband, Rachel decides to take with her Laban's "god," leaving Jacob to take the blame for the theft. For this story, read the book. Later in Genesis we read of a somewhat similar event involving Rachel's two sons where Joseph plants his cup in his younger brother's saddlebags, making it appear that he is a thief. Does this incident have any meaning to us today? Perhaps not, but I do find it interesting that Joseph is (in some circles) equated with Jesus, the older brother, and Benjamin is regarded as the younger brother, the Church, who is given the larger blessing, though undeserved. If this picture has any significance, then the planting of the cup (Jesus compared His tribulation, His testing to a cup), which He said to the disciples they would indeed partake of His cup of persecution, might well be a foreshadowing of our Church age. Something to think about.
As per pattern, the favored wife turns out to be barren. She's not over the hill as was Sarah, but barren nonetheless. To complicate matters, the unloved wife Leah is proven to be quite fruitful, this ability she lords over her younger sister. Again as per pattern, we find the barren wife begging her husband to produce a child for her through her maid Bilhah. (Interestingly enough this maid's name means "Foolish, or timid." If there is something to learn from this, I don't know what it is. But again, what a name to give to a daughter!)
Avoiding the many conflicts poor Jacob has to endure, we find a battle of the wives as to who is the best mother, even though one is barren; and who will win the heart of their husband. My advice, as was Solomon's: If you have to marry, only take one wife. At least, only one at a time.
The pattern we see so far is that of a barren wife who is loved, and another wife who is not favored, but fruitful. Again, keep this in mind. It will be on your final test.
24And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Gen 32:)
In and amongst the battle Jacob was waging with his family and his wives, during a respite, he found himself wrestling with God. This is an interesting exchange for several reasons. First, we have a man, essentially of no account, according to his name and his reputation, wrestling with no less than God (and if he be less, that is less than God, he is at least an angel), and winning! As incredible as this might sound, we have it here in black and white. Just what this entails I have no idea, nor am I going to guess, but I suspect there's a message for us that I'm missing. I can't see an all-encompassing God wrestling with a man, and certainly not losing to him. I will venture this possibility however. We see the angel saying that Jacob "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." The word used here for prevailed means "Endure, have power, attain, is able, suffer." For instance we find this same word twice interpreted "endure" in the eighth chapter of Esther (verse 6). I can well see the angel saying Jacob "endured" with him, or with God, or whatever. Again, the word for "Power" means "to prevail," as a prince has power over those in his realm. If we break this down, what might be being said is that Jacob, as a prince (a position he inherited through Abraham) has power over men, and he has endured in the sight of God. There's a possibility that this statement has nothing to do with the wrestling match, but rather the wrestling match is merely a physical picture of what is happening in the spiritual realm.
Jacob now has his name changed. His name change came from prevailing, not only with the angel, but with man as stated here. How did he prevail? Over Laban? I can't see that as a victory, although it might be. Again, I think I'm missing something here that will hopefully present itself in the future.
Israel. Israel means: "He will rule as God." This is quite a name change! He goes from being a lowly supplanter, a heel-catcher if you please, to someone who will rule as God. We find that Moses also ruled as God to the people. And for Moses his transition came, not from being a noble Egyptian prince, but from being a shepherding desert dweller. He had lost his confidence, and it was then that God could use him. We find this in two other people who ruled in place of the king as well. Joseph, who was given dreams that showed him as a ruler of the people, had to go through being sold into slavery by his brothers, and from being an ex-convict, to attain the rank he achieved. Daniel also was made head of the people, and he had to do so through a lion's den. Mordecai, Esther's "father," went from facing the sentence of death, to representing the King of Babylon. Again we see David, who was anointed king of Israel as a youth, had to first recognize himself as a "flea," and unworthy before he was crowned king of God's nation. In fact Jesus Himself said (and proved) that He was willing to serve the least of men, which is the evidence that He was qualified to be the Lord of all creation. And this He said we must do if we expect to be with Him in eternity.
Perhaps it was Jacob's having finally humbled himself to both Laban, one who deceived him, and to his brother Esau, whom he had deceived, that caused the angel to say he had prevailed. Maybe it's not so much that he prevailed over man, because I see no evidence indicating this, but that he prevailed over his own nature that gave him his name change.
1And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. 2And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. (Judges 13:)
"The children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years." We have several familiar patterns occurring in this passage of Scripture. First we have the nation of Israel falling away from their Lord. This we see time and again. Like this "civilized" country of ours, Israel refused to look to their past to see what the consequences of their actions would be. We find this in our individual lives as well. We see people with diabetes eating half a cake, and wondering why their feet are swelling or whatever their symptom might be. We see governments doing the same thing they have done in the past, and expecting a different result. There's a proverb that goes (and I know I've made a mess of it, but hopefully I've captured the essence of it), "the sign of a fool is that a person continues to do the same thing, expecting a different result." I find there's a lot of fools in this world who refuse to see the truth, most of them it seems are in high positions. Then there are those fools on the bottom of the page of insignificance, and of those, I lead the pack. I consider myself more foolish than most because I know the truth, and I can't achieve what I know I must.
Forty is another commonly used number. Earlier I said that by neglecting the numbers God uses, we cheat ourself of the understanding He is giving us. Forty we find often in Scripture. Ten is the number of tempting, and forty is the number of testing. What's the difference? I see little, and I don't think the little difference there might be is worth contemplating. I find this with the numbers 7 and 3 as well. I'm sure there's a difference, but to me they both indicate completeness and completion. And they both are God's number. Those who insist on pressing for the absolute necessity to believe in the Trinity might find the words significantly different, but what I see in them is that, if added togther, they equal 10, which again brings us back to testing. Forty is the number of days Jesus was in the wilderness being tested, as the Israelites were forty years in the wilderness. On the other hand, kings, such as David, Saul, and Solomon reigned for forty years. Was their reign a test as well? It just might be.
The Philistines were a thorn in the side of Israel because they (Israel) never expelled them from their coast as they were instructed to do. Even during the reign of David and Solomon the Philistines and the Phoenicians were securely in their place, although they were subdued at this time. Solomon in fact used Phoenicians (those in the land of Lebanon and Tyre) to build the Temple to the Lord. God demands that we rid ourself of all evil, of all ego, and of all selfishness. That little bit we think is justified, that part of Egypt that seems so innocent, will take deeper root and grow out of our control. Jesus used an example of a demon that was cast out of a person's heart at conversion, and the "house" swept clean. But because the person didn't fill the house, his life, with what was appropriate, the demon returned and brought with him seven other even worse demons. I find this so in my own life as well. And though I know this to be true, I continually find myself struggling with the old man (my personal nature) trying to keep from drifting back to what I used to be. Old habits die hard they say. This proverb applies to Christians just as much as it does the world of the unsaved. Those who say otherwise are either much more capable of keeping their body under subjection than am I, or they just lack having much self-perception. Those I've seen who consider themselves all they should be, appear to me to be very self-deceived.
And his wife was barren, and bare not. When God is about to do His work, He begins with a miracle. He uses people who are unable to do for themselves, no matter how hard they try, or how much they want to do for themselves. So much for the theory that thinking makes it so. Thinking only brings on headaches, it doesn't make a headache go away.
The nation has turned away from the Lord. So, this being the age of the judges, God is about to send a judge who will rescue them from the troubles they've gotten themselves in. Isn't that just like us? We jump in a pit of our own making, then cry out to God to rescue us, all the while crying "Why me?!," as if we didn't see what we were getting ourselves into.
The judge God is about to send to rescue His people is not much different than are the people he's to save his nation from. He is a womanizer, he lies, he kills those who have done nothing to him in order to appease those he's trying to impress (and who he's supposed to destroy). Samson, after making all the mistakes he possibly could, finally achieves the goal he was supposed to aim for. But on the road to such a success, he proved himself to be far short of the mighty man of God he was destined to be.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Again we have an angel appearing to a barren woman, and telling her something she already knows. Often I find I have to be reminded of something I tell others they have to keep in mind. It's easy for us humans to forget that we are just as human, and have the same frailties as do those we seek to advise. This, I find, is especially true in the field of psychiatry. "Crazy-doctors" are well named it seems. I think it rather amusing when a man who weighs 300 pounds of belly fat tells me I have to lose weight if I expect to be healthy. Such observations are rather obvious when we regard the physical. For those delving into the mind, and especially the Spiritual, their lack isn't always so obvious. But when their faults show through, they do so big time.
Samson. Samson's name is a display of opposites. Whereas Samson is the he-man of he-men, as macho as they come, his name is pronounced shim-shone' and means "sunshine." Can you imagine coming up to this big hulk of a man (as we assume him to have been) and calling him "my little sunshine"?
1Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. (1Samuel 1:)
We're still in the age of the judges, and again we find two wives, one is loved and barren, and the other who is not loved is fruitful. And as per pattern, the unloved and fruitful does all she can to make the loved and fruitless wife feel miserable because of her inadequacy.
We see that this man and his wives live in the area of Ephraim. This is significant in that during the time of the judges, right up until David moved the Ark of the Covenant to the Mount Zion (the City of David), Ephraim is where the people of Israel went to worship their Lord and to make sacrifice. The place the Tabernacle was set us was Shiloh, a place of significance in the Bible, and in our future, albeit that significance is essentially unrecognized. Why is this bit of information important? Because as you read the story of the birth of Samuel it's helpful to know that these people were not living in Jerusalem, and they were a long distance from Bethlehem.
Like the mother of Samson, this mother also promised to dedicate her son to the Lord and make him a Nazarite. Don't confuse a Nazarite with a Nazarene. There's a world of difference between the two.
Unlike Samson, Samuel lived up to the expectations of one used of God to fulfil His will. From a child Samuel pursued the Lord and did His will. Samuel was unique in that he was to be the last of the judges, and at the same time he was to become the first of the prophets used by God to govern the people. The time of the prophets extended right on through the period of the kings, the two going hand in glove so-to-speak. Whereas Samson was a very physical man, and such people as Gideon and Debra were warriors, Samuel was a Spiritual man, not entering into the physical aspects of governing per se. And though Samuel didn't wield the sword (except once that we know of, and that was against Agag), he was mightily feared because of his spiritual influence given him of God.
Samuel. Samuel in the Hebrew means "Heard of God," and as stated, it's this hearing from God, and his association with God, that caused him to be respected and feared.
Hannah. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in the Hebrew means "Favored," which is an apt description of her position in the family. If you recall we found this to be the same with Jacob's favorite wife, who's name in the Hebrew means ewe sheep, meaning the predominant one.
Peninnah. Peninnah, the unfavored but fruitful wife, has been given a name that means Ruby, or Pearl, something that is round. Could it be that she was fat? Who knows. I'm probably trying to force a concept again. Incidently, for those of you interested in the pronunciation of names, Ruby's name is pronounced Paw-nee' like the Native American tribe.
Samuel is the one who anointed Saul to be king of Israel when the people rejected God's choices of leaders. They wanted a king like their sinful neighbors had. Samuel is also the one who anointed David to be king, the one God had chosen to be the leader of the people, but in His own due time.
5But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. 6And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
Hannah, as has those who preceded her, had her womb closed by God. And God tells us that it was Him who did the closing. He makes no bones about His doing this to people, but we, not liking to think God would do such a thing, make up stories to try and cover what we feel are God's mistakes.
5They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. (1Sam 2:)
When God opened Hannah's womb, she, as did Elizabeth and Mary much later, began to prophesy. In this prophesy she declared this principle, that the barren would be fruitful and the fruitful would dry up. Jesus used parables of branches of a vine that did not produce, which is symbolic of the churches, and the people within those churches as well. This we see clearly today. Churches that have veered from the straight and narrow, have gone so far astray that they believe their own corrupted views are the correct ones, the ones endorsed by God; while the churches that refuse to alter their stance, are chastised and condemned. As we check out history, both of the Church and of Israel, we see the same pattern. Prophets and others who followed the commandments of God were cast out and martyred because they didn't follow the traditions of the corrupt church. The extreme of this is the crucifixion of the Messiah.
We are at the beginning of the separation between those who will truly seek the Lord and His truth, and those who will demand that a watered-down tradition be upheld. Will we be a part of the castigated "barren" Church that produces Spiritual fruit? Or will we be a part of the very large and accepted church that appears to be righteous and under God's wings?
3And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
Aaron was appointed High Priest by God Himself. And through Aaron, his sons were to follow. During the Exodus two of those sons were destroyed by God because of what we might see as a small infraction of God's rules. We find this true of Aaron as well, albeit Aaron's fault was far from small. Moses was denied entrance into the Promised Land because of what we might consider a very small misunderstanding of God's will. And this after a lifetime of strict obedience against high odds. Saul was rejected, and this early on, because he didn't quite perform the way God told him to, even though what Saul was told to do does not fit our understanding of God at all. Add to the fact that Saul fully believed that he was doing God's will, and that he tried to find redemption, but God had taken His Spirit from Saul and turned a deaf ear to his pleas for another chance. I've felt that way, have you?
We have a tendency to place all our trust in those who declare themselves God's instrument of truth. Sometimes, as was the case with King Saul and King Solomon, (and even Judas) these men are in fact chosen by God, and speak for Him. But this does not mean that every word spoken by these chosen are God's Words. Saul said some things, while king, that were from the influence of an evil spirit, and an evil spirit sent to him by God. We are each given the Spirit of God to whom we are to listen. If we have that Spirit, then we can weigh the words spoken by others who deem themselves authorities. If we don't listen to our own Spirit, our own contact with God, is that because we haven't received this Spirit? Or is it because we have our ears tuned to the wrong source?
God will do what God will do. We find David making even bigger mistakes than did Saul, and he was not rejected, nor did he lose the promise given him. Saul, who became known as Paul, was also chosen out of turn. He was failing miserably, yet he was given the opportunity to be one of God's greatest witnesses.
God will do what God will do.
Eli was the High Priest that Samuel was raised under. While Eli raised Samuel to be godly, and though he was himself godly in a failing form, his two sons, that were priests under him, and who would have taken over the position, were far from godly people, and were in fact thieves and immoral, using their position to cheat the people, and to seduce the women. Come to think of it, this kind of sounds like some of the churches today, doesn't it? We're amazed when we discover this occurring: and when it is exposed, we discover that under the surface the problem was rampant.
Eli. At the time of this story, Eli was described as fat and old, nearing one hundred years of age. The populace was afraid of the day Eli died because that would leave his sons in charge. Eli in the Hebrew means "Lofty." If this description falls short of describing the man himself, it certainly is an apt description of his position in the community.
Hophni. We find the sons of this lofty person not so endearing to the people, nor to God. Might their names befit them as well? Hophni, the oldest (I'm assuming since it's the first name mentioned) means Pugilist, a word stemming from a root that means "fists," or "Both hands full." I suspect, from the nature of the fellow, that it means something more the kin of one who holds on to all he can get, that is, someone who grabs for things that aren't his. When you read the story, you'll see what I mean.
Phinehas. Phinehas, the other son, has for a name "Mouth of a serpent." How is that for a moniker to leave a boy with? Again, we see from the story that this name certainly fits the sons of Eli. It also fits the first adviser of the people in the Garden of Eden. When we read the New Testament we find Jesus accusing the leaders of the Church of being vipers, and serpents, and a number of other epitaphs they didn't appreciate, nor recognize themselves to be. Then in the Epistles we're warned about just such a people, that such people with the mouth of the serpent (spokesman of the devil) would come from our very midst, claiming to be the angels of light. Further on we read that serpents would be alive and well and prospering in the future. Do we give heed to any of these examples or warnings? Not likely. We're too sure of ourselves to be sucked in. Perhaps the word "cocky" might be more appropriate for our condition.
1But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father (1Kings 11:)
Solomon. We can see from this one passage that Solomon was not only the wisest man on earth, but at the same time the stupidest man on earth. We think of a wise man as someone who follows his own advise. I've found this to rarely be the case. And the wiser the person is their own eyes, the less likely they are to follow their own wisdom. If wisdom isn't followed, it doesn't mature. Because of this we have to be careful not to follow other people's advise (listen to, and contemplate, but don't follow). It's certainly inadvisable to follow such a person's example. Solomon learned a great deal during his 40 years as king of Israel, and most of it was about women, and how vain riches and wisdom is. For myself, I pay little regard to anything Solomon said before he wrote Ecclesiastes, the book that said he knows nothing at all, and where he said to disregard all he said before (my paraphrase of his intent).
It would be useless to look into the lives of the wives of Solomon for examples of barren mothers. But I will check out the meaning of his name in the Hebrew:
To begin with we find that Solomon was born after a favored son of David died in infancy because of a sin David had committed. We also see that Solomon was not only highly blessed with riches and wisdom from the Lord, but that he was loved by the Lord even from his birth (or before). When Nathan the prophet heard of this birth, he gave Solomon another name, one that apparently didn't stick. He called him Jedidiah, which means "Beloved of God (Jah)". This was the only time this name was ever used in the Bible.
Solomon means "Peaceful." This is interesting for several reasons. Although we associate Solomon with the name Samuel gave him, a name he hardly lived up to or showed himself qualified for such a name, the patience God showed to Solomon throughout his failings certainly indicate that God viewed him differently than someone like Saul, who was rejected after his first error, one not nearly as great as those Solomon committed.
Solomon's reign was indeed a peaceful one, even though he placed a heavy burden on the people in order to support his lifestyle: and he presented a terrible example to those under his rule. However, there is more to the reign of Solomon than meets the eye, just as there is that of David. David was a warrior from the beginning. We see that even before he, as a lad, killed the giant Goliath, he had established a reputation as a mighty warrior. From that time on, his life was an uphill battle. This contrasts sharply with the rule of Solomon. Is there anything we can learn from this time in history? I believe there is.
David's rule, we understand, is a picture of the Millennium. In our mind we see the Millennium as a time of total peace. But if the pattern holds true, this is far from the case. We see that the Millennium will be a time of war in which the Kingdom will be conquered and brought under submission. Even through Solomon's reign there still remained pockets of resistance, where the enemy resided. Even though these symbols of wickedness were never driven out, they were made subject to the nation of Israel. They were still the enemy, and still had a rebellious heart; but they were no longer able to act out on their wicked nature. I see this to be the same during the Millennium. After the thousand years are over, those pockets of conformers, but rebellious of heart, will once again rise up and try to take over the Kingdom. Revelation speaks of this episode as the release of Satan from the pit.
We face a dilemma here. If my theory stands true, then what are these pockets of rebellious, those whose hearts haven't been changed, doing in the midst of Solomon's reign? Aren't they all wiped out and burning in hell? According to all we hear that is to be the case, but the examples and the pictures God has given us don't bear that concept out.
What's the solution? I won't go into that since it will only detract from what we're researching here, and that is, in case you've forgotten, barren wives, and the coincidence of names. There is one thing I'll add for those of you interested in eschatology, the study of future things. Consider that Joshua (a name which is the same as Jesus), as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, did not settle back and relax as one (and as those who came out of Egypt) might expect. No indeed. They faced war during their entire lives. Does that mean I think the Millennium is going to be a time of bloodshed? No, Jesus came to fight a Spiritual war, and He avoided, and disdained violence. But the Church, of which we are a part, is now, and will be fighting a Spiritual war, first and foremost a war with our own nature. A soldier, before he can be trusted to fight, or to lead, must first bring his own body and ego under subjection. That is the battle we face today. And those who succeed, will be trusted to fight the Spiritual battle of the future, alongside our Commander, Jesus.
There's one last thing I'd like to point out in regards to the passage of Scripture we're looking at. Notice that Solomon lost his position with God, as did Saul the first king of Israel. They did not do as they were told to do. Saul began as a shy person who was hiding from those who wanted to make him king. He said he was an insignificant person from an insignificant family and tribe. Power changed him, and brought out his inflated ego that was hidden prior to his being anointed. We see the same in Solomon. Solomon was "young and tender" when he took office. And at that time he was highly concerned with the people he would be governing. He recognized his lack of ability, and his need for God's guidance. Over time, after being given wisdom and wealth beyond measure, he fell to his own doings, satisfying his own lusts.
Notice that the anointing did not bring Solomon, nor any of the other kings after him, assurance of remaining under the anointing. When they failed, their anointing was removed from them. Priests and Lepers were also anointed. Something to consider given the fact that we as Christians are deemed kings and priests, and we are (or have been) leprous ourselves.
David committed the worst of sins, this we know. Yet we read here that he remained in God's good stead. Why? Because David had a heart that was after the Lord. Paul talks about his body failing in his pursuit of righteousness in the 7th chapter of Romans. But his Spirit, and his heart never left the Lord. I find this in myself as well. I fall away, then I catch myself, and run back to where the Lord waits for me. I hate those failures. But when I drift too far into those failures, I find myself losing sight of the Lord, and my old nature becomes all too appealing, in spite of my heart.
I suspect David experienced much the same problem as do I in that he at one time, his episode with Bathsheba and Uriah as one example, apparently hadn't felt guilt over the event until confronted by Nathan the prophet. How far distant David must have been from the Lord to be so completely blind to himself.
27Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. (1Sam 18:)
1Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. 2And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife (Sam 2:)
2And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. 3And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? (2Sam 11:)
5And these were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel: 6Ibhar also, and Elishama, and Eliphelet, 7And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia, 8And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet, nine. 9These were all the sons of David, beside the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister. (1Chron 3:)
David. We don't have to look very far to discover that the apple didn't fall very far from the tree when Solomon was born. I think it's clear where Solomon got the idea that it was appropriate for the king of Israel to have a lot of wives and concubines.
I'm not going to look too closely into this confused relationship either, other than to mention a few of David's wives. First we have Michal, the daughter of Saul. This marriage was one out of love on the part of both parties, especially, and most clearly the love Michal had for David. But because of an indiscretion on the part of Michal, she was kept from having any children, being restrained by God. That's probably why she wasn't included in any of the lists of David's wives, because the lists were really about his sons and not particularly his wives. He may have had many other wives, but they either had no children, or the children they did bear were girls, not included in the lists.
Abigail we know rather well because her story is one of heroism and correctness, and this amidst her husband's folly the which nearly caused an entire household to be wiped out by David.
Bathsheba is another tragic story, one where David committed the most atrocious of crimes, both against humanity, and against God. Yet it was not him, David, who suffered for his sin.
We're told of a time during David's reign when Satan arose and caused David to break a small (in our opinion) rule, and number the people of Israel. This is nothing we wouldn't expect of a king. He would naturally want to know how many men of military age he had at his command. Against serious warning, David insisted on the numbering taking place. Because of this sin, God sent a plague on the city of Jerusalem. We find it was not David who paid for his sin, it was his nation. Thousands of people (70,000 to be precise) lost their lives because of David's indiscretion. We think our actions, when they don't effect others, is none of anybody's business. Ask the People of Jerusalem, the widows of those killed in the plague, if they agree with this philosophy..
Since none of the births given here were miracles, I won't look into the names of the wives. But how about the father? What does David mean?
The word for David is one that indicates "to boil," but interpreted "Love." It stems from a word that has been interpreted "Beloved." In the Song of Solomon this same word was used 28 timed, and each time it is rendered "Beloved." In fact the only time this word has been used to indicate Beloved is in the Song of Solomon. Could this be a message to the wary? Is it a coincidence that the word which means David, is used so often in the book designed to express God's love for..... what?
In the Greek the word for David, not only stems from a word that means Beloved, but almost every time the word Beloved is used, it is precisely the same word used for David.
Remember, we're looking at names here and their significance. If an angel had told David's parents to name him thus it would come as no surprise that his name fit so perfectly his destiny. But as far as we know, this was not the case. On top of this we have to take into account that David was the last of eight sons (and we don't know how many daughters). To be named Beloved comes as a bit of a surprise under the circumstance. Then we have the fact that when Samuel was looking for the one God was to anoint, David wasn't even brought in to be considered. This is not a picture of a families behavior toward the beloved of the family.
As for the name Beloved fitting the lad, we see over and over that he was loved by everyone, even his enemies the Philistines. Saul loved David, even though he spent years trying to kill him. Jonathan, Saul's son loved David. Michal, Saul's daughter loved David. In fact we read that the nation of Israel loved David. Speak of having a name that fits one's personality and destiny!
There was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. Saul was the rejected king. David was God's choice to be king over His people. So, even though Saul loves and admires David, what does he do? He expends all his effort trying to kill the one he feels is taking his place. In spite of this war, where there was so much in-fighting that the nation didn't have time to battle with the enemy (like our churches today because of denominational separatism), David refused to take Saul's life the many opportunities he had been given. David respected Saul's position and anointing, even though Saul wasn't living up to his calling. We find this in God's instruction to us as well. We're to obey (and respect) those who have the rule over us, in spite of the fact those who are placed in charge are violating their (and our) trust at every turn. Jesus resisted the commands of those in authority, and willingly paid the price for doing so. And He tells us to do the same, and we see exactly this in the lives of His Apostles. It's a hard row to hoe, no doubt about it, especially here in "The Land Of The Free" where we're led to understand that we have basic human and political rights. But those conditions will change, and we'll experience what those in subjected lands are now enduring. Then we'll better understand what Jesus was telling us.
War between the accepted of God and the rejected of God, is not a new thing with David and Saul. We find this pictured in the lives of Cain and Abel. The first born is rejected, so he kills the one loved so he doesn't present an obstacle that stands between God and himself. We see this again portrayed clearly with Joseph and his brothers. And how can we miss the scene given us of the established Church of the day doing all it can to condemn and destroy the usurper of their throne in the person of Jesus? In the secular world this picture is again given us through Herod learning that a prophesied king was destined to take his place. While declaring a desire to worship this king, he in fact wanted to learn His location so he could kill Him, thereby supposedly protecting his reign. Reaching even farther we find this same attitude and behavior in the Catholic church when people arose to express their disagreement with the church.. Then, as if that were not enough, we find this scenario culminated in the Book of Revelation, which we will look at shortly.
5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. (Luke 1:)
John the Baptist. We jump ahead a few hundred years to the New Testament. Here in the beginning of the story of our time (not the beginning of the book, but of the episode) we again find a woman, not only barren, but past the age of baring children. This reminds me of Sarah and her dilemma. From this union we do not have the Messiah, but we have the one who will go before the Messiah and make the way straight, to announce the arrival of the awaited Messiah.
Notice that this man and his wife are "both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." We have two people much like what we see described of Noah. Whereas Noah was to be the beginning of a new world, so this couple was to become instrumental, kind of an "ark" we might say, similar to the reed ark Moses was placed in, to the introduction of the New Covenant that Jesus was to bring the world. My simile is a big stretch to be sure, but interesting (to me) nonetheless.
From the story we read that here again an angel announces that the barren will bare a child. And as per pattern, the angel tells the parents what they are to name the child. John is the name given, which means in the Hebrew (John being a Hebrew word. Surprised?) Jehovah-favored. From previous readings we found that at least two wives had names that indicated they were favored. We, or at least I assumed this meant that they were favored by their husband, which was certainly the case. But could it mean, at least as an additional meaning, that they were favored by God? Though their beginnings were skimpy, their endings certainly warrants such a possibility.
Zacharias. Zacharias was a priest who at that time served in the Temple (no longer a tent called the Tabernacle) itself, certainly an honored position. When he was all alone in the Temple Sanctuary, with everyone outside waiting for him to finish his duties and show himself, an angel appeared to him. Zacharias is also a Hebrew name, the meaning of which is "God ("Jah") has remembered." Again we find a name very fitting the person, yet interestingly odd to be given a child, unless he too was born of parents who were late in producing children. Merely speculation, the gist of it being that the name is fitting the occasion.
Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a common name today. In fact my little sister and my grandmother were both named Elizabeth. The name of this barren woman, also a Hebrew word, means "God of the oath." God made an oath to Sarah, and we find an oath given here (though not to Elizabeth herself). It's interesting that the Hebrew word is not Elizabeth, which is (I assume) a Greek pronunciation of the word Elisheba. Elisheba was the name of the wife of Aaron, the first High Priest. I find this an interesting coincidence. I also notice that when I break down this name it becomes both Eli (Lofty, or high), and Sheba. Sheba of course is where the queen of Sheba came from who visited Solomon and found him so impressive. Sheba is in the Arabian region near Ethiopia, a land of significance, both in history, and in the future of the world. This is a story much too complicated to go into here, but I do find it interesting. Again, consider that Moses was chastised for having what is described in the Bible (the King James version at least) an Ethiopian wife. Yet here we see that there is a slim possibility that Aaron's wife has some form of attachment to Ethiopia.
What am I saying here? Nothing at all. Just thinking out loud, and in print. My mind takes me to many various possibilities when I study. Perhaps some obscure thought, easily dismissed, will lead to something of significance that might have been overlooked had the exploration not been undertaken. While I'm on a side track, I'll bring up another thought I had early on in this study. Long ago when TV was only black and white there was a program called Wild, Wild West. In that program was a character called Artemis Gordon. I found this character more interesting than the main character, and I also liked his name. While venturing through the names given in the Bible, I by accident came across the word Artemis. Artemis is the Greek word for the goddess Diana, a significant deity Paul had to deal with during his missionary journeys.
A large part of the pleasure I derive from writing these studies and stories, besides what I learn from doing them, is the fact that I don't have to follow any sort of format or itinerary. I can just write what I want, when I want, and the way I want. I'm not educated, so I don't know the rules or etiquettes of writing. I wouldn't be able to follow them even if I did know them. I write as if I'm talking to someone who holds the same interests I do. I don't seek, nor need agreement, but I do need to express my opinion without interruption or conflict. I assume that those who read what I write like pretty much the same thing, loose, homey type writing. For those looking for sophisticated investigation with lots of proper grammar, there's plenty of websites for them out there with the spiders.
Back to the study. We now come to what this study, and the Bible is all about: The Messiah.
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