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Posts Tagged ‘Canaan’

Women of the Word: Sisera’s Mother

Monday, March 27th, 2017

siseras-mother-wotw

Sisera was the captain of the army of King Jabin of Canaan. Together, they and the powerful Canaanite army were enemies of Israel and often oppressed them and fought against them. One day, Jabin sent Sisera and the Canaanite army to fight against Barak, Deborah, and the Israelite army. To Sisera’s shock, he and the Canaanite army were defeated and Sisera fled from the battle scene on foot. He soon came to the tent of a man named Heber the Kenite. But Heber wasn’t home. Only his wife, Jael, was. Jael welcomed Sisera into the tent and gave him milk to drink. Tired from fighting, Sisera lay down and soon sank into a deep sleep. When Jael saw that he was sleeping, she took a tent peg and a mallet (which is a hammer) and used these items to kill him.

When Barak and Deborah found out how and by whom Sisera died, they sang Jael’s praises in a song which is recorded in Judges 5:24-27:

Most blessed among women is Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Blessed is she among women in tents.
He asked for water, she gave milk;
She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.
She stretched her hand to the tent peg,
Her right hand to the workmen’s hammer;
She pounded Sisera, she pierced his head,
She split and struck through his temple.
At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still;
At her feet he sank, he fell;
Where he sank, there he fell dead.

The stanza following this one (Judges 5:28-31) makes mention of Sisera’s mother. Barak and Deborah imagine that when Sisera’s mother did not see him returning home victorious, she peered out the window and cried: “Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?”

Barak and Deborah further imagine that a wise lady tried to assuage the concerns of Sisera’s mother by suggesting that he was dividing the spoils and captives of the Israelite army of which he had conquered. But this was not the case. It was not Sisera and the Canaanite army who had conquered, but Barak, Deborah, Jael, and the Israelite army.

We don’t know the exact response of Sisera’s mother to her son’s delay or how she reacted when she found out about his death. We can imagine, like Barak and Deborah, that she was initially worried and then grief-stricken when she learned of his fate. Sisera’s mother may have found it hard to believe that her son – a fearless warrior, mighty army captain, and all that jazz – was felled by a simple stay-at-home (or in those days, stay-at-tent) wife and an audacious female judge. What she probably did not realize was that it was not two women who defeated Sisera and the Canaanite army. It was the God in those two women. (more…)

Women of the Word: Milkah

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

milkah-wotw

Milkah is not a very well-known Biblical figure, but she is the sister-in-law to quite a popular one – Sarah (formerly called Sarai). Sarah was married to Abraham (formerly called Abram), who also had a brother who was not very well-known. This brother was Nahor. When Abraham and Sarah married, Nahor and Milkah also married. According to Genesis 11:29:

Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah.

Terah was the father of Abraham and Nahor and they also had a third brother called Haran. Haran was the father of Lot, but he later died, so Abraham took Lot into his home. At first, they all lived together in Ur of the Chaldeans, but after Haran’s death, Terah, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, and Haran’s wife left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. On their way to Canaan, they come to a place called Harran and decide to settle there. While in Harran, Terah dies after living 205 years. God then calls Abraham to leave his country and his people and his father’s household and go to the land of Canaan. He promises to bless Abraham and make of him a great nation. So once again, Abraham, Sarah, and Lot pack up their possessions and set out for Canaan.

Meanwhile, Nahor and Milkah remained in Ur of the Chaldeans. Somehow, across the large expanse of desert and sky, Abraham and Sarah and Nahor and Milkah kept in touch. Genesis 22:2 says,

Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor.”

While Abraham and Sarah waited for years and struggled to have just one child, their brother and sister-in-law had quite a large family. Milkah gave birth to eight sons (!): Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel. The youngest son, Bethuel, became the father of Rebekah who years later became the wife of Abraham and Sarah’s long-awaited promised son, Isaac. Milkah is specifically mentioned four other times in the book of Genesis (23; 24:15, 24, 47). Milkah’s youngest son, Bethuel, is also our link to what we can learn from her life. (more…)

Women of the Word: the Canaanite Woman

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

The story of this woman from Canaan is mentioned twice in the New Testament in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30. Even though her name is never mentioned in the Bible, the Canaanite woman displayed an important characteristic that we all would be wise to develop.

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