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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Trip Down A River To The Source - Part Two

A Trip Down A River To The Source - Part Two

"In an excellent article about the nature of God written by Professor Trible in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (Supplemental volume) there is a survey of some major sections of the Old Testament that indicate female features associated with God.   Prof.  Trible comments:

'The Old Testament appropriates both andromorphic (man-form] and gynomorphic [female-form] images to portray a God who relates to human concerns.  Though often neglected in Old Testament theology, the female images are especially important for an expanding knowledge of ways in
which the divine and the human meet' (p. 365).

There are many Old Testament examples of the female image connected with God. In Deuteronomy 32:18 God is called the "Rock that begat thee" and the "God that formed thee [or that brought thee to birth]."  Prof. Trible shows that God has deep motherly compassion.

"Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget (Isaiah 49:15).

God is even given uterine qualities when we see his creation of atmospheric phenomena that we observe over the earth. Such things spring forth from God's "womb."  Professor Trible says that when the word "womb" is pluralized (Hebrew: 
רַח֖וּם), it takes on the meaning of mercy, compassion, like one showing mother care. The bestowal of mercy and to be merciful is "womb-like" (e.g. Exodus 34:6) and God is like the mother who shows compassion on the child of her womb.

Feminine characteristics for God do not stop with his "motherly care" over those who trust him, but feminine features are even associated with God in a way that show power and creative 
authority.  Long before the  heavens and the earth were formed, God had at his side a power that was instrumental in bringing about the creation of the physical universe.  That authority was called "Wisdom" - and that force is personified as a woman!  Though the use of Wisdom in this fashion is metaphorical, the instructive nature of its feminine qualities helps to show that God was well aware of gender (male and female) long before a particle of heaven and earth was brought into existence.  Wisdom is made a personality all on her own.

"Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets . . .  The Lord by Wisdom hath founded the earth . . . the Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever earth was" (Prov. 1:20, 3:15, 18: 4:6 19 7:4. 8:22,23, etc.).

This personification of Wisdom as a woman shows her standing before God and (in Hebrew) she even frolics, dances, and sports in God's presence as a young woman would do in courtship.

"I {Wisdom} was by him [God], as one brought up with him: and I was daily  his  delight,  rejoicing [sporting]  before  him;  rejoicing [sporting] in the habitable part of the earth" (Prov. 8:30,31).

Of course, this is symbolic language, but it exhibits a feminine association with God before the creation of the heavens and the earth. Interestingly, this biblical example shows that Wisdom was external to God himself but she was still intrinsically interwoven with his character  and  personality.   

The personal relationship has not diminished! Even Jesus saw Wisdom as feminine. "Wisdom is justified of her children" (Matt. 11:19) (Ernest L. Martin, Will Women Be Women In The Resurrection?" FBR: Pasadena,CA. 1980)

The above mentioned discussion by my late father is just touching the tip of the iceberg. As we are showing here, there is nothing out of the ordinary in discussing the feminine side of God. Many people (often male church leaders) discourage such studies because they often challenge church traditions and established dogmas which unfortunately contribute needlessly to the disempowerment of women in the body of Christ.

Now, let's return to Isaiah 66 with all of this in mind because we are going to look at another feminine theme introduced by the LORD in this text and it is a subtle introduction which is not so apparent, but when you understand that we are talking about nurture, sustenance and contextualize this to the natural world/geo-cultural situation that Isaiah would have related to, you might be able to see something much more maternal in this text than you may have previously imagined.    

So, what is this important element in this seemingly maternally oriented text that I had not appreciated before? It is the symbolism of the river! It is the imagery of the overflowing stream! It is how water, rivers, streams and a type of physical abundance that the sufficient presence of water connects to a child being taken care of by its mom!



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