Investigating the Bible: Honoring four mothers of great faith


Abraham Lincoln wrote: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Four mothers in the Bible, three with tarnished reputations, responded with great faith to raise sons who would change the world.

Tamar was the victim of ungodly men. Her first husband was put to death by the Lord for some unrevealed wickedness. That man’s brother was legally required to marry her to give her children (Deuteronomy 25: 5,6), but didn’t, so the Lord put him to death. Her father-in-law Judah said he would give her in marriage to the younger brother, when the youth became an adult. Judah broke his promise. So later Tamar took bold action. Judah’s wife had died and he went on a trip to a Canaanite city. Tamar went there first, disguised as a pagan temple prostitute, and she conceived by Judah. Since he didn’t have a means of payment, Judah gave the prostitute some personal items. When Tamar showed her pregnancy, she was accused of immoral behavior. Judah was furious. “Bring her out and let her be burned.” (Genesis 38:24, English Standard Version used throughout). She identified the father by showing the personal items belonging to Judah. “Then Judah said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her my son...’” (Genesis 38:26).

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho, a pagan city in the path of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. When Joshua sent spies there, Rahab took them in and then protected them by lying to the authorities. She explained to the Jews: “…the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11). She asked for mercy for herself and her family. The Lord destroyed Jericho’s stone walls, but Rahab was spared and later married a Jewish man. She gave birth to Boaz, who grew to be a man of character and the husband of the third woman, Ruth.

The love story of Ruth’s life is detailed in the Old Testament book named for her. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, was a Jew living in Moab. Her two sons married local Moabite sisters, Ruth and Orpah. Naomi’s husband and her two sons all died, widowing the three women. Grieving Naomi planned her return to Israel and told the sisters to remain in Moab to find husbands. Orpah did. “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go,... Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16). They both returned to Bethlehem, where Ruth worked hard in the fields. An older Jewish man, Boaz, noticed this and was impressed with her faithfulness to Naomi and Naomi’s God. Both Ruth and Boaz obeyed the customs and laws of the time and their love story has the happy ending of marriage and children. (Ruth 4:21).

The fourth woman was an unwed and pregnant teenager. The virgin was engaged to Joseph, when an angel came to her and said, “… ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” (Luke 1:30-33). Mary could not comprehend how this could be. The angel explained: …”nothing is impossible with God.” Without hesitation, Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:37,38).

There are only four women named in the genealogy of Jesus, where all the others so honored are men: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary.

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name but not his profession) is a Polk County resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div., M.Th.)



This one is creepy. Identifying mothers as martyrs and schemers. There's nothing here that relates to today's women/mothers and the column is irrelevant to Mother's Day, a day to celebrate. Well, the column is written by a man.

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