Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nativity

I am going to take a break from blogging for the Christmas season. I have too much on my plate and need a vacation. So I am wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'll be back in January. I hope you will all still be around. Oh, and for your Christmas present here is my very favorite painting of all time.


It is called "Nativity" and is by Brian Kerkisnick, here is a bigger picture. I saw it once at the BYU Museum of Art and it is stunning in real life, 17 feet long X 7 feet high. I can't even begin to say how much I LOVE this painting. It is my favorite depiction of the Nativity because it seems the most realistic-- Mary breastfeeding Jesus (yes, she would have), Mary attended by two midwives (yes, she would have been), the angels pressing down to see-- young and old, the dog with her puppies in the stable, and Joseph overwhelmed and awed. Someday (when we are rich) I'd love to have a HUGE copy of this painting to hang in my house. I love it.

Here is a picture that shows you just how big it really is. If you are ever at BYU, there is a much smaller copy of it on the 4th floor of the Joseph Fielding Smith Building (JFSB) by the English Department offices.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wishing You a Mary Christmas!

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by Christmas this year. Maybe it is because we are kind of poor this year and in an effort to save money I am trying to make most of our presents-- which takes MUCH more time than buying them at the store! Also, this is our first Christmas in our own home and I am feeling pressure to decorate it cute (why--I'm not exactly sure?) and I have a little one-year-old who makes doing anything harder. Needless to say I haven't been thinking much about the real reason of Christmas. Given my Christmas mindset I was VERY grateful for the reminder in Relief Society about Mary and Martha. The scriptures say that Martha was "cumbered about with much serving" while Mary took time and "sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." (Luke 10:36-42) I realized that I have been so "cumbered about" with myself and my self-imposed expectations (really does anyone else care how my Christmas tree is decorated- not really) that I have not taken the time to sit at Jesus' feet and reflect about what Christmas really means.

I realized that I have been spending a lot of time and energy on things that are of no worth. Things that have been taking me away from my Savior and which have not made me a better disciple. I've decided that this Christmas I don't want to waste my time being a Martha-- but instead want to focus on being a Mary. I am going to try to focus on Christmas activities and traditions that bring me and my family closer to God rather than those that overwhelm and stress me out. I want to have a MARY CHRISTMAS (ha, ha, get it?), one centered on the Savior and not on worldly things. I've thought of a few ideas to try out, I'll let you know how I do! Any suggestions?

I thought this was a beautiful painting of Mary and Martha from an African perspective. I love to see pictures of Jesus as black, Native american, Asian, etc... It reminds me that he isn't just my Savior but the Savior of ALL mankind.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rhoda

Acts 12: 13-15

Background:

Herod had "stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church" (Acts 12: 1). He killed James the brother of John with the sword (12:2) and put Peter in prison during the passover. He put 16 soldiers to guard him and intended to kill him after Easter. The church prayed "without ceasing" for him (12:5). On the night before Easter an angel appeared to Peter and broke the chains off his hands and ordered him to put on his clothes and follow him out of the prison. Peter passed safely by the two guards who were sleeping next to him and the 14 guards guarding his cell. The angel left him when he entered the street and then Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John, surname Mark (12:6-12).

Facts about her:

  • her name means "rose";
  • she was at the house of Mary the mother of John (surname Mark) praying with others who were gathered there (probably praying for Peter to be delivered out of prison);
  • when Peter, the prophet newly delivered from prison, knocked on the gate she hearkened to his knock;
  • she recognized the prophet's voice and was so excited that she didn't open the gate but ran inside to tell everyone that Peter was outside;
  • everyone thought she was crazy and she had to "constantly affirm" that she knew it was true;
  • they told her that if he was there then it must be his angel;
  • finally, after Peter had continued knocking, they opened the door and "were astonished" to see him standing there;
  • Peter told them how the Lord delivered him out of prison and commanded them to "shew these things unto James, and the brethren" and then he departed.

Speculations about her:

  • she was probably fairly young. She is called a "damsel" which means a young unmarried woman. Another damsel spoken of in the New Testament was the daughter of Jarius and she was 12 years old (Mark 5:42) . It would be a good guess to say she was around the same age;
  • one can only imagine her joy at finding Peter at the gate. It is probable that only moments before she had been praying to God to free and protect Peter, when all of a sudden she heard a knock and there was the very prophet she had been praying for. Who knows, it could have been an instantaneous response to her prayer!
  • perhaps Peter came to Mary's house especially because of the prayers of this young woman. In 12:12 it says that "And when he considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John." He doesn't stay long, only long enough to tell them their prayers had been answered. Part of me believes that he came specifically to answer the prayer of a little girl who prayed with perfect faith.

My thoughts

This young woman hold a very special place in my heart. Her story makes me laugh, especially when I imagine her being so excited about hearing the prophet's voice that she forgets all about him and runs back inside to tell everyone. Steven C. Walker in the 1978 Ensign also expressed his amusement about Rhoda, he said,

"... little Rhoda became so excited at meeting Peter at her door that “she
opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before
the gate” (
Acts 12:14)—leaving the prophet of the Lord, who only moments before had prison gates opened for him by angels, cooling his heels outside. "

Not only do I love her excitement and energy, but I admire her tenacity. She stuck firm to what she knew to be true, even when others were mocking her and criticizing her. She didn't back down and she didn't deny what she had heard. She knew the voice of the prophet and she could not and would not deny it. Her story helps remind me about how exciting it is to hear the voice of the prophet, and how that excitement should make me want to share it with everyone, even at the expense of being criticized. What amazing integrity and strength for so young a woman!

Oh, she is also mentioned in this wonderful talk by Prophet Spencer W. Kimball. It thrills me that prophets of God are aware of and impressed by the stories of the young women in the scriptures!

What we can learn from her:
  • God answers the prayers of women;
  • Prayers work miracles, especially when given with the faith of a child;
  • God cares about little girls, and will even send a prophet to answer their prayers (think about President Monson and the little girl in the tabernacle);
  • We must "constantly affirm" our belief in what we know is true, even when others tell us we are crazy;
  • Hearken when the prophet knocks and learn to recognize his voice;
  • Don't leave the prophet standing on the doorstep :)

Questions:

  • Have you ever had a time in your life when people thought you were crazy because of your beliefs? What did you do?
  • Why is it so hard to stand up for what you know to be true?
  • How do you imagine the rest of her life was changed by this experience? Do you think she ever doubted God would answer her prayers?
  • Why do you suppose she didn't open the gate and left the prophet standing outside?
  • Why has no one painted a picture of Rhoda (at least not that I can find)? This is a MAJOR oversight in my opinon!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thoughts on Homosexuality

Just as a caveat to this post. My understanding of homosexuality has come a long way since I wrote this post. I have appreciated these conversations about it and feel that this statement from the LDS church, explains my belief best: 


The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
I feel that that was the heart of what I was trying to say in the post, but that I didn't say it very well at all. I have considered taking this post down or re-writing it but I appreciate having a record of how my thoughts and perspectives have grown. Life is a constant learning process. 

Gender is the center of our identity as people and as a society. It is natural that something so important should be the center of so much controversy and confusion, important things usually are. In the last few months I've really struggled to figure out how I feel about homosexuality. The hardest part for me is the claim that many gays and lesbians make that they were born the way they are. They claim that some people are born with heterosexual attraction and others homosexual attraction. If this is true, if God really did create people this way, then it would be a crime to treat people differently based on their sexual orientation. It would be something they couldn't control, just like a person can't control the color of their skin. But if they weren't born that way, if God didn't intend for some of His children to be homosexual and others to be heterosexual, then it means homosexuality is a choice-- something that one can control.

In the last few months I've really searched the scriptures and studied the words of the prophets to try to understand the essential truths behind gender. I know that I don't have a complete understanding of it all, but I do feel like I've received some insights that I'd like to share. Please realize that these are my personal beliefs and I ask that you respect them, even if they differ from your own. Even so, I am very interested in hearing your thoughts and would love to hear your opinions on the subject-- even if it they are completely opposite of mine. I think that it is important for people with opposite opinions to discuss and come to understand and respect each other's viewpoints. Also, I am not taking a stand on Proposition 8 or other gay marriage amendments, that isn't my intent. If you'd like to discuss about that, Naomi wrote a wonderful post that I recommend. So with that said, these are my thoughts.

The foundation of my belief is Jesus Christ, the scriptures, revelation from modern prophets, and personal revelation. The following are statements I believe to be true and guide my spiritual and moral decisions.

Truth #1: "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995)

Truth #2: God is omnipotent and perfect; He does not make mistakes (Alma 7:20).

IF #1 and #2 are true, THEN.... homosexuality is a choice. BECAUSE: Maleness and femaleness are eternal characteristics of a person's spirit, and can not and will not change. God has commanded that "...a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) It was in God's plan from the beginning that males and females cleave (or covenant) one to another. Therefore, for someone to claim they were born as a homosexual, or born with homosexual attraction, would mean that God messed up and put a male spirit in a female body or a female spirit in a male body. God does not make mistakes.

Closer look at Truth #1, Gender is an eternal characteristic:

In the first chapter of Genesis we read "... God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. " (Gen. 1:27) I think it is significant that one of the very first truths that God teaches his children deals with gender, and states that from the very beginning He created male and female. Before I studied this subject closely I always thought this scripture referred to God creating physical bodies. Yet as I searched closer I realized that God is not talking about creating bodies, but about creating spirits. This creation of male and female happened on the fifth day of creation, but God doesn't create man's physical body until the seventh day (Gen. 2:2, 6-7). It isn't until the second chapter of Genesis that God , "... formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

This creation of male and female spirits before the creation of male and female bodies follows the pattern of creation. God has revealed that He creates all things spiritually before he creates them physically (Moses 3:5; D&C 29:31-34). Also, we know from the scriptures that men (male and female) were intelligences before the world was (Abraham 3:22) and that intelligence can not be created or destroyed and is free to act for itself (D&C 93: 29-34). Each intelligence or person, has an eternal identity and purpose that can not be changed or created, and gender is an important part of that identity. We are free to choose for ourselves and God can not force us to do anything.

We also learn in Genesis that after creating Adam and Eve God married them and then commanded that, "...a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) Here we see that it was in God's plan from the very start that males and females cleave (or covenant) one to another (here is an interesting insight into the word cleave in Hebrew). This was God's commandment concerning marriage at the beginning and it is still his commandment today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).

A closer look at Truth #2, God does not make mistakes:

We read in Heb. 13:8 that "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." This is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity (and most other major religions), that God does not change and is omnipotent and perfect. The scriptures bear testimony after testimony that God is constant and true ( James 1:13; 2 Sam. 22: 31, Mal. 3:6; Acts 15:18; 1 Chr. 28:9; 2 Ne. 9:20; Mormon 9:10). If God was changeable, faith would be impossible. It is the knowledge that God is perfect, true, and just that makes Him God and allows us to anchor our souls to Him with faith and trust.

Alma 7:20 says, " ... he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. "

God is incapable of making mistakes. He is in perfect control of the universe, and knows each of his children on a personal level. He knows their struggles and knows their needs. He does not leave them alone.

Conclusion

After searching the scripture and praying I've personally come to the conclusion that God did not intend for some of his children to be homosexual and others to be heterosexual. Each spirit has an eternal gender identity, that God did not create and which God can not destroy. I believe that homosexuality is a choice, and because it is a choice it is something that someone can control.

God does not have the power to force anything to do anything. He control the elements only because they obey His word, he controls matter only because it obeys his voice. People have their free agency and are able to choose in all things, to obey the voice of the Lord or to disobey. Yet, just like there are physical laws that govern the elements ( gravity, aerodynamics, etc) there are spiritual laws that govern human choices. A person may choose to drive their car off the cliff, but it doesn't mean that the law of gravity "turns off". The person and the car are still bound by it and will suffer the consequences of disobeying gravity. The same is true for moral decisions. A person may choose to act upon homosexual urges but that doesn't mean that God's law on marriage is going to "turn off". There are consequences to every choice.

Yet, I do believe that homosexual urges are VERY real and that MANY people on this earth struggle with them. In fact, I'd venture to say that EVERY person at sometime in their life has felt homosexual urges to a different degree. Having homosexual urges is not a sin, but choosing to act upon them or forcing others to participate in them is. Like I said at the beginning of this post, gender is at the essential of our eternal identities and so it is natural that humans struggle with it. And because it is so important it make sense that Satan tries VERY hard to confuse us about it. If he can confuse us about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, then he wins.

I believe that God loves each of his children and gives them understanding when they ask for it. People desperately need answers about the true nature of gender, and I believe that such answers come only through personal study and prayer. God hears prayers and He answers them when asked with a sincere heart. If you want truth, you must put in the effort to find it and open your heart to the giver of all truth, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite


Ezra Thanks God for His Help
Ezra 2: 61-63
Nehemiah 7:63

Background:
abt 537 BC

Cyrus, king of Persia declared that God had commanded him to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2). He commanded the Jews, who had been taken into captivity 70 years before, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1: 3-11). He gives them the vessels from the temple that Nebuchadnezzar had taken. 42, 360 Jews returned as well as 7,337 servants, maids, and 200 singing men and women (Ezra 2: 64-65). Ezra was a priest/scribe who brought a group of Jews back to Jerusalem. His first reform in Jerusalem is was to separate Jews form their foreign wives (Ezra 10). The temple was completed in 516 BC.

Facts about her:
  • She married a priest;
  • Her husband took her surname;
  • She and her family returned to Jerusalem and helped to rebuild the temple;
  • The name Barzillai means "of Iron" in Hebrew;
  • Her family's, as well as the families of Habaiah and Koz, names were not recorded on the genealogy as being priests. Therefore they were not allowed to hold the priesthood. The Tirshatha (high civic officer) told them that they were not to eat of the "most holy things" until there was a priest with a Urim and Thummin;
  • She was a decedent of the Barzillai who sheltered and fed King David when he was in hiding from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 17: 27-29) . David offered him a place in his house, but Barzillai turned it down because he was 80 years old and wished to die among his own people (2 Samuel 19:31-39);
  • Barzillai is mentioned to be "a very great man" who was kind and humble (2 Samuel 19:32). On his death bed David tells his son Solomon to" shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite" (1 Kings 2:7);
  • The area of Gilead belonged to half the tribe of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh (see Bible Map 1).
Speculations about her:
  • The reason her husband probably took her surname was because she came from a very famous and respected family (see story on Barzillai the Gileadite, 2 Samuel 17: 27-29; 2 Samuel 19:31-39);
  • In the book of Esdras her name is given as Agia and her husband's name is Jaddus.

My Thoughts

Priesthood authority can only be given through the direct lineage of Aaron or by one having authority (D&C 107: 13-16). This right lies with the prophet of the church who is ordained as a prophet, seer and revelator. He has been given the keys of the priesthood and is able to authorize someone else to ordain others, who can then authorize someone else to ordain another, etc... Every man ordained to the priesthood should be able to trace his line of authority back to the prophet, who received the key to administer from Jesus Christ. The power of the priesthood does not lie with man, but with God.

In this story the sons of Barazillai were not allowed the priesthood because they could not prove they were direct descendant of Aaron and there was no prophet on earth who had the authority to ordain someone to the priesthood. This is the reason that the Tirshatha (high civic officer) told them "they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. " (Nehemiah 7:65) The Urim and the Thummin represent the gift of revelation.

What we can learn from her:
  • Knowing our genealogy is important;
  • There are blessings that come to us because of the righteous lives our ancestors lived;
  • A man can take a woman's surname when they get married. There is no scriptural reason to show otherwise;
  • The choices and decisions we make now will affect the lives of our descendants, for good and for bad;
  • There are only two ways to be ordained to the priesthood, by being a literal descendant of Aaron or by being ordained by one who has authority from Jesus Christ.
Questions:
  • Why is it important for priesthood holders to be able to trace their line of authority back to Jesus Christ?
  • Why are literal descendants of Aaron automatically granted the Aaronic priesthood?
  • How have the lives of your ancestors influenced your life?
  • Would your husband ever take your last name instead? Why not?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mary Knew

Our lesson in church today was on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As my husband and I were walking home after church we got into a discussion about if the prophet will know when Christ is going to come again. He mentioned the scripture in Mark 13: 32 that says, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Meaning that no one knows when the Lord will come again, not even the angels in heaven. But then I mentioned the scripture in Amos 3:7 that says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets". Meaning that God doesn't do anything without first revealing it unto his prophet on the earth.

We discussed these scriptures for awhile, but I wasn't feeling satisfied with any of the conclusions we came up with. I felt certain, deep down in my heart, that God's prophet would know when Christ was coming. When He came for the first time several prophets knew when he was coming, Samuel the Lamanite even knew the exact year. Mary and Joseph had an angel appear to them who announced His coming. Ding, Ding Ding! An answer came to me.

Mary knew that Jesus was coming. Both her and Joseph had been visited by an angel and she had been overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. When she conceived a child, she knew that she was carrying the Son of God. There could have been no doubt in both Mary and Joseph's hearts that Jesus Christ, their Redeemer, was coming to the Earth. Mary's pregnant belly was evidence enough. Yet, they also knew that it would take about nine months before He came. During that time Mary could feel Him getting bigger and stronger inside of her. She could feel Him begin to move and develop. She could feel her body change and prepare for labor, and as she rode to Bethlehem she must have known her time was close. Yet despite all these signs, she didn't know exactly what day or hour Jesus , her child, would come. All she knew was that He was coming and that His coming would be preceded by pain and suffering. And that after the pain would come a joy and a peace beyond all description.

I can't help but think that Jesus's Second Coming will be much like His first. We know He will not come again as a baby, rather He will come as a resurrected being in glory and power. Yet just as Mary could feel and see His first coming getting closer, the righteous will know with the same certainty that His second coming is close. They will see the earth growing ripe or pregnant in preparation for His coming, and they will anticipate with joy the coming of the Son of God. They know there will be pain, even for the righteous. Yet God has promised that, just as in childbirth, the pain will be followed by the most divine and consuming joy and peace.

I think that the prophet will know when Jesus Christ's second coming is going to be. No, he won't know the day or the hour, but he will know that the time is VERY near. He, like Mary, will watch the belly grow big and feel the first signs of labor; he will be prepared and ready to welcome the Son when He comes. It is my hope that each of us will be prepared and ready to meet our Savior when the day comes, whether in this life of the next. Remember that, "...if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. " (D&C 38:30)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pharaoh's Daughter (Solomon's Wife)




1 Kings 3:1; 7:8; 9:16, 24; 11:1
2 Chronicles 8:11

Background: around 945 BC

King David died and Solomon, his son by Bath-sheba, inherited the kingdom. Solomon was the third and last king to rule over both Israel and Judah. He walked in the in the ways of the Lord and built a temple to the Lord. Not long after he became king he made an "affinity" with the King of Egypt and took Pharaoh's daughter as his first wife.

Facts about her:
  • Her marriage to Solomon was a political alliance (1 Kings 3:1);
  • After the alliance she went to live in Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1);
  • Her Father burnt Gezer with fire and killed all the Canaanites who lived there. He gave the city to her as a present (1 Kgs. 9: 16);
  • She was not an Israelite, and Solomon marrying her was breaking the commandment that God gave to his people in Deuteronomy 7:3-4;
  • She was Solomon's first wife. Solomon had 700 hundred wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11: 3);
  • She was the only one of his wives who was given her own palace (1 Kings 7:8);
  • It took 20 years for her palace to be finished;
  • Once her palace was finished she left Jerusalem, as did Solomon's other wives (1 Kgs. 9:24);
  • Solomon moved his wives because he didn't want his non-Israelite wives (and their Gods) corrupting the Lord's holy house. He said: 'No wife of mine shall dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come.' (2 Chronicles 8:11);
  • Eventually she, as well as Solomon's other "strange wives", turned his heart from worshiping the Lord. By the end of his life Solomon was worshiping "Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the detestation of the Ammonites." (1 Kgs. 11: 1.) He also built idols, made false sacrifices, and did not observe the commandments of the Lord (1 Kings 11: 1-10);
  • Solomon's kingdom was overthrown by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:19-25). Jeroboam was successful because he was supported by the people who were tried of all the taxes and labor forced upon them because of Solomon's building projects, which included the palace and upkeep for Pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 12:3).
Speculations about her:
  • The fact that the Pharaoh's daughter married Solomon shows the great prestige and wealth of the Hebrew monarchy. Pharaoh's daughters did not ordinarily marry outside of their own family, in fact it had never happened before;
  • Her marriage to Solomon may have been the cause of the increased trade with Egypt talked about in1 Kings 10:28-29;
  • Some scholars think that the Song of Solomon was addressed to Pharaoh's daughter. Their reason for believing this are passages 1:9 that states "I have compared thee, O my love, to a steed before Pharaoh's chariots." and 1:5 in which the woman says "I am black";

Solomon and Pharaoh's Daughter reciting the Song of Solomon
  • Scholars don't agree as to her identity, but she is speculated to be the daughter of Pharaoh Shoshenq 1 and that her name was Nicaule or Tashere.

  • This tomb in Jerusalem is claimed to be hers. Archeologists say that the reason it has a flat roof is because it once supported a pyramid on top of it as a fancy headstone.
What we can learn from her:
  • Women have great influence over their husbands, and can use that influence to bring their husbands closer to God or to alienate their husbands from God;
  • Unrighteous women can be bring about the downfall of great men;
  • God has given commandments on marriage. The greatest joy and peace possible, in this life and in eternity, comes when these commandments are followed.
Questions:
  • What type of influence do you have on the men (or women) in your life? Are you using that influence to bring them closer to God?
  • Why do you think the Lord command the Israelites not to marry foreign wives? What harm could it do?
  • Do you think that Solomon knew he was sinning by taking a foreign wife? How do you think he justified it?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Peter's Wife's Mother

"Christ healing the mother of Simon Peter" by John Bridges 

Matthew 8: 14-15
Mark 1:30-31
Luke 4: 38-39

Background:

Her story happens early in the ministry of Jesus. He had just healed a leper (Matt. 8: 2-4), and the servant of a centurion (Matt. 8: 4-13). He was traveling in Capernaum, which was a wealthy fishing city, and while there he taught in the synagogue and cast out a devil (Mark 1: 21-28). After healing her Jesus goes on to cast out more devils and calm the tempest.

Facts about her:
  • She lived in Capernaum, in the house of Peter and Andrew (his brother);
  • She was the mother of Peter's wife;
  • She was lying in bed sick with a fever;
  • Christ heard about her situation and came to her;
  • He took her by the hand and the fever left her and she arose from bed;
  • She had the faith to be healed;
  • This is one of the first recorded miracles that Christ performs;
  • She was healed before Jesus called Peter to be an apostle;
  • She ministered to those who were present, among which were Christ, Peter, James and John.
Speculations about her:
  • We don't know how long she had been ill, but it does sound like the fever was serious and that she was on the verge of death;
  • She was probably well acquainted with Jesus;
  • She may or may not have been a believer. I can't help but wonder how she felt about her son-in-law forsaking all he had to follow Jesus.
My thoughts:

The scriptures say that once she was raised from her sickbed "she ministered unto them". This probably means that she resumed her female duties of providing food, care, and support to those in the house. It is significant that the first thing she did when she was healed was to serve. She didn't run out into the street shouting that she had been healed, she didn't fall down and praise Christ, instead she began immediately to serve Him and those around her. The best way she could thank Christ for what He had done for her was to serve. I think that is a profound lesson. The Savior promised:

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20: 26-28)

What we can learn from her:
  • Women have the faith to be healed;
  • Christ knows the sufferings of women and comes to them;
  • Christ can heal any wound, sickness or heartache women have;
  • We can show our gratitude to Jesus Christ through our service;
  • Women's work in the home is service to God;
  • There is power in touch.
Questions:
  • Why are priesthood healings given by touch?
  • How do you imagine her life was changed after this experience?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vashti

"Vashti Deposed" by Ernest Normand, 1890


Background: 20 BC

King Ahasuerus, the King of Persia held a feast for all the princes and servants of Persia and Media in order to show off his great riches. The feast lasted 180 days. After this feast he held a feast for all the people in the palace which lasted seven days. Vashti, the queen, held a separate feast for the women of the palace in the royal house. One the seventh day of the feast the King was "merry with wine" and commanded his seven chamberlains to bring Vashti out to him so that he could show off her beauty. Vashti refused to come and the King was "very wroth, and his anger burned in him". He commanded that she never come before him again and that her royal estate should be given to another. He also sent out a proclamation that all wives in the Persian Empire should give honor to their husbands, and that every man should rule in his own house. Esther later became Queen in place of Vashti.

Facts about her:
  • She was the Queen of Persia, married to Ahasuerus. Persia encompassed 127 provinces, from Greece to India, almost the whole of the civilized world (see Bible Map 7);
  • She was fair to look at;
  • Her name means "beautiful", "sweetheart, or "the beloved one" in Hebrew;
  • She enjoyed a high standard of living and had significant political and social power;
  • She was responsible for holding a separate feast for the women and nobles of the palace;
  • She was summoned by the King's seven Chamberlains to appear before the drunken King and the drunk men of the palace;
  • She refused to come when the King called her, humiliating him before all the men of the palace;
  • The King's wise men told him that "Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes...Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath." (Esther 1:17-18)
  • The King commanded that she should never come before him again;
  • Her royal estate was given to another (eventually Esther);
  • Her act of disobedience caused the King to send out a decree throughout his entire empire (published in multiple languages) saying that, "all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small" (Esther 1: 20) and "that every man should bear rule in his own house"(Esther 1:22);
  • She lost everything because of her disobedience-- her political power, her social position, her dignity, her chance to bear children, her friends, and her family.
Speculations about her:
  • The King's request that she "show off her beauty" might be interpreted to mean that she "appear naked" or "dance". In verse 11 the King specifies that she wear her royal crown, it might have been that is all he meant for her to wear;
  • According to the Midrash, she was the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar, the granddaughter of King Amel-Marduk, and the daughter of King Belshazzar;
  • Men and women often dined together in ancient Persia, but as the dinner progressed and more wine was drunk, the wives left and were replaced by concubines. She might have felt like she was being treated as a concubine because the King called for her after dinner. She was a noble woman and would not have felt that was respectable behavior for a queen;
  • According to the Talmud (Megillah 12) Vashti would force Jewish women to work naked on the Sabbath. The Talmud also says that the reason she refused to appear before the King was not that she was modest, but because she had leprosy or because she had grown a tail;
  • The scriptures don't specify what happened to her, it just says that she would " come no more before king." Jewish tradition believes that she was executed, but it is very possible that she was still alive and living as a low status concubine in the palace when Esther became queen.
My Thoughts:

This story is hard for me because I have two conflicting thoughts about Vashti.

First Thought: I think she is a fantastic example of standing up for your standards. She didn't allow herself to be forced into doing something she knew was degrading and inappropriate. She took a great risk in standing up to her husband, who tried to control her with unrighteous dominion. She knew how she should be treated and she demanded it. She had strength and courage that I admire. Her story reminds me of a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks entitled Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church (Nov. 2005). In it he says:

President Kimball...declared, “We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.’ ” He decisively rejected that abuse of priesthood authority in a marriage, declaring that such a man “should not be honored in his priesthood” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 316).

There are cultures or traditions in some parts of the world that allow men to oppress women, but those abuses must not be carried into the families of the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember how Jesus taught: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, … but I say unto you …” (Matt. 5:27–28). For example, the Savior contradicted the prevailing culture in His considerate treatment of women. Our guide must be the gospel culture He taught.

If men desire the Lord’s blessings in their family leadership, they must exercise their priesthood authority according to the Lord’s principles for its use: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:41–42).
Vashti was the victim of an unrighteous husband who tried to control her and abuse her. It is not right for women to be treated that way, and she did well to stand up to him and assert her rights as a daughter of God.

Second Thought:
Both Vashti and Ester disobeyed the king, yet they did so in very different ways.

  • Vashti refused to come when the king called her/ Esther went to the king when she wasn't called;
  • Vashti offended and humiliated her husband with her disobedience/Esther pleased and empowered her husband with her disobedience;
  • Vashti's disobedience resulted in her banishment/ Esther's disobedience resulted in giving her more freedom and more power as a queen;
  • Vashti's way of disobeying led to more restrictions and control over women in the empire/Esther's way of disobeying saved the lives of all the Jews in the empire and elevated their status in the eyes of the king.
I can't help but feel that while Vashti had a VERY valid reason for disobeying her husband, she might have done it the wrong way. She was haughty, forceful, blunt, and undiplomatic. Her disobedience didn't do much to help women's situation in the Empire, it made it much worse for them. True, her situation was different than Esther's, but Ester used all her feminine resources to get what she needed. She used her beauty, her brains, her charm, and quite a bit of prayer and fasting to change the mind of her husband and gain respect.

Sometimes I think that women do more harm to their causes when they are forward, overbearing, and forceful. It seems like most of the time they are more effective when they use more gentle, "feminine" ways of persuasion. Sometimes that means wearing a pretty dress and hosting parties for the king until he is willing to listen to you. Sometimes it means humbling yourself and coming when you are called. Yet on the other hand, there are times when "feminine" techniques fail, and sheer willpower, force, stubbornness, and courage are required to stand up for what is right.

So you see, that is my dilemma about Vashti. I can't decided if her way or Esther's way is better--or maybe they are just different. Perhaps there are times when women need to be Vashtis and times when they need to be Esthers.


What we can learn from her:
  • Life has gotten better for most women since 20 BC, well most women. There are still women living in parts of the world where things haven't changed very much;
  • Sometimes women have to disobey what is demanded of them if it unrighteous, even at the risk of being cast out and punished;
  • Women suffer from unrighteous dominion;
  • Sometimes there is a better, gentler way to disobey and still get what you want.
Questions:

  • What is a modern day parallel of Vashti's story?
  • What do you think women today have to learn from Vashti?
  • Would you have come when the king summoned you? Why/ Why Not?
  • What do you think happened to Vashti?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Daughters of Heman

1 Chronicles 25:5-6

Background: around 953 BC

King David wanted to build a temple to the Lord but was told that he should not. Instead he turned the task over to his son Solomon. Solomon assigned families of the Levities, who were one of the 12 tribes and who had been set apart by God to assist the Priests with their duties, different tasks. Three families of the Levites, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were assigned to "prophecy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals (1 Chr. 25:1)." Heman had 14 sons and 3 daughters that he taught to worship God with music. Earlier Heman and his family were also assigned to play music whenever the ark of the covenant was being moved (1 Chr. 15:16), and when the tabernacle was set up (1 Chr. 6:31-33).

Facts about them:
  • They were Levites, which meant they had been assigned the task of ministering in the sanctuary and were to assist the priests with their duties. Unlike the rest of the tribes the Levites received no land of inheritance. Instead, they, as a people, were offered up to the Lord as an offering. They were the Lord's peculiar property;
  • They had 14 brothers. Their names were Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth;
  • Their father's name was Heman and he was the "the king’s a seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn" (1 Chr. 25:5);
  • They were instructed by their father to play songs with cymbals, psalteries, and harps;
  • They played music in the temple;
  • Their music was service to God.

Speculations about them:

  • They, or possibly their daughters or granddaughters, might have been some of the "singing women" mentioned in 2 Chr. 35:25 who mourned for the death of Josiah, and those mentioned in Ezra 2:65 and Nehemiah 7:67.

My thoughts:

I was curious about what a psaltery, harp, and cymbal were, and what the music would sound like. I found this picture of a psaltery, which they say is played kind of like a violin. Here is more information about them if you are interested.

The type of harp they would have used isn't like the type of harps we know today. They were more like lyres. I found an interesting article on King David's harp. The one pictured below is an ancient Palestinian harp, and would have been very similar to what they would have used.


These are ancient cymbals from Iran

Here is a video about the psaltery that I thought gave an idea of what their music would have sounded like.
What we can learn from them:
  • Music is a way to worship God;
  • It can be a woman's (and a man's) calling in life to prophesy and worship God through music;
  • Women can prophesy;
  • Women were, and still are, allowed to serve in the temple and participate in sacred rituals;
  • The Lord wants and expects women to work along side their brethren in serving in the temple and prophesying.

Questions:

  • What do you imagine their music sounded like?
  • Why is music so important? Why would God specifically call people to worship him through music?
  • Why were all 14 brothers named and none of the 3 daughters?
  • What does music mean to you in your life? How do you use it to prophesy or worship God?

Changed My Mind

I changed my mind, I think that I will keep doing one woman a week. I decided that I will just have to write a couple of entires before hand, so that on weeks when I get stressed I won't have worry about it. Yep, that is what I will do. So keep checking back every week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Every Other Wednesday's Woman

So, I've decided to only post a new woman every other Wednesday. I underestimated the amount of work that goes into researching and studying out a woman's life. I initially thought that perhaps on weeks when I didn't have time to do a good study, I could just post a "smaller, insignificant woman"; someone who was only mentioned as the wife of so-and-so, or the mother of s0-and-so. But I've realized that THERE ARE NO INSIGNIFICANT WOMEN.

As I started going though my list, I realized that every woman had a story to tell. Even the seemingly most insignificant woman in the scriptures once lived, breathed, cried, rejoiced, loved, and was loved by someone. I don't feel like I can do justice to each woman until I take the time to study the time period in which she lived, the events that surrounded and shaped her life, and come to understand those who loved her and those whom she loved. Consequently, I'm not going to just be able to "slap" a woman up on the blog, like I initially thought I would. So, as not to overwhelm myself I am going to alternate-- on Wednesday a new woman and the next a question. I hope that these questions will be interactive and that readers will feel free to LEAVE COMMENTS about their opinions and thoughts.

So this week's WEDNESDAY'S QUESTION is....

Who is your favorite woman in the scriptures and what does she mean to you?

Who knows, maybe you'll give me some ideas about who to post on next!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mothers of the 2,060 Stripling Warriors


Farewell My Stripling Warrior, Del Parson, 1999

Alma 56:47- 48; 57:21-27

Background: abt. 76-63 BC

The sons of Mosiah taught and converted the father of King Lamoni who then taught the gospel to his people. All of the Lamanties in the cities of Ishmael, Middoni, Nephi, Shilom, Shemlon. Lemuel, and Shimnilom accepted the gospel and repented of their sins. In fact, they covenanted to never again shed blood. They called themselves the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Not long after they made this covenant the Amalekites and other Lamanites make preparations to attack them. When the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi saw this they decided to bury their weapons of war so that would not be tempted to break the covenant they had made to God. When the Amalekites attacked, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi laid down and refused to fight, and 1,005 of them were slain. Many of the Lamanites were touched by this and refused to continue fighting; more than 1,000 Lamanites also made a covenant never to fight again.

In Alma 27 the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi get attacked again and this time fled to the land of Zarahemla. The Nephites gave them the Land of Jershon and vowed to protect them. They were then called the people of Ammon. Eleven years later the Nephites were under attack from the Lamanites and the people of Ammon wanted to help, but didn't want to break the covenant they had made to God. Their sons, who had not taken the vow, volunteered to fight instead. Under the command of the prophet Helaman, 2060 of them, referred to as the stripling warriors, went into battle. They were young, inexperienced, and fought in several dangerous battles. Miraculously not one of the stripling warriors died in battle. The prophet attributed this miracle to the faith, teachings, and examples of their mothers.

Facts about them:
  • They were Lamanites who accepted the gospel when taught by the sons of Mosiah;
  • After repenting of their sins they made a covenant to God that they would never again shed blood. They were afraid that if they did they would never be forgiven by God again;
  • They didn't bury their weapons, only set them aside, until they saw for certain they were going to be attacked. It was only when the Lamanites were upon them that they buried the weapons and accepted death rather than break their covenant;
  • They were mothers;
  • Their sons would have witnessed a great deal of bloodshed and death at a very young age;
  • They were refugees;
  • 11 years after they settled in Jershon they sent their young sons into battle against the Lamanites, led by a prophet of God;
  • They had no fear of death because they understood the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ;
  • They had strong faith and they taught it to their sons.
Speculations about them:
  • Some of them were probably widows who had lost their husbands in the attacks by the Amalekites (Alma 27:25026);
  • Maybe some of the sons would have lost their mothers during the Lamanite attacks;
  • They wouldn't have had much contact with their sons while they were at war. The only thing they could have done for them was to pray that God would protect them;
  • The stripling warriors were kept safe, not only because of their faith, but also because of the prayers of their mothers.

My Thoughts:


They did not fear death because they had a perfect understanding of the atonement

Alma 27:28 explains the foundation of these women's faith. It explains why they could watch thousands of their brothers and sisters be ruthlessly slaughtered, why they were able to leave their homeland, why they were willing to die rather than break their covenants, and why they were willing to send their young sons into battle. It says:
"And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with an degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it."
This is what these mothers knew, and this is what they taught their sons. They knew that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ death had no power. They had no fear of physical death because Jesus would conquer it, and therefore it had "no sting". They knew that the only thing to fear, and what would bring death, was sin and the breaking of covenants. They knew that if they honored their covenants and followed the Lord Jesus Christ, man could do nothing to them. They understood that mortal life was just a short part of their eternal existence. They had their eyes on an eternal , not an earthly, reward.


What Power a Mother's Teaching, Elaine Smith, 1999

Their sons did not fear death because their mothers did not fear death. Their mothers had taught hem, by their own example of being willing to die rather than break covenants, the power of the atonement. These sons went forth with a perfect understanding that physical death is temporary, and that if the were faithful and observed " to perform every word with exactness" they would live again. They did not doubt that God was with them. What a beautiful heritage these mothers were able to pass on to their sons! This is a heritage that EVERY faithful woman of God should strive to give to her children. I really like this talk about motherhood by Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In it he says:
"Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that "men [and women] might be" and that there would be joy. Yours is the grand tradition of Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel, without whom there could not have been those magnificent patriarchal promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which bless us all. Yours in the grand tradition of Lois and Eunice and the mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors. Yours is the grand tradition of Mary, chosen and foreordained from before this world was, to conceive, carry, and bear the Son of God Himself. We thank all of you, including our own mothers, and tell you there is nothing more important in the world that participating so directly in the work of God, in bringing to pass the morality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high."
What we can learn from them:
  • Even though women may not appear to be in the forefront of stories, what they do and how they teach their children have far reaching affects on politics, history, and society;
  • Women can bring to pass miracles when they understand the atonement and follow, with exactness, the principles of the gospel;
  • God hears the prayers of mothers and answers them in miraculous ways;
  • When we have a clear understanding of the atonement we do not have to fear death;
  • Even children who are traumatized by bloodshed and war can be taught forgiveness, love and peace through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Questions:
  • What type of faith would it take to refuse to fight and instead watch those around you die? Could you do it?
  • How are you teaching your children (or children around you) about the power of the atonement?
  • If you have made sacred covenants to God, are you willing to die for them rather than break them?
  • Can you think of times your mother prayed for you and how your life was influenced because of it?
  • How can we help children who have been traumatized by war learn peace?
  • Do you practice what you preach?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Similar Organization

Sister Beck gave an amazing talk on Saturday about the purpose of Relief Society. If you missed it or don't remember what she said I highly recommend reading it. One thing she said really stood out to me, and I thought that it would be an appropriate discussion for this blog. She said...

Since its organization, Relief Society has spread throughout the world and has been called “the largest, and by all measure, the greatest women’s organization on earth.”4 We know through the Prophet Joseph Smith that Relief Society was a formal part of the Restoration and that a similar organization for women existed in the Church anciently.5 The Prophet Joseph taught that Relief Society was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God,”6 “according to the law of heaven”7 to help the Lord “bring to pass the . . . eternal life of man.”8

I had never heard this fact, and was SO blown away with the thought. I guess I've never really appreciated the idea that the Relief Society is a NECESSARY part of the restoration. It always just seemed to me to be an afterthought or a nice way to get the women involved. What a difference it makes to me to realize that Relief Society is a "formal part of the restoration". To understand that the restoration would not have been complete without it, and that women leading, teaching, and serving in the church is a NECESSARY part of the gospel. The truth of this hit me to my soul when Sister Beck said it on Saturday.

Also, the idea that the Relief Society (or something similar) existed for women when Christ was on the earth, and possibly in other dispensations, REALLY changes the way I look at women in the scriptures. These women, especially the New Testament women, would have been leading, teaching, serving, and participating in an organization. Just like men are participating in the same organization of the priesthood that ancient apostles did, women are participating in the same organization that the ancient women disciples did. We are all, no matter what dispensation we were born in, striving and working towards the same goals and promises. What a beautiful thought; it really brings peace to my soul and makes me feel much more connected to my "relief society sisters" who lives I read about in the scriptures.

Lois




Background: 1 Century AD

Paul went to preach the gospel in Lystra after persecution drove him from Iconium (Acts 14:2-7). There he performed many miracles, such as healing a lame man and surviving a stoning (Acts 14:8, 19). It is likely that Lystra was the first time in Paul's missionary work that he was teaching Gentiles the gospel of Christ without approaching them through the common ground of Judaism. There were some gentiles who believed on his words, and he organized them, but then had to leave because of persecution. He encouraged them to be steadfast. On his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1) he returned to Lystra and met Timothy, a young disciple who became his and Silas's companion on the rest of the second missionary journey.

Facts about her:
  • She was the grandmother of Timothy, who was one of the apostle Paul's most trusted assistants. Paul calls Timothy his “son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1: 2, 18; 2 Tim. 1: 2);
  • Her daughter was Eunice, the mother of Timothy, who was a Jewess married to a Greek man;
  • She was one of the first in her family to believe in the gospel, and she taught her family, namely her daughter Eunice and grandson, Timothy;
  • She has strong, pure faith, Paul tells Timothy to remember "the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother..." (II Timothy 1:5);
  • Her name means "agreeable" in Greek;
  • She dwelt in Lystra, which is modern day Turkey.
Speculations about her:
  • She probably would have been taught the gospel directly from Paul, and would have witnessed the miracles he performed while in Lystra. Such as healing a man lame from birth (Acts 14:8);
  • Her daughter's husband, and probably most of the rest of her family, would not have been believers. She would have had to stand up for what she believed in, at the expense of being alienated from her family and society;
  • She probably would not have had much contact with Paul or the rest of the Church (the distance being far) and would have had to remain strong and steadfast on her own;
  • She would have been part of the ancient church's organization for women.
What we can learn from her:
  • Sometimes we have to be willing to stand alone in our faith;
  • We have a sacred responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren the gospel;
  • Being a mother/grandmother has far reaching consequences. One of the greatest legacy we can leave behind is children who are good, strong and faithful;
  • Each member of the church (unless they are converts) owes so much to the person/people in their family history who had the faith and courage to accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Questions to think about:
  • The dictionary says that "unfeigned" means "sincere; genuine", what does it mean to you to have "unfeigned faith?"
  • How have grandparents, or other "old" people influenced your understanding of the gospel?
  • Who was the first person in your family to accept the gospel? What would you say to them if you could meet them?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Huldah


"Treasure the Word" by Elspeth Young

II Kings 22:12-20
II Chronicles 34:22-28

Background: 7 Century BC

Josiah, the king of Judah, was placed on the throne by the people when he was 8- years-old. When he was16 he began to seek after the God of David and to do what was right. When he was 20 he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the carved images and other idolatrous worship (II Chronicles 34:1-3). When he was 26- years-old he began to have the temple repaired; previous kings had defiled and used the temple for the worship of false Gods. While they were repairing the temple, Hilkiah the high priest, found"the book of the law of the Lord give by Moses" (II Chronicles 34:8-15). The scribe read it to Josiah. When Josiah heard the words he rent his clothes (II Chronicles 34:18-19). He was worried about the prophecies written in the book and so he sent several of his men to ask Huldah, the prophetess, what would happen to his people because because they had not kept the words that were written in the book.

Facts about her:
  • She dwelt in the college, also known as the "Mishneh" or "second section" of Jerusalem. This is a geographical suburb of Jerusalem between the inner and outer wall;
  • She was married to Shallum who was the "keeper of the wardrobe", which could have reference to either the King's wardrobe or the priestly vestments of the temple;
  • She is a prophetess;
  • She would have been contemporaries with Jeremiah, Zephanaiah, Nahum, and Lehi;
  • She was literate. Which would have been an extraordinary thing for a woman at that time, not even the King was literate;
  • The king sent the high priest Hilkiah, the scribe Shaphan, Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, and Asaiah, the King's servant to seek her wisdom concerning the book of the law that was found in the temple;
  • She verified that the scrolls were the word of God, and that their prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem would come to pass (which they do 35 years later), but says that because King Josiah had a "tender heart" and had humbled himself before God, he would not be alive to see the destruction;
  • She was the first to declare scripture to be holy. Up until this time written words had not been declared to be the word of God;
  • She is the last (recorded) woman prophet before Judah falls to the Babylonians;
  • Her name means "weasel" in Hebrew.
Speculations about her:
  • Mishneh (the area where she lived) means " a repetition" in Hebrew, and it is thought that this would have been a place where the oral tradition was preserved and taught;
  • According to Jewish tradition she had a school in Jerusalem where she taught the oral tradition;
  • Rabbinic commentaries say that Josiah sought her out, instead of a male prophet, because he thought that a woman would be more compassionate and more likely to intercede on his behalf to God;
  • She might have been a relative of Jeremiah, because they were both descendants of Rahab;
  • Jewish tradition says that she co-preached with Jeremiah, admonished and teaching repentance to the women, while he taught the men;
  • In Jerusalem, in the Second Temple, there is the "Gate of Huldah" which may or may not have any connection with her. The name may have meant "Cat's Gate", but some scholars think the gate might have been associated with Huldah's schoolhouse.


My Thoughts

Women can possess the gift of prophecy

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote, “No special ordination in the Priesthood is essential to man’s receiving the gift of prophecy. … This gift may be possessed by women also.” (Articles of Faith, 12th ed., Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1924, pp. 228–29.)

The gift of prophecy is a gift of the spirit (D&C 46:22; Moroni 10:13; 1 Corinthians 12:10) and therefore is available equally to men and to women, based upon their personal worthiness and standing before God. Huldah is a testament that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to bestowing spiritual gifts upon those who diligently seek them.

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie declared in Nauvoo at the dedication of the Monument to Women: “Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord. He is no respecter of persons nor of sexes, and he blesses those men and those women who seek him and serve him and keep his commandments.” (Ensign, Jan. 1979, p. 61.)

Not only does God bless women with the gift of prophecy, he expects them to cultivate it and to seek for it. The Apostle Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: "And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17–18 ,see also Joel 2:28–29).


How can a woman have the gift of prophecy when she does not hold the priesthood?

Dallin H. Oaks explained that: "It is important for us to understand the distinction between a prophet, who has the spiritual gift of prophecy, and the prophet, who has the prophetic office...The scriptures often use the word prophet and its derivatives in the broad sense of one who teaches and testifies of God... As we read in the Book of Revelation, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10.) The Prophet Joseph Smith relied on this scripture in teaching that “every other man who has the testimony of Jesus” is a prophet. (Teachings, p. 119.) Similarly, the Apostle Paul states that “he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (1 Cor. 14:3.) Thus, in the sense used in speaking of spiritual gifts, a prophet is one who testifies of Jesus Christ, teaches God’s word, and exhorts God’s people. In its scriptural sense, to prophesy means much more than to predict the future." (Dallin H. Oaks, Spiritual Gifts, Brigham Young University Women's Conference, 1986.)

It is important to note that Huldah does not reveal anything, she interprets and clarifies what is already written and revealed. She is not acting as a seer and revelator, but she is teaching, edifying, warning, and bearing testimony of God's words. All women are called to be prophetesses, to witness of the divine origin of the scriptures and to bear testimony of the living Christ.

She sought after knowledge, secular and spiritual

Huldah was literate and educated in a time when women were not suppose to be educated. She was a wife, and probably a mother, who had obviously cultivated her mind and had sought after knowledge. Her searching after knowledge and understanding, both spiritual and secular, placed her in a position where God could use her to help His people repent and come unto Him.

Huldah is a great reminder that women too must seek after spiritual knowledge. Too often women are content to let others tell them what to think and to believe. Yet, God expects each of his daughters to study the scriptures and meditate upon their teachings. He expects each daughter to have her own testimony, one that is firmly founded upon the truths of the scriptures and from personal revelation.Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: "We need more women who are gospel scholars and more men who are Christians," (Robert L. Millet, Men of Valor, 2007).

Lessons to be learned from her:

God wants and needs his daughters to be scholars of the scriptures. When women study the scriptures God uses them in marvelous ways. Remember: "We need more women who are gospel scholars and more men who are Christians," (Elder Neal A. Maxwell in Robert L. Millet's, Men of Valor, 2007);

Women have the right to possess every gift of the spirit, including that of prophecy, if they live worthy to have the Holy Ghost rest upon them;

All women can be prophetesses if they listen to voice of the Lord and are not afraid to teach and bear testimony of God's words.

Questions to think about:

Why would Josiah seek out Huldah instead of Jeremiah, Lehi or the other male prophets?

How had she learned to write? Who took the time to teach her? A father? Brother? Mother? Did she teach her daughters?

Are you a prophetess?

How can women of the church be better gospel scholars?