Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jemima, Kezia, Keren-happuch, and Job's Other Daughters

Job 1: 2, 4-5, 13-15
Job 42:13-15


Job was a very rich and influential man living in the land of Uz, who "was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." (Job 1:1) The Lord allowed Satan to try and tempt Job above all other men (Job 1: 5-12). Job suffered many trials, including the loss of all his family, wealth and physical health (Job 1-42). Yet, despite all his trials Job remained faithful and trusted in the Lord. In the end, the Lord restored to Job all that he had lost and more than he had before (Job 42).

Facts About Them:
  • Job had three daughters and seven sons who often feasted and drank together. Job feared that they were sinning and cursing God so he made burnt offerings on their behalf continually (Job 1:4-5);
  • One day while all his children were eating and drinking wine at their oldest brother's house the Sabeans attacked and carried them all away as slaves and only one servant was left to tell Job (Job 1:13-15);
  • After the trial of Job's faith the Lord "blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" and gave him seven more sons and three more daughters (Job 42: 12-13);
  • We don't have the names of the first three daughters, but the last three daughters were named Jemima, Kezia, and Keren-happuch and "in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job" (Job 42: 15);
  • Job gives his last three daughters an inheritance among their brothers (Job 42: 15).
Speculations About Them:

This really isn't a speculation but I thought it was interesting. The Masonic organization for young women ages 10-20 is called Job's Daughters. It was founded in 1920 by Ethel T. Wead Mick (also called "Mother Mick") in Omaha, Nebraska. The purpose of the organization is to help young women develop a greater reverence for God and the scriptures, loyalty to one's country and that country's flag, and respect for parents, guardians, and elders. Mother Mick chose the name Job's Daughters because of the 42nd chapter, 15th verse which says, "In all the land were no women found so fair as the Daughters of Job, and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren". The organization is a way for women to realize that have an inheritance of spiritual gifts, just like their brother do.

My Thoughts:

God compensates the righteous and the faithful for all their losses and sufferings on this earth.

There is nothing that man or the world can take away that God won't restore to us tenfold if we are faithful and endure to the end. In his last General Conference talk Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said:
"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude. "
Women are entitled to receive an eternal inheritance from their Heavenly Father if they live righteous lives.

I really like the last sentence about these women that "...their father gave them inheritance among their brethren". We often forget that faithful women are entitled to the EXACT same blessings and privileges as their brothers are. Job, and God, did not forget these women and rewarded them according to their faithfulness.
What We Can Learn From Them:
  • Righteous and faithful daughters will be given eternal inheritances, the same as any of their brothers;
  • The Lord compensates us for all the losses and suffering we go through in this life. We may not be compensated right away, but after the trial of our faith will come the blessings.
Questions to Think About:
  • What ever happened to the first three daughters who were carried off?
  • Why did God allow Satan to try and tempt Job?
  • What made Job's daughters the fairest women in the land?
  • Why are all the pictures of Job really really scary? Trust me, some of them are just down right twisted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pontius Pilate's Wife

Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man") by Antonio Ciseri
Matthew 27:19


After his betrayal by Judas Iscariot Jesus was brought before the Roman Governor of Jerusalem. Pilate questioned Jesus asking, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" to which Jesus answered,"Thou sayest." (Matt. 27: 11). Pilate marveled greatly at what Jesus told him and he told the Jews that he could find no fault with him. He offered to release Jesus to the people but instead the people chose to release the prisoner Barabbas (Matt. 27: 12-23). Pilate tells the Jews that he washes his hands of the matter, and allows them to condemn and crucify Jesus Christ (Matt. 27: 24).

Facts about her:
  • While her husband was sitting on the judgment seat before Jesus, trying to decide which prisoner to release back to the Jews, she sent him a message saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matt. 27:19);
  • After Pilate receives her message he washes his hands of the Jew decision to crucify Jesus, he tells them, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." (Matt. 27:24);
  • She was a Roman citizen;
  • She was married to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Jerusalem.
Speculations about her:
  • It is commonly believed that she became a Christan after the death of Jesus Christ.
  • Some people believe that she is the Claudia mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 where it says, ‘Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia send their greetings, and so all the other Christians’;
  • She is mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Pilate (Gospel of Nicodemus, probably written around the middle of the 4th century);
  • Some theologians argue that her dream was an attempt by Satan to stop Christ from finishing the atonement.

My Thoughts:

There are two things that impress me about this woman's story:

1) Her ability to believe in and defend Jesus even though she had (probably) never seen or met Him.

I imagine that she must have heard about Jesus before, as He was quite the famous figure in Jerusalem, but it is not likely that she had ever had the chance to meet Him. Her testimony of His innocence and goodness was based solely off the revelation and dream she had been given by God, and by the testimonies she must have heard from others. With only these two testimonies she had the faith to do what many of Christ's apostles and closest disciples didn't do-- to stand up for Him and to bear witness of His goodness. Most of us are in a similar position as Pilate's Wife, because we will (probably) never see or meet Jesus Christ on this earth and yet we are asked to stand as witnesses for Him and to bear testimony of Him. The only way we can know for sure that Jesus is who He says He is, is to rely on the promptings and revelations we receive from God as well as listen to the testimonies of those who have seen Him (like the prophets and the scriptures). I personally find it hard sometimes to believe in someone I have never seen, and so I like this woman's story because her faith and her courage strengthen me and help me see that it isn't necessary to "see" or "meet" Jesus Christ to have a a sure knowledge of His divine mission and purpose.

2) Her courage to send a message to Pilate when he was sitting on the judgement seat

We don't know how much her message influenced Pilate's actions. Obviously it wasn't enough to be able to stop him from having the Jews crucify Christ, but it may have been the reason he "washes his hands" of the whole affair and declares to the Jews that they are crucifying a just and innocent man. It makes me wonder what type of relationship Pilate and his wife had. Could it have been that Pilate respected and admired his wife's judgement and intuition? Did her message help him see Jesus for who He really was? Did Pilate and his wife talk about Jesus and about her dream later on? If she did become a Christian later on, how did Pilate take that? Did he support her? Did he ever regret that he allowed Jesus to be crucified? Was she upset at him because he didn't do enough to stop the Jews? These are all questions I'd like to ask these two if I ever get to meet them. It would have been very unusual for a woman to send counsel to her husband, especially when he was was sitting on the judgement seat before all the noble Romans and high ranking Jews in an important and high profile case. It was really quite brave of her to send such a message and she must have felt that what she had to say was very important and very urgent. Yet, it is even more unusual that her husband seems to have listened to her. :)

What We Can Learn From Her:
  • God speaks to us through our dreams;
  • We need to have the courage to speak up for people we know are wrongly accused, even if that means sending our plea to highest authority in the land;
  • When we get promptings, thoughts, dreams or visions that we can't seem to stop thinking about or worrying about then we need to act on them;
  • We are can believe in and bear witness of Jesus Christ, even if we have never seen Him.
  • I wonder what her dream was about and what it was that she had been suffering all day about? Could she have had a conversion experience, like that of Paul or Alma the Younger, that changed her soul?
  • Do you think that Pilate listened to her warning?
  • Would you have had the courage and faith to stand up for someones innocence on the basis of a dream or a prompting you had? Especially in the face of so much hostility and anger?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

All Women are Mothers, whether they have children or not

I just wanted to take a few moments today and express some of my thoughts about Mother's Day. I personally really LOVE this day. I love it that at least once a year we get the opportunity to express our appreciation for all the women who sacrifice so much to bring children into this world and to raise them. Yet, I also know MANY women that struggle with Mother's Day because they haven't had the opportunity to become mothers themselves. I don't understand all of God's ways but I do have a testimony of His great love for women and wanted to share these thoughts with women who might be struggling with Mother's Day.

All women, no matter if they have born children on this earth or not, are mothers. Eve, the first woman, was called "the mother of all living" by God and by Adam (Genesis 3:20; Moses 4:26) before she ever bore any children on the earth. Even if she had NEVER born children, she still would have been the mother of all living, because within her eternal soul lay the divine seeds of womanhood and motherhood. All women have these seeds within them because gender is an eternal characteristic, that God did not create nor can he destroy. These seeds may not take root here on this earth, but just because they don't grow here doesn't mean that they won't in the eternal life yet to come. Sometimes we forget that this earth life is just a short part of our eternal journey and purpose and that we will continue to be women and mothers for eternity.

Also as I've studied the women in the scriptures I've realized that ALL the women who are barren-- Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, the Shunamite (just to name a few)-- ALL bear children eventually. I think that these women's stories are a testimony that all faithful and righteous women will be given the opportunity to become mothers. It might be a long, hard struggle and it might not come in this life-- But I believe that the seeds of motherhood are divine and that they lie within the souls of all women. We can't always understand God's will or His ways, but if we trust in them we have the promise that the righteous desires of our heart will be fulfilled.

So it is my hope that this mother's day, EVERY WOMAN, whether she has children or not, takes the time to rejoice in the fact that she is a woman. To rejoice in the marvelous privilege it is to be here on this earth at this time and at this place, to do a work that only you can do and to have faith in God's plan for your life. I also bear testimony that God listens to the prayers of women and that he does not let them go unanswered.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Women of the City Bountiful

Alma 53:7

Background: 63 BC

Captain Moroni, Teancum and Lehi lured the Lamanites out of the city of Mulek and surround them outside the city of Bountiful (Alma 52:19-31). There was a fierce battle between them and many Lamanties and Nephites died. In the end, the Lamanites finally surrendered and many of them were taken prisoner (Alma 52:31-40). They were marched to the land of Bountiful where they were made to work building fortifications for the city (Alma 53: 1-6). After this battle Moroni rested from fighting for the rest of the year in order to increase the Nephites fortifications and to take care of their women and children (Alma 53:7).

Facts about them:
  • Many of them lost husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers during the battle between the Nephites and the Lamanties that took place outside of the city of Bountiful (Alma 52:31-40);
  • They were suffering from famine and affliction (Alma 53:7) ;
  • Moroni commanded his men to take a break from battling with the Lamanites in order to take care of them and provide them with food (Alma 53:7). ;
  • Their city was filled with Lamanite prisoners (Alma 53: 1-6);
  • They were among the women included in the title of liberty raised by Captain Moroni, which said that the Nephites would take up arms, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" (Alma 46:12).

Speculations about them:
  • They were probably starving from famine because they were unable to successfully plant or harvest crops while their men were at battle;
  • The affliction mentioned might have been some sort of disease-- or just the fact that they were starving to death;
  • They probably had to help take care of the Lamanite prisoners, perhaps providing food or clothing for them.
My thoughts:

In the "war chapters" of Alma we don't hear a lot about the women who were left behind, or how the war affected them or their children. In all the "glamour" and "glitz" of war and battle we often forget that despite the fact that the world was falling apart around them, they still had to find a way to hold things together. Amidst all the ruin and the destruction these women had to find a way to bear and raise children, provide food, clothing and shelter for their families, and take care of the sick and aging. Their responsibilities didn't stop because of war or because their husbands were dead or gone to battle. They still had to carry on and find a way to bring hope to the next generation, despite the darkness that encompasses them.

I think it is beautiful that in Alma 53:7 we get a very little glimpse into what these women must have been suffering while their men were at war. We read that after the battle outside of Bountiful, Moroni "...did no more attempt a battle with the Lamanites in that year" but instead took the time to fortify the city and to deliver "their women and children from famine and affliction". Here we see that not only did these women loose husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers to battle but they were also starving and afflicted, perhaps even with disease of some sort. We don't know much more about them than that, but I think it was inspiration from God that made Moroni commanded his men to take a break and focus on providing and caring for their wives and children. I think it just shows that God was aware of these women and what they were going through, and He found a way to take care of them even amidst battles and bloodshed. It is just a testimony to me that even in the darkest and hardest of circumstances, God never forgets about the women.

Questions to Think About:
  • It seems that women are always the one who suffer the most from war. They are the ones who are left behind, without husbands, to raise and provide for children by themselves and to find a way to continue life. They also suffer misappropriate amounts of abuse when captured or conquered in the form of rape, slavery, and exploitation. Why does this happen? Why do women suffer more when they aren't the ones who start the wars? Why does God allow it?
  • How did these women manage to raise righteous children amidst so much battle and bloodshed?
  • How are their trials similar to the spiritual battles we must face today?