I am so sorry, I have been away for a while, meaning no Great Women posts on the blog. I know you all enjoy it and I enjoy studying it too. It’s back now, with two great women Jochebed and Leah-YAY!
Jochebed-The mother who bore great children
Family Background- Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and married a Levite man Amram, who was her nephew. This kind of marriage was later forbidden by the law of Moses (Leviticus 18:8-18; Leviticus 20:11-21). She had three children with Amram: Moses, Aaron and Miriam.
Name Meaning- God’s Glory
Who is Jochebed?
The story of Jochebed begins in Exodus 2:1-11. She is described as a Levite woman or a daughter of Levi who married a man of the house of Levi. The Bible describes how she conceived a son with her husband.
The Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew male babies should be killed as he feared they would become powerful and join his enemies in a war against him. With this in mind, Jochebed hid her beautiful child for three months until she no longer could. So, Jochebed put her baby in an ark of bulrushes and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. His sister then watched from afar to see what would happen.
The Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the river and saw the ark, she sent her maid to get it. She opened the ark and saw the child. She realised the child was Hebrew and felt compassion for the child. The sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter whether she should call a Hebrew nurse to nurse the child and Pharaoh’s daughter sent her. The maiden sent for the child’s mother (Jochebed) and Pharaoh’s daughter told her to nurse the child and she’ll give her wages. When the child grew up she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and it became her son. She called his name Moses because she drew from the water.
Why is Jochebed great?
Jochebed can be recognised as a great women of God as she preserved the life of her baby boy. When she gave birth to Moses, she saw he was a beautiful child and instead of letting him be killed, she risked it all by putting him in an ark of bulrushes in the river. For this courage, the Bible recognises her in Hebrews 11:23 as one of the heroines of faith.
She was not afraid of Pharaoh’s decree that all Hebrews baby males were to be killed. Instead she devised a clever plan to save the life of her child. I can only imagine the fear that Jochebed had as a mother putting her newly born child in a cradle and in a river where there could have been dangerous animals. Or even giving her child to Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. The bible mentions a few times that Moses was a ‘beautiful child’ and in Acts 7:20 it says that when Moses was born he was pleasing to God. Her faith must have lead her to build up the courage to put her baby in the cradle, believing that her child was going to be a great man of God.
Jochebed was determined to save her child’s life, who later became one of the greatest men of God- the future giver of law and leader. She also had Aaron who was Israel’s first high priest and founder of Aaronic priesthood. There was also her daughter Miriam who was a talented and gifted musician and poetess.
What can we learn from Jochebed?
One of the key things we can learn from the life of Jochebed is her trust and faith in God. It could not have been easy in her position knowing that Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew male children to be killed. Yet she pressed on her with plan, putting her child into a cradle in the river and saving his life. From this, we can learn that we must have faith in whatever situation we are in. When we are in trouble whether it us, or are family and friends we must remember Christ is with us. Jochebed had faith that God that he would protect her baby. I believe because of this she was able to put her child in the cradle. We can learn to let go and let God. Jochebed let go of her child and let God protect him. Look where her letting go and letting God brought her and her child-Mother of Great children and Moses the giver of the law.
Sometimes we need to realise by letting go of our worries and burdens and giving it to God, it can bring even greater results that we would have never imagined. Jochebed placed Moses in the river, little did she know that he will grow up to be one of the greatest of God’s leaders and deliver the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. By Jochebed letting go and trusting God, an extraordinary dream was fulfilled. Therefore as Jochebed did, we should learn to let go and let God. We will not always see why God wants us to let go, but his plan for us is always greater than what we can imagine.
Leah-The woman who was unloved but not unseen
Family Background- Leah was married to Jacob, who was also married to her sister Rachel. Her father was Laban, Jacob’s uncle. Leah had seven children with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah.
Name Meaning-Weary or tired
Who is Leah?
Jacob travelled away from his home to find a wife among his relatives. When he first met Rachel, he fell in love with her at first sight. The Bible says she was ‘beautiful of form and appearance’ (Genesis 29:17 ) but Leah’s eyes were delicate. This could mean that she had poor eyesight or she lacked beauty that her sister Rachel had.
Jacob worked for his uncle Laban for seven years to have Rachel as his wife. However Laban had tricked him sending in Leah to Jacob in the night. When Jacob found out that his Uncle had deceived him he was upset and felt deceived. Laban told him that is not their custom to give the younger daughter first and he will give Rachel also in return for another seven years.
The two sisters competed for their husband’s affection. It was Rachel who received Jacob’s love and attention. They both made the mistake in giving their servants Zilpah and Bilhah to Jacob in order to out do each other in times of barrenness. Even though Leah had more children, the Bible says that the Jacob’s love for Rachel was greater.
Why is Leah great?
Why is Leah a great woman you may ask? She remained loyal and true to her husband, even though he had greater love for her sister. Leah remained strong in God enduring the envy of her sister and the sad situation she was in. Rachel had became envious because her sister was having children and she was not at that time (Genesis 30). It seems that Leah’s heart remained pure, even though she was not loved and envied by her very own sister.
The names she gave to her children showed that she knew that God remembers her. It also showed that she had faith in God. For example her sons Reuben, Simeon and Levi:
Reuben- ‘She named him Reuben, for she said “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband should love me now” (Genesis 29:32)
Simeon-“Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (Genesis 29:33)
Levi-“Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34)
Despite Leah’s loveless marriage, she bore six sons who were to become the founders of the six tribes of Israel. From her son Judah came Jesus Christ, the saviour. This shows that although her husband did not give her as much love as her sister, God remembered her. God remembered that Leah was a great woman who remained faithful and loyal in her sadness. Additionally, the Bible recognises Leah as a great woman in Ruth 4:11, who along with her sister built the house of Israel. At the end of Jacob’s life, he requested to buried with Leah, this highlights the possibility that Jacob saw the great virtues in Leah and had grown to love her.
What can we learn from Leah?
One great lesson we can take from Leah’s story is that God is not concerned about our outer appearance. God cares for our inner beauty rather than what is outside of us. The bible says Rachel was beautiful and Jacob loved her. However what is interesting and amazing, is that the saviour, Jesus Christ came through Leah not Rachel. Though Leah may have had weak eyes, God saw her and her inner beauty which Rachel did not have. Rachel was envious and that is not inner beauty. God looks at the heart, Rachel’s heart was envious and Leah’s was faithful. We can learn from this that God loves us regardless of what we look like. Whether the world finds you and I attractive or not, God will not reject you. He is concerned with your inner beauty, whether you are faithful and have a good heart.
Leah tried to make Jacob love her by her behaviour and actions. This was seen when she was naming her children. She thought by having many children, that her husband would love her. This is another lesson to show us that love is not meant to be earned by behaving in a certain way or pleasing someone. Love is to receive and give in a kind way. As in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, love is not meant for us to feel bad or feel sad, or to do things in order to make another person love us. We need to remember that God’s love is enough, he loves us more than any man or woman ever can. God loves us unconditionally. The Bible describes that God saw her ‘When the Lord saw Leah was unloved…”(Genesis 29:31). This shows us that even when we feel ignored or unloved there is someone who notices us and loves us. This person is God. As discussed above (Why Leah is great?) and in this section, Leah’s hopes was on winning the love of her husband. When giving birth to her son Levi, she thought “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34). However when she had her fourth son, Judah, there was a change of heart, she praised God and turned to him. Maybe she realised that God is enough.
We need to remember not to look for love in the wrong places. God will give us people in our lives that will love us- sister, mother, father, children, friend, brother, husband and wife etc. However we need not pin our hopes on winning the love of man, when we have an almighty God who loves us unconditionally.