Most of us are familiar with the idiom “mother in Israel”, especially if we are of the older generation. In the earlier days of WOW, we used this expression for women like Iverna Tompkins, Dr. Fuchsia Pickett, and Dr. Mary Ann Brown. Today we would use it to describe someone like Mama June Evans.
What do we mean when we describe someone as a mother in Israel?
Obviously we aren’t saying that she lives in the land of Israel unless she does. However, there are additional qualifications. Some of us might say we mean a mother in the “church”, but that would be replacing the word Israel to mean church, which is replacement theology and incorrect. When the Bible says “Israel”, it is not referring to the “church”. We could say it means a strong woman in the LORD, who is acquainted with His ways, knows His paths and takes a stand for Him in the hour in which she lives. Therefore the qualification is not even age related and certainly not one that has anything to do with whether or not she has birthed physical children.
The Bible does not tell us if Deborah, a “mother in Israel” bore children. We do know she was married, but our definition does not require a woman to be married either.
You can read about Deborah in Judges Chapters 4 & 5.
The main verse we are looking at is Judges 5:7 “Village life ceased, ceased, until I, Deborah arose, arose a mother in Israel.” (NIV) I encourage you to read this verse in several translations. (see Biblehub.com) It’s kind of amazing that there are translations that read “warriors” or “rulers” instead of “villages”. Also the word “arose” can mean “took a stand” or “took command”. NET Bible for example reads “Warriors were scarce, they were scarce in Israel, until you arose, Deborah, until you arose as a motherly protector in Israel.”
What stands out about Deborah is that In the midst of the sin and idolatry in the times in which she lived, she remained true to the Lord and His teachings.
She was wise and God fearing, and the people came to her for advice and help. She was an example of godliness, and she lived a life that honored God! She had the courage to take a stand and protect others. These are the kinds of “mothers” we need today!
Each of us can grow up to be a “Deborah”, a “mother” – a woman who knows her God and walks in His ways and shows others how to be disciples of the Lord Jesus – a woman who does not compromise with the ways of the world but who is resolute in following the Lord, no matter the cost. May the Lord help us to be this kind of woman and to bring many others along for His sake and for His glory!
Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel.
Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.