“To the woman He said:
‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.’
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:16, 20).
These words often bring to mind a scene of the wily serpent beguiling Eve with flattery, whispers, and innuendos, an event that changed the course of mankind. Ministers and laity draw life lessons from her story—from cautions about Satan’s bag of tricks to insights concerning the roles of husbands and wives. Rarely, it seems, does one focus on the phrase “the mother of all living,” or particularly on the word “mother.”
In the broader sense, since Eve was the first woman, and the first one to bear a child, she becomes the original mother for the human race. But tucked into the meaning of the Hebrew word for mother, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible includes a parenthetical note in its definition: “a mother (as the bond of the family).”
A couple of the nuances of the English word bond could serve to enlarge on Strong’s note. For instance:
- Adhesion: the way in which one surface sticks to another. Mothers were and are instrumental in making sure knowledge of proper conduct before God and man “sticks” to their children.
- A link that binds people together in a relationship. Wives model respect for their husbands, which in turn encourages children to respect and honor their father. Mothers spend endless hours ironing out sibling differences on a regular basis.
In this week’s posts, WomenfromtheBook will investigate some maternal duties from a historical perspective. When considering physical needs, breastfeeding was at the top of the list; obviously a child’s survival depended on it. While there are some evidences of primitive baby bottles as early as 2000 BC, birth mothers, or, on occasion, wet nurses provided this vital nourishment. The Bible points us to some interesting cultural insights regarding this type of nurturing.
Teaching children consumed much of a mother’s time during their formative years—whether by rote, or by specific instruction and applications. Mary Hendren recently highlighted the joint activities of a mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, with regard to Timothy’s upbringing. This week we look forward to Mary’s insights on the life of Bathsheba and her influence on Solomon.
Finally there are mothers about whom little is known. By blending the dark brushstrokes of their social backdrop, a faint cameo gradually emerges—like Ichabod’s mother, for instance. Remember her? No? After this week, perhaps you will.
 See Strong’s Concordance, Mother, ‘em (517)