Though often unnamed, there are many mothers in the Bible. Not all of them are good examples of loving motherhood, but they all have something to teach. In honor of Mother's Day weekend, I want to look at 6 Admirable Mothers!
Jochebed, the wise mother
We read her story in Exodus 2:1-10, but we don't get her name until Exodus 6:20. Jochebed has two children before Moses is born, Aaron and Miriam. Moses is born during a terrible time when Pharaoh was trying to implement Hebrew population-control by throwing newborn boys into the Nile.
Jochebed shows great bravery by keeping her son hidden for as long as she can. Even when she can hide him no longer, she uses wisdom to keep him safe. She covers a wicker basket with tar and pitch to make it water-resistant and sets him among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Is it by chance that this is where the princess comes down to bathe? I highly doubt it. The princess opens the basket, and when she sees the baby, she takes pity on him. Because of Jochebed's wise plan, Moses grows up to become a great leader among his people.
Law-abiding Israelites probably looked at Moses' parents with a bit of embarrassment. Jochebed and Amram were nephew and aunt when they were married. While it isn't until later that this type of union is forbidden, some would still blush to see Moses' family tree. The way this story is written, with Jochebed unnamed at first, serves to highlight her bravery and wisdom more than her unusual marriage.
Naomi, a kind mother-in-law
We can read about Naomi in the book of Ruth, which is only 4 chapters long. Naomi suffers a great deal in her life. Her husband takes her far from home during a drought. Then while living in a foreign land, both her sons and her husband die. She is left bereft and with two daughters-in-law.
Naomi decides to go back home, and Ruth insists on going with her with the famous words, “Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” Ruth had the option to go back to her family and her gods, but something about Naomi made Ruth loyal to her—and the God of Israel. I think it is safe to say that Naomi's words and example had convinced Ruth that the God of Israel was worth leaving her family and home for.
Naomi returns home much poorer than when she left. Ruth must go and glean in the fields just so they can eat. Naomi could have let her sorrow take over, but instead, she looks for a way to repay Ruth for her kindness and to ensure both women will survive. With Naomi's guidance, Ruth marries Boaz in what is often considered the most romantic courtship of the Bible. Ruth gives her firstborn child to Naomi to raise, giving Naomi hope for the future. That baby grew up to be the grandfather of King David.
Hannah, the praying mother
The first book of Samuel opens up with the story of Hannah in chapters 1-2. She is one of Elkanah's two wives and she is barren. Though she is loved by her husband, she longs for a son. While we see other barren wives in the Bible, Hannah handles her situation with faith and a gentle spirit. She goes by herself to pray to the Lord for a child. She promises that if the Lord gives her son, she will dedicate him to the Lord all of his life.
When God answers her prayer and gives her Samuel, Hannah brings him to the tabernacle as soon as he is weaned. Though I am sure it was extremely difficult, she gives the little boy to Eli to raise in service to the tabernacle. She keeps her promise. We see her faith displayed again in a speech of praise and prophecy. She comes back yearly to visit h