Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
- Proverbs 1:8-9
I thought the Scripture above was a fitting way to start this post, but there are other verses that mention mothers…
Do not trust a neighbor;
put no confidence in a friend.
Even with the woman who lies in your embrace
guard the words of your lips.
For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
- Micah 7:5-6
Yes, Jesus is quoting or paraphrasing this passage in some of His teachings. But then, on the glorious day to celebrate mothers, I should never quote this one.
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
- Revelation 17:3-6
This may be the “last word” on mothers in the Bible… Okay, it’s the last time the word “mother” appears in the NIV in the Bible. And I know that you are so glad that I didn’t bring it up on the wonderful day of celebration for mothers.
All joking aside, the word “mother” appears 320 times in the NIV. Not all the references are as complimentary as the Scripture from Proverbs above or as negative as the Scripture referenced from Revelation.
If you read “Fun and Games” in the title and you were expecting another quiz from Joy MacKenzie and Shirley Bledsoe, The Big Book of Bible Games and Puzzles, you are almost in luck. I thought their Mother Quiz was too easy, so I rewrote it to be next to impossible. As the old “B” Movie villain might say, “Mwah-ha-ha.”
Match the following mothers with their children. When a woman in the mother column was mother to a few children, I only mentioned one. The Biblical references follow the child’s name. Honest, I’m not heartless, just diabolical. If you are wondering, I listed the mothers and the children in alphabetical order in order to shuffle them a bit. Oh, and the list is not exhaustive. There may be other mother-child combinations mentioned in the Bible by name (thus no mention of Lot’s daughters, with the older being the mother of Moab and the younger being the mother of the Ammonites), but I did get exhausted looking up the ones in the quiz.
|Bathsheba||Bethuel (Genesis 22:22)|
|Elizabeth||Boaz (Matthew 1:5)|
|Eve||Isaac (Genesis 21:1-3)|
|Gomer||Ishmael (Genesis 16:15)|
|Hagar||Jacob (Genesis 25:26)|
|Hannah||Jesus (Luke 2:7)|
|Keturah||Jezreel (Hosea 1:20)|
|Leah||John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-63)|
|Mary||Joseph (Genesis 30:24)|
|Milkah||Judah (Genesis 29:35)|
|Naomi||Kilion (Ruth 1:2)|
|Rachel||Midian (Genesis 25:2)|
|Rahab||Obed (Ruth 4:13-17)|
|Rebekah||Perez (Genesis 38:29)|
|Ruth||Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20)|
|Sarah||Seth (Genesis 4:25)|
|Tamar||Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24)|
I told you I was diabolical. Mwah-ha-ha!
All kidding aside. Two weeks ago, I explained how to make a matching quiz easier. Start with the ones that you know. That provides a shorter list for the guessing, educated or dartboard style.
Then, in this case, if you know your Bible stories, but you may be fuzzy on a few names, take the children and list them in Biblical order. Note that one Old Testament mother-child combination is not mentioned in the Old Testament, so that one is out of chronological order. Sorry. But in listing the sons in Biblical order, you might get closer to the right mother in a few cases.
Okay, for those who just give up, and for me to talk about the significance of a few of these:
Bathsheba had two sons with King David. The first, never mentioned by name, died, having been conceived out of wedlock, leading to David’s repentance (born 2 Samuel 11:27, and the story of Nathan’s accusation and prophecy in 2 Samuel 12). Then she gave birth to Solomon. Bathsheba is mentioned in the Matthew genealogy of Jesus, but not by name, but rather as the mother who had been Uriah’s wife.
Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist and Hannah was the mother of Samuel. Sorry for taking Hannah out of order, but these mothers were barren and gave miraculous births. Besides Samuel and John the Baptist are significant figures in the history told in Scriptures. Okay, I could have included Tamar and Sarah as barren women who gave birth late, but…
Eve was the mother of three children, Cain (Genesis 4:1), Abel (Genesis 4:2) and Seth (Genesis 4:25). I mentioned Seth, since Seth was the ancestor to Noah and thus an ancestor to all of us. And in spite of the evolutionists that would argue, experts in mitochondrial DNA would agree. Besides, my wife and I have a godson named Seth.
Gomer may not have been much of a mother, but she bore Hosea three children. Jezreel was the first. Lo-Ruhamah, a daughter, was the second, and Lo-Ammi was the third. Through the naming of the three children, God spells out, as Hosea prophesies, the punishment of the northern tribes of Israel.
Hagar was the mother of Ishmael. Hagar was given to Abram by Sarai (Sarah) since Sarai did not think she would ever have children of her own, but this act, through a lack of faith, was not part of God’s redemptive plan. Many kingdoms in the Arab world can find Ishmael as their ancestor.
Keturah was the mother of six sons of Abraham after the death of Sarah (albeit one of my zingers). I listed Midian since Joseph was sold to Midianite nomads on their way to Egypt, and Moses married a Midianite woman, Zipporah. I could have mentioned Jokshan, who was the father of Sheba, in case anyone wondered, “Who on earth is the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon? What’s a Sheba?”, and now you know.
Leah had six sons. They were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. While the first four are mentioned in Genesis 29, the last two are mentioned in Genesis 30. Leah’s womb was closed after Judah was born but reopened when Rachel traded the marital bed for mandrakes. Mandrakes were considered a fertility symbol, but only if you sleep with your husband. Mandrakes are also known to have hallucinogenic properties. So, why did Rachel want the mandrakes? Hmmmm. Of course, I mentioned Judah, since the redemption story falls through the tribe of Judah.
Do I have to say it? Mary was the mother of Jesus, although the Scripture used above references the birth and not the name in those verses. Mary is mentioned as the mother of Jesus in Matthew’s genealogy in Matthew 1. Jesus had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judah (Matthew 13:55).
Milkah was the mother of Bethuel, another of my zingers, but the Scripture is strange in this regard. Abraham is told “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: (Genesis 22:20)”. Abraham is not told that you have male cousins, children of Nahor, at least not directly. For the Scriptures to phrase this in this manner, might we surmise that the honorable family member was Milkah, at least more so than her husband Nahor? We’ll know the answer when we get to meet the family. Why is Bethuel significant? He’s the father of Rebekah, who will become Isaac’s wife.
Naomi had two sons, and one redemptive “son”. Her sons were Mahlon and Kilion. When Ruth gives birth to a son and calls him Obed, it is said that “Naomi has a son.” This means that, through Ruth, Noami’s husband’s family line has been redeemed. Okay, that takes Ruth out of order, but Ruth is Jesse’s grandmother and King David’s great-grandmother. I can’t leave her out. Besides, in Matthew’s genealogy, there are five women mentioned, four by name, one of those is Ruth.
Rachel is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. The quiz that inspired my quiz listed Benjamin, but Rachel died in childbirth with Benjamin in what later became the town of Bethlehem. She at least had the chance to bond as a mother to Joseph, and all that we know about Joseph is significant throughout the second half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus. Besides, Joseph married Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, who bore him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. I could have included Asenath in the quiz, but I felt a little merciful. The key here is that in the blessings of the sons of Israel, both Manasseh and Ephraim obtained equal portions with their uncles, basically giving Joseph a double portion. Note, I did not list the servants, Rachel’s servant Bilhah and Leah’s servant Zilpah, in that they gave birth to sons for their masters – so, who was the birth mother versus who claimed the children as their sons?
The book of Ruth never mentions the mother of Boaz. That is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy, Rahab, the prostitute who helped the spies who spied on Jericho (Joshua 2). Rahab is one of the four named mothers in Matthew’s genealogy.
Rebekah is the mother of Esau and Jacob. She is given a prophecy that Jacob will be greater. She helps that prophecy along in tricking Isaac so that Jacob steals the blessing that Isaac meant for Esau. In helping Jacob escape Esau’s wrath, Jacob meets Rachel and marries Leah and Rachel.
Sarah was the mother of Isaac. She laughed when she overheard Abraham being told that she would give birth to a son, thus the son was named Isaac.
Tamar was the mother of Perez and Zerah. Tamar is the last (in the quiz) of the four mothers that are listed by name in the Matthew genealogy of Jesus, with the family line to Jesus coming through Perez. Genesis 38 is one of those Bible stories that is skipped when teaching the younger children. Tamar married Judah’s eldest son but had no children. The second son, who was greedy and refused to make Tamar pregnant – wanting the blessing and inheritance to fall to him, died. Then Judah made excuses since he was afraid that Tamar was a “black widow,” so to speak, refusing her to sleep with Judah’s remaining son. Then Tamar tricks Judah, getting him to impregnate her. Thus, Genesis 38 would be rated “R” or even worse in the movie version. Yet, Tamar, in acting honorably to provide a legacy for her deceased husband, is listed by name in the Gospel of Matthew.
I hope this was informative, and I hope you got most of the quiz matches right without much trouble.
The Bible may be male-centric, but when a mother is listed by name, there is significance in bringing forth her name in Holy Scriptures.
As Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:16, all Scriptures are God-breathed and can be used for instruction. In tying these mothers and children together and their off-spring, cousins, relations, etc., I hope this knowledge shows how these seemingly insignificant events tie everything together.
And before I forget, Happy Mother’s Day to my wife and my daughters-in-law, and other mothers in the family, both in-laws and out-laws, and to all the mothers who read this. May God bless you all.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.