Chapter 4. SYMBOLIC AND REPRESENTATIVE BIBLE WOMEN
Both animate and inanimate objects are used in the Bible to illustrate and enforce various aspects of truth, and women form a large part of animate beings employed to typify different vocations, vices and virtues. Even in our time female names are attached to certain phenomena, such as wind storms in America, where the last was known as Hurricane Betsy.
Capable of angel heights, or devil depths, the female sex has ever been employed to symbolize the vices or virtues of the human race. The ancient nation of Israel was pictured as God’s adulterous wife; the coming federation of apostate religions is as “the great whore”; while the true church is figured as the Bride of the Lamb. Familiar and indispensable objects such as “ships” are often given female names and referred to in a feminine way as, for instance, “She is a sea-worthy vessel.” Think of the applications of the precious term “mother” that we have. A true patriot speaks of the land of his birth affording him privileges and protection, as his “Motherland”—
Land of our birth, our faith, our pride,
For whose dear sake our kinsfolk died,
O Motherland, we pledge to thee,
Head, heart and hand through years to be.
It is because so many necessary blessings spring from the great world upon which both man and beast are dependent, that we speak of it as “mother earth.” Further, the first thing we learn to do after our birth is to speak, and so the language we learned from our parents and were brought to use is our own tongue, our “mother tongue.” Because Jerusalem gave us the Christian faith it is spoken of as “The Mother of Our Religion,” and the church which Jesus founded as “The Mother Church.” Thus, the aspect of Bible female biography which we are now to consider is the way femininity is used in a symbolic and a representative fashion. In the interpretation and application of any Bible symbol or metaphor we must guard against extreme and unwarranted handling. Often we are tempted to read into symbols what their authors never intended. As the reader can see, we have followed the chronological sequence of these particular women in the Bible.
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