Other women helped (Lk 8:3-8:3)

“Joanna,

The wife of Chuza,

Herod’s steward,

And Susanna,

As well as many others,

Provided for them

Out of their resources.”

 

καὶ Ἰωάνα γυνὴ Χουζᾶ ἐπιτρόπου Ἡρῴδου καὶ Σουσάννα καὶ ἕτεραι πολλαί, αἵτινες διηκόνουν αὐτοῖς ἐκ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐταῖς.

 

Luke also uniquely mentioned Joanna (καὶ Ἰωάνα), the wife of Chuza (γυνὴ Χουζᾶ), Herod’s steward (ἐπιτρόπου Ἡρῴδου), and Susanna (καὶ Σουσάννα).  He also said that many other women (καὶ ἕτεραι πολλαί) provided or ministered for them at table (αἵτινες διηκόνουν αὐτοῖς) out of their means, possessions, or resources (ἐκ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐταῖς).  Joanna shows up again with Mary Magdalene in the resurrection story of Luke, chapter 24:10.  She must have been a woman of means because her husband had an important role at the court of King Herod Antipas of Galilee as his head steward.  The name Susanna only appears here among all the canonical gospels, but a Susanna played a role in the Book of Daniel.  However, there were other women, not explicitly named, who provided for Jesus and his followers with their money or resources.  In other words, there was a small entourage of women who traveled with Jesus, probably providing the food for him and his disciples, since they were not called disciples themselves.  What should be the role of women as followers of Jesus?

The widow’s dead son (Lk 7:12-7:12)

“As Jesus approached

The gate of the town,

He saw

A dead man

Being carried out.

He was his mother’s

Only son.

She was also a widow.

A large crowd

From the town

Was with her.”

 

ὡς δὲ ἤγγισεν τῇ πύλῃ τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐξεκομίζετο τεθνηκὼς μονογενὴς υἱὸς τῇ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτὴ ἦν χήρα, καὶ ὄχλος τῆς πόλεως ἱκανὸς ἦν σὺν αὐτῇ.

 

Luke has this unique story about the widow at Nain, since he had a soft spot for widows.  Luke said that as Jesus approached (ὡς δὲ ἤγγισεν) the gate of the town of Nain (ῇ πύλῃ τῆς πόλεως), he saw a dead man being carried out (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐξεκομίζετο τεθνηκὼς).  He was his mother’s only son (μονογενὴς υἱὸς τῇ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ).  She was also a widow (καὶ αὐτὴ ἦν χήρα).  There was a large crowd of mourners from the town with her (καὶ ὄχλος τῆς πόλεως ἱκανὸς ἦν σὺν αὐτῇ).  They would bury people in cemeteries outside the town gates.  Thus, Jesus and his entourage saw this take place outside the town.  There were many people with his poor widow, mourning his death, as they prepared to bury him.  They must have learned somehow that she was a widow burying her only son.  Is losing an only child that difficult?  Or is losing a husband more difficult?

Mourn for your lost fields (Joel 1:8-1:10)

“Lament!

Like a virgin

Dressed in sackcloth

For the husband

Of her youth!

The grain offering,

The drink offering,

Are cut off

From the house

Of Yahweh.

The priests mourn.

The ministers of Yahweh

Mourn.

The fields are devastated.

The ground mourns.

The grain is destroyed.

The wine dries up.

The oil fails.”

The people should go into mourning. They should lament like a virgin who had lost the husband of her youth, dressed in sackcloth. There was not going to be any grain or drink offerings in the house of Yahweh. The priests and the ministers should mourn because the fields were devastated. The ground itself mourned because the grain was destroyed. The wine had dried up. The oil had failed. There was good reason to go into mourning.

The old broken covenant (Jer 31:32-31:32)

“‘It will not be

Like the covenant

That I made

With their ancestors.

I took them

By the hand

To bring them out

Of the land of Egypt.

They broke

This covenant,

Even though I was

Their husband.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh was clear. Their ancestors had broken the old covenant when he brought them out of Egypt. He had taken them by the hand to lead them out like a husband helping his wife. Yet they still broke the covenant or alliance with Yahweh.

The prophet Uriah (Jer 26:20-26:20)

“There was another man

Prophesying

In the name of Yahweh.

This was Uriah,

The son of Shemaiah,

From Kiriath-jearim.

He prophesied

Against this city,

Also against this land,

In words exactly

Like those of Jeremiah.”

Uriah the prophet was from Kiriath-jearim, about 10 miles from Jerusalem. He had prophesied in the name of Yahweh against Jerusalem and Judah in almost the same words as Jeremiah had done, since he was almost a contemporary of Jeremiah. This Uriah is not the same as Uriah, the Hittite husband of Bathsheba in 2 Samuel, chapters 11-12, that David had killed. We know very little about this prophet Uriah, except what is here in Jeremiah. What happened to him is a little different than the fate of Jeremiah.

The young widows at Jerusalem (Isa 4:1-4:1)

“Seven women

Shall take hold of one man

In that day.

Saying.

‘We will eat our own bread.

We will wear our own clothes.

Just let us be called by your name.

Take away our disgrace.’”

In order to avoid dishonor and disgrace, seven young widows would join a harem so that they can have something to eat and clothes to wear. They will even take the name of their new protector or husband. They do not want to be reproached for being celibate or sterile, since the single woman was considered outside the pale of society.

Be kind to all (Sir 4:6-4:10)

If in bitterness of soul,

Some should curse you,

Their Creator will hear their prayer.

Endear yourself to the congregation.

Bow your head low to the great.

Give a hearing to the poor.

Return their greeting politely.

Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor.

Do not be hesitant in giving a verdict.

Be like a father to orphans.

Be like a husband to their mother.

You will then be like a son of the Most High.

He will love you more than does your mother.”

Now it may happen, that someone who is bitter might curse you. Let the Creator God judge you. Fit into your community. Bow your head to the people in charge. Listen to the poor. Greet them politely. Rescue those who are being abused. Do not be afraid to make a judgment. Be like a father to orphans and a husband to widows. If you do these things, you will be like a son of the Most High God. God, the Creator, will love you more than your mother does. This is a strong demand for a civil society.

The good wife works hard (Prov 31:16-31:19)

Zain

“She considers a field.

She buys it.

With the fruit of her hands,

She plants a vineyard.

Het

She girds herself with strength.

She makes her arms strong.

Tet

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Yod

She puts her hands to the distaff.

Her hands hold the spindle.”

The good wife does not sit around all day and gossip. She goes out and buys fields, just like men do. She plants a vineyard, just like other workers. She has strength with strong arms. She buys and sells merchandise like her husband. She stays up late figuring things out. She even knows how to handle the spindle. She is like a super woman. She even has contact with others in business doings. Thus she is not a stay at home wife, but really a business partner.

The good wife (Prov 31:10-31:12)

Aleph

“A good wife,

Who can find her?

She is far more precious

Than jewels.

Bet

The heart of her husband

Trusts in her.

He will have no lack of gain.

Gimel

She does him good.

She does not bring harm,

All the days of her life.”

The Book of Proverbs ends with this Hebrew acrostic or alphabet tribute to the perfect wife. Each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet like some of the Psalms. Finding the perfect wife was like finding wisdom. This has led some to see wisdom as female, so that the Spirit of wisdom is feminine. A good capable wife is hard to find. She, like wisdom, is far more precious than jewels. Her husband can trust her. He will be successful because of her. She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life.

The life and death of Judith (Jdt 16:21-16:25)

“After this, they all returned home to their own inheritances. Judith went to Bethulia. She remained on her estate for the rest of her life. She was honored throughout the whole country. Many desired to marry her. However, she gave herself to no man all the days of her life after her husband Manasseh died. She was gathered to his people. She became more and more famous. She grew old in her husband’s house, reaching the age of one hundred five years old. She set her maid free. She died in Bethulia. They buried her in the cave of her husband Manasseh. The house of Israel mourned her for seven days. Before she died she distributed her property to all those who were next of kin to her husband Manasseh, and to her own nearest kindred. No one ever again spread terror among the Israelites during the lifetime of Judith, or for a long time after her death.”

Judith returned to her home estate. She was honored throughout her life. A lot of men wanted to marry her, but she never remarried. She grew old gracefully as a widow until she died at the age of 105. She seemed to live like the ancient pre-historic patriarchs. She set her maid free and distributed her estate to her family and that of her late husband as set out in the Mosaic Law. There was never any mention of children. During her lifetime, no one tried to attack Israel.  So ends the saga of the saintly Judith, the general killer.