Rechem: Womb (Strong’s 7358)
As we near the Christmas season it seems fitting that we look at the Hebrew word rechem, meaning womb. Yeshua comes to earth through Mary’s womb. As we noted last week, the Hebrew word compassion and the Hebrew word womb share the same three letter root רחם. Interesting that compassion is a deep feeling for something with a heartbeat.
Yeshua, as Son of God, comes to earth as the Saviour, or the Great Compassion, that humanity needs… and the Great Compassion (racham) comes to earth through the womb (rechem) of a woman. As there are no vowels in Hebrew these 2 words are spelled the same in Hebrew: resh-chet-mem.
Let’s take a look at the word rechem which shows up 26 times in the Old Testament:
YHWH has compassion for woman:
Five times (Genesis 20:18, Genesis 29:31, Genesis 30:22, 1 Samuel 1:5, 1 Samuel 1:6) rechem is used when God has compassion on a woman and either opens or closes wombs as a result.
Now YHWH saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb [rach’mah].
YHWH feels compassion for Leah because she was unloved. Her husband Jacob loved his other wife, Rachel, but Leah not so much. With compassion God opens Leah’s womb and she bares 7 children: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah.
YHWH has compassion on those who suffer from depression:
Seven times (Job 3:11, Job 10:18, Job 24:20, Job 31:15, Jeremiah 20:17 (twice), and Jeremiah 20:18) rechem is used during cries of depression from Job and Jeremiah.
Why then have you brought me out of the womb (meh-rechem)? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me. I should have been as though I had not been; carried from womb to tomb.
Job is crying out to God. Ultimately he is seeking compassion. YHWH hears his call!
YHWH uses the womb to highlight his power:
Four times (Job 38:8, Psalm 22:10, Psalm 110:3, Jeremiah 1:5) God’s power is shown using the word womb (rechem).
After Job’s detailed musings YHWH answers Job in a whirlwind and tells Job to instruct Him (God), if he’s so clever:
Job 38:4, 6b-8
YHWH: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth. Tell me if you have understanding?… Or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy! Or who shut up the sea with doors when bursting forth it went out from the womb [meh’rechem]?
Job, earlier, laments that he was ever issued out of the womb. YHWH explains to him that He has control over the womb and plans for all those that burst forth!
Curses associated with the womb:
Three times (Numbers 12:12, Psalm 58:3, Hosea 9:14) rechem is associated with, or used to describe, a curse or a sinful state.
Give to them YHWH- oh what will you give? Give to them a miscarrying womb [rechem mash’keel] and dry breasts.
Hosea’s marriage to the adulterous Gomer is often seen as a metaphor for God’s relationship with the sinful, adulterous, Israel. Hosea wants Israel to have a miscarrying womb, yet God gives Gomer children and has Hosea take back his cheating wife. God shows great compassion (racham) and does not use the womb (rechem) to curse.
YHWH requests the first birth from the womb to be dedicated to Him:
Seven times (Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12, Exodus 13:15, Exodus 34:19, Numbers 3:12, Numbers 8:16, Numbers 18:15) God asks for the first issue of rechem (a womb) to be dedicated or sacrificed to Him. This highlights YHWH’s great payback- His first Son, Yeshua, the Great Compassion sacrificed for our Salvation. [FYI: the name Yeshua comes from the Hebrew word “Salvation“! (Strong’s 3468)].
Every first issue of the womb of all flesh, whether man or animal, which they offer to YHWH, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem…
The first born sacrifice, as a foreshadowing of Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross, is a prevalent metaphor throughout the Old Testament. Abraham’s reluctant willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, born of Sarah’s womb, is probably the most memorable example. God stops the death of Isaac in time, but we feel the horror of it! How could God ask Abraham such a thing?! He did it so we could feel the weight of God sacrificing His own Son, Yeshua, who came from the womb of Mary!
There you have it. The 26 times rechem appears in the Hebrew scriptures. Please keep in mind, however, that these situations are not how God sees Peace. Multiple wives, jealousy, sadness, depression, curses, adultery, sacrificial death were all part of life at that time, but do not be confused. These are not things that God accepts as good.
Men having multiple wives is NOT God’s ideal. Depression- NOT God’s ideal! Curses and destruction- NOT God’s ideal! Sacrificing to appease- NOT God’s ideal! YHWH gives one Great Sacrifice, the Great Compassion, to end it all: Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace!
It needs to be pointed out that there is another, more common, word for womb in the Old Testament: beten (Strong’s 990), which is sometimes translated as belly, body, abdomen, as well as womb. It is a physical body part, a place. With rechem God has control over the place and it is connected to compassion. We are to come forth with compassion. If Yeshua is the Great Compassion He had to come through the womb.
Interestingly enough you will often find both words for womb in the same verse:
Why did I not die from the womb [ma-rechem]; come forth from the womb [mi-beten] and perish?
Did not He who made me in the womb [ba-beten] make him, and the same one fashion us in the womb [ba-rechem]?
Upon You I was cast from the womb [meh-rechem]; from the womb [mi-beten] of my mother, My God You are!
The wicked are estranged from the womb [meh-rechem]; they go astray from the womb [mi-beten] speaking lies.
YHWH: Before I formed you in the womb [ba-beten] I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb [me-rechem] I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations.
First YHWH makes and forms within the womb-place (beten) and then He fashions, sanctifies, ordains with womb-compassion (rechem). He puts the body together and then he gives it LIFE… and He gives it LIFE because He has compassion on His creation!
What does He do with His Son, Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah? He forms Him in Mary’s womb and then He is brought forth from the womb, born to us, sanctified and ordained to bring Salvation, Peace and Compassion to all God’s creation!
כִּי־יֶ֣לֶד יֻלַּד־לָ֗נוּ בֵּ֚ן נִתַּן־לָ֔נוּ וַתְּהִ֥י הַמִּשְׂרָ֖ה עַל־שִׁכְמֹ֑ו וַיִּקְרָ֨א שְׁמֹ֜ו פֶּ֠לֶא יֹועֵץ֙ אֵ֣ל גִּבֹּ֔ור אֲבִיעַ֖ד שַׂר־שָׁלֹֽום
For to us a child is born; to us a Son is given. And the government shall be on His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Next week: Peace