BIRTH (brought forth): yalad. Verb. (Strong’s 3205).
Sounds like: yah-lahd.
Today we celebrate mothers… those who raised children, and those who were unable to. We celebrate all women who were mothering in some way… women who have guided children, listened to them, loved them and supported them.
Although we might not all be mothers, we’ve all had a birth experience. We were all born. We all have a birth story.
And you will bear a son…
There are some pretty incredible birth stories in the Bible. The first birth stories found in the Tanakh were of Cain and Abel:
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth [wa-teled] to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of YHWH.” Again, she gave birth [la-ledet] to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
In the story of Ishmael’s birth the Angel of YHWH gave good news to Hagar:
Moreover, the angel of YHWH said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” The angel of YHWH said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son [w’yoladt]; And you shall call his name Ishmael, because YHWH has given heed to your affliction.”
The announcement of Ishmael’s birth included a declaration of his name. In the story of Isaac’s announcement it was YHWH who assigned his name:
YHWH (regarding Sarah): “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born [yiwaled] to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear [teled] a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear [yoledet] you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, dived explicitly into the story of these two early Hebrew mothers, Hagar and Sarah:
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written [in Isaiah 54:1],
“Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labour; For more numerous are the children of the desolate, than of the one who has a husband. And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.”
Zion as mother
Zion, as the mother to the children of promise (or children of the covenant), can also be found in the book of Isaiah:
“Before she travailed, she brought forth [yaladah]; Before her pain came, she gave birth [w’heemlitah (delivered)] to a boy.
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth [yiwaled] all at once?
As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth [yaledah] her sons. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says YHWH. “Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?” says your God.
YHWH was not the kind of God that would bring forth but not deliver. Zion metaphorically birthed the children of God and now God would deliver them from their enemies, and, ultimately, He would deliver them from the finality of death.
YHWH saves His children
As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth [la-ledet], she writhes and cries out in her labor pains, thus were we before You, O YHWH.
We were pregnant, we writhed in labor, we gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, nor were inhabitants of the world born.
Your dead will live; their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. For behold, YHWH is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain.
Death was not the end for those who were birthed in the Spirit. Jesus (Yeshua) famously talked about this with the Jewish leader, Nicodemus:
John 3:3-7, 16-17
Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” …
…“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
God did send His Son into the world to save His children, and so it should come to no surprise to us that His Son entered world as all children do… through the birth canal of a woman.
The birth stories of both Ishmael and Isaac include the phrase, “you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name ______”. The same phrase was used in the telling of Yeshua’s birth story. It was a great declaration, followed by the announcement of a name, and the recognition that a covenant has been fulfilled:
Luke 1: 30-33
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Foreshadowing Yeshua’s Birth
The angel declared that this young baby was to be given the Davidic throne and that he would reign forever. This little fellow’s humble start in life was predicted from the beginning of human history.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The prophet Micah predicted that the birthplace of the Messiah would be in Bethlehem:
Micah 5 :2-5a
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labour has borne [yowledah] a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of YHWH, in the majesty of the name of YHWH His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace…”
One of the best know predictions of Yeshua’s birth comes from the prophet Isaiah. Once again, there is an announcement of a birth and a declared name:
Then YHWH spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from YHWH your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test YHWH!” Then He said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son [w’yoledet ben], and she will call His name Immanuel…”
Psalm 2 is recognized by Jewish Talmudic commentators and Christians alike, as a Messianic Psalm. In it YHWH, Himself, announced that He gave birth to His Son:
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against YHWH and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”
He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
I will surely tell of the decree of YHWH: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You [y’lid’tika].’
There are two voices here. The passage started with YHWH speaking of His Son as the “Anointed” and the “King upon Zion”. At the end of the passage His Anointed Messiah announced the decree of YHWH: ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’. This is not the only indication that YHWH birthed things.
Many find this feminine aspect of God uncomfortable. But they shouldn’t. It makes perfect sense in the Biblical narrative:
“You neglected the Rock who begot you [yalad’ka], and forgot the God who gave you birth [makholel’ka (formed you)]. YHWH saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.’
God was the first birth-giver. He created/begot/brought forth the sun, the moon, the stars, the planet, the animals, the plants and the humans.
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born [yuladu] or You gave birth to [wat’kholel (you formed)] the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God!
In an epic conversation between YHWH and Job (Job 38-42), YHWH, using rhetorical questions, revealed Himself as the One who birthed creation:
YHWH to Job: “Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth [y’ladow]?”
YHWH not only gave birth, but just as a mother, He intimately knows His all that He has given birth to:
YHWH to Job: “Do you know when mountain goats give birth [ledet]? Have you watched the doe bear her fawn? Can you count the months they are pregnant? Do you know the time they give birth [lidtanah]? They crouch down and bring forth their young; they deliver their newborn. Their young ones thrive and grow up in the open field; they leave and do not return.”
YHWH asked Job, “Do you… Can you… Have you? No?… Well I have!” YHWH is the great Creator… the One who brought forth the heavens and the earth and all that is in it. He is the forever Creator. But humans, born of woman, are not the forever creators… they are part of creation. Job recognized that human birth and human existence was no easy thing:
“Man, who is born [yelud] of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.”
Birthed by God
Yes, man is born of woman, but originally we were born of God… and when we are born again, in His Spirit, our life cannot wither. But we humans often forget this and we dwell on our mortality. It’s not always easy to be human. Jeremiah felt the depths of depression and wished he had never been born:
Cursed be the day when I was born [yuladti]; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me [y’ladatni]!
Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A baby boy has been born [yulad] to you!”, and made him very happy.
But let that man be like the cities which YHWH overthrew without relenting, and let him hear an outcry in the morning and a shout of alarm at noon; because he did not kill me before birth [from the womb], so that my mother would have been my grave, and her womb ever pregnant.
Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?
Life is sacred to YHWH and He wants to lift us up when we are at our lowest. He had a plan for Jeremiah. We may curse our existence but God loves that we exist. He loves His children.
And so the killing of humans was detestable to God. We give birth, now, to God’s children, but they are still God’s children. We do not have the right to take their lives from them. There are many moments where God got angry at humanity, but human sacrifice must have ranked near the top of His anger list:
YHWH: “Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne [yaladt] to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. Besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood.”
They did not remember where they had come from. They forgot that they were God’s creation, and they were slaughtering children that weren’t their own to give. All children are YHWH’s children!
In forgetting where they had come from, they turned towards idol worship. The prophet Jeremiah reminded them that birth and life are real bi-products of being children of God, and idols could not compete when it came to real living:
“As the thief is shamed when he is discovered, so the house of Israel is shamed; They, their kings, their princes and their priests and their prophets, who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth [y’lid’tanu].’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise and save us.’
But where are your gods which you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble…”
Giving Birth to Falsehood
People can only “make” idols out of God’s creation (trees and stone), but idols do not give birth to anything. The only thing people can create, which does not come from God, is their own sin.
If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, he travails with wickedness, and he conceives mischief and brings forth [w’yalad] falsehood. He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made.
We’ve all given birth to falsehood, but by grace our Creator loved us so much that He was willing to save us, His beloved children. He saved us by sending a Messiah, an Anointed King, who would redeem us.
Rejoice, You are Born of the Spirit
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth [la-ledet] and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
Jesus understood this. He came to live on this planet and he came to die on this planet. He was born to die and then to live again. Just as he said that we would be Born Again, it was his death that brought us life, through the Spirit.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
What a great gift. We recognize YHWH as our Father because we know His Son. But that would not have been on the minds of the women and men who loved and followed him, as they watched Yeshua agonize on the cross. Jesus had warned them of the grief they would experience. He used the analogy of a women in labour to help them understand that the grief they would experience would be turned into joy:
Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Today remember the mothering God who gave life to everything. He gave life to you and He gave life, and breath, to your earthly mother. She is a child of God, just as you are! Live your life so that she can rejoice in you and the human that you’ve become. And let her live her life joyfully and fully as a daughter of YHWH. That is the best gift you can give your mother on this day.
Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you [yolad’teka].
Next week: Wait