muth'-er ('em, "mother," "dam," "ancestress"; meter):
1. Her Position in the Old Testament:
In vain do we look in the Scriptures for traces of the low position which woman occupies in many eastern lands. A false impression has been created by her present position in the East, especially under Mohammedan rule. Her place as depicted in the Scriptures is a totally different one. Women there move on the same social plane with men. They often occupy leading public positions (Ex 15:20; Jg 4:4; 2Ki 22:14). The love of offspring was deeply imbedded in the heart of Hebrew women, and thus motherhood was highly respected. Among the patriarchs women, and especially mothers, occupy a prominent place. In Rebekah's marriage, her mother seems to have had equal voice with her father and Laban, her brother (Ge 24:28,50,53,55). Jacob "obeyed his father and his mother" (Ge 28:7), and his mother evidently was his chief counselor. The Law places the child under obligation of honoring father and mother alike (Ex 20:12). The child that strikes father or mother or curses either of them is punished by death (Ex 21:15,17). The same fate overtakes the habitually disobedient (De 21:18-21).
In one place in the Law, the mother is even placed before the father as the object of filial reverence (Le 19:3). The Psalmist depicts deepest grief as that of one who mourneth for his mother (Ps 35:14). In the entire Book of Proverbs the duty of reverence, love and obedience of sons to their mothers is unceasingly inculcated. The greatest comfort imaginable is that wherewith a mother comforts her son (Isa 66:13).
2. Position in the New Testament:
And what is true of the Old Testament is equally true of the New Testament. The same high type of womanhood, the same reverence for one's mother is in evidence in both books. The birth of Christ lifted motherhood to the highest possible plane and idealized it for all time. The last thing Jesus did on the Cross was to bestow His mother on John "the beloved" as his special inheritance. What woman is today, what she is in particular in her motherhood, she owes wholly to the position in which the Scriptures have placed her. Sometimes the stepmother is spoken of as the real mother (Ge 37:10). Sometimes the grandmother or other female relative is thus spoken of (Ge 3:20; 1Ki 15:10).
Tropically the nation is spoken of as a mother and the people are her children (Isa 50:1; Jer 50:12; Ho 2:4; 4:5). Large cities also are "mothers" (2Sa 20:19; compare Ga 4:26; 2 Esdras 10:7), and Job even depicts the earth as such (Job 1:21).
Henry E. Dosker