A Tale of Two Bees

July 18th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 18 comments

There are many secrets to success in life, but here’s a good one:  Empower your wife and other vital women in your life to bring out the best in you.

This lesson emerges from a mystery posed by three verses, Genesis 24:58-60.

Verse A:

They called Rebecca and said to her, 

“Will you go with this man?”  And she said, “I will go.”

Verse B:

They blessed Rebecca and they said to her, “Our sister, may you become…

Verse C:

And they sent away their sister, Rebecca, and her nurse…

There’s nothing particularly odd about these three verses, is there?

There is, if you realize that I’ve switched their order around.

In reality, A is followed by C, and finally B.  How strange!  How could they send Rebecca away and only thereafter speak to her and bless her?

The answer hinges on Rebecca’s nurse.

We meet her again when she dies many years later while accompanying Rebecca’s son, Jacob, and his family back to his birthplace:

And Devorah, Rebecca’s nurse, died and she was buried below Bethel,
beneath the tree and he named it Alon Bachut.
(Genesis 35:8)

What is Devorah (in English, Deborah) doing with Jacob and his family on their way returning to the home from which Jacob fled so many years earlier?  Why isn’t she with her beloved Rebecca?

The answer is clear.  As she had promised thirty-five years earlier, Rebecca sent her to inform Jacob that it was now safe for him to return to the home he had fled due to his brother Esau’s wrath.

Until your brother’s anger turns away from you…
and I will send [someone] and bring you back from there…
(Genesis 27:45)

Having discharged her final duty, the faithful retainer, Devorah, died.

Who is this woman, that her name and actions merit so much mention in Scripture?

Ancient Jewish wisdom directs our attention to another Devorah.

And Devorah the wife of Lapidot was a prophetess who judged Israel at that time. And she sat under the palm tree of Devorah between Ramah and Bethel…
 (Judges 4:4-5)

Judge Devorah held court, under Nurse Devorah’s tree. We are meant to link the two!

In Hebrew, Devorah means a bee.  What is a bee’s uniqueness? Bees convert unfulfilled potential (nectar) into its ultimate destiny—honey, sweet tasting and energy providing.

Sure enough, Prophetess Devorah converts Barak from a timid man into a brave leader capable of defeating the evil Sisera, Israel’s oppressor of twenty years. (Judges 4:6-9)

Nurse Devorah is instrumental in transforming the wicked family of Rebecca into people capable of seeing the future and blessing a young woman destined to become a mother of the Jewish people. (Genesis 24:60) This is the message of her awkward appearance in the narrative (Genesis 24:59) before the blessing is uttered.

Similarly, on her mission from Rebecca to Jacob, her death is mentioned as Jacob abandons the alien influences his household had accumulated from their interactions with Shechem (Genesis 35:2-5).  Devorah’s presence strengthens Jacob, reinforcing his upbringing and preparing him to receive God’s blessing. (Genesis 35:9-12).

Devorah represents those women in our lives who bring out the best in us. A good mother or wife has the ability to transform a man’s potential into reality. Of course, a misguided woman can act as a destroyer.  While we men have no ability to choose our mothers (though we can adopt mentors to fill that role), the choice of wife and the conduct of our marriage is in our hands.

The Bible names many fewer women than men. The two Devorah’s send us two messages. The first serves to remind us that, unlike our present day infatuation with publicity, what happens behind the scenes is critical to and equally responsible for success. The second reminds us that when men fail in acting courageously and wisely, women will act in their stead. Why we should lament rather than celebrate when that circumstance arises, needs  a much longer discussion.

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18 comments

Don Cole says:

You are wise Rabbi. You came to our church, and taught about the whole of our earthly time as 6,000 years. I think I have all of your teachings on CD, but cannot find that subject.
Would you please either show me what I am missing, or tell me where I can get that teaching?
Thank you,
Don Cole (New Beginnings Church-Bedford Texas)
Donald Ray Cole

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

I remember well, Don, and I always enjoy speaking at New Beginnings with your top class pastor, Larry Huch-
The calendar started ticking when Adam opened his mouth to speak, not before. We have no idea of how many of our human years passed during the first five days of creation.
Cordially
RDL

ED OBRIEN says:

Hi Rabbi,
Do you believe Creation was done in 5 days in a 24 hour period? My understanding is the Hebrew word for day is “Yom”, which is used mostly in the O.T. as a 24 hour period.
Regards,
Ed

Oh, wow! I was named for Deborah, who judged Israel under a palm tree (how did a mere palm last that long?). Amid the details of picking a bride for Isaac and the tit-for-tat that Jacob got from Laban, I never noticed the other Deborah, and the KJV offers no hint of the connection to Rebecca’s sending Jacob the all-clear so he could return to find a wife who was not a Canaanite ( I gather that Rebecca and Isaac didn’t care much for Esau’s wives, which is sometimes offered as an explanation for Rebecca’s and Jacob’s deception of Isaac.) You offer some tantalizing good guidance for wives, but we could surely use a bit more explanation surrounding a lot that seems to have gotten lost in the translation. At least I knew about the “bee”!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

And that, dear Deborah-
is why you need access to ancient Jewish wisdom which it is my humble duty to provide.
Stay tuned for evermore guidance especially on marriage
Cordially
RDL

Mark Lampe says:

What a truly amazing commentary, thank you! It certainly does ring true to life.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Your well articulated appreciation of our work, Mark, brings so much encouragement to Susan and me. Thank you
Cordially
RDL

Fola Oluwehinmi says:

Rabbi Daniel Lapin,

I am an African Pentecostal Christian. In the 6 months that I have followed your teachings I have experienced great improvements in my life (Faith & Marriage especially). Your insights add so much value to the heart that is truly seeking truth. I hope someday to have you speak to one of the communities (church or friends) that I belong to. Till then Thank you & God bless!

Tom Mitchell says:

Shalom Rabbi. In all due respect, if I may, a “minor” correction. Bees do not convert pollen into honey, they convert nectar into honey. Pollen is used to feed the bee larve. Be blessed.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Oh no, Tom!!
I did it again! Of course you are quite right. And it’s far from a minor mistake. In fact, it’s a bad mistake and I apollengize! A few years ago I said the same thing and I was promptly corrected by another alert reader. And as a honey enthusiast, I should know better. Thanks for spotting it.
Cordially
RDL

Susan Lapin says:

Corrected 🙂

celesta says:

Apollengize!!! Ha ha ha ha…you slay me!!!

Well…not in the sense of Prophet Samuel towards the Amalekites, or in the sense of young King David towards Goliath, or any of the Philistines for that matter…I guess “hIve” got to choose better language when addressing people, or they might come looking to get “apis” of me. Okay sorry I’m just desperate now. I can’t top “apollengize”!!!! 🙂

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

I am so happy to hear this, Fola,
And I also hope to be privileged to address your community one day.
Cordially
RDL

Tamara says:

Omg once i was reading bible and when i come across this scripture i said to my self why this name debora is meniton here ist important that we need to know about her !! Then i asked my brother he didnt know the answer but he told me god will tell you the answer and today i find the answer thanx god and thank you Rabbi Daniel

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Tamara
I am so happy to have been able to provide a timely answer to your question.
Cordially
RDL

Susan Gilliland says:

I absolutely love this wisdom this week. I have never seen that connection. I was so excited I posted this thought tool on my FB page. Hope that was ok? My favorite thought tools or shows are when you and Susan point out to seemingly unrelated things and show the amazing connection! Love y’all!

Susan Lapin says:

Susan, we always appreciate when people post something we wrote as long as it is with attribution and complete.

H- says:

Dear sir Lapin,

Your podcast as well as this teaching are great as usual.

Your podcast had me realize how many ‘dembots’ are walking around who have no idea just how indoctrinated they sound to people such as you or even little old me. I have been blessed to be given understanding greater than my teachers, even though I consider myself the least of all people and many seem to despise me. I don’t know why God has been so kind to me, I don’t deserve it.

Being aware of the dembots state of marxhypnosis has enabled me to be more compassionate to them. I have a huge problem with accepting myself and others in our current state.

Now on your post. I concur. I have always had a natural inner drive to help others succeed. I have supported alot of people in my life. I forgot to support myself however. What is funny that all thst support later returned in the most amazing ways. They always talk sbout how kind I was to them and when they think of how they took me for granted they applogized with tears. Alot of feminists would be against the woman’s destiny being behind the screens. But teaching eachother love and sacrifice and knowing that you contribute to peoples character in a good way is something honorable. Your post reminded me of this instinct that I kind oflost by being hurt lately. But it is my gift and I need to use it. So may you be blessed for pushing a sister back to her calling.

Kind regards,

H-

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