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.
They called Rebecca and said to her,
“Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
They blessed Rebecca and they said to her, “Our sister, may you become…
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.
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…
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…
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.