Hurray for a Woman’s Sting

There are many secrets to success in life, but here’s a good one:  Empower your wife and any other 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 know that I’ve switched them 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 about a hundred years later when she dies while accompanying Jacob’s family:

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 his brother Esau had calmed down and that it was now safe for him to return home.

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 this final duty, the faithful retainer died.

Who is this woman, that her name and action 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!

Regular Thought Tool readers might know that in Hebrew, Devorah means a bee.  What is a bee’s uniqueness?  It converts inedible pollen into sweet honey.  Bees convert unfulfilled potential (pollen) into its ultimate destiny—honey, sweet tasting and energy providing.

Sure enough, Prophetess Devorah converts Barak from a frightened individual into a brave leader who defeats 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 introduction into the narrative (Genesis 24:59) before the blessing is uttered.

Similarly, her death is mentioned right in the middle of Jacob abandoning the alien influences his household had accumulated from their interactions with Shechem (Genesis 35:2-5) and God’s blessing him.  (Genesis 35:9-12). On her mission from Rebecca to Jacob, her presence strengthens him.

Devorah represents those women in our lives who bring out the best in us. Can men in our lives also inspire us to improve? Of course. However, we lose out if we insist that men and women are interchangeable. Whatever their title or role, women have powers unique to them that we mustn’t casually dismiss.

I hope you will have a chance to watch my TV encounter with Glenn Beck and Pastor John Hagee this coming Friday. Just as Devorah’s name and presence teach permanent and practical principles of life, so do all details of Scripture. On the show, we discussed the Middle East; what lies behind Iran’s belligerence; and how it must eventually play out according to timeless Torah truths. For more amazing insights and a laser-sharp view and in-depth discussion, I teach relevant verses from Genesis to Judges to the Book of Esther in my audio CD set Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam. As each day brings more troubling news, this explosive program reveals the reality behind tomorrow’s news headlines. The price is reduced this week, making it a timely purchase for you and those whose lives you positively impact.


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What is the procedure for becoming a Rabbi? Can a non-Jewish person become a Rabbi? I am concerned because one of my friends is going to a Messianic church and the person in charge is wearing the full garment of a Rabbi even though they are not Jewish. Thanks for your help in this matter.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s Answer

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