God’s Maternal Side

Hebrew Mysteries:

Here’s a scripture leaves us in no doubt: God likens himself to a woman in childbirth:

    Isaiah 42:14-15 I have been silent a long time. I have been quiet and restrained myself. Now I will cry out like a travailing woman. I will both gasp and pant. I will destroy mountains and hills . . .

Likewise, the latter part of the following verse clearly refers to the female role in procreation. The word alludes not only to giving birth but to the pain involved (Details):

    Deuteronomy 32:18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth (English Standard Version, emphasis mine).

    The first part of this verse is often believed to refer to the male role in procreation, and the Hebrew is capable of that meaning. A. D. H. Mayes, however, points out that the word usually means ‘bore.’ If that is what is meant here, then this part of the verse is also female imagery. (Details)

This, too, refers to God giving birth:

    Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were born, before you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.

    The Hebrew translated ‘born’ (a few translations give such renderings as ‘you had formed’) means primarily ‘to be in pangs with child,’ ‘to bear a child.’ (Reference)

Scripture gives other hints of the imagery of God giving birth.

    Moses probably meant in the following that God had given birth to the Israelites and that it was therefore God’s duty to mother them.

      Numbers 11:12 Have I conceived all this people? Have I brought them out, that you should tell me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’

    In the original Greek of the following, 'gave birth' might possibly be capable of sufficient stretching to apply to the male role in procreation. It is, nevertheless, primarily a feminine, maternal term – so much so that some radical Bible scholars have wrongly claimed the writer of this letter believed in a different God to that of other writers of Scripture. This argument disintegrates in the face of all the Old Testament precedents in applying to God both maternal and masculine terms.

      James 1:18 Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

    In a beautiful picture of maternal love, Jesus expressed the depth of divine compassion with the words:

      Matthew 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!

    Psalm 36:7 is similar.

In still other Scripturess, the Lord is portrayed as almost a midwife:

    Psalm 22:9 But you brought me out of the womb. You made me trust while at my mother’s breasts.

    Psalm 71:6  . . . You are he who took me out of my mother’s womb. . . .




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King James Version

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World English Bible
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