This study started with Psalms 88 + 89. The authors are Heman and Ethan the Ezrahites. I thought a quick look in Bible Gateway and Strong’s and it will be done quick-wrong. Please note that the names of Heman and Ethan are used many times in Scripture and they are not the same people. We normally associate those names with two descendants of Levi who led worship for David and probably Solomon in the First Temple. This took some time to sort out the Ezrahites appear to be from the tribe of Judah.
Ezrahite—This name appears to originate with Zerah, the second son of Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38:27-30). Perez, the first twin out, is the one in David and Jesus’ lineage (Matthew 1, 1 Chronicles 2:10-12). Reference Strong’s #250 Hebrew. They must have been very intelligent because King Solomon in 1 Kings 4:31 is said to be wiser than them. 1 Chronicles 2:6 list the same names and calls them the sons of Zerah. Mahol could be an “unnamed father” who was not important in the family tree, they did things like that in making these lists. 1 Kings could give the idea that they were contemporaries of Solomon, while 1 Chronicles 2 gives the impression that they are much older, like Moses or before. To add to the possibilities, Heman was a seer for King David and Psalm 89 (Ethan) mentions David (more on this later). I will hold on to the older idea and offer some ideas why.
Heman (Psalm 88) – The “title” to this Psalm is imposing. It is a song. It is a psalm. (Yes, those are slightly different according to Strong’s.) It is for the music director. No one is sure what mahalath leannoth really is, and Heman wrote it. To me, that just seems like it had been around a while by the time it got to David. There are no timestamps in this psalm, as far as I could tell. So, trying to place it in history by the association with events or names is hard.
I think it has a somber tone, but many of the entries in Book Three are “dark”. I have felt that way in my life. If Heman wrote it during a period of struggle when nothing seems to be happening in his life, the tone is understandable. Verses 8-18 are very Messianic and show what Jesus endured starting in the Garden and going through the statements He made on the cross.
On a different note-Heman means faithful, and Ezrahite is cherished. It is the only psalm identified as belonging to Heman the Ezrahite, so he must have been special to have had it included in Scripture.
Ethan – The meaning of Ethan is permanent, so is extended out to be the idea of a chieftain. According to Strong’s, the word is translated as strong or strength.
This Psalm seems to be in the time of David because it uses his name and the promises of God to David seem to be repeated in the psalm. Okay, I am stepping out on a limb here without a lot of proof. David, as a Hebrew word, is very special. If you convert the letters to numbers, it adds up to fourteen (see Matthew). It also means “beloved”. There are many websites, Jewish and Christian, that explore the meaning and etymology of this name. So, if you replace David with beloved and refer the passages to Israel/Judah, it still seems to make sense. Yes, that is weak at several levels, but it works.
This psalm also has some negative parts and a section 26-37 that are Messianic and refer to the time Jesus was on the cross.
Well, studies may not always answer questions, but I learned many things doing this. So, my time was well spent and I hope you got something from reading this post of Heman and Ethan the Ezrahite.
Moses had two sons-Gershom, the first-born, and Eliezer. There is not a lot of information about them, but Moses’ family line is still mentioned in the time of David. It is not easy being the child of an overachieving parent, especially someone who was used so mightily by God. So, to talk about the boys and their mother, we should frame this study with Moses.
Moses was about forty years old when he murdered the Egyptian and ran for his life. He was about eighty when God called him to the burning bush. Popular thought and movies have the boys as very young, like pre-teens. Exodus 4 certainly makes them sound young, but they could have been teenagers to thirty years old. It is obvious someone knew about the requirement to circumcise Hebrew boys and Moses just did not do it. Either way, there were two unhappy boys on the way to Egypt.
Another mystery – Exodus 18 has Jethro, the grandfather, bringing the boys and Zipporah to Moses. When and why did they leave? When-The best two places in my thinking were when they met Aaron and found out how bad it could be for them, or after the Red Sea, to save them from the harsh trip. Why-I want to be “light” on Moses with either explanation I just gave. It could have been a dark reason. The elders of the people did not like a leader having a non-Israelite wife with children. We saw that with Miriam and Moses’ second wife. The flip side of that dark thought is, why did Jethro bring them back? Was his community afraid of them and the miracles that happened in Egypt?
Events – They missed the first leg of the trip with the people testing God. They were around for everything else, including the complaining that got the thirty-eight years of going in circles. Moses, very probably, buried his sons and his grandchildren went into the Land. Since they were Levities they had a responsibility with the Tabernacle and not leading the people, like Joshua. Those two lived and saw a lot. Imagine having a father who glowed after his prayer time with God. So, if you read Levite in those first forty years, Gershom and Eliezer were there. (There was also a Gershon family in the Levites, they were not children of Moses.)
Names – Exodus 18: 3+4 explains the boys’ names. I know a good amount of thought is put into naming children, this is seen throughout the Bible and is still done today. With that said I am sure the names reflect praise and thanksgiving to God. Gershom was named because Moses was a foreigner in a foreign land. Eliezer was named because God helped Moses and saved him from Pharaoh’s sword.
If there is an “iah” or “el” in the front or back of a Hebrew name it is saying something about God. Those make good studies. Names got “recycled” and giving family names were/are a thing of honor. Be careful because it may look like they are the same people but check the Bible timeline, there may be hundreds of years in-between people with a similar description.
1 Chronicles 23:12-17 deal with heritage and 26:24-28 cover job assignments. Again, they should be included when possible in studies about people.
Gershom’s Family – Judges 18:30 is a dark side of this family that lasted for hundreds of years. When the tribe of Dan did not take their allotted possession of the land they went somewhere easier. Part of this includes stealing household gods and installing members of Jonathan, son of Gershom, as a priest. This lasted from the Book of Judges to the captivity caused by the Assyrians, which covers Samuel, Saul, David, and several of David’s grandsons.
Shubael appears to be a family name as 1 Chronicles 23 has one as “first” and then 1 Chronicles 26 has one working for King David as a treasurer. This second Shubael recruited his cousins from Eliezer’s branch to serve with him.
Eliezer’s Family – 1 Chronicles 23:17 states that the first was Rehabiah and Eliezer had no other sons. But that Rehabiah had many sons. 1 Chronicles 26:24 list four grandsons.
Moses interceded with God to not destroy the sons of Jacob. God offered a new people to come through Moses; would Gershom and Eliezer had been the start?
The bloodline of Moses may still exist today.
The children of leaders do not always have a great life.
Simeon and Anna are my last two named characters in and around the first coming of Jesus (Christmas). Their story would have been forty days after the birth when Mary and Joseph were dedicating Jesus (Exodus 13: 2-15). This post will also review the other named human characters-good and bad.
Anna– Her story starts in Luke 2:36. She is an old woman who is 84 years old or older (translation here maybe unclear), who never left the Temple. (Where did she stay, who fed her, etc.? I have never seen a diagram of the Temple that had living quarters on the grounds.) Since she was there so much she must have heard or known of Zachariah’s encounter behind the curtain. As a descendent of Asher, her people were part of the Northern kingdom who were carried away by the Assyrians. There are many ways to explain why her family had returned, the important thing is she was there.
Second Coming Shadow. Anna is someone who is focused on the Lord and is waiting for His return. This daughter of Abraham felt and followed the leading of the Spirit.
Simeon-His story starts in Luke 2:25. As I read and reread 25-35 I realized how awesome Simeon is and how little he is talked about. This Old Testament believer in Yahweh has three references to the Holy Spirit working directly in his life. The Holy Spirit lead him to the Temple, He had revealed things to him, Simeon praised and prophesied. So, this righteous (tzaddik) and devout man should have many accolades attributed to him. He easily could be put with the 7,000 who never bowed a knee to Baal, he is qualified to have been in one of the schools of the prophets, and I would even put him into the order of Melchizedek as a non-Aaron priest of God, and a definite pattern for believers after the Day of Pentecost. He was waiting for “the consolation of Israel”, which is the term the rabbis used for the Messiah. The root word for consolation is also used by Jesus in John 15:26 when He said he would send the parakletos to us. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit. It is also translated as advocate or comforter.
Second Coming Shadow. Simeon is a faith-filled son of Abraham and an example of what a born-again Jewish believer would be. Luke says the Spirit was “upon him” or epi, which puts him with some serious Old Testament figures. He knew the Word and believed that Yahweh could and did work in his day.
Zechariah-His story is in Luke 1. The father of John the Baptist makes his entrance into Scripture because he is offering incense behind the Curtain in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he is a priest. (This is a firm date or time in the Jewish calendar.) This would have no doubt been an honor to be selected, even though it did carry a fearful consequence-if he messed up they assumed he would be struck dead. That same curtain would be torn until Jesus died.
Gabriel, the angel, tells him great personal news about his family, which Zachariah doubts. Gabriel rebukes and levees a “wakeup call” to this son of Aaron-not being able to speak until the child is born. Gabriel is named, but not human, please see his post.
Second Coming Shadow. Zechariah, the priest, represents the doubting child of Abraham. He knew and lived the Torah, but a visit from an angel was not enough for him to not doubt. It took a miracle to move him into believing.
Elizabeth-This daughter of Sarah (Luke 1) is amazing. She is a member of a cadre of strong women who had faith and became part of a miracle-Sarah (Genesis 21), Samson’s mother (Judges 13+14), Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2), the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:8 and 8:1), Rachel (Genesis 30), Tamar (Genesis 38), and Ruth. Their stories vary but all of them had babies after being barren or denied children. Many of these women belong to the family tree of Jesus (Matthew 1).
In the Christmas story, Elizabeth is special because she finds out about her blessing (probably) in writing. Zachariah could not talk so I will guess writing was how he communicated for nine months. All of the other Christmas characters were spoken to or led by the Spirit into their role in the story.
Second Coming Shadow. No children were a very negative thing for the Hebrew woman and the nation of Israel. “Elizabeths” endure ridicule and shame, yet become a sign of God’s mercy because of the miracle they give birth to. The Father sets a table for them in front of their enemies (Psalm 23:5)
Mary-For years I have tried to connect Mary, the tribe of Judah, with Aaron the priest, it did not really work. There is at least one verse that may reference this connection so Jesus could be king and priest. This year I did a study on David as a priest and Melchizedek. Jesus’ priesthood did not depend on Aaron because Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek.
Having studied Zachary’s story, it is possible that Mary was visited at Passover. That would make Jesus’ birth in the Christmas/Epiphany season.
Mary, however, does deserve to be recognized, she was handpicked by the Father. The woman in Luke 11:27 was corrected by Jesus in verse 28-blessed are those who hear and do the word. It is easy for me to believe Mary was a reference for Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John when they finally started writing the Gospels. Her life was filled with many good things but Simeon’s prophecy was good and she did have her heart pierced because of her firstborn son.
Second Coming Shadow. Mary represents the “yes Lord” group of believers. She was surrounded by charitoo. The word is also used in Ephesians 1:6 for grace being given to believers.
Joseph– After learning about Jewish weddings when I did the post of the Ten Woke Virgins, this story looks a little different. In Jewish tradition, Joseph and Mary were legally bound because Joseph/his father would have already paid the bride’s price for Mary. They were in the yearlong waiting period when Joseph had his dream and Mary her visitation. Mary’s announcement would have affected her family also, the money became her father’s not to her. They usually gave it to the bride once the couple was together; remember how Leah and Rachel were upset at their father for spending their bride price. So, when Joseph thought about not marrying Mary, that meant a loss of money for him.
With all of that said, Father God not only picked Mary, He hand-picked Joseph as well. God knew Joseph would listen to the dreams for direction and guidance. In one respect Joseph had had more heavenly messages than Mary. I will always celebrate Mary because she knew the ridicule she would endure, but none of that was easy on Joseph either.
Second Coming Shadow. Joseph had “eyes to see and ears to hear” even when the message came in a dream. He knew and followed the Law but had an open heart and received the miraculous. There are testimonies of Muslims having dreams and knowing they must follow Jesus.
King Herod-Okay, the crazy, evil bad guy was named so he makes this post. His evil rage actually fulfilled the prophecy in Jeremiah. It is surprising that he only stopped with the little boys and not the whole village.
Off-topic slightly-I will bet he knew about Zachariah and that something happened in the Temple. His non-Jewish heritage came through when he had to ask where the Messiah would be born, the common guy on the street could have answered that question.
Second Coming Shadow. His list of bad things would be very long. So, just because they say they are for you does not mean a thing, what kind of fruit of the Spirit are they producing?
Rachel-The Loved is a spin-off of Leah The Overlooked. Rachel is a type of grace, she did nothing to get the love of Jacob. Since Rachel had her faults it needs to be mentioned that to be a “type and shadow” every characteristic and action does not have to be perfect. Leah and Rachel are many of the pairs of people that are used to teach us lessons in the Bible. (Examples – Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, David and Jonathan, Paul and Peter. The pair does not need to be in conflict but their actions teach us something.)
Rachel is a picture of grace because she did nothing to inspire Jacob’s love for her. Rachel means ewe or female sheep (#7354 Strong’s). Like David, her grandson, she was probably taking care of the sheep because she was the youngest. Genesis 29:17 (NIV) says she was “lovely in form and beautiful” but I can imagine her as a tough and harden individual. Taking care of sheep was not easy work.
As a “mother of Israel” she bore Jacob Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) and Benjamin. Benjamin was the last child born to Jacob and was the “other tribe” that stayed with Jerusalem when the kingdom split under Rehoboam. (Judah and Levi are the tribes who stayed.)
Rachel had her share of struggles and problems, but she was loved. I can imagine Jacob’s anger when Laban’s household gods came out of the camel’s saddle as they went to Bethel (Genesis 35). In spite of her issues Jacob still loved her, that is grace.
Leah – All that is said about her was that she was older and had “delicate or weak eyes”. I have heard many negative things said about Leah over the years. Considering that she had seven children by Jacob I cannot imagine that she was ugly or some of the other things I have heard. Leah according to Strong’s (#3812) means “to be or make weary”. I read this as speaking to her life and the pain she endured from Rachel, Jacob, and her father. Laban used his daughters to snare Jacob and then used up everything that came from the bridal cost – fourteen years of work. She also had to watch her first three sons not receive a blessing from their father – Ruben committed adultery and Levi and Simeon slaughtered the men of Shechem bring trouble to Jacob/Israel.
It would be very easy to cast Leah as “natural Israel” and all of the weariness they have endured over the millennia. I just don’t think it is that easy! Leah is still a “mother of Israel” and the grandmother of Jesus. So, my type is going to be edgier than that – she is a picture of those who are working for their place at the feast and not those who understand and walk in grace. That can cover the people who sit in Christian churches every week and still struggle with their walk with Jesus. Compare this to Rachel you enjoyed the love of Jacob even when she did some pretty outrageous things.
Laban’s Daughters – These two girls are probably behind the command in Leviticus 18:18 not to marry your wife’s sister. Siblings will disagree, unfortunately, it may be very heated. In reading Genesis 29 through 31 it is obvious these ladies have issues. I will not attempt to excuse them but please do not discount the example they were raised by – Laban. But you got to love the Bible, it does not pull punches. Problems and praises can be on the same page. Sometimes you wish more was written as that would help frame the issues better. On somethings, they are not so, just study (thoroughly) and don’t take things out of context.
The last post in this series (hopefully) will be on the family that produces the players from Abram to the Exodus. It is important to remember that even though Leah was chosen and placed with Jacob, and Rachel was loved by him both played a part in the Father’s plan.
Leah is one Bible character that just seems to be overlooked or ignored. I am writing this during the Christmas season which is part of the reason this is bugging me. I do have a habit of disagreeing with popular preaching and she will be added to my growing list. (Lo Debar was not a dump, Mephibosheth was not pathetic, and Jesse was not cruel to David. Leah was the good faithful FIRST wife of Jacob who probably had “pretty eyes”.) This Christmas season I have heard Rachel mentioned several times and Leah mentioned only once, and that was only because she was unloved. So, please bear with me as I try to show you why Leah should be treated better!
Jacob – I know that he got the short end of the deal with Laban, but did he really have room to complain about deceptive practices! He was not the poster child of fair-trade practices. (By the way, Jacob wasOLDwhen he took a liking to Rachel.) It is also very plain that he did not ignore Leah, she had seven children (six boys and a girl). All of Leah’s family came before the name change to Israel. Yes, it still amazes me that from that point on he was called by both names. That change has many foreshadows.
Rachel – She must have been good looking but her personality really did match Jacob’s – she was a thief (her father’s idols), a con artist (Ruben’s gourds), and a liar (faking her period before her father). Leah is only mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Ruth (she was placed after Rachel), while Rachel is mentioned more times and made it into Jeremiah and Matthew. She was the “loved one” but I still have a hard time seeing that she was the “better one”. Because of her “loved” status people have heaped accolades on her but I shutter when they try to compare her to Ruth and Mary. (Which by the way, Mary was a descendent of Leah and Jacob through Judah.) Also, the fact that she was not taken to the family burial cave is a little perplexing. It would seem that Jacob was grieving and set up a pillar over her grave, but he did not take the time to honor her with a trip to the only property the family owned at the time. I know she may have stunk by the time they made it there but he did not even try.
Leah – Her exact role in Laban’s con of Jacob is never made clear, except that she went along with it and that Jacob could not tell the girls apart in the dark (okay, he was probably drunk).
At first, it bothered me that Leah was not mentioned more than she was in the Bible. That was until I remembered that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke were really her family trees. Boaz, Jesse, David, and Jesus are all her grandchildren, as were the majority of Jerusalem.
It is probable that Leah took care of baby Benjamin and Joseph after the death of Rachel and that she was the “mother” in Joseph’s dream. How long she lived and when she died is not told to us, only that she was buried in the cave with the rest of the family.
Leah’s Sons – Please do not point to the behavior of the children as an indicator of how good the parents were. If you read carefully the best one was Joseph and he may have had a pride problem before the trip to Egypt. Leah’s children in order of their birth are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. See the graphic in Marching Order.
It is apparent that “true wives” versus servant girls and first-born and rights of the firstborn come in God’s planning in the Exodus story and occupying the Land. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are in the prominent position of first in the Exodus march and face east in the camp around the Tabernacle. Rachel’s family of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin set out third and are on the west side of the Tabernacle. This is not bad, but they are not in the lead.
After the kingdom was split into two parts the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (Aaron) are the ones that inhabit Jerusalem and protect the Temple.
A Thought – Like many things Leah and Rachel are types and shadows of things to come. Leah the overlooked, the first wife of Jacob should/does represent present-day Judaism. That would make Rachel a shadow of Christianity. Okay, I am not sure how comfortable I am with that idea but God bless Leah the Overlooked and her part in the Family of God.
Special pic is from the Ultimate Bible Collection – Leah_w_Rachel_67-63