Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fatherless and Motherless

My youngest sisters were only 11 and 14 when my Mom died. Since my Dad had passed away six years earlier, they were orphaned and came to live with my family. The 11 year old later went to stay with another married sister and the 14 year old lived with us until she went away to college. She was -and continues to be- a truly great blessing to our family.

Seeing and experiencing firsthand the devastating loss of a mother at such early ages, I wondered why the scriptures described the condition of fatherless and widow, but never the state of being motherless. Surely, that loss was comparable to the others listed.

Below is the scripture and the commentary that prompted this post.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27

"Psalm 68:5 calls God “the father of the fatherless and an advocate of the widows.” Over and over again, Scripture entreats us to comfort, help, guide, protect, feed, house and otherwise support the fatherless and widow. Why?

In the days of the Bible, an orphan was any minor whose father had died, not necessarily a child who lost both parents. For this reason, we often see widows and orphans mentioned in the same Scripture passage. When a father died, the mother and children lost their means of livelihood. Sons stayed with their family clan, and the wife left her clan to be with her husband and his clan. If he died, all his money and property went to his brothers or clan – not the wife. So, if the clan did not keep her, she was destitute. She could not assume a man's role to work, administrate, negotiate, etc. A brother of her husband was to marry her by custom (e.g., Ruth and Boaz).

The motherless is not referred to in the bible since if a mother dies, the females of the clan would help raise the children.

Now, you see why God was the defender of the fatherless and widows and expected the Church to do likewise."

From ABBA FATHER: PART 2 by Clarence H. Wagner Jr.


  1. Thanks. I didn't know that. Interesting!

    Steven Montgomery

  2. I like this post. It is interesting. I didn't know that "Sons stayed with their family clan, and the wife left her clan to be with her husband and his clan." I have thought many times about Genesis 2:24 that says "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

    It makes me wonder why Jewish customs were/are this way.

  3. Donna: Thank you for this wonderful information.

  4. Hi Donna--Your comments certainly ring a bell with me. Personally, I have found angelic "substitutes" who would befriend and "mother" me when my own mother was not around. I have seen it in my Kids who have "adopted" their friend's families. I love these women who have befriended my children. The emotional/spiritual connections of these women who "popped" in at the right times is certainly the grace of a very Good God who is concerned with small details, even of children. Many good hearted people whose small acts of kindness can help fill voids, if the recipient will open to that. Your quote makes me think that to lighten the physical/temporal load of our neighbors/ friends/ community/ and countrymen is an expectation of God. Thanks for the reminder of why family unit is God-given! I Love the Old Testament!!