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We know that the Bible tells us of our Father in heaven, but is there any Biblical indication of a Mother in heaven?

Some non-mainstream churches say that there is a Mother in heaven. What is their Biblical basis for this belief?

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In the Bible there are various mentions of goddesses and female idols worshipped by the pagan nations surrounding the Israelites—which, of course, are rejected as false gods.

By contrast, references to the God of the Israelites (which Christians see as the true God) are overwhelmingly male.

Still, there are a few passages scattered throughout the Bible that suggest or attribute to God female characteristics, including some that present God as a mother.

The first passage suggesting that God has female attributes occurs in the very first chapter of Genesis:

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

In saying that God created humankind male and female in the image of God, this passage suggests that both male and female reflect the nature of God. In other words, this passage suggests that God encompasses both male and female qualities and characteristics, and that we humans get both our maleness and our femaleness from corresponding attributes of God. We are not merely created male and female by God, but created male and female in God's image.

Next, from the Psalms:

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us. (Psalm 123:2)

Here God is compared both to a master (male) and a mistress (female), to which servants look.

Next, from the Prophets:

For thus says the Lord: . . . As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:12–13)

Here the Lord speaks of being like a mother to the Israelites.

Next, from the Gospels:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37)

See also the parallel passage in Luke 13:34.

Here Jesus, speaking from the perspective of his eternal divine nature, compares his desire to care for Jerusalem to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. This is a clear example of God presented as a mother to God's children.

And finally, a somewhat obscure and surprising one from the book of Revelation:

And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:12—13, italics added)

I am purposely using an old-fashioned translation (the Jubilee Bible) because it uses the word "breasts" rather than the now archaic word "paps" (meaning "nipples" or "breasts") used in the King James Version, or the word "chest" used in many modern translations.

The Greek word is μαστός (mastos). While this word can be used to mean a man's nipples, it is the usual Greek word for a woman's breasts. See, for example, Luke 11:27; 23:29.

There are more ordinary Greek words for "chest" that could have been used in Revelation 1:13.

One of them is κόλπος (kolpos), traditionally translated "bosom."

But the obvious word to use would be στῆθος (stēthos), traditionally translated "breast" (in the archaic sense of "chest"), and in modern translations as "chest." This, in fact, is the word used in a very similar passage later in Revelation:

After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests. (Revelation 15:5-6, italics added)

The fact that in describing the figure of Christ in the vision the writer of Revelation did not use the more obvious and common word for "chest" that he used later in the very same book to describe the placement of sashes worn by angels, but instead used the word for the female breast or the male nipple, suggests that the figure of Christ in the vision conveyed to the person who saw and recorded it a sense of motherly nurturing and care, similar to Jesus' earlier image of God's care for Jerusalem as being like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list of female and motherly images of God in the Bible. A quick Internet search will turn up various lists of them. But these five examples should be enough to show that although God is overwhelmingly presented as a male figure in the Bible, there are places where the Bible speaks of God as being motherly, and having other female attributes.

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There are four distinct Hebrew words in the Old Testament which are typically translated into the English word ‘God’ when the scripture is referring to God the Father. (see Strong’s Concordance)

The first example is the simple Hebrew word, ‘El’. The basic Hebrew rules of grammar identify this word as a singular, masculine title, meaning God or ‘Heavenly Father’. It occurs 213 times in the Old Testament.

The second example is the Hebrew word, ‘Eloah’, which is El joined with the suffix ‘oah’. It occurs 57 times as the title of God in the Old Testament. Again referring to the basic rules of Hebrew grammar, a masculine noun is made feminine by attaching the ‘h’ sound using a suffix such as ‘oah’, ‘ah’, ‘oh’ or ‘ahh’ for example, and that is the way Eloah was formed. So following the basic rules, Eloah means 'Goddess’ or ‘Mother in Heaven’

The third example is the Aramaic form of the above Eloah, and appears as Elah or Elahh, and it occurs 79 times as the title of God in the Old Testament. As you can see, it was formed by adding a feminine suffix to the masculine root of the word God to form the word Goddess.

So why have these words been continually been recognized and translated only as the masculine God, rather than the feminine Goddess, which they were grammatically designated to be? Even the modern concordances regularly ignore the fact. However, it is interesting to note that when their true meaning is recognized to mean goddess, it is only when they are applied to the pagan goddesses. Perhaps it was a deliberate cover-up by the priestly scribes, who have been accused of being sexists, and who had taken control of the written records of the Hebrews during the Babylonian captivity.

We know that the first-century and later Christians believed in and wrote about a Heavenly Mother. Some thought she was the Virgin Mary, others that she was the Holy Spirit, others that she was a mysterious being known in scripture as Wisdom, and others that she was the Bride mentioned in Revelation 22.

Before continuing this discussion, we must consider the fourth example of the Hebrew word for God, which is ‘Elohiym’. This is a most interesting word, which most Hebrew scholars recognize to be the plural for Gods, as it ends with the masculine plural suffix ‘iym’. However, notice the word to which it is attached, ‘Eloh’. According to basic rules of Hebrew grammar, this word is a feminized form, meaning ‘Goddess’.

Thus, a simple analysis of the word Elohiym, divided into its separate elements: 1. – El = God the Father; 2. - oh (feminine suffix) added to El = Eloh, our Heavenly Mother; 3. – iym (plural masculine suffix) added to Eloh = Elohym, both of our Heavenly Parents. Now a perfect example of the logic and truth of the above analysis presents itself in the very first chapter of Genesis. In verses 26-27 we read, “And God [Elohiym] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . So God [Elohiym] created man in his [their] own image, in the image of God created he [they] him; male and female created he [they] them.“

This context clearly demonstrates from the very first chapter of the entire Bible that Elohiym means more than one God, and that both a male and a female God are represented in that word. Leave it to the philosophies and the ‘wisdom’ of man to change the obvious meaning and then to invent the reasons why these simple truths are unacceptable. But there are other biblical sources which reveal and reinforce the reality of our Heavenly Mother.

For example, there is a hidden female deity known as Chokmah, who is spoken of in the Proverbs, particularly in chapter 8. There we are told that she has great wisdom to share with all who will seek her out. She is so wise, in fact, that her name, Chokmah, has now become synonymous with wisdom, the attribute, rather than the divine being whom she obviously seems to be. In fact many will say she is not a divine being, but only an aspect of God’s nature. However, when you read about Her in Proverbs she clearly describes Herself as a living, sentient Being. She also says she was God’s companion before He even began the creation of the earth. (Prov. 8:26-30), and that she loves to teach and guide His children. (vs. 31-35)

But perhaps her qualities as a Heavenly Mother are best displayer in Proverbs 1:20 to 2:2, where she is strongly represented as a compassionate feminine spirit-being that is a bearer of great knowledge and understanding, and is concerned for the ignorance and stubborn nature of man and where she continually offers to all mankind the safety of her wise words of counsel and invites her children to escape their destruction and desolation through hearkening to her words and understanding with their hearts, until it is everlastingly too late for the wicked to escape [emphasis is mine]:

1:20 “Wisdom [Chokmah] crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 1:21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 1:25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 1:27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 1:32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;"

These are certainly the words of a feeling, concerned, spirit female, even a Heavenly Mother.

  • I see now that this question and answer could have been included in the question, "Is there any biblical justification for referring to God as Mother?" How can I make this change? Should I do it? – Princelegant Jul 8 '15 at 16:53
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    This appears to be your personal view. Are there any Christian groups that espouse this view? – DJClayworth Jul 8 '15 at 17:21
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    "Even the modern concordances regularly ignore the fact." Or, to put it another way "All reputable Bible scholars disagree with this view". – DJClayworth Jul 8 '15 at 17:29
  • You can click edit at the bottom and to the left of your post. From there, you can copy and paste the source text. You can also delete it too in the same spot, if you wanted this to be somewhere else. – 3961 Jul 9 '15 at 1:12
  • In proverbs 8 it is talking about wisdom, not some deity that has great wisdom. Verse one says "Does not wisdom call out?" It does not say "Does not a goddess with great wisdom call out?" Considering Proverbs is about literal wisdom, it is quite a stretch to say that "wisdom" in those verses is a real and literal entity. Though "prudence" in verse 12 may be a real person. ;) – 3961 Jul 9 '15 at 1:15

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