Transformation Garden - Oct. 6, 2008

October 6

“And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.”
Genesis 4: 22, King James Version


Joy in The Midst of Pain”

“Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.”
Joseph Marmion

Can I find joy in times of difficulty and pain?

“Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.”
Henri Nouwen


“The foundations of civilization are no stranger and no more enduring than the corporate integrity of the homes on which they rest.  If the home deteriorates, civilization will crumble and fall.”
Billy Graham

Consequences.  When evil entered this world – there were consequences and they affected Adam and Eve’s family.

In Genesis 4, the sad tale begins with Eve conceiving the first two children – Cain and his younger brother Abel.  As we learn – two children couldn’t have been more different.  Cain was a “tiller of the ground” and Abel was a “keeper of sheep.”  In no time, Cain decided to live his life in direct contradiction to God’s will.  When God did not acknowledge His offering, the fury of Cain against God was directed at his younger brother who was perceived to be “God’s favorite!”  The consequence – the first murder.  Evil won.  Good died.  And Cain, marked by God for his own protection, went off to dwell in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.

But this wasn’t the last of Cain’s story.  The Bible records that he and his wife had children – a son Enoch who built a city.  Then Enoch had a son, Irad who begat Mehujael.  Mehujael begat Methusael who begat Lamech.  And here’s where things turned really ugly!  Especially for women!  Lamech, evidently dissatisfied with the one woman, one man idea God instituted in Eden, decided he would take two wives.  Since the Bible often places things in order of their occurrence, I’m going to suggest that since Adah’s name is mentioned first, she was most likely wife #1.  Adah, the Bible tells us, had Jabal – “the father of those who dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle” and then she conceived again and had a child named Jubal, who was called father of all such as handle the harp and organ.  Some Bible commentators tie the production of instruments to the enjoyment of leisure time.  Perhaps they are right, for I know that beautiful music certainly makes my quiet moments more pleasant.

Next comes wife #2 – Zillah.  The Bible tells us in our text for today, Genesis 4: 22, that Zillah had two children, Tubalcain who was an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.  Then Zillah had a girl named Naamah.

So I asked myself the questions I told you we would be asking throughout the study of women in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  Why is Naamah mentioned?  What can we learn from her story?

Let’s not forget, from Eve to Sarah, generation after generation and year after year, there are only three women whose names we know.  Two were the wives of the first recorded polygamist.  One was his daughter, Naamah.

I’d like to offer this insight into a possibility of why God mentions Naamah.  And my enlightenment on this girl comes from the Hebrew meaning of her name.

I’ll never forget when I turned twelve-years-old, my parents sat me down one day and said, “Dorothy, you have a very special name.  We could have called you many different names but we chose Dorothy for it means – ‘Gift from God’ -- and this is what you are to us.”  I have never forgotten what they told me.  And in the story of Lamech and his two wives, we find a daughter is born.  For a moment, let’s think what life might have been like for Lamech’s family.  He was the first man to marry two women.  He was a rule-breaker scoffing at God.  He ignored God’s instruction. Into this messy, complicated situation, a baby girl was born.

I want to skip over to Genesis 4: 25 for a moment Abel was murdered.  Cain was banished as punishment.  Then Eve had another baby.  Here’s what the Bible tells us: “She bare a son, and called his name Seth” Eve said “For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Genesis 4: 25, K.J.V.).

If you notice, Eve named the baby.  This same situation is recorded over and over again in the Bible.  The mother gave her child a name that not only had meaning to her but to her life at that time.

So let’s go back to Zillah, who after having a baby girl, called her Naamah, which means “pleasantness,” a word the dictionary defines as “providing joy.”

In the midst of a chaotic and potentially disagreeable and contentious situation, Zillah chose “joy” and she even named her precious daughter after the choice she made.  Since the Bible doesn’t tell us anything to the contrary, I choose to believe that Naamah lived her life bringing “pleasantness” and “joy” to all she met.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if God included her story to let us know that no matter how tragic and destructive our home situation, we can choose to be “daughters of joy” bringing pleasantness like rain to dry ground.  I love this quote by Buffy Sainte-Marie: “You have to sniff out joy, keep your nose to the joy-trail.” “AMEN!” is what I say to that.  For throughout history, God’s daughters have found that joy can be in very short-supply, especially when you think about some of the terrorizing things that have happened to women.  Yet, even in the face of being a descendent of Cain and the daughter of Lamech, who chose to ignore God his Creator, we find “pleasantness” rises above the defilement of marriage to bring “joy” into a home.  In the words of one of my heroines, the gifted Helen Keller: “Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”  I will add to this – “Shine On” – daughters of God.  May joy be the candle of light we share today – no matter how dark our world.

“We have within ourselves
Enough to fill the present day with joy,
And overspread the future years with hope.”
William Wordsworth


“Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee.  Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal Spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner of our hearts with light and grace; so that, bearing about with us the infection of good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

Your friend,
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

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