Women in the Bible: The Widow of Zarephath

Women in the Bible: The Widow of Zarephath

During a long drought and famine, God sends Elijah away from Israel to the city of Zarephath in Sidon where God directs a widow, a foreigner, to give Elijah food. When Elijah reaches the town gates, he see a widow and asks her for water and bread. Though she is willing to fetch him water, she has no bread to share. In fact, she plans to use her last remaining provisions to make a final meal for her and her son, before they die of starvation.

Elijah tells her not to worry, to go home and prepare this meal for her and her son—but to first make a small loaf of bread for him. Through God, Elijah promises that her flour and oil will last until it rains again.

She does as Elijah instructs. As pledged, her supplies last, providing food for the three of them every day.

After a while, her son dies. The woman blames Elijah. He takes the dead boy to his room, imploring God to restore life to the lad. God does as Elijah asks.

When Elijah presents the boy to the widow, she finally acknowledges Elijah as a man of God.

Centuries later Jesus recounts this story, reminding the people that God didn’t send Elijah to any of the needy widows in Israel but to a foreigner. This infuriates them, and they try to kill him, but Jesus walks through the mob and leaves (Luke 4:24-26).

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense. The Widow of Zarephath did what was illogical and lived.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Kings 17-19, and today’s post is on 1 Kings 17:7-24.]

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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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