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The Financial Life of the Widow of Zarephath

Updated on January 28, 2020
OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image

Studying the bible is always good. For years, I have been studying the bible and I found it wonderful

Introduction

People have been dying for long, this has been in-vogue since men have been sent out of the garden of Eden. We found that young and old people have been dying leaving their partners widow and widower.

Widow is defined as a woman whose hubby has died and who has not married again while widower is a man whose wife has died and who has not married again and widowed is someone whose husband or wife has died.

Apostle Paul added something to the definition of widow in his epistle to Timothy that, a woman who is below the age of sixty shouldn’t be seriously considered to be a widow.

Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, (1 Ti 5:9)

He said this because such a woman could reconsider her stance and get marry to another man.

We should know that individuals in the world have different kinds of life. There is financial life, social life, education life, marital life, business life, spiritual life, physical life, mental life, among others.

But the kind of life that I want us to see in this article is the financial life of this widow of Zarephath as I shall be extracting from where his story is in the book of first Kings chapter seventeen.

1. Location

In the history of this woman the bible makes us to know the location of the woman. In other words, the woman is not the one who has no site, no place where she could be traced to, the Lord knows her with her position and the people also know her to her position.

You and I need to have a position where people can trace us to, we need to have a position where God can pin point us to. Location is important in our activities in the world, it is important in God releasing his blessings on us.

We could recall that one of the first thing that sin brought unto our fore-parents in the garden of Eden was that the lose their position before God such that Elohim when he came to visit them as he used to do couldn’t find them where they used to be or let me say where he used to meet them and because he couldn’t find them there he knows that something was amiss, and thus called out unto Adam that where art thou?

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Gen 3:8-9)

God expects to find them at a site, a position where he has placed them a position where he used to meet with them and interact with them, have communion with them and fellowship with them, but he couldn’t because they have changed position, they were not where God has placed them.

If God has put you in a position, try and stay there do not look for another position neither move to another position. Though what God promises may not come to pass quickly at that position but because he has asked you to be there, you need to be there.

Zarephath in Hebrew (or Ancient days) and Called Sarepta in Greek, it's in-between Sidon and Tyre Today

And in case God has not specifically talk to you to stay in a position like he did unto Abraham and other patriarchs of faith, where you have prayerfully chosen to stay, stay there, let God know that you are there, let people equally know that you are there.

This widow of Zarephath has a position and she stay there everyone knows her with her position. Because she stays at her position the Lord could talk to his servant prophet Elijah to go and locate the woman there.

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. (1 Ki 17:9)

Description of the Location: Zarephath in Hebrew is written as “צרפת”, Romanized form is tsârephath (pronounced as tsaw-ref-ath') which means a place of refinement. It is a place in the land of Palestine.

Google says Sarepta (Greek form (Luk 4:26)) is near modern Sarafand, in Lebanon. It was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast between Sidon and Tyre, also known biblically as Zarephath. It became a bishopric, which faded, and remains a double (Latin and Maronite)

W. Ewing in the biblestudytools.com says Zarephath is smelting shop, a factory for the purifying and casting of metals, a small Phoenician town, now Surefend, about a mile from the coast, almost midway on the road between Tyre and Sidon.

Josephus says it wasn’t far from Sidon and Tyre, for it lays between them. Eusebius, Onomasticon places it on the public road, i.e. it is on the road along the seashore…it is about 13 miles North of Tyre and close to Ain-El-Qantara. This modern village was built around 12th century. An inhabitant of this village (Zarephath) was the Syrophoenician woman mentioned in Luke 4:26 and it is likely that Jesus visited the place in his journey to the region as narrated in Mark 7:24-31 for the bible says he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee”. The place has been acknowledged by some with Misrephothmaim, of Joshua 11:8 and 13:6

2. She Has Her Job

Assuming this Zarephath woman does not have occupation that she was doing, she would not be able to cater for people, in fact I do not think Elohim would send his prophet to be living with her except in rare cases when God wanted to show his supremacy.

It should be stated that before God created another human being in the garden, what he did first was giving the first man job, he got him engaged. God wouldn’t said a man should go and marry if he has no job, and in case the man has come of age and maybe due to one reason or another he couldn’t secure job, God would provide job for his wife, because God would not establish a family that would become a liability.

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. (1 Ki 17:9)

Sustain written in Hebrew here is “כּוּל”, Romanized form is kûl (pronounced as kool) which means feed, sustain, make provision for. A person who will sustain someone else must have wherewithal to sustain the person, the person must have something to fall back on, to rely on as the source of income for sustaining the person himself inclusive.

Widow of Zarephath, gathering sticks to cook
Widow of Zarephath, gathering sticks to cook

3. She Was Not Lazy

Herein shall we decipher from the documents of her history that she wasn’t lazy because the bible says she was gathering of sticks”.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. (1 Ki 17:10)

The bible talks of dutiful and responsible woman that, she rises well before others to work.

“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (Pro 31:15)

Widow of Zarephath with reserve pots behind her
Widow of Zarephath with reserve pots behind her

4. She Has Reserve

In my land, the elder people would say don’t with your ten fingers, in other words it means have some savings from whatever you are doing. This could be seen in the life of this woman, we know that the drought is biting harder on the inhabitants of the nation of Israel, but as for this woman because she has some savings she was yet to be completely hit by the drought, while others have been hit such that they perhaps couldn’t feed themselves again, some would have emigrated out of the town to another country as Naomi and her family did in the book of Ruth chapter one, but this woman was yet maintaining herself and her son, she still had in her barns what she could feed on, even if for a day. She was a wonderful woman with a wonderful foresight.

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. (Rth 1:1)

5. She has Fore-sight

This widow despite having no husband neither thinking of remarrying, had fore-sight such that she could have water in the stores, even when the streams and even the rivers beside which the prophet was inhabiting has ran off, she yet has water in her reservoir which she can drink not only the water that she can drink but also the water that she can use to cook.

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Ki 17:7)

The water she has wasn’t a contaminated water, it wasn’t the kind of water she will drink which would lead to dysentery and other stomach disturbances, but it is a pure water well preserved.

Because it is certain that, except maybe roasting a corn, roasting plantain or yams and other small raw foods that do not require water before cooking them, one cannot cook a flour without mixing it with water either minute or more.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. (1 Ki 17:10-11)

Now even before the mixing of the flour what the prophet asks for was water to drink being thirsty of the long trip, of her trekking.

6. She Does not Love Her Neighbor More Than Herself

Another thing that I would like us to see in what this wonderful woman of substance has done was that it was not as if she loves the prophet more than herself, when she turned to go and get him water to drink, because that would essentially be unrealistic, and unbiblical, because their ancient Mosaic laws does not say people should love their neighbors more than themselves, neither does the New Testament say that. But what the bible says is that love thy neighbor as thine-self.

“… but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:18)

And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mar 12:31)

What I am saying is it is not all the water in her reservoir that this woman wanted to go and draw out for the prophet, she would still have water to be drank by herself and her son even after serving the prophet water to drink. Which shows that this woman would still be able to live for months even after she has finished all the flour in her barns according to her that day or few days after.

Note that Prophet Elijah does not talk about the source of water although all bible students believed that the words of prophecy would cover for the source of water too, but it shows that she has water that probably could sustain her for days if not months even after finishing eating the flours as she has said to the prophet, because the scientists makes us to know that humans can live for days without food but we cannot live for days without water. This shows how vast her reservoir was filled with water.

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. (1 Ki 17:14)

Some people and preachers would be saying she loves the prophet more than herself and so many people have used this means to “dupe”, working on the intelligent of believers to siphon them, but this woman does not love the prophet more than herself, for doing that she would be working contrary to the Mosaic law and would have injured herself.

She was about to go and do what was in her capacity to be done what would not injure her, what would still give room for herself and her son to be well and alive while the man leaves.

Widow talking when asked for something else apart from water
Widow talking when asked for something else apart from water

7. She did not Talk When he Asked for Water

To corroborate the fact that the woman perhaps have water more than enough for her in her reservoir we shall see that she did not talk neither raise her voice when the prophet asks her for water, but when the prophet made an advancement and asks for morsel of food she has to talk that the food is almost empty. This shows that the water in her reservoir is still much. Though, as the rain has not fell, the water if not added to would soon dry off, but this signals that the water cannot finish by serving the man of God water and her children in the nearest possible time.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. (1 Ki 17:10-11)

Therefore, do not be cajoled that you need to love your prophets or pastors more than yourself, they are also humans like you and me, and we should learn to stay to the word of God which says we should love them as ourselves. That is what the bible says, that is the realistic thing, that is what would bring you rewards from the throne of grace because God would see that you have not broken his laws.

Could be selling oil
Could be selling oil

8. She Probably Has Things She Was Recycling (or Selling)

In this book we shall see that this widow has something she was probably recycling and thus she was not borrowing things neither money from anyone as compared with other widows or people in the bible. She was not a servant under anyone as Ruth went and serve under Moab to get food for her mother in-law and herself when they returned to Bethlehem-Judah.

On the other hand, assuming she was borrowing, she repays the money to time thus, no lender could come and harass her that she should pay them the debt she was owing.

It is logical to equally say that assuming there were lending houses in the nation then, most if not all of them would have been affected by the recession such that they are not lending money out again, they would have diverted their investments in another thing or fled the country to where businesses would thrive and where they would make more gains.

And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. (1 Ki 17:12)

As the famine or recession bites harder, she applied wisdom and reserve the rest for herself and her son.

9. Her Hands Bear Rule

The bible says the hand of the diligent shall bear rule. It was obvious that the hand of this woman bears rule as she works in her town. She wasn’t looking unto anyone for feeding she was maintaining herself. Others were looking upward to her and running to her for assistance. This the Lord sees and wants to recompensate as he sends his servant to her.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. (Pro 12:24)

Poll: Rule:

Do you wish to rule?

See results

Google says, “doing something diligently means doing it carefully and well. It's the opposite of doing it lazily or shoddily. If you are tireless, persevering, and do things with great care, then you do things diligently. This is an adverb that goes with hard and careful work.”

If you wish to rule, then, you need to be diligent in all that you are doing. God loves and blesses those who are diligent in their works.

10. She Was an Investor

After serving the man of God and the man uttered words of prophecies into her possessions because she has been diligent before, because she has been a business-oriented person before, she started investing those things as they increase in her barns.

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. (1 Ki 17:15-16)

You must wise up in everything you do. God has given us the brain to think and be wise up. When we pray most of the prayers becomes answered by God providing for us opportunities, making ways for us to launch out and explore and if we become timid after the opening of the doors, if we fail to wise up after God has done his part for us, then the fault wouldn’t be God’s again but essentially ours’.

To sum all up,

We shall see that this woman has been hardworking, productive and a business-oriented woman who essentially follows the Mosaic law of loving her neighbor as herself. What she demonstrated when the prophet was with her shows how her life was when her husband was alive, it shows that she was diligent, and her husband relies on her and after her hubby’s demise she couldn’t leave what she has been doing because it has become part and parcel of her. As women, as widow, as youths, and be it anyone, we can learn from this woman’s life, for we need to be dutiful, diligent and ensures that we have reserves “because what today says, tomorrow may not say that”.

© 2020 OLUSEGUN

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