To start, I'll define the Biblical Words using the Strong's Concordance and the King James Bible.
In Hebrew 490 - a desolate place, house or widow
481 - Bind or to put to silence
488 - Bereavement or discarded as in divorced , or forsaken
In Greek 5503 - deficiency, a widow (as lacking a husband),
5490 - vacancy, gape, gulf
In Hebrew 3490 - to be lonely, a bereaved person, a fatherless child, an orphan
In Greek 3737- bereaved, orphan, parentless, comfortless, fatherless
So we can notice how both words Widow and Orphan mean the same thing, but they also include; divorcee's and the fatherless; I would suggest this is because of the shared strong sense of loss and affliction, as YHVH is against divorce in Malachi 2: 16 and Mathew 19 : 4-6. Strong's does not have the male word for widow, but I will assume the same definition as applied to males also. The word Motherless is also interestingly not included in Strong's, like Fatherless is, but it is in the bible in Isaiah 49:15 and Psalm 27:10, in the context of being forsaken or forgotten.
For a Bible definition of Widow I've used, 1 Timothy 5. It clearly gives us 2 types of Widows and sets standards of behaviour, to help identify a Godly Widow; in order for them to be put on a list to receive support. So, these standards of behaviour set Godly Widows apart from pagan communities. It serves to protect them, and maintain the respect for the woman that YHVH intended for them, as part of Israel being a set apart nation.
TYPE 1 : The Older Widow.
- she is to be threescore years old (60 years old)
- have been the wife of 1 man
- if she has children or grandchildren or nephews, then they are 1st to show support at home
- she is desolate and must trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day
- she must not live in pleasure
- she is to be well reported of for her good works that include; having brought up children, lodged strangers, washed the saints feet, relieved the afflicted, diligently followed every good work
- older widows are to be seen as Mothers
TYPE 2 : THE Younger Widow
- she is to be under threescore years old (under 60)
- having been the wife of 1 man
- they are to be seen as sisters
- Timothy "wills them to marry, bare children and guide the house and this so they do not give any occasion to Satan to speak reproachfully, in breaking their 1st pledge to Y'shua; by their sexual desires, idle behaviour, being tattlers and busy bodies speaking things they ought not".
Some Bible examples of widows are...
Lot - Genesis Chapter 19
- His wife died when YHVH burned Sodom and Gomorrah
- Lot went to live in a cave with his daughters
- because YHVH remembered Abraham he rescued Lot
Abraham - Genesis Chapter 23 & 25
- A Prophet
- his wife Sarah died at 127 years old
- he was offered a burial cave for her for free because he was a "Mighty Prince" , but he paid.
- Abraham remarried Keturah and had more children
- He died at age 175
- he left everything he had to Isaac
- Abraham was buried with Sarah
The widow of Zarephath - 1 Kings Chapter 17 :7 - 16
- she was alone with her son
- YHVH sent Elijah the Prophet to her
- YHVH gave her oil and flour ; for food and resources
- YHVH through Elijah raised her son from the dead and back to life
Tamar - Genesis Chapter 38 : 6 - 8
-went back to live with her Dad as instructed by YHVH in Leviticus 22 :13
- because she had no children from her deceased husband, YHVH instructs that these widows are not to marry strangers , so she awaited a Levitical marriage; meaning she was to marry his brother so that she could carry on his lineage and inheritance; this law is found in Deuteronomy 25: 5 - 10 and Mark 12 - 19
Ruth - Ruth Chapter 1 :3 -21
- Ruth wanted to stay with her mother in law, even though she had ordered her to go back to her family
- Ruth wanted to worship her mother in laws God, The God of Israel
- Ruth married again, a man called Boaz, Y'shua's line.
A group of Widows mourning Tabitha - Acts Chapter 9 -39
- Peter visits these widows who were all together , this shows how close they were.
- Peter raised Tabitha back to life
Abigal and Bathsheba - 1 Samuel Chapter 25: 39- 42 & 2 Samuel Chapter 11 : 26-21
- both taken again as wives by David
- Bathsheba is the woman of Proverbs 31! Solomon's Mum.
Anna - Luke Chapter 2 : 36 - 38
- she recognised Y'shua as the saviour when he was a baby
- always fasting and praying
- always at the Temple
So we see how God treats widows in Scripture and using the examples above
- relieves their debt
- gives them wealth
- protects them and their family when they are vulnerable
- remembers them because of Abraham
- uses them to raise up men and women of God
- they're gifted as Prophets and Prophetesses
- he has given them to us for scripture , as examples of how a woman is to be virtuous, and a man is to be honourable
- saves their life
-a Judge and protector (Psalm 68: 5)
- bares long with them (Luke 18)
- avenges them speedily (Luke 18: 1-8)
and my favourite one is Isaiah 54 4-5
- YHVH says "For you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your maker is your Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy one of Israel is your redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called".
- He is a redeemer
- and he is a husband
Now using the Strong's definition of Orphan , we can see in the Bible that we can include these people...
Ishmael - Genesis Chapter 21 : 8 - 21
- who YHVH promised to make a great nation
Moses - Exodus Chapter 2:3
- his mum put him in a basket in the Nile to save him from Pharoah
- he lived with and was raised by royalty
- he led the Israelites into salvation and the promised land
The widow of Zarephath's son - 1 Kings Chapter 17 : 17 - 24
- was raised from the dead.
Queen Esther - Esther Chapter 2:7
- real name Ha-das-sah, changed to Esther
- both parents had died
- she was adopted by her cousin Mordacai
- Mordacai was a captive in exhile from Nebuchadnezzar
- Esther saved all Israelites from death and made a festival called Purim
So, we can see how God treat Orphans in Scripture using examples from above
- he reveals himself to them
- gives them a new home and family, in a palace, as royalty
- put them in places where he could raise them up to be in power
- raised them into great nations
- gave them jobs to help the Israelites
- raised them with favour , leadership and honour in the community
- used them to fulfil prophecy
- gave them wealth and Kingdom rewards
- redeems them (proverbs 23: 10-11)
- rescues them
- saves their life
- protects and provides (1Kings 17:7-16)
- Y'shua almost takes on the role of an Orphan , when he cry's out to Father " why have you forsaken me?"
- Y'shua again demonstrates an orphan type role as he rejects his earthly family saying " who are my mother and brothers?" pointing to his disciples he said " here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother".
-Y'shua is consistent in the theme that we are all Orphans, who Father God of Israel wants to adopt.
(Mathew 27: 46 & Mathew 12 : 48- 50).
- Y'shua says "I will not leave you as Orphans; I will come to you". He knows we are orphans, and that YHVH is our loving Father, he does not leave us alone (John 14:18).
When we receive the Holy spirit, we are adopted
- in Romans it says "The spirit you received, brought about by your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry "Abba Father" (Romans 8: 15)
Our spiritual destiny whilst we live on earth is as orphans , until we get revelation of Messiah and learn to live in him and our Father, and inherit our eternal home and life.
- In Ephesians it says " Having pre-destinated us unto, the adoption of children, by Messiah Y'shua, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Ephesians 1:5)
Children are highly regarded in Heaven
- Y'shua says to " suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven", Mathew (19 : 14)
To end this section, for both widow and orphan he is a redeemer. In Psalm 68: 5 - 6 , it says God is a "father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his Holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ". He effectively establishes and orchestrates a social support network, that is family!
Lastly, to put all of this in the context of a Godly community, I am going to use James 1 : 25 -27
But whoso looketh into the perfect Law of Liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man is blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and brideleth not his tongue, but decieveth his own heart , this mans religion is in vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God is this; to visit the Fatherless and the Widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
In Hebrew 2356 - Hole, Cavity, 2352 - The crevice of a serpent, the cell of a prison
In Greek 2356 - Ceremonial Observance , from an order
In Hebrew 6485 - Observe, care for, Go see, do judgement, remember, to visit
So, clearly James is saying that Godly communities are not to fall into the trap of religions that are the opposite of the Law of Liberty. He says that a Godly community are doers of the Law and not only hearing and then forgetting it. Also, a Godly community understands that Widows and Orphans are afflicted, and goes to visit them , to make sure YHVHS's righteous and legal judgement for them is done, because of their love for them, YHVH's Law and Messiah, and not because of vain works and defiled religions. As Y'shua said " Woe to you teachers of the Law and Pharasies, you Hypocrites! You shut up the Kingdom of Heaven in men's faces" (Mathew 23: 13).
To fully understand The Perfect Law of Liberty that James is referring to, that helps Widows and Orphans, we have to look from Genesis and see that it is YHVH'S righteous and spiritual Law, that established a Godly community, and all the way through to Revelations (14:12), realising that we cant see a Godly community without a practical Tithing system.
The definition of Tithing is literally a tenth.
In Hebrew 4643 - tenth.
- Abraham tithes to Melchezedek the high priest (13: 1-2) & (14: 18-20)
- Jacob tithed (28 :22)
- Moses and Aaron were the priests
- The tribe of Levi were redeemed (32 : 26- 29)
- Tent of Meeting & Tabernacle were set up for YHVH (40:17-33)
- YHVH says it is punishable if anyone mistreats Widows and Orphans (22: 22-24)
- it says "YHVH your God chose the Levites and their descendants, to stand and minister in YHVH's name always " (18:5)
- God set up the Levites to manage the Tabernacle and all duties , to Honour Gods name and word, give God tithes and so there be no wrath on the congregation (47 - 54)
- God himself says "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord: it is holy to the Lord (27:30)
- YHVH says, he himself, has given Tithes to the people, and they must give them, to the Levites, in return for their service (18: 21-26)
Deuteronomy chapters 12 ,14 & 26
Expand upon YHVH'S laws , and his consequent standards of Godly living , that can not be seperated from Tithing (12:4-7)
- YHVH says "Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth" ( 12:19). However, the apparent Levites today are the spiritual leaders, who are often found in religions.
- Tithes are also, so that the Levites, strangers, widows and orphans can eat and be satisfied - here Father sets up the importance of the Widows and Orphans alongside the Levites. He continues this narrative all throughout the Bible (14:29)
- Tithes are to honour the place YHVH puts his name (12:4)
- Tithing is connected to commands of feasts and rejoicing that takes place within a Godly community and social support system (12:4-7)
- YHVH also gives 2 clear reasons and warnings of why we must keep these laws, it is so that we " learn to fear YHVH your God" (12: 22-29)
- and "YHVH your God will cut off the Nations from before thee" (12:29)
- "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. ". (4:1-2).
- Its also so YHVH can bless the work of your hands (14: 29)
- so Tithing is connected to " Blessings, to being Gods peculiar people, to hearkening to Gods voice, to being children of Israel and to their land, to being a Holy people made by God above all Nations(26: 11-19)
- sees tithing and storing tithes, as an act of " not forsaking the house of God"(10:39)
- YHVH says it is an iniquity to oppress the widow and the orphan (16:49)
In Hebrew...5771 - sin.
So, it is a sin to oppress Widows and Orphans.
- YHVH says he "will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hirling in his wages and the widows and the fatherless" (3:5)
- God says this about Tithing "Return unto me and I will return unto you" (3:7)
- Not tithing is specifically robbery against YHVH, and his Godly community, that he established. "You say where have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You have robbed me, even this whole nation." (3 : 8-9)
- Again, YHVH assures blessings when tithing . " Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse so there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (3: 10)
So, now we come to Y'shua. We can see he never said that tithing was no longer necessary or bad and he acknowledged it as part of a Godly community.
- It appears that Y'shua made a good example of the poor old widow, who tithed out of her good obedient heart, rather than her abundance in Luke 20 & 21. Whilst this may be so, in the context he was discussing and condemning the religious teachers, who devour widows houses as she puts in "all the living she had". Similarly he goes on to speak of the destruction of the temple and his return that will correct all evil doings.
- In Mathew, Y'shua rebuked the teachers of the law, not for Tithing; but for Tithing whilst neglecting the laws of Justice, Mercy and Forgiveness (Mathew 23:23)
- Y'shua told us to sell what we have, and then give it to the poor , for the rewards are in heaven (Luke 18 & Mathew 19)
- And in Mark 12: 17 , Yeshua tells a parable of how we must tithe humbly with the Kingdom values.
- Ultimately, Y'shua says "Render to Cesaer the things that are Cesears and to God the things that are Gods"
After Y'shua ascends into heaven, Acts 2, 6 & 11 shows there was a response and it showed how Godly communities rapidly grew, under persecution and they had to survive. What we see is this...
- All were repented and Baptised
- "people sold all goods and possessions parting to all men as every man had need"
- people gathered together daily in Y'shua's name, from house to house and for food
- there were daily distributions
- Messiahs communities, near and far, "sent relief to each other according to their abilities"
People were so close that when Paul says to the church of Thesalonica, " We Brethren being taken from you for a short time". (1 Thessalonians 2: 17)
The word TAKEN
In Hebrew 642 - absent from ones own people
In Greek 3737 - orphaned
Some Bibles will actually use the word orphaned in this quote. So, we see God expects his Godly community, the body of Messiah, to all be together, supporting each other, otherwise the same distress as being an orphan is attributed.
- In 1 Corinthians 16: 1 - 3 Paul says " Concerning collection, for the Saints, on the 1st day of the week, let everyone of you, lay by him in store, as God has prepared him... " This shows there is still the same understanding of tithing, as there was in Numbers 18: 21 - 26 and Nehemiah 10 : 39, that tithes are given to us from YHVH, and stored. Tithing is part of the functional, perfect law of liberty.
- In 2 Corinthians Paul encourages Godly communities to tithe out of willingness, for the goal of an equality that can be sustained, and quotes from law , in the book of Exodus 16 : 18, a quote that encourages everyone after Y'shua's time, to live as Moses led the community (8 : 8 - 15).
- Paul also says that giving must not be grudgingly or under compulsion (9)
Whilst this is true, Timothy has some harsh words for those who do not support their relatives he says "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim 5 :8). So there is still a strong emphasis on family support , for widows and Orphans, where possible.
- Alternatively, other believing women who have Widows in their care, are to give them relief, so that the church can support widows who are widows indeed (1Tim 5:16)
So how are we to support Widows and Orphans?
- Y'shua says give to the poor (Matthew 19:21)
- Keep feasts together (Deuteronomy)
- Own relatives support them at home if possible (Esther and 1 Tim 5).
- Strengthen them (Ezekiel)
- Open our hand to them and not be prideful (Ezekiel)
- Take up their cause (Isaiah)
- Seek Judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (Isaiah 1 :17)
- Equally ( 2 Corinthians)
- Honour them (1Tim 5)
- Help them (1Tim 5)