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ANOTHER UNNAMED WOMAN: The Notable Woman of Shunem

Rest. Don't we all crave that rest? Especially now, with the amplified chaos of the world?  I'm good at encouraging those around me to "rest in the Lord," but I still struggle with doing it myself.  The enemy knows his time is short and is wreaking havoc on those of us who belong to Yeshua.  He is very clever and has had thousands of years to hone his craft.  And crafty he is.  He is the master of disguise and knows perfectly how to blindside us, sending us reeling from his attacks.  When those attacks come I want to run somewhere.  I get anxious and nervous and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. What to do?  Rest.  Run to our Great High Priest who is interceding for us at the Throne of Grace, and rest there... knowing that even though our world might seem to be falling apart all around us...even though the ground under our feet seems to be crumbling...even though we see no way in Him.  

Rest in the One who said in Isaiah 26: 3 & 4 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength."  Rest in the One who said in Psalm 91: 1 & 2 "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."  Rest in the One who said in Matthew 11:28 & 29 "Come to Me, all (you) who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

This study is about another woman whose name we do not know.  We are told that she is from Shunem which interestingly means "double rest."  In researching for this study, I searched the word rest and found there are several words for rest.   The first mention of rest is, of course, in Genesis 2:2: "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done."  This word is shabath  and means "to cease, desist, rest." The second word found as rest is in Genesis18:4:  "Please let a little water be brought, and wash you feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  The word for rest here is sha'an and means "to lean on, trust in, support, to support one's self: —lean, lie, rely, rest, stay."  There's also the word menuwchah which means "resting place, rest, quietness.

This study begins in 2 Kings, chapter 4, verse 8.  I will be using the New King James Version and the Blue Letter Bible Outline of Biblical Usage and Strong's Concordance.

2 Kings 4: 8-11 'Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food.  So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food.  And she said to her husband, "Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.  Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and chair and a lamp stand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there."  And it happened one day that he came there, and he turned in to the upper room and lay down there.

Elisha Eliysha' means "God is salvation."  It is a contracted form of Elishuwa "my God is wealth" or "God is salvation."

The word passed is 'abar and means "to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over, pass beyond, to pass through, traverse."

Shunem Shuwnem means "double resting place."  It's from Shuni Shuwniy "fortunate" an unused root meaning "to rest; quiet."

Already I'm seeing that those who find rest in the Lord are fortunate...blessed.

Like Samson's mother, we aren't told this woman's name.  We are told that she is a notable woman.  The word for notable is gadowl and means
      1.  great
            1.  large (in magnitude and extent)
            2.  in number
            3.  in intensity
            4.  loud (in sound)
            5.  older (in age)
            6.  in importance

We see this notable woman persuaded Elisha to stop and eat some food.  The word for persuaded is chazaq
      1.  to make strong, strengthen
      2.  to make firm
      3.  to display strength
      4.  to make severe
      5.  to support
      6.  to repair
      7.  to prevail, prevail upon
      8.  to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support

This word is first used in Genesis 19: 16 When Lot was being led out of Sodom.  'And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.'

This woman was strengthening Elisha by providing him bread to eat.  She recognized that Elisha was a holy man of God, who passed by regularly, so she asked her husband for them to make a small upper room on the wall, and put a bed for him there with a table and chair and lamp.  She was providing a place that had everything Elisha needed for rest in his journey.  And it happened one day that Elisha turned in and lay down there.  He took rest.

2 Kings 4: 12-17: 'Then he said to Gehazi his servant, "Call this Shunammite woman."  When he had called her, she stood before him.  And he said to him, "Say now to her, 'Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care.  What can I do for you?  Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?'"  She answered, "I dwell among my own people."  So he said, "What then is to be done for her?"  And Gehazi answered, "Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old."  So he said, "Call her."  When he had called her, she stood in the doorway.  Then he said, "About this time next year you shall embrace a son."  And she said, "No, my lord.  Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!"  But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.'
Elisha's servant's name was Gehazi Geychaziy and means "valley of vision."  It is from two root words, the first one is gay and means "valley, a steep valley, narrow gorge."  The other root is chazah and means "to see, perceive, look, behold, prophesy, provide."  Strong's: "to gaze at; mentally to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of:—behold, look, prophesy, provide, see."  This notable woman had been barren.  Her husband was old.   Perhaps it is safe to say that at one time she had a vision of having children.  Perhaps she had pondered in her mind what it would look like to have a child of her own.  Perhaps she had come to terms with the fact that it was not to be and she was at rest with that.  Perhaps, that's why she could encourage others with rest. And then being at rest with her life for what it was, and encouraging others to rest, she was promised and granted what she had contemplated long ago.  Notice she bore a son when the appointed time had come.

The word for appointed time is mow'ed and means
      1. appointed place, appointed time, meeting
            1. appointed time (general)
            2. sacred season, set feast, appointed season
      2.  appointed meeting
      3.  appointed place
      4.  appointed sign or signal
      5.  tent of meeting

This word mow'ed, in my opinion, is one of the most important and significant words in the Bible.  I would urge everyone to do your own independent study of this word.  The first mention of the word mow'ed is  in Genesis 1:14 'Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and nights.  The word translated as seasons is this word mow'ed.

This woman's vision was for an appointed time.  She had rested in her expectations and was bringing others to rest.  But Elohim had an appointed time for her vision to  become a reality.

2 Kings 4: 18-23: 'And the child grew.  Now it happened one day that he went out to his father,  to the reapers.  And he said to his father, "My head, my head!" So he said to a servant, "Carry him to his mother."  When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then he died.  And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.  Then she called to her husband, and said, "Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back."  So he said, "Why are you going to him today?  It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath."  And she said, "It is well."'
This woman of rest who had come to terms with her life without a child, had been given a child at the appointed time in her life.  But now, he was dead.  Do you see?  Has this been true of you?  Has the Lord given you a promise of something, only to have that vision die?  Yes, we must have faith and believe in our Lord's promises to us.  But we must also rest in those promises, and surrender them to Him to do with them what He wants and as He sees fit.  It's a fine line to walk between believing Him, taking Him at His Word, and surrendering and trusting Him in that valley of vision when it seems to be dead.  What did she do?  She went up 'alah  which means "to go up, ascend, climb," and laid him on the bed...a picture of rest.  She shut the door upon him.  The word for shut is cagar and means " to shut up; figuratively, to surrender:—close up, deliver (up), give over (up), inclose.  The first mention of this word is in Genesis 2: 21 'And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.' Then she told her husband she was going to the man of God and she said "It is well."  This word is shalowm or shalom.  It means "completeness, soundness, welfare, peace,  quiet, tranquility, contentment." Notice, also, that the faith of this woman is seen, in that she prepared for the resurrection of the boy, not his burial.

2 Kings 4:24-26: 'Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, "Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you."  And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.  So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, the Shunammite woman!  Please run now to meet her and say to her, 'Is it well with you?  Is is well with your husband?  Is it well with the child?'"  And she answered, "It is well."'

Carmel Karmel means "garden-land, fruitful plentiful field (place).  Sounds like a place of rest. A garden land, a fruitful, plentiful field.  The woman of rest is in the valley of vision, yet she answers once again, "It is well." Double rest.

2 Kings 4: 27-30:  'Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away, but the man of God said, "Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me."  So she said, "Did I ask a son of my lord?  Did I not say, 'Do not deceive me'?"  Then he said to Gehazi, "Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way.  If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child."  And the mother of the child said, "As the LORD lives, and as the your soul lives, I will not leave you." So he arose and followed her.'

The word caught is the same word in verse 8 translated as persuaded, chazaq and means to make strong, strengthen, to prevail, make firm, display strength.  In verse 8 the woman was going after Elisha to strengthen him, to give him rest.  Now she was going after him for strength and in order to prevail. In our trials, in our valleys of vision, in our crises of faith, we go from strength to strength, we wait on the Lord Who renews our strength, Who actually gives us His strength. Psalm 84: 5-7 says, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools.  They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion."  And Isaiah 40: 31 says, "But those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."  Notice also, she caught him by the feet.  This reminds me of laying everything at the feet of Jesus, and also our endurance of just taking the next step, and then the next.

Notice, Elisha sees that the woman's soul is in in distress.  The woman of rest, who finds rest in the valley of vision has her soul in deep distress.  This comforts me and helps me to understand rest a little better.  Being at rest doesn't mean that we don't feel all the emotions of what our circumstances bring.  It just means that we don't let those emotions govern us.  We, instead, run to the Savior to find our rest in all our distress and questioning what is going on.  She was experiencing all kinds of emotions and was in distress, yet she exhibited determination.  She knew in spite of the circumstances, all was well.  She didn't give up.  She endured.  She prevailed.

2 Kings 4: 31-37: 'Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing.  Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, "The child has not awakened."  When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed.  He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD.  And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.  And he called Gehazi and said, "Call this Shunammite woman."  So he called her.  And when she came in to him, he said, "Pick up your son."  So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.'

This unnamed woman of Shunem got her son back.  Elijah, of course, prayed to the LORD.  He also, prayed with great faith because He knew God worked this way in the life of Elijah.  He probably sensed that God wanted to raise this boy from the dead.  I was curious about the seven sneezes, so I googled seven sneezes and found a sermon by Spurgeon entitle The Seven Sneezes.  He said,  "There is nothing more genuine than a sneeze. It is so far from being artificial that it is involuntary.  As a rule, we sneeze not because we will, but because we must." (I encourage you to read the whole article.  He writes four pages about the seven sneezes.)  I'm sure the number seven is significant, but that's a study for another time, but the sneezes were a sign of life.

This woman's story picks up again in 2 Kings 8: 1-6:  'Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, "Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the LORD has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years."  So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.  It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.  Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done."  Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land.  And Gehazi said, "My lord, O king, this is the woman,  and this is  her son whom Elisha restored to life."  And when the king asked the woman, she told him.  So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now."

How beautifully this passage demonstrates how God provides for the faithful. The woman's life was not without trials and difficulties, but she found her rest in the Lord, and He not only provided all that she needed, but He gave her a testimony that brought Him glory.  She was a worshiper of the Lord—the king was not.  The Lord removed her from the famine and then restored everything she had lost.

One last thought. The Apostle Paul was pretty much obsessed with enduring, persevering, ending well and faithfully.  It's about the journey and being found faithful.  May we enter into His rest and be found faithful. Praise the name of our sovereign Lord.


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