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Nurse, Nursing

NURSE, NURSING (מֵינֶ֫קֶת, H4787, wet nurse; אֹמֶֽנֶת, governess; τρόφος, nurse). A nurse, as described in the OT, was a woman who suckled a very young child or who helped bring up children. Pharaoh’s daughter readily complied with Miriam’s suggestion to find a Heb. woman to supply the needs of the infant Moses (Exod 2:7). Naomi took care of her infant grandson, thus falling into the second category (Ruth 4:16).

There is evidence to suggest that a nurse was given an important place in the family even after a child grew to maturity. When Rebekah decided to leave her own family and go with Abraham’s servant to marry Isaac “they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse” (Gen 24:59). It was an event important enough to record in the Scriptures when this nurse died, and to result in the naming of a place (35:8).

Just as this type of nurse took care of the needs of a physical child, so God and His chosen ones were like nurses to those who were children spiritually. Isaiah spoke prophetically of the voice of the Lord concerning His people.

“Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers” (Isa 49:23).

Paul gives the picture of God as nurse of the children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness (Acts 13:18). In addressing the Thessalonian Christians concerning the leadership of himself and other apostles he says, “We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children” (1 Thess 2:7).