But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.

Deuteronomy 22:6 (KJV)

Prolong thy days – This is the least of all commandments, and probably one of the most interesting. Yeshua is referring to it in Matthew 5:19 where He says that the breaker of the least of the commandments will be least in the kingdom, but those who do and teach them will be great in the kingdom. The commandment itself is about sparing the mother bird and only taking the young babies from a nest that you might come across.

Why is this commandment even there? Obviously it’s among the least of the 613 because seriously… take the young and leave the mother? Do we need that commandment? But take a look at that reward, the blessing for keeping this minor commandment is no small thing. It will prolong thy days. That’s a hefty reward for obedience to such a small command. Maybe there’s something we’re missing?

There’s really nothing too special about the Hebrew words that make up the “prolong thy days” text except one thing. They are found as the reward for only one other commandment.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

It mirrors one of the most important commandments in the entire law – why? What does sparing the mother bird have to do with honoring our parents? It’s about parenthood… or more specifically, motherhood.

Think about it. Have you ever tried to catch a bird? They have wings and take off before you have any opportunity. It’s nearly impossible to catch one with your bare hands. But when is the one time you can catch a bird with your bare hands? It’s the time when you come upon a nest and see the mother bird protecting her young. That is the moment you can catch the mother and the young easily, but what does God say? Spare the mother. She is performing the noblest of all duties – she is protecting her young. It’s about motherhood.

A painting of my mother, Vetta, by Joanna Siapin

Do you see the relation to honoring your own mother? Those times when you wish to lash out against her, or strive to fight her logic, and you become so very close to dishonoring her… some of those times are the ones in which she just might be doing everything she can to protect you. Remember motherhood. Honoring that motherhood has one of the greatest rewards. Your life will be prolonged! Why? Because the advice of your mother could be some of the very best guidance in life. Listen carefully – she loves you. And know that if anyone ever came to take you away, she would die and give herself freely to protect you. This is motherhood. Honor it. Respect it.

And mothers, don’t be afraid to be the mother bear when danger comes near your children. Don’t shy away from performing the wonders that are found in Proverbs 31. The longevity of our very lives depend on it.

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