Where the father had more than one wife the sons would distinguish their real mother from their father’s other wives by using the designation “mother.” Half brothers were distinguished from full brothers by the expression “sons of my mother.”—Judg. 8:19; Gen. 43:29.
The mother was required to transmit the instructions and commands of the father to the children and see that these were carried out. (Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 31:1) The mother was the manager of her household under her husband’s headship. Bearing and rearing children in a right way kept her busy and protected her to a great extent from becoming a gossiper or a meddler in other people’s affairs. As long as she continued in the faith, this proved to be a very great safeguard for her. (1 Tim. 5:9-14; 2:15) A good mother had to prepare food and cloth as well as articles of clothing for her children and other members of the household, and the father of her children as well as her sons could well commend and praise such a woman before others.—Prov. 31:15, 19, 21, 28.
The word “mother” is applied at Judges 5:7 in the sense of a woman who assists and cares for others. Paul referred to his gentleness toward those to whom he brought God’s truth, his spiritual children, as that of a “nursing mother.” (1 Thess. 2:7) Because of the close spiritual relationship, Christian women are likened to mothers and sisters of their fellow Christians, and are to be treated with the same respect and chastity. (Mark 3:35; 1 Tim. 5:1, 2) Christian wives who follow the good example of Abraham’s wife Sarah are termed her “children.” (1 Pet. 3:6) Since man’s body was made “out of dust from the ground,” the earth may figuratively be likened to his “mother.” (Gen. 2:7; Job 1:21) A city is depicted as a mother, the inhabitants of which are considered her children. (2 Sam. 20:19) In the case of Jerusalem, the city as the seat of government stood for the entire nation, and the people of Israel as individuals were considered her children. (Gal. 4:25, 26; Ezek. 23:4, 25; compare Psalm 137:8, 9.) Also, a large city was considered as a mother to her surrounding “dependent towns,” or, literally, “daughters.” (Ezek. 16:46, 48, 53, 55; see also the New World Translation, 1960 edition, footnotes.) Babylon the Great, “the great city,” is called “the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.”—Rev. 17:5.
Land masses projecting conspicuously higher than hills are called mountains. However, the distinction between hills and mountains is relative. In an area of low hills a mountain may be only a few hundred feet higher than the surrounding lanscape, while in more mountainous regions the lesser summits may also be called hills, even though much higher than an isolated mountain like the 1,843-foot (562-meter) Mount Tabor.—Judg. 4:6.
The Hebrew word har refers not only to individual mountains, including Mount Sinai, Mount Gerizim, Mount Ebal, Mount Gilboa and Mount Zion (Ex. 19:11; Deut. 11:29; 1 Sam. 31:8; Isa. 4:5), but also to mountain ranges like that of Ararat (Gen. 8:4), and to entire elevated regions like the mountainous regions of Ephraim (Josh. 17:15), Naphtali (Josh. 20:7), Gilead (Deut. 3:12), and those regions anciently occupied by the Amorites and Ammonites. (Deut. 1:7, 20; 2:37) The related Hebrew word ha·rarʹ (Jer. 17:3) and the Aramaic word tur (Dan. 2:35) also designate mountains.
MOUNTAINS OF PALESTINE
Palestine on the whole is a rather mountainous land, though it possesses few impressive peaks. West of the Jordan River there are the mountains of Judah in the S, including Mount Moriah, Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives. (2 Chron. 3:1; Ps. 48:2; Mark 13:3) The central section of this range extends NE to Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. 31:1) and contains the mountains of Ephraim and Samaria, with the historic peaks of Gerizim and Ebal. (Josh. 19:50; Deut. 11:29) To the N-NW the Mount Carmel spur juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.—Jer. 46:18.
East of the Rift Valley are the plateaus of Edom and Moab (2 Chron. 20:10), the high cliffs along the eastern side of the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, from which Moses viewed the Promised Land, and the tableland E of the Jordan Valley, which averages about 2,000 feet (610 meters) in elevation. (Deut. 3:10; 34:1-3; Josh. 13:8, 9; 20:8) This mountainous region continues northward to meet the Anti-Lebanon range, with its majestic Mount Hermon, the highest peak in the entire Palestinian region.—Song of Sol. 4:8.
VALUE OF MOUNTAINS
Mountains influence the climate and rainfall, collect the water and channel it down to the rivers, or hold it in underground reservoirs that feed springs in the valleys below. (Deut. 8:7) Their slopes have supported trees (2 Chron. 2:16, 18), vineyards, and various crops. (Ps. 72:16; Prov. 27:25; Isa. 7:23-25; Jer. 31:5) Their higher elevations have served as threshing floors. (Isa. 17:13) Mountains have accorded natural protection from invading armies (Ps. 125:2), offered refuge and storage places in time of danger (Gen. 19:17, 30; Judg. 6:2; Matt. 24:16; compare Revelation 6:15) and shelter for wildlife. (Ps. 50:10, 11; 104:18; Isa. 18:6) They have provided sites for cities. (Matt. 5:14) Mining operations have yielded useful ores. (Deut. 8:9) Also, valuable building stones have been quarried from mountains.—1 Ki. 5:15-17.
All mountains belong to Jehovah God by reason of his being their Former. (Ps. 95:4; Amos 4:13) However, the words “mountain of Jehovah” or ‘of God’ often apply in a special way to mountains where Jehovah revealed his presence. These include Mount Sinai or Horeb (Ex. 3:1; Num. 10:33) and the mountain associated with Jehovah’s sanctuary.—Ps. 24:3.
FIGURATIVE AND PROPHETIC USE
Sometimes the term ‘mountain’ applies to the soil, vegetation and trees on the mountain’s surface. (Compare Psalm 83:14.) Of Jehovah, the psalmist says: “He touches the mountains, and they smoke.” (Ps. 104:32; 144:5, 6) This may point to the fact that lightning can set mountain forests on fire, thereby causing a mountain to smoke. The effects of a severe storm appear to be described when the Bible speaks of mountains ‘melting’ or ‘flowing away.’ (Judg. 5:5; Ps. 97:5) Heavy rains produce streams and raging torrents that wash the soil away, as if melting it. Similarily, the expression of Jehovah’s anger against the nations was foretold to result in such slaughter that the blood of the slain would melt the mountains, that is, wash the soil away. (Isa. 34:1-3) For mountains to “drip with sweet wine” means that the vineyards occupying their slopes would produce abundantly.—Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13.
At Mount Sinai the revelation of Jehovah’s presence was attended by such physical manifestations as lightning, smoke and fire. Also the mountain trembled. (Ex. 19:16-18; 20:18; Deut. 9:15) It appears that this and other physical phenomena provide the basis for figurative expressions found elsewhere in the Bible. (Compare Isaiah 64:1-3.) The trembling of Mount Sinai evidently is referred to under the figure of ‘mountains skipping about like rams.’ (Ps. 114:4, 6) ‘Setting the foundations of mountains ablaze’ perhaps alludes to volcanic activity (Deut. 32:22), and the ‘foundations of the mountains becoming agitated’ refers to their shaking, possibly caused by an earthquake.—Ps. 18:7.