A portion of a Bible illustration etching by Jan Luyken.
Dispossessed! That's me-a poor widow of Palestine in 29 A.D. I am not legally allowed to manage the land or money that my husband Peter left when he died. I have no financial resources of my own. My husband died 10 months ago. The local court has appointed a man, James Miller, to handle my husband's possessions. The man is a crook. He gives me no money and has not allowed me to do anything with our family land. From what I can learn Miller and the local judge run a scam of stealing property from widows. My new life is difficult. My kids and I are poor. Some people feel sorry for us; others don't seem to know we exist. It's humiliating! We don't have enough money or food. Tomorrow we have the right to get food left in the barley and grape fields of neighbors. When Peter was alive, we had enough. We agreed about our deepest beliefs. He knew that as a girl child I was not allowed to go to school, but my parents educated me. They helped me develop skills and character. Old Testament people like David, Hannah, Abigail, Ahab, and Josiah peopled my head. As I got older I noticed a sad problem in my country's history. Repeatedly our people ignored God and injustice ripped us apart. When we asked God to guide us and we didn't take credit for what He did, He helped us. I want God to guide me each day. I have pain inside of me, as real as a broken arm. The pain must not cripple me. I grieve for Peter. May memories of Peter strengthen me. Thank you for how Peter loved me. Often I heard him thank God for me. Together we cared for our family, home, farm, and finances. We worked hard and helped many poor people. My father used to say to Peter and me, "It's amazing how much a husband and wife can do when they work together." Peter and I dreamed and worked to help people in our town. He was on the city council, well-informed, and conscientious. Then he became sick. I was unprepared for his death. When he died, I thought, "Even though I know how to work with finances and farming, I have no legal status for handling the money and property Peter left. Whose legal authority will I be under? How will I get money, pay new debts, and care for our land?" For generations the land has been in my husband's family. It is to become my son's one day. I've been proud to care for it. When Peter was alive, I inspected and bought fields. I hired workers. I did paperwork for debt payments and purchases and sales. Now I am not allowed to do these things and I receive no money from Miller. This is unfair. I am going to see the judge again. I have asked nine times to present my case to him. I have been told that he said, "I'm not afraid of God or man, but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests." God, maybe he needs a push to obey your laws about caring for the needy in our communities. You told the Israelites to give part of their crops every third year to foreigners, orphans, and widows. You said, "Every year I want you to celebrate the Festival of Harvest with your families, servants, foreigners, orphans, and widows." You commanded, "Don't exploit widows or orphans." I am grateful for my kids, for Peter, and you. Please guide me. (primary source: references in the Bible to laws for protecting widows)