doppelgänger – noun
Definition of doppelgänger
a: double sense 2a said she had seen his doppelgänger
b: alter ego sense 1b
c: a person who has the same name as another
2: a ghostly counterpart (see counterpart sense
3 a) of a living person
This photo was made just a few months before my mother completed her 80th year. Now I am nearing 80 and appear much older than she seemed here.
One might wonder how such a topic could be used in a daily Bible study; of what value is it? Would Christians be moved to search the subject in a paranormal sense?[i] We often speak casually about some other person we meet being our double, our twin, maybe even our second-self, but do we really mean that? Why is appearance and behavior so important? If a child bears my name, am I more concerned with how they move and speak?
I have said my mother was my doppelgänger, not only in appearance, but also perhaps in work ethic, goals and aspirations too. It is a real joy to claim more than one daughter and granddaughter named after me. It’s a show of love and admiration in the one doing the naming, but, even though they are directly related, none of them look or behave like me as much as I looked and behaved like my mother.
That brings up another question. Why has the world come to value the birth of a son more than that of a daughter? Could it be they failed to see the main reason behind the prescription for heads of household? The word “house” is both literal and figurative throughout the Scriptures. The house of the LORD can be seen as the temple or the people. The house of Israel would rarely if ever be speaking of a physical building.
Throughout Scripture, we read about families, nations, and tribes—all springing from a source whose name they bear. House of Abimelech, house of Abraham, Bethuel, Levi, Israel, Jacob. Even in the idolatrous land of Egypt, there was mention of the house of Pharaoh—indicating that the tradition everywhere was strong to call a family by the eldest male’s name.
Family traditions and bonds were strong. Though there were some variations and exceptions in good and bad men such as Nabal in the house of Caleb (1 Sam. 25:3), the name usually carried the family reputations too. Even the mention of the house of Saul, the house of David or the house of Jeroboam brings strong images of their dealings with others—a doppelgänger of sorts in behavior if not in appearance.
The books of Law were given for the evil exceptions in these otherwise faithful families (1 Tim. 1:9-11). Good and evil influences were strong in families, otherwise, why would they gradually grow to be what they became? “And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deu. 13:10).
Naomi, in grieving the death of her husband and sons spoke thus to her daughters-in-law: “The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept” (Ruth 1:9).
Note that the “house” (family) belonged to the husband, not the wife, yet worthy women helped to build the spiritual house of every family. “And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:” (Ruth 4:11).
Inheritance of land was always through the male except when there were no males in the family (Numb. 27:1-4). All “houses” bore the male name, with one exception in the New Testament. Perhaps that was the reason for the house of Chloe being mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:11.
There are many reasons for favoring our own family—imagining ourselves in each child or grandchild. Future generations may give us hope for the future of the church if they live by Christian principles. They may also give us hope that we, through them, might have influence on outsiders to help them see the purpose of God in our example.
[i] Wikipedia contributors. “Paranormal.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Mar. 2019. Web. 15 Mar. 2019.