After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, "This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people." Luke 1: 24-25 NRSV
For five months Elizabeth remains in seclusion. I find this a strange detail. I could understand if she had been in seclusion toward the end of her pregnancy but this seems to be at the beginning. Does seclusion mean that she stayed inside all the time? Or did she just remain in their hometown, not traveling to Jerusalem? Did she attend services at the synagogue on the sabbath day? The main idea seems to be that she kept her pregnancy a secret.
This makes me wonder if Elizabeth had previously miscarried or lost a child before birth. Perhaps she wants to make sure this one is going to come to term before going public with what has happened.
When my husband and I were first pregnant, we told everyone. We were so happy! Then, within a month, we had a miscarriage. The next time we became pregnant, we didn't tell a soul. And we had another miscarriage. This one was harder because we had not told anyone about being pregnant in the first place. The repercussions of keeping a secret greatly affected us both. But I can understand wanting to make sure and keeping it a secret so that folks don't feel sorry for you if you are unable to have the child. Elizabeth was not so sure about God's gift.
We can easily see how Zechariah didn't believe God's messenger. Now it looks like Elizabeth had some doubts as well.
God, you constantly are giving good news and great gifts but we have so much disbelief. Help us to be open to your Word and your gifts. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims