Women In The Bible

There are many great women in the Bible whose names are familiar to us. What about those who are not so common, or not named at all?

If we were asked to name great Biblical historical figures we would probably come up with some of the same names. Abraham. Moses. Noah. David. John the Baptist. Jesus. And no one would be wrong as the world would not be the same without these men. But just as there are countless more men that played a role in Biblical history, so, too, are there numerous women.

There are over 160 women mentioned in the Bible. Although not all of their names were written down, their deeds were, thus showing us the part they, too, played in history. If we were asked to name women who played a role in Bible history, again, we would probably repeat many of the same names. Sarah. Ruth. Mary. Elizabeth. Mary Magdalene. But here we will look at a select few that are less well known to many of us, but were important figures in Biblical events.

In an Old Testament filled with rebuke towards women for being superstitious and wishy-washy, we find Deborah given a place of honor. She was a ruler, a judge of the Israelite people, a prophetess and a poet (Judges 4 & 5). Deborah led an army of 10,000 troops into battle along with a man named Barak. Even though she prophesied that the Lord would deliver the enemy up, Barak refused to go unless she went with him. Deborah's answer can be found in Judges 4:9 (NASV) "And she said, I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera (commander of the opposing army) into the hands of a woman."

This prophecy by Deborah brings us to our next important woman. Jael. It was Jael that "Deborah was referring to in her prophecy. Although Deborah and the Israelite troops defeated Sisera's troops, he, himself excaped. As he was fleeing, Jael approached him and convinced him to hide in her tent. While Sisera was sleeping, Jael took a tent peg and a hammer and drove it through his temple into the ground. It was the bravery of Deborah along with the boldness and craftiness of Jael that led the Israelites to overcome the Canaanites and have peace in the land for 40 years (Judges 5:31).

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho when the Israelites were getting ready to invade the land. She had heard the stories of how the Israelites' God had delivered them out of Egypt, and of the things that happened to the people who opposed Israel. Rahab thought of her survival, and when the Israelite spies came to her door she hid them from her own king. She made a deal with them. She would hide them and help them escape Jericho in exchange for her life and the lives of her family. The deal was made and so was history. The Israelites did invade Jericho and Rahab and her family were spared.

The significance of Rahab's courage lies not only with the fact that the Israelites were able to invade Jericho, but the fact that her life was spared and she goes on to become part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. In the geneology listing of Jesus (Matthew 1) only four women are actually named, one of which was Rahab.

It is important to look at women in the New Testament also. All through the New Testament we see women with important roles in aiding the spread of Christianity. It was women who were first given the word that Jesus was risen from the dead (Luke 24: 1-12). An industrious business woman, Lydia, is recorded as the first convert to Christianity in Europe (Acts 16:14) and opened her home up to the apostle Paul.

Tabitha was an extremely kind woman who knew no limits with her acts of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). When she died, those who loved her heard Jesus' disciple Peter was near and sent for him. Peter sent everyone out of the room and took Tabitha's hand and raised her from the dead. What is so impressive about Tabitha? The brief mention of her exemplary life. She was a woman sorely missed by all which is why Peter was sent for in the first place, and it was her being raised from the dead that led many people to Christianity.

All through the New Testament women are credited with helping the disciples and apostles. Paul takes care to always mention Priscilla, wife of Aquila, who risked her life for his (Romans 16:9). Even though many women are mentioned only briefly, and some are not even given a name, like the poor widow who gave all that she had (Mark 12: 41-44), just the brief account we are given of them gives us a great deal of insight. Do you think the poor widow knew she was being watched, only to be immortalized forever in the greatest book of all time?

The actions of these women teach us what character really is, and how the toughest, or even simplest decisions made everyday could possibly change the world.

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