What role have women in the Bible played? Which ones were poets, prophets, rulers, and leaders of armies? Who was likely a female minister in the New Testament?
The role of women, even in today's more 'enlightened' world, is a subject rarely discussed in sermons or pursued as a distinct study. This ignorance means that when they are discussed in church or studied by a fellowship it is usually in a negative light.
Sometimes the biases against women manifest itself in making them responsible for the actions of others! One such case in point is the affair King David had with a beautiful but married lady named Bathsheba.
Bathsheba, as the Bible story is many times explained, was the woman who "caused" King David to sin when he committed adultery with her. After all, was not she taking a bath in full view of the king? David, after he sinned, then sought to cover up his act by killing her husband. This explanation, however, is not entirely true.
What is not usually explained to people is that Bathsheba was bathing at night. Indications in Scripture also are that she was bathing, like most women, in her home. King David saw her from his ROOF, a vantage point few others had. He likely saw her through an open window and indulged in a little voyeurism. It is interesting to note that although God directly confronted and corrected David regarding this illicit affair (2Samuel 12), He does not mention Bathsheba (or any women for that matter).
Biblical women who were poets include Miriam (Exodus 15:21), Deborah (Judges 5), Hannah (1Samuel 2:1 - 10), Elizabeth (Luke 1:42 - 45) and Mary (Luke 1:46 - 55). Biblical women considered prophets include Miriam (Exodus 15:20 - 21), Deborah (Judges 4:4 - 5), Huldah (2Kings 22:14 - 20), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36 - 38) and Philip's four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:9).
Women who governed include Deborah (Judges 4:4), the Queen of Sheba (1Kings 10:1 - 13) and Queen Candace (Acts 8:27). Deborah is unique in that, as one of Israel Judges, she led an army against the Canaanites.
Other good women include the mother of Samson (Judges 13:23), Naomi (Ruth 1), Ruth (Ruth 1:4), Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1Samuel 1:9 - 18, 24 - 28), the widow of Zarephath who fed Elijah during the famine (1Kings 17:8 - 24), the Shunammite woman who gave hospitality to Elisha (2Kings 4:8 - 38) and Esther.
In the New Testament, women of godly character include Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26 - 38), Elizabeth (Luke 1:6, 41 - 45), Mary and Martha (Mark 14:3 - 9; Luke 10:42) and Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:1; Luke 8:2; etc.).
Still more righteous women in Scripture include Dorcas (Tabitha - Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Priscilla (Acts 18:26), Phoebe (Romans 16:1 - 2), Julia (Romans 16:15) and Eunice and Lois, who were the mother and grandmother of Timothy whom Paul commended (2Timothy 1:5).
Women also played an active role in the New Testament church and in the spreading of the gospel. Phoebe, who was called a servant or minister (deaconess) in the church (Romans 16:1 - 2), served many people and was commended by the Apostle Paul. Priscilla, who in one place is mentioned before her husband (Romans 16:3), helped host a church fellowship in her home (1Corinthians 16:19). She also played a critical role in educating Apollos regarding the gospel (Acts 18:24 - 26).
There are, without a doubt, other unnamed New Testament women who hosted fellowships and lent their efforts in spreading God's truth.
How important are women in the Bible to God? Do you know who was the first person to see Jesus after he was resurrected from the dead? Was it any of the apostles like Peter or John? No! Mary Magdalene was the first person given the privilege of seeing Jesus alive after his death on the cross (Matthew 28:8 - 10)!