Women in the Bible

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Unique Women

Abraham's wife Sarah holds the distinction of being the only woman in Scripture where her age at death is recorded. She died at the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1). Rachel, Jacob's most beloved wife, is the first of several women recorded in the Bible as dying in childbirth (Genesis 35:16 - 19).

Among women in the Bible only Deborah was a Judge over ancient Israel (Judges 4:4). She performed this important responsibility for forty years, from 1192 to 1152 B.C. She is also the only known Israelite woman who chose the military leader of the army (Judges 4:6).

Athaliah was the only woman to reign and rule over any Israelites. She was the sole monarch of the Kingdom of Judah from 841 to 835 B.C. Her and Jezebel are the only two women known to have exercised the authority to command a mass murder be committed to suit their own evil goals (1Kings 18:4, 2Kings 11:1 - 2, 2Chronicles 22:10 - 11).

The book of Esther, written by her and Mordecai, is one of only two Biblical books that do not directly reference God (the other is the Song of Solomon). Esther's book and the one named after Ruth are the only two Biblical writings penned by women.

Expensive Brides

Abraham, not wanting Isaac to marry a pagan, sends his most trusted servant on a special mission. He is sent, hundreds of miles, back to Abraham's homeland of Mesopotamia to select a bride for his son. The servant finds a woman named Rebekah, gives her and her family expensive gifts, and then takes her back to Abraham. She becomes Isaac's one and only wife (see Genesis 24). Jacob is willing to work fourteen years total for Laban, his uncle, in order to marry his beloved Rachel (Genesis 29).

Fierce Women

Abimelech, a son of Gideon, set himself up as king of ancient Israel. His short and brutal reign of three years was ended when one of several women in a tower dropped a heavy millstone on his head (Judges 9:53). The rock cracked his skull but did not instantly kill him. Abimelech then has his armor bearer take his life rather than it becoming known that a "mere" woman caused his death (verse 54).

Deborah (whose name means "bee" or "wasp"), a woman who was a prophet, was a Judge in Israel when the people were being oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan (Judges 4:1 - 4). She made Barak, a warrior from the tribe of Naphtali, the head of Israel's army and then told him that God would deliver Sisera (the captain of Jabin's army) into his hand.

Deborah's strength and wisdom were so valued by Barak that he refused to go into battle unless she came as well (verse 8)! In Kedesh, Barak attacked Sisera, destroyed his forces, and caused him to run for his life (Judges 4:14).

Sisera ended up hiding in the tent of a woman named Jael (her husband Heber was an ally) where he soon fell into a deep sleep. Jael quickly pulled out one of the pegs used for the tent and got a large hammer. She then placed the peg against Sisera's temple, as he laid on his side, and drove it so powerfully through his head that it pinned it to the ground (Judges 4:21 - 22)! Deborah and Barak's victory song, found in Judges 5, mentions this heroic act (Judges 5:26).

Unknown Women

Which wives of famous husbands are mentioned but not named in the Bible? Some of these ladies include the wife of Cain (Genesis 4:17), Lot (Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32), Job (Job 2:9) and Isaiah (Isaiah 7:3, 8:3). We know the four men who survived the flood (Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth). The names of their wives, however, who would be integral to repopulating the earth, are not recorded (Genesis 7:7).

Gideon had many wives (Judges 8:30), none of which are named, who bore him seventy sons! Although the Bible names the famous (but notorious) Jezebel as King Ahab's wife (1Kings 16:31), he had many other wives not named. These women produced at least seventy sons, and an unknown number of daughters, for him (2Kings 10:1).

We are not told the name of Manoah's wife who miraculously gave birth to Samson (Judges 13) or even Samson's mate (Judges 14). The wife of Jeroboam, the northern kingdom of Israel's first king, is also unknown (1Kings 14).

The prophet Ezekiel was married but his wife's name went unrecorded. He was directly forbidden by God to mourn for her when she died (Ezekiel 24:16 - 18). Lastly, the wives of Peter and the other apostles are also lacking in the Bible (Mark 1:30, 1Corithians 9:5).

The Price of a Wife

Instead of asking for a dowry, King Saul required David to bring him the foreskins of one hundred Philistines (meaning he had to kill them). Zealous David responded by having him and his men kill two hundred of Israel's enemy and bringing back to Saul the evidence he required. David was then able to wed Michal as his first of many women he would marry (1Samuel 18:25 - 27).

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