By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
During Bible times, there was universal patriarchy within Israel’s culture. Given this fact, women were often not included in scrolls, parchments, or other written materials. The very truth of a woman’s name being included in biblical texts attests to the hand of God. However, despite the advancement of women's rights, these biblical heroines can be easily overlooked today too.
Check out these five notable yet often unnoticed women who faithfully followed God despite their circumstances:
Deborah was a force to be reckoned with. She was a prophetess during the time of Judges (Judges 4). In fact, Deborah was the only female judge during Israel’s history. Outside of Samuel, Deborah is the only person, whether male or female, who was a prophet and a judge (Susan J. Nelson, “Who Was Deborah In The Bible?” Christianity, 2019). Given both ministerial careers, it's no secret she was a strong, powerful, and brave woman:
After obtaining instructions from God, she calls for one of Israel’s greatest warriors, Barak. She tells him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands’” (Judges 4:6-7). Rather than boldly going on his own, Barak says to Deborah, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judges 4:8). Deborah agrees to go with Barak; however, she adds, “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman” (Judges 4:9). Through Israel’s army led by Deborah and Barak, Sisera does fall into the heads of a woman—Jael. Jael drives a tent peg through Sisera’s head after he flees to her tent and asks for water (Judges 4:16-24).
Deborah proves in her military feats that she is courageous and trusts the Lord. In Judges 5, the Bible records the Song of Deborah. In this song, Deborah recalls the events of the battle and praises the Lord (Judges 5:1-31). She gives glory to God by proclaiming, “So may all your enemies perish, Lord! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength” (Judges 5:31). Throughout her life as a prophet and a judge, she never doubted the Lord. As believers today, we can learn much from Deborah’s life and her faithfulness to the Lord. From her song in Judges 5, we can learn to be courageous and obedient to the Lord, learning to never waiver in our faith (Susan J. Nelson, “Who Was Deborah In The Bible?” Christianity, 2019).
Deborah is not a woman who quickly comes to mind when we think of women in the Bible; however, she should be a woman who reminds us to be faithful to the Lord and to always trust Him. There will be times when God calls us out of our comfort zones and we have to be courageous and brave just like Deborah.
Abigail is a second woman often overlooked in the Bible. Abigail was the second wife to David, who we first meet in 1 Samuel 25. At the time of 1 Samuel 25, Abigail was not yet married to David. She was married to the wicked man named Nabal (1 Samuel 25:3). Abigail is described as an “intelligent and beautiful woman” (1 Samuel 25:3), which is possibly why David was enamored by her. David and his men ask Nabal for food and lodging; however, Nabal chooses to be mean and denies David of his requests (1 Samuel 25:7-17). Without Nabal’s approval or knowledge, Abigail takes a large amount of food, “two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs” (1 Samuel 25:18) to deliver to David and his men with the help of her servants. Even though Abigail dislikes Nabal, she asks David to show mercy to Nabal and to leave vengeance with the Lord (1 Samuel 25:23-31). David grants her request and the Lord strikes Nabal dead several days later (1 Samuel 25:36-38). After Nabal is dead, David asks Abigail to be his wife and she accepts (1 Samuel 25:39-43).
Abigail is often overlooked because of her small part in the Bible; however, she is a great example of obedience, kindness, and compassion. She was smart, clever, and diplomatic in her thinking. Normally, the woman that comes to mind when we think of David is Bathsheba and the love affair associated between them. It is all too common for a person to forget Abigail or even recognize her existence. Hopefully, there will be more dialogue and situations surrounding Abigail in the future. Her bravery and grace are truly to be remembered.
Jehosheba is a woman rarely spoken of in Christian circles. She was the daughter of King Jehoram and the sister of Ahazia (2 Kings 11:2). Jehosheba’s name is only spoken of twice in the entire Bible (2 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 22:11). This woman was brave, bold, and courageous. Because of her bravery, David’s line lived on (Luisa Rodriguez, “Jehosheba: The Princess Hero,” Fruitfully Living, 2018). The Bible tells us, “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed” (2 Kings 11:1-2).
Her bravery did not end there as Jehosheba ensured the baby’s protection by hiding him for six years in the Temple of the Lord with his nurse (2 Kings 11:3). Jehosheba only has a fleeting moment in the Bible, which is why she is often overlooked. Yet, one can celebrate her for her bravery and faith in the Lord. This feat of hiding the baby boy could have cost Jehosheba her life. She did not fear, but rather trusted the Lord and acted with pure courage. In the same way, we as modern-day believers, need to mirror Jehosheba's fearlessness and faith.
A fourth overlooked woman in the Bible is Priscilla, introduced in Acts 18 as Aquila's wife. Priscilla and Aquila were both tentmakers, which is how they first originally met Paul since he was also a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). Over time, Priscilla and Aquila became close friends with Paul, even risking their lives for their dear friend and the Gospel (Romans 16:4).
Continuing their testimony, Priscilla and Aquila traveled to Antioch where they met Apollos. We are told that Priscilla and Aquila teach Apollos the truth about Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead (Acts 18:26). Apollos was a great speaker and friend, yet his theology was incorrect; therefore, Priscilla and Aquila helped teach him the truths of the Gospel. And later, in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila set up a church in their home teaching and encouraging other believers (1 Corinthians 16:9).
Priscilla was a woman who did not sit on the sidelines of life. Many modern-day Christian women have been bombarded with lies about a woman’s purpose; however, Priscilla shows us that women can do amazing things, including teaching the Bible, serving in church, and having careers, all while serving the Lord.
God created these women with important purposes for their lives. Even though they are often overlooked, we can be intentional about studying them and learning more about their love and sacrifice for the faith. In the same way, God has a unique purpose in your life. Modern-day culture still hinges on the past patriarchy; however, women and men are equal. Each of these four women completed great tasks and demonstrated great bravery in their lives for God and His message. The Lord asks each of us to be faithful to Him today too, yet it is up to us as to how we, as women, will answer.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.