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Women in the Bible: Case of the Missing Names!

Women of the Old Testament – like *Sarah or Abigail, Esther or Hagar –are familiar enough through their stories that we probably have a sense of what they’d be like if we could sit down and talk over coffee.   Some are testy (Sarah), others astoundingly courageous (Esther); some were put in life-threatening circumstances they brilliantly managed to reverse (Abigail).   Others are shining examples of God’s mothering love that saved both themselves and their child (Hagar).

The Wife of ManohaBut what about all those women who weren’t fortunate enough to have their names seep into the written record?   You might be just as familiar with the stories of some of the unnamed women in the Bible – the mothers and daughters, sisters and wives,  and of course the widows – but we know them mainly in relation to male relatives.    The ‘daughters’ link ranges from a King’s daughter (Pharaoh’s girl) to that of a Priest (of  Midian, who became Moses’ father in law), or the less-than-role-model type of Lot’s daughters, guilty of incest.

Peter’s mother in law is one of my favorites.  There she is, living in Peter’s home, mother of his wife and grandmother to his children, 100% dependent on this son-in-law’s financial generosity and prowess– as so many widows were in Biblical times.   It’s not a stretch to wonder if she was frightened of his sudden abandonment of the perfectly good breadwinning life of a fisherman, to suddenly following Jesus who was the proclaimed ‘Messiah’.

Her story is told in Matthew, Mark and Luke, always in just two verses:

14 When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. 15 But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

While we never hear about her again, one wonders if that single brush with Christ Jesus not only healed her fever but also healed her fear about the supply the family would have over the coming decades.  Peter preached for 30 more years, sometimes traveling outside of Israel.  Perhaps it’s not too big of a stretch to think that mother-in-law even quieted her own daughter’s fears for the family as she supported the Christian gospel’s forward march.

Have you seen the relationship between the elimination of fear and an increased sense of abundance?  Please share your experiences here, or please share any insights you’ve had about Peter’s mother-in-law or any of the women unnamed that you’ve found helpful to your own life journey.  We would love these blogs to be a two-way conversation!

* For the stories of these women in the bible, see:


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4 Responses to Women in the Bible: Case of the Missing Names!

  1. Pamela June 5, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I have always loved the women in the Bible and I don’t know if you have read this book but the title is “Far Above Rubies” by Isabel Hill Elder. It is a little book my mom gave me and it shares the lives of 25 women in the Bible. It also has a chapter on “The Women of Galilee” I used this book when I taught Bible History at a private school for 5 years. It brought out many things about there lives that the Bible didn’t reveal.

    The preface shared these words – “In the beginning woman was the equal of man in every respect; in patriarchal times she had an independence surpassing even today, and was intrusted with the administration of her husband’s property as well as her own.” I found that statement to be very interesting and inspiring because all my ancestors who were women had no property rights, or any other rights for that matter.

    In Sarah case I found it interesting that she was merely following the Hammurabi Law to give her maid, Hagar, to her husband, Abraham to obtain a child for him. Apparently it was quite permissible under that law to divorce a childless wife. So Sarah obviously took the course permitted to her by law. One of The Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947 in the Judean Desert (I think it was the 7th one) testifies to the accuracy of the statement made by Abraham in the Scriptures to his wife, “Thou art a fair woman to look upon” because apparently Sarah was a women of exquisite beauty and had pure white skin, something rare in the East.

    I love how this book brings out things about the women in the Bible that we don’t get from the Bible itself. If you have not read it, please do. You will find it inspiring.

    • Madelon June 9, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Thank you for the recommendation, Pamela. I’ll be on the lookout for it. Appreciate you writing.

  2. Sally Lessiter June 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    My favourite nameless woman is the ‘little maid’ who was taken captive out of Israel who served Naaman’s wife. It was she who boldly spoke up that Naaman could be healed by the prophet Elisha. People only remember the end of the story of Naaman washing seven times in the river Jordan but without her courage and conviction it would not have happened.


    One nameless small girl, removed from her country against her desire,
    Gone from her family – achieved very, great, things.
    Before Jesus’ era but with eternal Christly conduct
    She followed the Golden Rule:
    ‘whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’

    So – no bitterness, no sorrow, no anger, no revenge, no hate.

    Nothing could take away her one item of great of value;
    An assured knowledge, a precious precept
    Fixed within her spiritual border-free realm of home.
    For this is what she knew:
    God restores.

    So – new accommodation, new work, new boss, new sharing, new life.
    Naaman healed!

    • Madelon June 9, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Thank you Sally. Like you, the little maid is a favorite. We have much to learn from her courage and stedfastness. Thanks so much for writing.

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