There some amazing female heroes and warriors in the Bible. They made many great and notable exploits.
But they have often been overshadowed by the many male warriors in the Bible.
The men of the Bible did some amazing things by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But we can all learn so much from the exploits of the female warriors of the Bible.
In fact, the Bible is alone among all ancient writings in portraying the exciting and noble role of many women -honestly and in detail.
And we also learn there were a few women who did dishonorable things. You’ll hear about some of them, too.
There are more female characters- and more strong female characters in the Bible than you will find anywhere else in the ancient world.
Whether they were silent warriors who fought battles of mind and spirit –or engaged in an actual physical fight, these women in the Bible were as strong a force for good as you can see anywhere.
And a few of them were forces for evil as we will soon see.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of these women we now know as amazing female warriors in the Bible.
If you enjoy this article, here’s another great post: “Amazing Female Leaders and Disciples in the New Testament.”
The First Woman, Eve (Hero)
Though the best known part of her life is about the fall of man and the original sin, Eve showed strong character through her many later trials.
After being cast out of Eden with her husband Adam for listening to the serpent and eating the forbidden fruit, Eve did not surrender her future to her past.
It would have been so easy for her to give up; instead, she persevered.
She dealt with a lot of grief in her life other than just pushing forward after being expelled from paradise.
Eve had to learn precisely what loss was by experiencing it, over and over again.
Eve had to deal with the loss of her younger son Abel while coming to terms with the fact that the murder of Abel was at the hand of her eldest son Cain.
As the Mother of all the Living, Eve had no mother of her own to learn from.
But she and Adam –even after being expelled from the Garden- would have known they could ask God for help in time of need.
Eve had to figure out a lot of things, but God was there for her. And He is our help in time of need.
Not only did she learn to depend on him, but she also continued with her husband Adam and her third son, Seth.
Eve went on to mother many children and live a long and fruitful life.
Deborah the Judge and Prophet (Warrior)
Deborah is undoubtedly one of the most influential women in the Old Testament and the Bible overall.
She was the only female judge of Israel.
But she was not the only female to win a military victory by her own hand.
In the Old Testament, judges were established by Moses as the Hebrew rulers to help him govern the people and decide disputes and other matters among the Israelites.
Deborah became a warrior after she delivered the word of God to Israelite commander Barak that he was to attack Canaanite General Sisera (Judges 4:2,ESV) on Mount Tabor.
The Lord declared he would deliver Sisera into his hands.
Barak refused to go into battle without Deborah.
She consented to go with him – after informing him that a woman would take down Sisera according to the word of the Lord.
And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.Judges 4:9, ESV
It was a declaration that the Lord was not pleased with Barak for his lack of belief in his word.
Deborah spoke for the Lord when she directed him into battle, because she was also a prophetess.
Barak would not get the credit for defeating General Sisera.
Instead, a woman would get the credit –something unheard of in that day.
Deborah proved herself a courageous warrior by abiding by three lessons all warriors should learn and follow – be obedient, be courageous, and stand steadfast.
She obeyed the word the Lord gave her.
She had the courage to speak the word to Barak, and she was steadfast in seeing it through to victory.
But Deborah was not the woman who would defeat General Sisera.
Jael is the woman Deborah was talking about in her declaration to Barak above.
We don’t hear about Jael that much in Bible teaching. She is the woman who killed General Sisera.
And how she did it is a very unusual story.
It’s a story that’s too gruesome for the children’s Sunday school classes.
Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite.
Heber –for some unknown reason- moved his family to a plot of land very near Jabin King of Hazor.
Jabin was General Sisera’s boss, and there was peace between Heber and Jabin.
As his army was losing to Barak, Sisera fled on foot and came upon Jael in her tent.
Jael invited him in, so he entered the tent, thinking he was safe.
Sisera was showered with kindness by Jael, and he eventually drifted off to sleep.
Jael, however, was no fool and saw the opportunity to help end the reign of the Canaanites over Israel.
Jael drove a tent peg all the way through Sisera’s temple and into the ground as he slept.
Later Barak came by her tent in his pursuit of Sisera. Jael presented the dead Sisera –tent peg and all- to Barak.
There is no doubt she acted as a warrior, fulfilling Deborah’s prophecy quickly and completely.
Queen Esther (Hero)
Hadassah was her Hebrew name.
But the Israelites were held captive in Persia (known today as Iran), so she was known as Esther in the Bible book that bears her name.
The entire nation of Israel was at risk of losing their lives, because of the evil Haman had plotted against them.
Esther risked everything, including her life, to save the Jewish people from being killed off by King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) who was ill-advised by Haman.
She did this not solely by using her feminine wiles or asking kindly.
She –together with her uncle Mordecai- strategized and executed a detailed plan.
Esther planned for fasting for three days for herself and her uncle Mordecai, their attendants, and the Jewish people.
She then planned not one but two banquets to serve King Ahasuerus, hoping to soften him.
She did everything she could to appeal to the king, from her dress to her actions.
She used her smarts as well as her looks to please the king socially.
She appealed to Ahasuerus with logic, arguing points that would appeal to his ego and sense of honor.
She even publicly confessed she was Jewish – a very risky decision.
“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14b
But Mordecai told her God had placed her there “for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14, ESV (this is probably the most famous verse from the Book of Esther)
She did everything that a General does to win the fight in front of them, and she emerged victoriously.
By a miraculous turn of events, Haman was executed on the very gallows he erected to kill Mordecai.
The Jewish people commemorate this event every year by observing the holiday called Purim on Adar 14 of the Jewish calendar.
It’s usually in late February or early March.
When they celebrate Purim, they remember how heroically Esther fought to save her nation.
Mary of Nazareth (Hero)
Mary is also known as the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
We don’t typically think of her as a hero in the classical sense.
But having an angel appear to you at the tender age of 16 (or possibly as young as 12) that you will be giving birth to the Son of God is some big news to cope with.
Have you ever read what Mary said after the angel’s visit?
You can see this young teenager responded with a truly inspired quote –showing off her intimate knowledge of Old Testament scripture by many references to it in her fabulous Magnificat.
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mary was a woman who faced a life with many ups and downs as the angel promised during his appearance.
She had a great love and significant loss, and kept going and continued to follow the path of the Lord.
Mary was propelled to the top of the list of notable females in the Bible, not by being a great fighter or wise prophet.
Mary made it to the top by being so sure in her faith and loyalty to God that she said yes.
She agreed to what the archangel Gabriel proposed when he first appeared, knowing that she would face unbelievable shame by becoming pregnant in her time.
Loving her fiancé Joseph as she did, she realized he might not believe her, and she could lose him.
She said yes, anyway. Her faith was so strong that she had the will and strength she needed to move forward.
After a time, Joseph saw the truth in a dream and stuck with her.
Mary bore the Christ child Jesus, raised him, and loved him his entire life.
She saw her son crucified and saw him rise up again.
Not all of the women warriors of the Bible were good. This one was horribly wicked.
Jezebel was notoriously evil.
In fact, her name is so synonymous with evil that “Jezebel” is used as a nickname for an evil woman.
Here’s how malicious Jezebel was:
After Elijah’s amazing victory over 400 prophets of Baal –where you might think he would feel invincible after calling down fire from heaven against them- he ran away as soon as he heard Jezebel was after him.
Why was Elijah so afraid of Jezebel? To be fair, he had his own struggles with faith.
But Jezebel had a reputation for evil that stoked all of Elijah’s fears.
She conspired with her husband –King Ahab- to murder innocent Naboth for his vineyard.
She used her powers of persuasion to influence her husband to do many wicked things.
Elijah was inspired to prophecy that Jezebel would die and be eaten by dogs. (2 Kings 9:10)
Her grisly death occurred just as prophesied in 2 Kings 9:35-37.
Ruth’s odyssey is one of the most beloved stories of the Old Testament from the book that bears her name.
She was a gentile from the country of Moab who became a young widow.
She decided to follow her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi back to Bethlehem where Naomi’s family was from and begin a new life there.
Ruth –when challenged by Naomi to stay in her home country- famously said “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16, ESV)
Ruth would later meet Boaz –her Kinsman Redeemer- and a type of Christ who would love her as Christ loves the church.
He would take her as his wife as Christ takes the church as his bride.
Ruth and Naomi would both know this Kinsman Redeemer as both Jew and Gentile have come to know their Messiah.
Ruth and Boaz would have children and grandchildren. She would become the great-grandmother of King David.
In this way a gentile would miraculously enter the Messianic genetic line and display the amazing grace of God in the Old Testament.
Samson was enamored with her. She had what he wanted.
But she was a Philistine – from a nation that was Israel’s bitter enemy. (See the book of Judges, chapter 16 to read the whole story)
Samson also had many faults of his own.
Her countrymen asked her to find out the source of Samson’s great strength so they could learn how to defeat him.
Though she became Samson’s wife, Delilah was always more loyal to her nation than to her husband.
Her treachery eventually led to Samson’s defeat and death.
Though there are dozens of other strong female characters in the Bible, these are some of the most prominent.
God chooses to use those who are willing. The words of the prophet Isaiah “Here am I, send me” are a reminder to us that God is happy to work with anybody who wants to serve him –regardless of their gender.
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