March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” This month is a time to celebrate the lives, stories, and achievements of women throughout the ages. While written history has long had a stronger focus on the contributions of men, there is a book that has many records of women who shaped history. In this time of looking back at the women who have paved the way for future generations, the Bible gives detailed and fascinating records of ancient women who have made a significant impact on society.
The Bible is unique in its focus on the stories of women right from the first book. Women in scripture were always portrayed as having an essential role. From the creation of Eve in the opening chapters of Genesis to Sarah, grandmother of the twelve tribes of Israel, to Miriam, the lead advisor to Moses, the stories of many women have made their way down through the generations to us today. The writings on these women describe them as courageous, strong, faithful, and complex. Their lives and their decisions and choices continue to be a source of inspiration today.
In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at some of the following women whose stories are recorded for us in scripture.
Mary is arguably one of the most remarkable women in the Bible. Historians believe she was a young teenager when an angel appeared to her and announced that she would birth the Messiah. Even though this meant that she was at risk of significant social judgment within her time and her community, Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, NET). Mary’s maturity and trust in God’s plan for her life, even at the risk of seeing her reputation and her engagement to Joseph potentially be compromised, is a powerful example.
Deborah, working woman, civic leader, and judge, is another inspiring woman in the Bible. Deborah guided the Israelites through significant aggression from their enemies and laid out wisdom and strategy for gaining victory over the Canaanites. The outcome of her leadership and wits brought peace to the land. She said to the leader of the army, “Spring into action, for this is the day the Lord is handing Sisera over to you! Has the Lord not taken the lead?” (Judges 4:14, NET). The Israelites experienced triumph under her leadership.
Esther, the captive beauty contestant turned queen, is a story that we like to romanticize in our modern life, but whose real story, as recorded in the Bible, shows her to be far more exceptional than the way we often tell the tale. Part of a hated and oppressed class in Persia, Esther, through intellect, strategy, and favor, became queen. While the king likely had a harem of wives and concubines, her insight, emotional intelligence, and openness to input through her trusted uncle were able to foil a plot to exterminate her fellow Jews. She was willing to risk her life in the endeavor. We often think that her story ends with the death of Haman, an advisor to the king who was leading the initiative against the Jews. However, Esther’s influence didn’t end there. She negotiated with the king to allow the Jews to defend themselves against enemies in the realm, which led to battles that eliminated 75,000 aggressors against the Jews. She also had Haman’s ten sons executed. It’s a bloodier history than we typically like to tell, but her story and the leadership she wielded mark an important turn in Jewish history.
The example of these Biblical women and many others like them leave a lasting legacy that continues to inspire women today. Their stories, as recorded in our most ancient and revered histories, remind us that women have always had a vital role in the history of the world.
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
Your sons and daughters will prophesy…
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.Joel 2:28-29, NIV