From prophets to revolutionaries, there is no shortage of figures in the Bible who exude strength, morality, and greatness. Many people might first think of the men in the Bible, and understandably so. Still, there are also plenty of women who deserve recognition for their achievements and influence. Whether they were queens or commoners, the Holy Scripture’s leading ladies have had a lasting impact on others, their nation, and the centuries-old Christian faith. Each of the great women of the Bible listed below has overcome unimaginable obstacles. They learned from their mistakes, handled stressful situations with grace, and paved the way for themselves and others through God’s will. The lessons learned from their stories are easily applicable to modern-day life— especially for those in recovery.
Great Women of the Bible in Order of Appearance:
Eve: The Mother of All the Living
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” … But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
—Genesis 2:18, 2:20-23 NIV
When God first created Eve, she became Adam’s lifelong companion and helper. Together, they lived happily in the Garden of Eden, working it and taking care of it (Genesis 2:15 NIV). There was only one rule from God that Adam and Eve had to follow: “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:3 NIV). They both obeyed this rule without question until a serpent deceived Eve.
When this serpent tricked Eve into breaking God’s command, the punishment was costly. She and Adam were banished from Eden, cursed with the “painful labor” of childbirth (Genesis 3:16 NIV) and the “painful toil” of hard labor (Genesis 3:17 NIV).
Although many people today might fault Eve for the banishment of humanity from Eden, her mistake led to the birth and continuance of the human race. This is what makes Eve one of the great women of the Bible— the first, in fact. Her fall from grace was the catalyst to her ascension as the “Mother of All the Living,” a responsibility that had surely always been part of God’s plan.
Eve’s story teaches us that all actions have consequences, but it also shows us that God does not let our mistakes go to waste. Instead, He ensures that we learn from them and continue down the path He has set. Without Eve and her mistake, the world would not have relationships, friendships, companionships, love, or marriage.
Sarah: The Mother of a Nation
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai, your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
—Genesis 17:15-16 NIV
The inability to conceive children is one of the most constant themes throughout the Holy Scripture. Even the great women of the Bible struggled with this obstacle. The most famous example would probably be Sarah, who would later be known as “The Mother of Israel.”
Born to the name Sarai, Sarah and her husband Abram waited their whole lives to have a child. God had promised them that they would have a son. After waiting many years, Sarah became convinced that God had forgotten them. When she finally lost her patience, she told Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children… [P]erhaps [we] can build a family through [my handmaiden]” (Genesis 16:2 NIV). This was a common practice (and the usual solution) for barren mothers in ancient times. Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, did conceive a child for the couple. They finally had the son God had promised— or so they thought.
In her old age, Sarah received a miracle that would turn out to be the most extraordinary honor. She and Abram, who God renamed Abraham (Genesis 17:5 NIV), conceived and delivered a healthy son of their own. They named him Isaac, and Sarah’s love and parental counsel shaped Isaac into a great leader.
Eventually, his own son, Jacob, went on to father twelve sons who later become the leaders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This succession of greatness would continue all the way to David and eventually the Messiah himself— and it started with Sarah, the Mother of Israel.
The lesson in Sarah’s story is one that many of us seem to take for granted today: patience is a virtue. Waiting for God’s blessings can be challenging, especially in times of stress. Still, all of His gifts are worth the wait.
Rachel: The Wife of Jacob and the Mother of Joseph
Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
—Genesis 29:16 NIV
The story of Rachel is arguably one of the most saddening and equally uplifting that the Holy Bible has to offer. In it, she met and fell in love with Jacob, the grandson of Sarah and future father of the Twelve Tribal Leaders of Israel. Jacob loved Rachel as well, and asked her father, Laban, for her hand in marriage. He agreed, but only in exchange for seven long years of hard labor. Jacob honored his wishes and worked for Laban for seven years to marry Rachel.
However, on the night of the wedding, Laban tricked Jacob into consummating a marriage with Leah, Rachel’s older sister. In the darkness, Jacob believed Leah to be Rachel and did not discover Laban’s deception until the following morning. Laban claimed that he tricked Jacob to honor their people’s customs, which stated that older sisters were to marry first. Rachel was heartbroken, but the couple did not give up. Jacob went on to marry Rachel after working an additional seven years for Laban.
In those 14 collective years and beyond, Rachel stood by Jacob, knowing that his marriage to Leah was the work of her deceptive father. Her feelings toward Leah, however, had become bitter and jealous, as was human nature. During her time married to Jacob, Leah was able to give him children. Rachel, however, was barren. Leah knew that Jacob preferred Rachel, and tried using her fertility to win his favor over her sister. Despite Leah’s poor treatment of her, Rachel was determined to be a mother and a good wife to Jacob. So, like Sarah, she convinced her handmaiden to act as a surrogate. The handmaiden, Bilhah, had two sons on behalf of Rachel and Jacob.
Leah, who had already delivered four sons, felt threatened by this. So, in response to her sister’s newfound motherhood via surrogacy, Leah offered the services of her own handmaiden to give Jacob even more children. Leah went on to boast her six sons and one daughter while her sister remained barren. She also took every chance to make Rachel feel guilty for Jacob’s favor of her (‘But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”’ – Genesis 30:15 NIV).
This rivalry with Leah hurt Rachel deeply, and God sympathized with her. He had blessed Leah with children, but it was clear that she used motherhood to hurt her sister. After Leah conceived once again, God granted Rachel fertility. Together, she and Jacob had two sons: Joseph and Benjamin. Between the two sisters and two maidens, Jacob fathered twelve sons and one daughter. The sons grew up to become the leaders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Additionally, Rachel’s first son, Joseph, would grow to become one of the most prominent figures in the Old Testament as the savior of Egypt from famine.
Many devout Christians consider Rachel to be one of the great women of the Bible because her story demonstrates that fairness always prevails over deceit. Throughout all her tribulations, she remained kind, faithful, and loving. Rachel earned God’s blessings by acting with grace, even when she faced unfairness from others. Her story teaches us that God listens to His children and rewards them for their virtues, hardships, and triumphs.
Jochebed: The Mother of Moses
The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram, she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.
—Numbers 26:59 NIV
Following Joseph’s heroism in saving Egypt from a seven-year famine, Israelites continued to occupy that land for centuries. Unfortunately, Joseph’s triumph and prowess as the Pharaoh’s Vizier were forgotten in that time. Eventually, a new reigning Pharaoh, “to whom Joseph meant nothing” (Exodus 1:8 NIV), became afraid that the Israelites— who were far larger in numbers than the ruling Egyptians— would overthrow him and his people. To prevent potential rebellion, this Pharaoh sent slavers to oppress the Israelites and “worked them ruthlessly” (Exodus 1:13 NIV).
The Pharaoh also ordered his midwives to kill any male Hebrew babies delivered. When they disobeyed him, he extended an order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live” (Exodus 1:22 NIV). Jochebed, an Israelite slave and the mother of Moses, disobeyed this order at the risk of her own life.
Jochebed, who already had two children, trusted God wholeheartedly with the safety of her three-month-old son, Moses. She set him in a papyrus basket and placed it “among the reeds along the bank of the Nile” (Exodus 2:3) for Egyptian royals to find. Then, while the Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing, she discovered the basket and the baby Moses inside. She recognized right away that he was a Hebrew boy, meant to die, but she took him in and raised him anyway. This set in motion the events that would free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression.
The story of Jochebed and her decision to save her son may be short, but it is one that greatly influenced the subsequent events of the Bible. Instead of letting the Egyptians murder him, she made a great sacrifice that would later allow Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt and to freedom. The unwavering faith that Jochebed placed in God for the prosperity of her child may very well be what swayed His decision to appoint Moses as His prophet and lawgiver.
Jochebed’s sense of bravery, selflessness, and serenity easily makes her one of the great women of the Bible. While she could not have known that her actions would breed one of God’s greatest leaders, letting go of Moses and trusting in God’s plan is what led to the liberation of her people.
Her story demonstrates that putting your faith in God, especially during dark times, can yield a far more significant outcome than anticipated.
Miriam: The Sister of Moses
His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
—Exodus 2:4 NIV
Like Jochebed, Miriam played an integral role in Moses’ leadership during Exodus. As the older sister of Moses, she ensured the safety of her baby brother as he floated down the Nile River in a basket sent by her mother. When the Pharaoh’s daughter decided to keep Moses after discovering him in the reeds along the bank, the young Miriam approached her and offered Jochebed, her and the baby’s own mother, to be a wet-nurse. This intervention allowed Jochebed to remain close to Moses, even though he was raised by Egyptian royalty.
As an adult, Miriam earned a place among the Seven Prophetesses of Israel. However, this privilege came with unexpected consequences. After becoming a prophetess, she questioned why God did not trust her to the same degree as He did Moses. He did “reveal [Himself] in visions” (Numbers 12:6 NIV), but Miriam felt it was unfair that Moses could “speak face to face” with God (Numbers 12:8 NIV) while she could not. Of course, God heard her complaints. As punishment for her envy and pride, God struck Miriam with leprosy for seven days. During this time, she was confined from her people’s camp. She most likely used her newfound isolation to ponder her misgivings. After the seven days were over, she rejoined her camp, and they progressed on their journey.
Miriam’s story teaches us a timeless lesson. Our privileges define us, not the other way around. Her envy of Moses made her believe that she was rightfully entitled to more than what God granted her. While God’s punishment might be considered severe, it did teach Miriam the humility she needed to continue to be a good influence on Moses throughout his leadership.
These and Other Lessons from the Great Women of the Bible Can Aid in Recovery
The Bible provides us with spiritual guidance through the lessons learned by its most prominent figures. While many women of the Bible may have faced obstacles that no one would face today, the lessons they teach us are still relevant— especially for such hard times as addiction recovery.
At Road to Freedom, our staff of trained addiction treatment professionals can help you find your way back to God’s path for you. If you have any questions about our programs or services, please call us at (844) 432-0544. Part II of this blog will be available soon.