All the Women of the Old Testament

The women of the Old Testament played an active and important role in the social and religious life of Israel. However, at times the role these women played in the formation and transmission of Israelite faith is not seen because the Old Testament is the work of Israelite men who in general were writing to men who were the leaders of the community.

The books of the Old Testament were written by an elite religious groups, mostly of men. The authors of these books were male; the editors were male, and their views are reflected in the stories found in the Old Testament. But the representation of women in the Old Testament is not unsympathetic. In many places in the Old Testament, women speak with their own voices and in the process their stories and their words help us understand the formal and informal power a woman exercised in the community and the sphere of influence and authority enjoyed by Israelite women.

In her article, “Names and Naming in the Biblical Word,” Karla Bohmbach said that there are 2900 men and 170 whose names appear in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament. Another study calculates that there are 1315 names of men in the Hebrew Bible. The problem in providing a definite number for the named people in the Bible is because some names can be either the name of a man or the name of a woman.

In the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament there are hundreds of nameless women. These nameless women served as prophets, professional singers, professional mourners, professional weavers, professional diviners, professional midwives, professional dancers, professional players, wise women, shepherdesses, perfumers, cooks, and bakers. They made important contributions to Israelite society, even though their names were never revealed.

There are 135 named women in the Hebrew Bible. In the study of the women in the Old Testament, it is important to study the social, economic, political, and legal conditions of patriarchal society in order to understand how the conditions reflect the different demands imposed on Israelite women, that is, in productive and reproductive labor, in differences of value for women’s services, in the range of activities outside the home, and the woman’s authority within the family.

A common life style cannot be assumed for the women of early Israel. There is no common view of how a peasant or a noble woman, or a palace worker, or any other woman lived. But there is a set of expectations that governed the life of an Israelite woman in any circumstance and at any time.

Below there is a list of all the posts where the women of the Old Testament are mentioned. There are 68 women mentioned in these posts. Some women are mentioned only briefly in some posts. Other posts provide more context to the lives and contributions these women have made to the religious, political, and social life of Israel.

The list is not complete. More could be said about the contribution these women have made to ancient Israel and the impact they had in their society. In the future, other posts will be added to this list. My goal is to write a few words about all the 135 women in the Old Testament.

I need your help. As you read these posts, if you encounter any broken link, I would appreciate if you send me a note so that I can fix the problem.

Enjoy reading about these fascinating women of the Old Testament.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Karla Bohmbach, “Names and Naming in the Biblical Word.” In Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament. Edit by Carol Meyers, Toni Craven, and Ross Shepard Kramer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

All the Women of the Old Testament

Abi

Abi: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Abigail

David’s Family

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Abital

David’s Family

Abishag the Shunammite

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Solomon and Adonijah

Achsah

What Did Achsah Do?

Adah

Adah, Lamech’s Wife

Ahinoam

Ahinoam, the Mother of Amnon

David’s Wife

Athaliah

Athaliah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Azubah

Azubah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Bathsheba

David’s Wife 

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Bathsheba: A Mother With Determination

Bathsheba: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Bathsheba and Her Menstrual Period

The Death of Bathsheba’s Child – Part 1

The Death of Bathsheba’s Child – Part 2

The Death of Bathsheba’s Child – Part 3

Solomon and Adonijah

Bilhah

Bilhah, Rachel’s Handmaid

The Rape of Bilhah

Cain’s Wife

Where Did Cain Find His Wife?

Deborah

Studies on Deborah

Women Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

Israel in the Days of the Judges

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

Deborah: Prophetess and Judge

Deborah: A Judge in Israel

Deborah the Prophetess

Deborah: A Mother in Israel

Deborah and Jael

Dinah

Honor Killing: The Rape of Dinah

Eglah

David’s Family

Esther

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Eve

Eve as a “He” (Part 1)

Eve as a “He” (Part 2)

Adam’s Sin: Listening To His Wife

The Serpent Was Right

Congenital Human Baculum Deficiency, Adam’s Rib, and the Formation of Eve

The Creation of the Woman in Genesis 2:18-24

Gomer

The Marriage of the Prophet Hosea

How Much Did Hosea Pay for His Wife?

Haggith

David’s Family

Hannah

A Tribute To Mothers

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

Hannah and Her Sacrifice

The Barren Has Borne Seven: A Mother’s Day Meditation

Hephzibah

Hephzibah: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Huldah

Women Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

Huldah the Prophetess

Huldah’s Oracle

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

The Rabbis’ View on Huldah the Prophetess

Isaiah’s Wife

Isaiah’s Wife

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

Women Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

Jael

Deborah and Jael

Jecoliah

Jecoliah: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Jedidah

Jedidah: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Jehoaddin

Jehoaddin: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Jemima

Jemima, Job’s Daughter

Jeroboam’s Wife

A Mother’s Agony: The Story of Jeroboam’s Wife

A Case for Domestic Abuse

A Case for Domestics Abuse: Another Perspective

Jephthah’s Daughter

The Sacrifice of Jephthah’s Daughters

Rereading Judges 11:31: The Sacrifice of Jephthah’s Daughter

Judges 11:39: The Fate of Jephthah’s Daughter

Judges 11:39: The Virginity of Jephthah’s Daughter

Jerusha

Jerusha: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Jezebel

Jezebel, A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Jezebel’s Wedding Song – Part 1

Jezebel’s Wedding Song – Part 2

Job’s Daughters

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Jochebed

Jochebed, Moses’ Birth Mother

Keren-Happuch

Keren-Happuch, Job’s Daughters

Keziah

Keziah, Job’s Daughters

Leah

Leah, Jacob’s Wife

Leah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Levite’s Concubine

Rereading Judges 19:2: The Levite and His Concubine

Blaming the Woman

Maacah

Maacah, The Wife of King Rehoboam: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Maacah

David’s Wife

Medium of Endor

1 Samuel 28: The Medium of Endor – Part 1

1 Samuel 28: The Medium of Endor – Part 2

Meshullemeth

Meshullemeth: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Michal

David’s Wife

Miriam

Miriam the Prophetess

Rereading Micah 6:4: Miriam, A Leader in Israel

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

Moses’ Two Mothers

Women Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

Moses’ Cushite Wife

Naamah

Naamah the Ammonite: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Naomi

A Woman Who Was Better Than Seven Sons

Nehushta

Nehushta: A Great Grandmother of Jesus

Noadiah

Noadiah the Prophetess

Women Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

Pharaoh’s Daughter

Pharaoh’s Daughter, Moses’ Adoptive Mother

The Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba and Her Fabled Goldmine

Rachel

Give Me Sons

Rachel: The Struggles of a Barren Woman

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Rahab

Rahab: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Rahab: A Prostitute or an Innkeeper?

Rebekah

Rebekah as a “Young Man”

Rebekah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Rizpah

A Salute To Mother’s Love

Ruth

The Book of Ruth

Ruth: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Was Ruth Barren?

A Woman Who Was Better Than Seven Sons

The “She” Bible

Who Went Back to the City?

Sarah

Sarah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

The Seven Prophetesses of the Old Testament

The Beautiful People of the Bible

Sisera’s Mother

Sisera’s Mother

Sheerah

Sheerah: A Woman of Distinction

Shiphrah

Shiphrah, the Midwife

The Shullamite

The Beautiful People of the Bible

“Black and Beautiful” or “Black but Beautiful”?

Puah

Puah, the Midwife

Tamar, Judah’s Wife

Tamar, Judah’s Wife: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Tamar, David’s Daughter

Tamar, Absalom’s Sister

The Rape of Tamar

Tamar, the Victim of Rape

Amnon the Rapist

David and Tamar

Absalom, Tamar’s Vindicator

Tamar, Absalom’s Daughter

Tamar, Absalom’s Daughter

Vasti

Vasti, Queen of Persia

Zibiah

Zibiah: A Great-Grandmother of Jesus

Zillah

Lamech’s Wife

Zilpah

Zilpah, Leah’s Handmaid

Zipporah

Moses’ Cushite Wife

Additional Studies on Old Testament Women

Women’s Issues and Concerns in the Old Testament

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2 Responses to All the Women of the Old Testament

  1. fellowsrichard says:

    Do the genders of the names in the Septuagint always agree with those in the Hebrew? If there are discrepancies, is there a pattern to them?

    Like

    • Richard,

      In Hebrew some names could be either the name of a man of the name of a woman. The same thing happens in English. For example, the name Chris can be the name of a man or the name of a woman.The same thing with the name Drew. These names are what is called “unisex names.” Unisex names are also found in the Old Testament. Thus, naming a child reflects the wishes of parents.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

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