Powerful Women In The Bible & Their Importance

Several powerful women in the Bible played a critical role in the history of Israel and later in the Christian movement. In some cases, a woman was instrumental in saving a significant part of the Israelite or Jewish population.

Some of the powerful women in the Bible were born into or married into royalty or wealth. Others became influential thanks to their special gifts of prophecy and leadership.

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Powerful Women in the Bible

The following are some of the most powerful and influential women in biblical history. After biblical times, of course, there have been countless powerful women who have lived and acted courageously for God.

Modern faith-based sisterhoods—such as Christian Business Sisterhood—celebrate God-fearing women throughout history and empower Christian women of today to fulfill their potential and make a difference for God’s kingdom in the world through their lives and business endeavors.

Ready? Here’s the list:

Pharoah’s Daughter – Princess of Egypt

Read about her in: Exodus 2:5-10

Pharoah’s daughter is never named in the Bible. However, this Egyptian princess played a critical role in the history of Israel. After Pharoah ordered that the baby Hebrew boys be thrown into the Nile, his daughter found baby Moses floating down the Nile in the basket his mother had made to hide him and save his life. She decided to adopt him as her son and paid his mother to nurse him until he grew older (upon the clever suggestion of Moses’ older sister, Miriam).

Moses, under God’s authority and power, ultimately rescued his people from their oppression and slavery in Egypt in the exodus. He later received the Torah (Law) on Mount Sinai and led the people in the wilderness for 40 years until Joshua eventually led them into the Promised Land.

Miriam – Prophetess

Read about her in: Exodus 2:1-10, Exodus 15, Numbers 12

Miriam was the older sister of Moses and the first prophetess in the history of Israel. As a child, Miriam cleverly convinced Pharoah’s daughter to give Moses to his mother to nurse until he was ready to be adopted as her son. As an adult, Miriam became a prophet alongside her brother Moses and led all the women in song after the Hebrews’ miraculous deliverance from Pharoah’s army when they crossed the Sea of Reeds on dry ground.

In Numbers 12, Miriam and her brother Aaron criticized Moses because of his Cushite wife and God punished Miriam by inflicting her with a “defiling skin disease,” for which she was confined outside of the camp for seven days (and was then restored to the community). The story of Miriam teaches us that with great power comes great responsibility and that God expects leaders to remain humble and show honor to others.

Deborah – Judge of Israel and Prophetess

Read about her in Judges 4-5

Deborah was the fourth judge of Israel, a prophetess, and the wife of Lappidoth. She judged the people’s cases under a date palm tree between Bethel and Ramah in Benjamin in the land of Ephraim.

The book of Judges recounts that King Jabin of Canaan had been oppressing the people of Israel for twenty years. Deborah told Barak to gather ten thousand troops from Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor to fight Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army. Barak refused to go without Deborah and Deborah agreed to go with him, but told him that because of this, God would deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.

This is exactly what happened. God routed Sisera and his army at Barak’s advance and Sisera escaped on foot. He ran to the tent of Jael, whose husband’s people were allies of King Jabin. She gave him milk and he fell asleep. She then drove a tent peg through his temple and he died.

The story of Deborah shows us that a woman can become a very powerful figure in God’s plans even in a patriarchal society in which leadership roles were typically occupied by men.

Abigail – Wealthy Woman

Read about her in 1 Samuel 25

Abigail was the intelligent and beautiful wife of Nabal and a woman of high socioeconomic status. When David’s men asked her husband Nabal for provisions after taking good care of his shepherds and their belongings for some time, Nabal refused. David then declared that he would kill all the men of Nabal’s household.

Abigail courageously went behind her husband’s back, went to plead mercy from David, and took him and his men generous amounts of food and wine. God stuck Nabal dead around 10 days later and David asked Abigail to become his wife. Abigail had used her wealth to provide for David’s army on the report of Nabal’s shepherds, even though she didn’t know David or his men personally. Her generosity saved the lives of Nabal’s men and she was richly rewarded.

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Jehosheba – Princess of Judah

Read about her in 2 Kings 11:1-3

Jehosheba was the daughter of King Jehoram and the sister of Ahaziah. Athaliah, the Queen Mother, sought to destroy the entire royal family following Ahaziah’s death so that she could rule. Jehosheba hid Prince Jehoash with his nurse in a bedroom and then in the temple for six years so that he wouldn’t be murdered along with the rest of the royal children. In doing so, she preserved David’s royal line.

Huldah – Prophetess

Read about her in 2 Kings 22:14-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:22-28

Huldah the prophetess lived during the reign of King Josiah. She was the wife of “Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe.” After the Book of the Law was discovered during renovations to Solomon’s Temple, King Josiah sent Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah to inquire of God. They went to Huldah and she prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem. They then took her prophecy back to the king.

Esther – Queen of Persia

Read about her in The Book of Esther

Esther was a Jewish orphan who was chosen by King Xerxes to replace Vashti as queen of Persia. When Haman plotted to massacre the Jews after Esther’s uncle Mordecai refused to bow down and pay homage to him, Esther bravely told the king about Haman’s plot and the king responded favorably to her, authorizing the Jews to defend themselves. Her courage and wisdom in pleading her case to the king (even though it meant risking her life) saved the Jewish people.

The Women’s Who Sponsored Jesus’ Ministry

Read about them in Luke 8:1-3

Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, “the manager of Herod’s household,” Susanna, and “many others” are described as supporting Jesus and his disciples out of their own means and traveling around with Jesus and his disciples. These women are rarely recognized or acknowledged. However, their generous giving allowed Jesus and his disciples to preach full-time.

Lydia – Businesswoman

Read about her in Acts 16:14-15, 16:40-17:1

Lydia was a merchant who sold purple cloth in the city of Thyatira and is described as a worshiper of God. Purple cloth at that time was made using a dye extracted from murex shellfish. It was a luxury item that cost the equivalent of thousands of dollars in today’s money, so Lydia would have been very wealthy.

Lydia and her household were baptized and she offered to host Paul and his travel companions in her home even though they had roused opposition in other cities. The brothers and sisters met in Lydia’s house after Paul and Silas came out of prison in Phillipi, which was the first Phillipian church. The receptivity, hospitality, and bravery of this prominent businesswoman were instrumental in the development of the early church in Europe.

Phoebe – Benefactor, Deaconess, and Letter-Bearer

Read about her in Romans 16:1-3

Phoebe was a deacon of the church in Cenchreae and a “benefactor of many people,” including Paul. She was the person chosen to deliver the letter to the Roman church—a great honor and responsibility generally entrusted to men.

A deacon in the early church had to fulfill several character requirements and was presumed to be a man (1 Timothy 3:12). Deacons served by distributing food to widows (Acts 6:1-7). The Didascalia Apostolorum (DA)—a canonico-liturgical compilation that appeared toward the year 240—described deaconesses as being chosen for the service of women, acting as a go-between for women and the bishop, teaching and visiting women, and anointing women for the rite of baptism.

Chapter 16 of Romans doesn’t specify which functions Phoebe fulfilled as a deacon. However, it’s apparent that she was an upstanding and generous woman and one whom Paul trusted immensely.

Priscilla – Businesswoman and Evangelist

Read about her in Acts 18:1-3, 26 Romans 16:3, Romans 18:26 and 1 Corinthians 16:19

Priscilla and her husband Aquila were both tentmakers, as Paul was, and hosted Paul when he went to Corinth. The Jewish couple traveled with Paul to Ephesus, hosted a church in their home, and are both described by Paul as his co-workers in Christ Jesus (Acts 18:3). In Acts 18:26, Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside “and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”

This multitalented woman worked alongside her husband as an equal and used the gifts of industry, hospitality, and theology to advance Christianity.

These Powerful Women Changed Biblical History

These powerful women in the Bible played a pivotal role in establishing and saving the nation of Israel and establishing the Christian church. They demonstrated great courage, audacity, and trust in God and were ultimately rewarded and honored by being recorded explicitly in the Bible.

We often think of key biblical figures as being men—as the kings, priests, and most of the prophets of Israel were men. However, both women and men have played decisive roles in God’s plan to establish His special people and ultimately redeem the world.


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