For a very patriarchal society, God used a remarkable set of women in leadership roles in the stories of the Old Testament:
- Eve was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20).
- Miriam is described as a prophet (Exodus 15:20). She may have been the sister who watched over Moses in his basket when he was discovered by Pharaoh. She led the women in singing and dancing after Moses led the Children of Israel across the Red Sea (Exodus 15). She was temporarily struck down with leprosy after complaining against Moses (Numbers 12)
- Sarah played a significant role in the story of Abraham and the formation of the Israelite people (Genesis 17-25). The same is true of Rebecca (Genesis 24-29), and Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29-35).
- Rahab protected the two spies Joshua sent to Jericho (Joshua 2).
- Deborah was a prophet and judge ruling over Israel. She led the Children of Israel to victory in a battle against the Canaanites (Judges 4). Barak, the commander of the army, refused to go into battle without her, and God granted them victory.
- Jael killed Sisera, captain of the Canaanite army by driving a peg through his temple (Judges 4).
- The five daughters of Zelophehad faced Moses and the entire community of Israel to demand land as their inheritance (Numbers 27).
- Ruth and Naomi are a beautiful example of God’s dealings with women
- Hannah was barren until God answered her prayers. She gave birth to Samuel whom she dedicated to God (1 Samuel 1)
- Abigail saved her household by providing for David (1 Samuel 25). She later became King David’s wife.
- A young servant girl directed Naaman to go to Elisha for healing (2 Kings 5)
- When King Josiah didn’t know what to do, his advisors consulted with Huldah, a female prophet, who spoke God’s word to them (2 Kings 22).
- The teachings of King Lemuel’s mother are part of Scripture (Proverbs 31)
- Shallum’s daughters helped repair the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:12)
- God used Queen Esther to save the Jewish people (Esther).
Not only does the history of Israel include these women, several women are described in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba (Matthew 1). God has used women throughout human history.