26 Virtuous Women in the Bible You Should Know
There are so many virtuous women in the Bible! While I think many of us have an idea of Scripture being full of quiet, meek women, it’s clear in Scripture that there is a wide spectrum of women using their passions and talents to serve God. From Sarah’s faith displayed while traversing back and forth to an unknown land to Jael’s decisive assassination of an enemy military leader to Tabitha’s faith display through her acts of charity, there are so many different women who glorify God in the Bible.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, I wanted to compile some of my favorite women in the Bible that you should get to know!
Virtuous Women in the Old Testament
I wondered for a split second if Eve should make the “virtuous women” list. But despite being part of the Fall, I think it’s very clear that Eve loved the Lord and wanted to honor Him. In Genesis 4, after the exile from Eden, we see Eve recognizing the goodness of God in the birth of her children. Also, pre-Fall, Eve was the only woman on this list to live in Eden and literally walk in the presence of God the Father.
Read more about Eve in Genesis 1-4
Sarah’s life was tumultuous, especially by modern standards. Between the moving around and, on more than one occasion, being pawned off to appease a king, and being infertile in the ancient world, she carried a heavy burden. We don’t hear much about her, and what we do is often negative (how she laughed at the angel’s message in Genesis 18). But Hebrews 11 lists her among those with remarkable faith and says that by her faith, she received the power to conceive Issac in her old age.
Read more about Sarah in Genesis 11-23
If Sarah’s life was tumultuous as the wife of Abraham, I can only imagine how much more Hagar bore as an enslaved woman with very little control over her life. I think we get a glimpse into both the severity of the trials and her faith in Genesis 16 when she flees Sarah’s abuse and God speaks to her in the desert. She calls the Lord, “The One who Sees Me” and is the first person in the Bible to call God by a personal name.
Read more about Hagar in Genesis 16-21
Deborah defies many of the stereotypes of Biblical women. She acts as the leader of the people of Israel for a time, judging and prophesying. In addition, she also goes with the military leader in battle, encouraging him to boldly lead his men into battle. One aspect of Deborah’s story that often gets overlooked is her song of praise in Judges 5. It is a beautiful model for reflecting on God’s work and offering Him the glory.
Read more about Deborah in Judges 4-5
Again, an untraditional Biblical woman. When Barak refuses to go into battle without Deborah at his side, she prophesies that a woman will bring about the decisive victory. Enter Jael.
Jael lured the opposition’s leader into her tent, lulled him to sleep with good food, and then drove a tent stake through his temple while he slept. She definitely bucks the stereotypes of what a “Biblical woman” should look like and I love to read about how God used her in seemingly unconventional ways to honor Him!
Read about Jael in Judges 4
Ever since I was a young girl (and an older sister), I’ve been fascinated by Miriam’s dedication to her brother, Moses. As a young child, she watched him travel down the dangerous Nile and then, when Pharaoh’s daughter declared she would raise him, cleverly offered to find a wet nurse and returned him to their mother. Imagine my surprise as an adult when I discovered that her story didn’t end there and she was also a prophetess! Like Aaron, she was reprimanded by God for standing against Moses but ultimately, was restored to the people and demonstrated great love for God. Micah 6 references her as one of the leaders God sent to lead the people out of Egypt!
Read about Miriam in Exodus 2, 15, Numbers 12, 20
Tamar was a tenacious woman. When she was mistreated and unfairly cast aside, she used cunning, unconventional methods to reclaim what was her right. One of my favorite parts of Tamar’s story is her ability to call out the hypocrisy of Judah. She is the first unconventional women of the Bible to be mentioned in the genealogy of Christ
Read about Tamar in Genesis 38, Matthew 1
Rahab was a prostitute from Jericho who hid the Israelite spies when they came to scope out Jericho. Because of her faith in the God of Israel, she and her family were spared from the destruction. Not only that, but she is one of 5 women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus!
Read more about Rahab in Judges 2-3, Matthew 1
Ruth was another Biblical woman who was not an Israelite, but a Moabite woman. Widowed at a young age, she was committed to caring for her mother-in-law, Naomi, even though it meant she lived in meager conditions. Her story is a beautiful tale of redemption and God’s faithfulness in bringing beauty from adversity. Ruth is also one of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ.
Read more about Ruth in the Book of Ruth, Matthew 1
Huldah is one of those little-known women of the Bible. She was a prophetess during the time of the kings. Her name appears twice in Scripture, parallel tellings of the same event in 2 King and 2 Chronicles, where she is sought after as a prophetess who can correctly tell the King the will of the Lord. Her small appearance is a reminder that, like Miriam and Deborah before her, God works through women to reveal the prophetic.
Read more about Huldah in 2 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 34
Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah whom David impregnated, then widowed in an attempt to cover up his sin. But her story doesn’t stop there. She became the mother of Solomon, filled her role as queen mother with dignity, and ultimately, was the influence for the renowned women of noble character in Proverbs 31. She is the final woman of the Old Testament mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy.
Read more about Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12, 1 Kings 1-2, Matthew 1
I’ve written a few times about Esther and her boldness in the face of potential death. Two things of note about Esther’s story. First, she employed her boldness not for herself, but for the sake of others. She was presumably safe, her people were not. Secondly, when she was confronted about her need to speak up and realized the danger she was in, she turned to fasting and prayer. Her reliance on God to work through her is evident.
Read more about Esther in the Book of Esther
Abigail acted with screwed wisdom is a beautiful example of a woman working to make the best out of her situation. While she was married to a rash man, she worked to secure peace he did not deserve and, ultimately, found herself married to King David as a result!
Read about Abigail in 1 Samuel 25
Judith is a powerhouse woman of virtue. Like Esther, she acted decisively to save her people. Unlike Esther, her story involved beheading a military official! But Judith’s commitment to virtue and reliance on God in prayer is an inspiring encouragement to all women!
Read more about Judith in the Book of Judith
Jehosh′eba is a woman in the Bible whose name is easy to overlook or forget. (To be totally transparent, I couldn’t even remember her name when I was compiling this post and just wrote, “Aunt who saved her nephew from Athaliah” – Yes, I remembered the villain’s name but not hers). Nevertheless, she is a wonderful example of a strong, virtuous woman who lived out her faith, received very little recognition, and changed the course of the nation. When the queen mother Athaliah went on a rampage, killing her grandsons to secure power, Jehosh′eba was able to sneak her infant nephew Joash out of the palace. She took him to the temple where he was hidden until he began his reign at 7 years old.
Read more about Jehosh′eba in 2 Kings 11, 2 Chronicles 22
Virtuous Women in the New Testament
I couldn’t say enough about Mary, the mother of our Lord, to do justice to her role in Scripture here. But one aspect of her life that inspires me is her willingness to trust God and say, “yes” to impossible and dangerous circumstances.
Read more about Mary in the Gospels (especially Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, Isaiah 7, Revelation 12)
After years of infertility, Elizabeth praised the Lord for the work He was doing. Like Hagar, Elizabeth believed God saw her and was intervening on her behalf. She also recognized the arrival of Christ in Mary’s womb when her own son, John the Baptist, leaped for joy in utero when he heard Mary’s voice! May we all have eyes like this that see the work of the Lord and His eyes upon us!
Read more about Elizabeth in Luke 1
Anna the prophetess was one of the first people to see the Messiah and recognize Him. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be dedicated, she, along with Simeon, knew he was the long-awaited Messiah and praised the Lord. Anna had been widowed at a young age but instead of growing bitter, she devoted herself to prayer and fasting in the temple.
Read more about Anna in Luke 2
19. Woman Who Bled for 12 Years
Every time I read this story, I’m overcome with how remarkable the faith of this woman must have been after suffering for so long. I know from personal experience that uncured medical conditions can leave you feeling bitter and jaded, but she instead was hopeful. Because of her faith in the Lord, she was healed simply by touching the hem of Christ’s garment.
Read more about this nameless woman of faith in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:2534, Luke 8:4348
20. Mary Magdalene
Mary held a prominent role throughout all of the Gospels. Jesus had cast 7 demons out of her and, afterward, she followed Him throughout His ministry. She was one of the women who followed Jesus even to Calvary and stayed at his feet during his crucifixion. Most notably, she was the first person to see our risen Lord and announced the Resurrection to the disciples.
Read more about Mary Magdalene in Matthew 27, 28, Mark 15, 16, Luke 8, 24, and John 19, 20)
22. Samaritan Women
Sometimes, when we’re faced with hard truths about ourselves, we want to turn away and hide. The Samaritan woman at the well did not do this. When Jesus gently, but honestly, revealed that he knew the sin she was trying to hide, she didn’t run, she believed. Not only that, but she told others in the city and many believed that He was the long-awaited Messiah.
Read more about the woman at the well in John 4.
23. The Canaanite Woman of Faith
While we don’t know the name of this woman, we do know that she also had remarkable faith and boldly sought Jesus. Her daughter was tormented by demons and she knew who could set her free. Jesus saw how truly great her faith was and granted her request.
Read more about the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, Mark 7
Tabitha was a woman in the book of Acts who was know to be “full of good works and acts of charity.” When she died, all of the people, but particularly the widows, mourned her death and sent for Peter who raised her from the dead. Because of this miracle, many in that community believed in the Lord.
Read more about Tabitha in Acts 9
Priscilla, along with her husband, Aquila, worked alongside Paul in his ministry. Like Paul, they were tentmakers who worked together to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul mentions them several times in his epistles and also specified that there was a church in their home.
Read more about Priscilla in Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 16
There is not much written about Lydia, except her conversion. When she was baptized, she invited Paul and those traveling with him to come to stay in her home. In this small passage, she gives a beautiful example of Christian hospitality.
Read more about Lydia in Acts 16
I hope reading about these remarkable women in the Bible encourages you in your faith.
While God calls us all to live holy lives of virtue, that can look quite different depending on the unique gifting, personality, and calling He has given each individual.
Reading about these women reminds me that no two paths are the same. God is the one who calls us all to walk in faith and directs the path before us. We need to rely on Him, look to the examples of those who have gone before us, and offer with open hands our lives as a living sacrifice as these women in the Bible did.
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