There are so many powerful women in the Bible, such as Mary, Rachel, Rebecca, and Ruth, who demonstrate what it means to be a strong leader, wise mother, and faithful individual. Their stories are full of bravery, resilience, and selflessness, and continue to inspire women and girls who follow the Christian faith.
Some of these women are so important that they are venerated to this day, and are even considered religious pillars to many.
Mary, the wife of Joseph, was visited by angel Gabriel, who told her she would become the mother of Jesus. Mary was a virgin and Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit. The Virgin Mary is one of the holiest, and indeed one of the most important figures in Christianity. Mary is venerated by millions of people around the world.
Mary is not introduced in the Gospels in a way that would make her seem noteworthy or deserving of special honor. She is young, resides in an insignificant town, far from the centers of power, with no special social position or status, yet she is the one granted the highest of all statuses, demonstrating the supreme reversal.
Mary Magdalene is present in numerous key moments of the New Testament, including Jesus’ crucifixion. And she’s the one who finds the empty tomb of Jesus: it was Mary Magdalene who, together with other women, announced the resurrection of Christ.
Mary Magdalene and the other women go to anoint Jesus’ body at the tomb, but find the body gone. Mary Magdalene is inconsolable, but she turns and Jesus speaks to her. He calls her by name and she recognizes him.
Mary of Bethany
Mary is the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She was praised by Jesus when she chose to sit and listen to his word rather than focus on housework.
Hannah is one of two wives of Elkanah. The other, Peninnah, had given birth to Elkanah’s children, but Hannah remained childless. Nevertheless, Elkanah preferred Hannah. According to Lillian Klein, the use of this chiasmus underscores the standing of the women: Hannah is the primary wife, yet Peninnah has succeeded in bearing children.
Hannah prayed for a son and in return she dedicated her life to God. She kept her promise and gave up her son Samuel to be raised in the temple.
Ruth is the title character of the Book of Ruth. In the narrative, she is not an Israelite but rather is from Moab; she marries an Israelite. Both her husband and her father-in-law die, and she helps her mother-in-law, Naomi, find protection. The two of them travel to Bethlehem together, where Ruth wins the love of Boaz through her kindness.
She is one of five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew, alongside Tamar, Rahab, the “wife of Uriah” and Mary.