imagesWho were the ten women who said the most in the Bible? Counting down…

#10 Rebekah. 293 words. Just a girl when she leaves home to marry a man sight unseen…and, twenty years later, gives birth to two troublesome boys, Esau and Jacob. She helps Jacob trick his father and therefore ace Esau out of the family inheritance…all with God’s blessing, of course. Rebekah is one of the few women who talks individually with God (thus leading to her helping deceive her husband) and is one of only two girls in the entire Bible to have a dialogue with her mother (although her brother was present, but it still counts…mostly).

#9 Abigail. 316 words. One of the greatest diplomats of all time. Her family is about to be slaughtered because her husband, in a drunken stupor, has loudly and stupidly insulted King David. Abigail whips up food and drink for hundreds of David’s troops and successfully negotiates her family’s freedom with David. …and (later) winds up marrying David, serving as a voice of reason and steadiness.

#8 Naomi. 411 words. A stubborn widow who wants nothing more than to return to the land of her birth and die there. But she has a daughter-in-law who loves her dearly…and will not leave her side. Together they forge a path home. Naomi finds a new husband for Ruth and soon a boy is born in Bethlehem…who will be the grandfather of King David…and 1000 years later, because of Naomi’s trek home, another descendant is born there…Jesus! (thus fulfilling the law and the prophets)…all because one old woman would not give up her dream.

#7 Huldah. 416 words. A prophet. Seems that under the reign of King Josiah, a scroll was unearthed…and no one could read it because it had been so long since the Word of God was actually read and understood. “Take it to the temple,” said the king. “Let the wise men figure it out.” Turns out the king’s assistants knew an even wiser person: Huldah, whom they delivered the scroll to immediately. She could read it; she did read it—and the painful news it contained— and helped redirect Israel’s path to follow God.

#6 The woman of Tekoa. 437 words. A diplomat and actor. King David’s general, Joab, knows that David needs to reach out to his son, Absalom, who has killed his brother Amnon for raping their sister Tamar and been on the run since. (Yikes; talk about family dynamics!) So Joab rouses up a well-respected woman from Tekoa, tells her to dress in black, and gives her this sad story to tell David: one of her two sons has killed the other, conflict has riddled the family ever since, and reconciliation must be sought. David perceives the woman is acting…and could have her head…but because she has such a non-anxious and convincing persence she makes her point, helps David reconcile his people, and is allowed to live out the rest of her days in peace.

#5 Hannah. 474 words. An infertile woman who wanted a child so much that she offered God a deal: give her a son and she would return him for service in God’s kingdom.  (Eli, her priest thought she was drunk because she was praying out loud when no one else was visible…but clearly God was there, heard her prayer and answered it). When the boy, Samuel, was weaned, she brought back, as promised…and Samuel grew up to be one of the greatest judges of Israel, finding and anointing both Saul and David as future kings.

#4 The mother of seven sons. 616 words. In this, one of the most heart-wrenching stories in the Bible, a mother watches as all seven of her sons are tortured to death in front of her, one by one, by horrific and different methods. She pleads with them to keep their faith, knowing it will end with their deaths but that it is the right thing to do…and that God will save them. She, too, then,  gives her body over to her assailants—but keeps her formidable soul intact—as it must still be today, in God’s hands.

#3 Esther.  1207 words. A beautiful young woman, Esther is taken into the king’s harem…and selected to replace the unfortunate Queen Vashti, who would not strip and perform in front of her drunken husband’s friends. Queen Esther, a Jew (unbeknownst to her husband), works undercover to save the lives of her people from annihilation. A truly non-anxious and lovely presence in the middle of chaos and evil.

#2 The Shulammite woman. 1425 words. A woman who has lost her lover and goes to great lengths to find him—and recounts her beautifully physical and emotional relationship with him in the process. Evocative, sensual and poetic story, thanks be to God.

#1 Judith. 2689 words. A widow, who most likely thought her good life would fade away after her husband’s death, jumps in with an incredibly bold plan to save her people from being anniliated at the hands of the enemy, King Holofernes. After praying for God’s help in one of the most eloquent soliloquies in the Bible, she slips away, with her aide, for several nights to visit the enemy camp. Holofernes thinks he is seducing her when he locks his door behind her, but not so. Judith gets him drunk and pulls out a sword…slices off his head, stuffs it in her food bag…and then returns, triumphant with the trophy, saving her people—and Israel’s self-respect.

A tough and bold ten. Doing God’s work and doing it as well as anyone possible could—with God’s FULL encouragement, trust, and blessing.