Junia was an apostle who, alongside Andronicus, was spoken of highly by Paul in his letter of greeting to the church at Rome. Paul speaks of them warmly as his relatives, fellow prisoners, and prominent among the apostles. Junia was a part of the ministry of Christ in Rome before Paul's conversion. (Romans 16:7)
Through early Church history, Junia was widely accepted as a female apostle. However, her name was changed in some translations to a male version, Junias. Modern scholars have determined that the original name Junia, is a woman, and these corrections have been made to most texts, but not all.
Joanna, whose name means "Jehovah has been gracious," was the wife of Herod’s household manager, Chuza. She was spoken of among Mary Magdalene and Susanna, disciples of Jesus that had received healing from him. We don't know if it was physical or spiritual healing that she received from Jesus, but we know that she was a generous and devoted follower. She, along with other women, travelled with Christ and the 12 apostles, financially supporting his ministry from her own means. Joanna discovered the empty tomb of Christ after his death along with Mary, mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. These women were the first proclaimers of the Gospel, the first to announce Christ’s resurrection to the apostles. (Luke 8, 24)
Jael and her husband Heber were tent dwelling people living in Zaanannim near Kedesh. Heber was an ally of the Canaanite King Jabin. Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, sought refuge in Heber's camp after all his men had been defeated by the Israelites. He knew that he would be protected there because of Heber's alliance with King Jabin. Jael, who was a sympathizer of the Israelites, stepped outside her tent and invited Sisera to come in for protection. She covered him with a blanket. He asked for a drink of water, but she gave him milk instead. He asked her to stand guard at the door and tell anyone who asked that no one was there. Sisera became drowsy and fell asleep. Jael picked up a tent peg and hammer and drove it through Sisera's temple. She ended his life, boldly fulfilling Deborah's prophecy that God would deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman. Her actions ended the war, gave the Israelites victory, and ushered in 40 years of peace.(Judges 4,5)
Huldah the prophet lived during the time of King Josiah's reign over Judah. She served in the second district of Jerusalem, and was a contemporary of the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah. The people of Judah had turned their backs on God once again and were worshipping false gods through many disturbing rituals. During the renovation of the temple in Jerusalem, a book of the Law of Moses was discovered by the high priest Hilkiah, and King Josiah had it read to him. The godly King was ashamed and heartbroken when he realized the his people had failed to follow God's law, and he sent Hilkiah and four other men to consult the prophet Huldah to verify the authenticity of the scripture. She confirmed that the text was true, and gave the men a message from the Lord that He would destroy Judah because of its unfaithfulness. The message held hope, however. God told the men, through Huldah, that their king would see peace in his kingdom because of his tender heart toward God. Josiah ended all pagan practices and led his people to worship the one true God, through the rest of his lifetime. Huldah's message gave way to the religious renewal of Judah and surrounding areas. (2 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 34)
Hannah was a woman of great faith who was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had another wife Peninnah, but he loved Hannah more. Hannah was unable to have a child, which caused her much grief. Peninnah mocked Hannah in her struggle and tried to make her miserable. In a visit to the temple, Hannah prayed fervently that God would give her a son. She was so intent in her prayer that the priest Eli thought she was drunk. Some time later, Hannah was able to conceive and gave birth to Samuel. She was so thankful for her son that she devoted him to a life of service to God. (1 Samuel 1-2)
She is the mother of all humanity, the crown of the creation story, the completed reflection of God's image. She was the first to believe the lie that the deceiver told her. Although she rebelled against her Creator, her offspring would be a part of the redemption offered to the human race. Her seed will, once and for all, crush the serpent's head. (Genesis 1-3)
Esther, a beautiful young Hebrew orphan, was born Hadassah. Her cousin Mordecai adopted and raised her as his own daughter. The reigning King Xerxes had grown angry with his wife Queen Vashti during a drunken feast for refusing to exhibit herself before the people and the king's officials. Angry and concerned that this would cause women throughout the kingdom to rebel against their husbands, he had Vashti removed. The king ordered beautiful young virgins from throughout the land to be brought and evaluated for the position of Queen. Esther was among those young women. Concealing her Jewishness, she underwent one year of cosmetic treatments before being brought to the king. He favored her more than all the other women and chose her as his queen, holding a great banquet in her honor. Haman, the king's highest official, hated Mordecai because he refused to bow to him. Mordecai discovered a plot by Haman to destroy the Jews. He got word to Esther and convinced her to bravely approach the king without being summoned, which was illegal and punishable by death. She told Mordecai to have the Jewish people fast for three days. After those three days, she came before the king. He welcomed her presence and accepted her invitation to dinner with her and Haman. At that dinner, she invited them to another dinner the following day. At the banquet, she revealed her identity as a Jew and petitioned the king to stop Haman's plot. The king not only granted her request, he had Haman killed on the pole that Haman had intended for Mordecai. Mordecai was given a place of high honor in the King's palace, and the Jewish people were given freedom to avenge
Elisabeth was part of a lineage of priesthood, being a descendant of Aaron and the wife of Zechariah. She and Zechariah were very old and had not been able to have children. When Zechariah was in the temple, an angel appeared to him and told him that Elisabeth would have a son named John. Elisabeth conceived, and during her pregnancy was visited by her cousin Mary, who was also expecting a baby. When she saw her cousin, Elisabeth's unborn baby kept within her womb and she was overcome by the Holy Spirit. She proclaimed a blessing over Mary and her child that would be the Messiah. Elisabeth’s son was born and became known as John the Baptist. (Luke 1)
She was the only female judge in Jewish history, as well as a prophet. She sat under a palm tree in the hill country of Ephraim, where Israelites came to seek her counsel to resolve their disputes. Israel had fallen under the control of the Canaanite King Jabin, and she was led by God to take military action to release her people from oppressive rule. She summoned Barak, an Israelite general to raise up an army of 10,000 to defeat the mighty Canaanite army, led by Sisera. Barak was reluctant to go, but he accepted the assignment to go only if she accompanied him into battle. She agreed, telling Barak the message from the Lord that Israel would be victorious, and that Sisera, the Canaanite army general, would be destroyed at the hand of a woman, who was later revealed as Jael. Indeed, the prophesy came true. Deborah's wisdom, courage, and obedience to God brought about victory for the Jewish people, as well as 40 years of peace. (Judges 4-5).
She was the wife of Pilate. When Pilate was sitting on the judgement seat in the trial of Jesus Christ, she sends a message, pleading with Pilate to release Jesus. She was tormented by dreams the night before that convinced her of Jesus' innocence. She spoke out on his behalf. Her petition seemed to have an affect on Pilate, as he washed his hands of the matter. He didn't want to be the one to condemn Jesus, and he turned the decision over to the crowd. Believed to have become a Christian, Pilate's wife was the only person who declared the innocence of Jesus in the Gospel account of Matthew. Although unnamed in this passage, she was called Procula in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodumus, or Claudia Procula in other writings. She is recognized a saint in the Eastern and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches. (Matthew 27)
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