Unnamed women of the Bible
As part of our rather eclectic look at the women of the Bible, we have decided to look at some of the unnamed women in the Bible.
This thought came to me when I recently looked again at the story of the bleeding woman. There are many unnamed women in the Bible with important roles to play and lessons to teach us. We will look at two Old Testament women and two New Testament women.
Her part in the story of Moses is told in Exodus 20 verses 1 to 10 where she rescues Moses from the river and adopts him as her own son giving him all the privileged education and learning that he would need in later life! Pharaoh’s daughter played such a critical role in God’s plans, disobeying her father’s wishes that all Hebrew male babies should be drowned. Her act must have taken courage and yet this kind, tender compassionate woman remains anonymous!
In the book of Judges (chapter 13) we read about Samson’s mother who was married to Manoah. Sadly, she was unable to have children and this was a source of great sadness and loneliness. However, she was a woman of faith and prayer and we can imagine that she believed God would care for her in all circumstances.
Her faith was rewarded by a revelation from an Angel of the Lord which was perhaps an early appearance of Jesus and a message that she would become pregnant. God gave her a child, one that she had prayed for and one that she and her husband praised God for with burnt offerings.
We can be encouraged that God listens to our prayers and He acts not always in the way we expect or want but when we pray in faith and with desire God listens and miracles can happen!
Now let’s look at two unnamed New Testament women.
The bleeding woman
We find her story in Mark’s Gospel. Well, I’m sure most women know the discomfort and fatigue associated with monthly bleeding and so I can’t imagine how someone could endure constant bleeding for 12 years! This story shows the power of Jesus to heal where human doctors had failed. She’d suffered many treatments that not only hadn’t made her better but rather had made her condition worse! She showed tremendous faith and humility by seeking simply to touch the hem of Jesus’ gown. Jesus responds with compassion and tenderness when he says in Mark’s Gospel : Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over. (Mark 5:34NLT)
Imagine her joy and sense of belonging after years of being an outsider when Jesus called her daughter!
The Canaanite woman
The last story we are going to look at is a new one for me, the woman of Canaan! Her story is found in Matthew 15:21-28. This woman was a gentile and she was desperate to find a cure for her sick daughter.
When she heard that Jesus was close by, she went to Him and told Him of her despair and she asked for His mercy and she recognised His greatness. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly. (Matthew 15:22 TLB)
But Jesus ignored her and his disciples asked Jesus to send her away! Then in verse 24, He says: I was sent to help the Jews—the lost sheep of Israel – not the Gentiles.
The next three verses in the story are on the surface difficult to understand.
But she came and worshiped Him and pled again, ‘Sir, help me!’
‘It doesn’t seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.’ He said.
‘Yes, it is!’ she replied, ‘for even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.’
So what do these verses mean? Well, I understand that Jesus is saying that He came to give salvation (the bread) to the Jews (the children) and not to the Gentiles (the dogs). But, in her faith and courage, she responded that even the Gentiles (the dogs) have the right to the crumbs under the table.
Her persistence and determination was rewarded in verse 28: ‘Woman,’ Jesus told her, ‘your faith is large, and your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed right then.
This seems to be a really pivotal moment when Jesus demonstrates that He came to save all people and not just the Jews.
From all these stories we see that being anonymous is no boundary to the work that you can do through and for God. It’s is the nameless women in the background whose work for God might go unnoticed but who are quietly carrying out tasks every day that advance God’s plans for His people!