Women Prophets of the Old Testament

by Richard S. Hess | November 04, 2009
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Although there may have been many female prophets in Old Testament times, five receive specific mention. Two of these, the prophetess who bears the son named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Is. 8:3) and the prophetess Noadiah who is associated with opponents of Nehemiah (Neh. 6:14), receive brief mention and do not perform the tradition roles of prophecy. The remaining woman prophets, Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah, proclaim God’s Word at critical times in the history of the Old Testament people of God.

Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, serves as a worship leader for all the people of Israel (Ex. 15:20) by praising God for his salvation from the mighty Egyptian army. Her opening words are virtually identical to those beginning the great Song of the Sea (vv. 1-19), and so may suggest that it was she and her sisters who taught the song to Israel.

Deborah serves as one who leads the people of God in overcoming a threat to their continued existence. Her role as a general in Israel’s army is not unknown, as female generals are attested in the surrounding cultures. However, her faithfulness to God and lifelong commitment to judging the people remain an example to all.

Hundreds of years later Huldah receives an embassy from King Josiah who has discovered the book of the law and is concerned about Israel’s failure to obey it (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22). She predicts judgment against the people of God for their failure to follow him but promises Josiah that his repentance will deliver him from that coming time.

In these three examples we have prototypes of the worship leader, the executive pastor, and the fearless preacher. Are you called to be a Miriam and lead God’s people in worship? Are you called to administer and direct the church in its concerns, as Deborah did for Israel? Perhaps you are called to proclaim God’s Word fearlessly, indicting the unrepentant and speaking mercy to those who truly turn to God. Whether your call lies with one of these roles or with others, may you receive today what God has for you.

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