I am fascinated with the family lineages of the Bible. Perhaps it is the writer or counselor in me. Genealogies of the Bible abound with intriguing insights about biblical characters we rarely hear or think about.
For example, consider 1 Chronicles chapter seven. Here we find a list of the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Ephraim. Patriarchal sons of Israel are always mentioned, daughters hardly ever. However, among the descendants of Ephraim, we find an incredibly interesting name. Verse 24 states “His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah” (1 Chron. 7 NIV).
The Hebrew word for “built” in this verse literally means to build, to make or set up. Those who cannot accept or believe that a mighty woman of Israel conquered and built villages, which grew into mighty fortified towns, are ignoring history. History offers narratives of women who led mighty tribes and armies.
The towns or villages established by Sheerah were called Beth Horon, which traditionally means “house of hollows or caves.” These villages are mentioned a number of times in the scriptures. The portion of land mentioned in the Bible as Uzzen Sheerah means “portion of Sheerah” or “belonging to Sheerah.” It is concluded that this portion of land was the dwelling place of Sheerah and her family; it was presumably conquered and settled by this remarkable Israelite woman. To trace the life of Sheerah is no easy task, as little is known about her. However, from the biblical narrative readers are told that a mighty woman of God lived and established towns in the bloodthirsty land of Canaan.
Imagine the scene: the Israelites are living in slavery, beaten, overworked and definitely underpaid. Ephraim, the son of Joseph, fathers a number of children and among them is a girl named Sheerah. She is bold, strong willed and fiery, born with natural leadership abilities and fierce warrior skills. He encourages his precious daughter when fathers were not known to indulge their daughters. Sheerah grew strong in heart, stature and determination. Tired of the slavery and the dismay that had taken root among her own people, she gathered a band of men and women to take up arms and boldly she rode into a land where her forefathers once lived. She conquered and established a resting place for those who recognized her calling—a place for herself and those who had witnessed courage, destiny and leadership in a woman called to accomplish the miraculous.
On a personal note I find the story of Sheerah inspiring. As my husband and I work in ministry, I often encounter individuals who oppose my leadership because I am a woman. I have encountered men and women who would not listen to me or be taught by me simply because of my gender. It is during these times that God reminds me of my worth as a daughter of the King. He likewise encourages me through the brave women who labor around me and went before me. Sheerah is one of those women. She was a matriarch, a heroine of battle, and a kinswoman to us all. I hope the example and record of my own battles will provide encouragement for the generation of women around me, and that, through our struggle for equality and inclusion, we will establish something lasting and holy.