Ever heard of Sera, Aksah or Sheerah? I hadn’t . . . until I decided to read through the Old Testament, slowly, keeping an eye out for every woman mentioned. Here’s a little something about these three influential women.
SERAH – Genesis 46:17; Numbers 26:46; 1 Chronicles 7:30.
Serah was the daughter of Asher, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Serah is mentioned by name in three Old Testament genealogies but not much information is given about her. Apparently she lived an extraordinarily long time. Because of her longevity, she lived to know both her grandfather Jacob (born around 2000BC) and, five hundred years later, Moses (born around 1500BC).
According to Midrashic interpretations Serah was very beautiful and very wise. It is believed that Serah was asked to break the news to Jacob that his son Joseph was still alive and living in Egypt. She did this through a song while accompanying herself on a harp. Later, Serah made sure that Joseph’s bones were brought from Egypt to Canaan, the Promised Land. Her personal connection with Jacob and the Twelve Patriarchs would have given her importance in later generations.
AKSAH – Joshua 15:16-19; Judges 1:12-15; 1 Chronicles 2:49.
Aksah (or Achsah) was Caleb’s daughter. Caleb was highly respected in the Israeli community. Caleb and Joshua were the two good spies, and the only people who survived the entire 40 year trek in the wilderness to enter the Promised land. (All the Israelites who eventually entered the Promised Land had been born in the wilderness and not in Egypt.)
[Aksah] In Joshua 15:16-19 NLT we read that Caleb offered his unmarried daughter Aksah as a prize. In Old Testament times, marriages were seen as much more than an alliance between husband and wife. Marriage was an alliance of two families, and so parents, especially fathers, played the major role in organising a match. Also, women were considered as the property of men in Old Testament times.
Othniel was the one who won Aksah’s hand. He later became the first judge of Israel.
At some point, Aksah asked her husband Othniel to ask Caleb for a field. Aksah was given a field from her father, but it seems to have been dry and difficult to work. Aksah was not impressed and got on her donkey and went to her father herself; she asked him for land with springs. Caleb agreed. So Aksah got her own piece of workable land [as did the woman in Proverbs 31:16.] Aksah’s story is repeated in Judges 1:12-15 NLT.
SHEERAH – 1 Chronicles 7:24
Tucked away in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles chapter 7 is a woman named Sheerah. It is not entirely clear if this woman was the daughter of a man called Beriah (the son of Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph) or whether she was the daughter of Ephraim himself.
Very few women are named in genealogies because the family line was traced through men. So it is very significant when a woman is mentioned, and even named, in one.
Sheerah was obviously an influential woman, and probably wealthy. She built and established the towns of Upper and Lower Horon. These towns were built in a strategic location and went on to have a long history. Sheerah even built a town that bears her name: Uzzen Sheerah. She was probably a leader of the towns she established.
Sheerah is just one example of a Bible woman who had a prominent position of authority and influence. And, as with other Bible women with authority, there is no hint that this was inappropriate or improper, or that anyone had a problem with it.
There are several women in the Bible who showed initiative, influence and resourcefulness. Some of these women seem obscure to us, but they were far from obscure to the people of their time. These Bible women – which include Serah, Aksah and Sheerah – were prominent women with clout.
You can read more about Sheerah in CBE’s recent Arise E-Newsletter. You can also read about many more Old Testament women in the most recent issue of Mutuality.