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Huldah's School: Uppity women of the Scriptures

A Study by Marilyn A. Hudson (
Women play vital roles in the storyline of the Bible. Like men, they are included as role models, villains, and heroes. Women as the latter, however, seldom find themselves highlighted in sermons, lectures, or lessons. This limitation is linked to tradition, culture and misunderstanding of various Biblical texts. Since so many are unfamiliar with some of the noble women of the Bible, here is a sampling of some women who played vital roles in scripture.
EVE - Made in the Image of God, Genesis 1.27; 2.18; 3.
Her name means life and as the first women is our prototype. Scripture says she was made in the image of God and as such she is clearly a full child of God. Over the years, many myths have arisen about her. Such things as the myth that she was "cursed", that she "caused" sin, and that she is eternally and forever subordinate (less than) the human male because she was called "helper."
The truth is that she was created first in the image of God as human (Gen.1.27) and then as "woman" (gen. 2.18). She is apparently the only complete story of the creation of woman in the entire Middle Eastern creation corpus. The fact is that the bible contains two creation accounts, but strangely it only the second one that people usually mention because it has the story of the rib, the temptation, and the expulsion. The hierarchy is there with Man firmly in first place and Woman a dim second. Yet, the first account says "male and female" God created humans in the "image of God". The truth is that the first account answers the question "How did we get here?"
The second story illustrates an answer to "What did we break our relationship with God?" The story is so familiar to us that we do not really hear it anymore. The Serpent (the symbol of evil) tempts the Woman to Sin, the Woman then tempts the Man and the Man willingly participates. When God finds that they have broken the rules, the Man points the finger at the Woman and said "the Woman made me do it!" Thus, woman was cursed with things like childbirth, sex, and menstruation, etc. for her wanton sinfulness. Her days were forever to be under the heel of the Man and she will pay for her sin into the millionth x10 generation of females....
The truth will set you free...woman was created as a "helper" but was not subordinate. The Hebrew word there is the same word used to describe God in Ps. 30.10 and 54.4. The meaning is more clearly that of "partner". Woman was not cursed. Cursed were only the ground and the serpent (Gen.3.14). Both the man and the woman received penalties for disobedience but not a curse. She is not in a perpetual state of subordination or doomed because of the error of the Garden.
SHEERAH, the City Builder (1 Chron. 7.24)
This little known figure was a daughter of Ephraim and the grand-daughter of Joseph. It is thought her name may mean "ear" and thus her parents may have prayed she would always listen to God. She was responsible for building Upper and Lower Horan (Beit-Ur) and Uzzen-Sherah. The first two cities were known to have played vital roles in the military, transportation, and economic activities of the region from ancient times. The Beth Horan sites were the location of the famous "Long Day" of Joshua 10.10. Consider what is being said here that a from these ancient times "built cities". This infers someone who had the financial resources to establish, support, or maintain a community. This infers perhaps someone who had the knowledge and ability to arrange construction according to her own plans. This infers someone who had the respect of others and who was recognized as someone who should not be forgotten in chronicling the history of the region. Her name might have meant "ear" but plainly she was someone that others heard and responded to themselves.
HULDA, Prophet and Woman of the Word (2 Kings 22.2; 2 Chron. 34)
Prophets in the world of the Old Testament functioned as a link between the human and the divine. They were given special visions, proclamation, they acted as messengers, and the called to repentance. In Judges 6:34 they are seen to be "clothed" with the spirit of God. In the reign of Josiah (in the mid 600's B.C.E.) as the temple was being rebuilt, a scroll was found and the scroll was taken by the priest to the prophet Hulda. The NIV Study Bible notes here that they did not know "why they did not seek out Jeremiah or Zephaniah" without ever seeming to ask if that was even necessary. It was obvious that here was a prophet who was seen to be just as capable as those better known prophets. She was not a "prophetess" but a Prophet who lived in the area where the faithful had returned to live close to the house of God (the Temple). For centuries the southern gate was known as the "Hulda gate" and hosts of the faithful would have passed through it over the years.
PHOEBE, A Church leader from Conchrea (Rom. 16:1-2)
Paul called her a "sister", a "deacon" , and a supporter of the work. Many versions translate the word "diakonos" and "diakona" as servant, refusing to give her the title "Deacon." Deacons all began as "servants" and when they term is used of a man it is translated "Deacon" and as a "servant" if a woman. The same word, however, is used in Phil.1:1 (the only book dedicated to church leaders " all the saints...the bishops...the deacons"). John of Chrystrom in his Homily on 1 Tim. 3.11 wrote: " he is speaking of those women who hold the rank of deacon "(cited in Ordained Women of the Early Church: A documentary History, pg. 19). Origin (185-253) wrote"...this passage teaches two things...women are to be considered the church, and that such ought to be received into the ministry." Some translations interject the term "deaconess" even though this is totally inappropriate and not the form of the word used. It is not until the 6th century that wide spread gendered ministry emerges and a special class called "deaconess" develops in response to the Church's making the role of clergy and the priesthood for men only.
JUNIA - Chief among the Apostles (Rom 16.7)
Through the first seven centuries of the church the word "Junia" was clearly understood to be referring to a woman. Not until much later is this ever questioned. In the mid-to-late 1800's scholars begin to translate the scriptures and write commentaries and label this as a masculine name which they translate as "Junias" because if this person is an "apostle" than it must be a man! This translation anomaly continues into the mid-1900's and than scholars such as Epp, and others, begin to rediscover this forgotten woman of the New Testament and leader in the early Church. The name is not found anywhere in the masculine "Junias" form - but the female name Junia is found in many, many places. Some new scholars, intent on keeping women in their "place", do a fancy side-step by claiming the term "apostle" here is not the same term as applied to people like Paul and other men. Yet Zodhiates, in his Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, and other similar sources, indicates the term used here is the same used by Paul in many other places, including 1 Cor. 9:1 when he says "I am an apostle..."
Other women are the better known: the Wise Women of Tekoa, Abel, Abigail the Mediator, Hannah, Ruth, Noami, Esther the Every Woman, Deborah the Judge, Mary the Mother, Mary the Student, Mary the Witness, and Rhoda, Lydia, Dorcas. Women of every style, interest, and skill who are shown clearly in the scripture but are made invisible in most sermons or teachings.

Further Reading:
Ackerman, Susan. Warrior, dancer, seductress, queen: Women in Judges and Biblical Israel (1998)
Epp, Eldon Jay. Junia: The First Woman Apostle (2005)
Madigan, Kevin and Caroly Oslek. Ordained Women in the Early Church: a documentary history (2005)
Torjesen, karen Jo. When women were priests (1993)
Hudson, Marilyn A. "The Three Faces of Eve." The International Pentecostal Holiness Advocate (October 1991):3-4.
Moore, Michaels. "Wise women" or Wisdom Woman?: A Biblical study of Women's roles. Restoration Quarterly. 35.3 (1993)1147-58.
Synan, Vinson. "Women in Ministry: a history of women's roles in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement." Ministries Today (January/February 1993)44-49.

Women in Ministry

The Church still struggles with this issue of women in positions of leadership.
God, meanwhile, continues to cheerfully ignore them and call women into active and vital expressions of ministry. People who have come to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior have become "new creations" and are "in Christ"...there is no longer the social, racial, or gender barriers that had once been the normal way of operating. Women throughout history have lead the way, taught, preached, prayed, served, and even died for their faith.
What are the benefits of accepting women as equal partners in the work of the Kingdom? They are seen as whole persons, gifted individuals, and intelligent creations of God. Not accepting women as equal partners in the work of the Gospel results in male hubris, denigration of woman as a creature of value and uniqueness that contributes to the Kingdom, domination, and in extreme cases, even abuse.
So remember that with God there are no limitations - so why would he limit the creation he made and gifted and inspired in the first place?

SEAL WOMAN: Ancient Tale of the Need to be True to Thine Own Self

There is an old Celtic story about a seal who swam the icy waters in freedom and absolute joy. The creature moved through the water with grace and speed and total confidence. One day the seal saw a man wandering the shores of a tiny island and fell in after day she would wait in the waters watching as the man traveled the sandy strip from tiny houses to other buildings. Excitement made her quiver the day he came to the water's edge and she saw the male beauty of him and felt a mad desire to be with him....

Now certain seals, it is said, have the power to shed their seal flesh and don that of the human. In the cold night, by the light of a pale moon, she did just that and set off to meet the man. They fell in love and soon the man learned of her secret. He adored her and longed to be with her....but he feared as well. What if she left him? How could he live? His friends would laugh at finding a woman and then losing her. So he hid her seal skin and she was trapped in her woman suit.

She was not altogether sad at this state of affairs. He was handsome and charming, but sometimes when the day was drawing to a close he could see her glance out the window as if hearing the lap of the tide. As much as she loved her husband and adored her children, there were times when her woman skin didn't sit right and she would squirm as if to escape its ill fitting layers. Everyone always said she must adjust. If she would only learn to live in peace and obedience. If she just became a better wife and mother.....

Time passed and children came to make her laugh and light her eyes, but sometimes as the laughter faded there seemed to be an echo of another life...of another self that was no longer...and once more the skin felt odd and bulky.

One day while her husband was out on the sea in his boat, one of the children found something and ran to show it to his mother. Seeing her son race across the sand she almost didn't recognize the thing he carried clutched to his heart. Then it came rushing back to her...that was who she was....that was what she had been meant to be...

All else was forgotten as the memories swamped her . Feeling once more the soaring thrill as she darted through the waves and leaped in the air before sunning herself on a warm bed of sand....she knew only a sense of completeness.

Despite the children and her husband she grabbed the skin and raced to the water and dove into the bubbling surf. She gloried in the feel of the smooth skin covering her bones and moving with her muscles. She laughed as the sun sparkled on the dancing waves and she flipped into the shadows of the watery depths. Yes, that was who she was and she had almost forgotten it. No wonder the other skin had felt so tight and awkward as she struggled to be that other person...
Floating in that other her true world....she looked longingly at her children on the sand. She wanted to stay, yet she ached at the thought of leaving this new freedom behind.
Suddenly her son swam out to her and for a long moment they stared into each other's eyes. With his slicked hair and wide dark eyes he looked very much a seal in the rippling water as he watched and looked into her eyes.

"It's alright are our mother but you are also a seal-woman. I have never seen you so happy as you are in this moment. How can we take that from you? We love you and want you to be content."

He reached out a hand and they looked in awe as the hand revealed tiny webbing between the fingers. She would always be with them they realized no matter what form she was in. They could make it work if they could learn to unite the two worlds in respect and wisdom and love. Laughing, they shot upwards and then dove together into the deep blue water.

Refutation of Nonsense

In researching the current resources on the web on the subjects of women in ministry, many excellent sites were uncovered that argued with grace and love their particular position. Others, however, were clear “false doctrines” of the first order, spewing debasement of God’s creations (humans), slander about women preachers and women in Pentecostal churches, and in women in general, teaching falsehoods, and seeking to inflict harm.
Aaccording to one site, women ....
Give out noxious fumes during menstruation that kill flowers.
They are to call their husbands’ lord or boss.
Their husband is to have total control over any money they make, or even inherit.
God loves women but with reservation.
Elsewhere there is a strong command by these people to believe the Bible literally and yet they have no difficulty taking things out of context, adding amplification based on their own opinions. So often these legalists who seem to get so angry about women as ministers of God and want woman to be eternally under rules of conduct that had died out even by Jesus’ time!

What about men? How many of these men make sure that they do not wear clothes of mixed materials? (Lev. 19.19)
I see men with some “high and tight” haircuts and yet “do not cut the hair at the sides of the head or clip off the edges of your beard…” (Lev. 21.5)
Tongues would wag if men were living up to 2 Cor. 13.12 “greet each other with a holy kiss.”
Sorry, no more pulled pork, sausage because no pig allowed (Deut. 1.8)
The ministers of ancient Israel (priests) were not to enter a place with a dead body and modern ministers attend funerals all the time. (Lev. 21.10)
Those early ministers had to also be without physical defect – some of them- indeed a lot of modern ministers would have to go (Lev. 21.21)
How about “do not go around spreading slander” ( Lev. 19.16)
Are they keeping up those “daily burnt offerings”? (Numbers 28.3)
Are they keeping their tithes every three years to give to the poor and the strangers? (Deut. 14.8)
How about “do not destroy” (Rom. 14.15)
What about the instruction to be only righteous, peaceful and joyous and recognize that one person’s faith may be stronger that your own, and that they might have liberty to do something that sets your teeth on edge? (Rom. 14.1-13).
Now, just a minute! Hold your horses there girlie, girl! Those don’t apply anymore. Oh, why not when you say that many of the same type of things about women are still at play? Sauce for goose is sauce for the gander, goes the old folk saying, and it is still very true.

Disputable Matters
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” Romans 14, In other words, there may be some points of disagreement among Christians, and that is apparently alright, and is not a matter for assault or attack of another Christian. Every time a truly disputable matter is listed, it involves some type of excess: immoral behavior, drunkenness, trying to destroy the faithful, etc.

The problem church of the New Testament (Corinth) had some who thought it was all right to eat meat offered to idols while some others were deeply offended. Some thought this way and some that…..and these were all right as long as they two could a) look at each with Christian love and b) not do something to destroy or harm another’s faith. Most importantly, the weaker Christian is not to be eternally tolerated but to be strengthened. As this other weaker Christian grows, he or she is not so easily offended by minor things and grows in grace. Once again, it is those pesky “rules taught by men” and not the true laws of God (Mark 7:7). Disputable Matters
“Do not destroy…” urges Paul in Romans 14.15 because the mark of a true Christian is “righteousness”, “peace”, and “joy” (v.17). “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” One person’s weakness, Romans 14 goes, may be another person’s liberty. What is not disputable is the chief commandment is still that we love another. So, children of Adam, stop destroying others by your nominalization, nullification, disenfranchisement, abuse, manipulation, violence, and disregard for the creature fashioned in the image of God – your sister, your mother, your wife, or your daughter. Remember the greatest commandment…."love one another.”

[first published in January 2007 in "Sister of Esther")

Simple Truth

The Genesis account lists the most important creation event as the first one: the creation of the male and female human.
Sin enters the world through the joint failings of the human being (one through ignorance (and the above webb site shows where ignorance lands a person) and one through willful disobedience).
Israel saw both men and women used by God as leaders, judges, prophets, and faithful people.
Jesus treated women as equals - when does he ever send them away? Yet, in his day that was the accepted thing to do. Instead, he tells one woman who sat at his feet ,just like the other disciples, that she was 'seeking the good part."
Women and men where in all parts of the life, death, resurrection and sending forth of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Women are found in the New Testament as ministers or deacons, as prophets, as leaders, as business women, as apostles.
Joel 2:28 "...I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy...your old men shall dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, will I pour out my Spirit in those days and I will show wonders in the heavens and the earth."
See Acts 2:16-21 for Peter's use of this at the Day of Pentecost - clearly showing that the time of "your sons and daughters" prophesying (the word prophet means to act as a link between the divine world and the people) had indeed arrived.
Jesus called the Pharisees of his day (those hyper legalists who were so concerned about making sure others were holy) a " proud" and "stiffnecked" generation. I remember that description as I read many of these tirades and rants about why women "cannot" be pastors. They always catalog the reasons from scripture that women can not. I wonder what would happen if someone listed all the things men are supposed to be doing but no longer do......hmmm.
Along that line visit a funny and pointed "Ten Reasons Why Men Can't Be Ordained" at

The Prophetess Points A Finger

Scanning webpages I happened upon a truly disgusting website designed to manipulate, destroy, objectify, and nullify women. Pornography, you might ask. No, it was a website ranting on about how women who preach are EVIL. This one site even stressed that "yes, God loves you women - but with reservations"!
Page after page of angry, bitter, vindictive, and caustic statements, laced together (poorly) with Biblical texts, Rabbinic writings, and country sayings. It was strange that as he talked about the literal Bible....he felt free to add to the text amplifications that are not in the original and the Bible is clear about the consequences of adding or subtracting from the text..... That was obviously the lesser of two evils for this person.

This anonymous website is located at
WARNING: remove all breakable objects while reading it.

Sitting Under A Palm Tree

Deborah was a prophet and judge in the Ephraim hill country of ancient Israel, between Ramah and Bethel. Israel was living in a tense time under the oppression of a Canaanite named Sisera for some twenty years. Judges 4:3 says the people "cried unto the Lord". She is presented in Judges as prophetically directing a battle to drive out opposing Canaanite forces. Note several things about this Judges story:

1) She was accessible. Deborah sat beneath a palm tree and people sought her out for her guidance and decisions. This may have been a landmark since it is believed such palms were rare in the land in the time period under discussion. It may have developed as a rest stop, a place of meeting and commerce. It was probably an accessible place for travelers to find and inquire of the prophet.

2) She was respected. She sent for Barack. For many years I had read that and heard it stated without understanding the significance. Barack was not nearby but was in Kedesh in Nephtali, at the far northern reach of Israel. This, coupled with the fact Barek calls on soldiers from other regions, indicates Deborah was a "major judge" rather than a minor one (as found in Judges 10) whose sphere of influence was limited.

3) She was administrative. Barack came when bidden by Deborah indicating her stature and the respect of the people for the prophet and Judge. Prophets were seen as the link between the world of God and the world of Humans and judges were the keepers of the law, the records, and the administrative tasks of the same. They also served a military leaders. Deborah was, as a major judge in Israel, a ''commander-in-chief" of the military.

4) She was spiritual. A capable woman of many talents to lead, plan, supervise, direct, and adjure, Deborah was also the spiritual link between God and the people. She was blessed by God to see what would happen, to know that the victory was theirs, and that the outcome would be in a specific manner. The "Song of Deborah" is a song poem thought to be one of the oldest writings of ancient Israel celebrating the victory given by God.


Why Do We Hear So Little of Huldah?

A combination of history, culture, and male domination have buried Huldah over the decades. The gate area where it is thought that she could be found as a prophet-in-residence of the temple mount area were probably known as the "first" or "old gates" indicating their antiquity.
At some point, just when is unclear, but perhaps at the time after the prophets, the tradition of calling these the "Huldah Gates" settled into culture. When the Ottoman Empire took over Jerusalem, they built a mosque and in the process they closed off, bricked up, and totally hide most of the old, first or Huldah gates. In essence they were hidden.
Some Jewish scholars state that one or more gates to the Temple were named for Chuldah (Huldah), and that the Midrash(Rabbinic commentaries on the Scriptures) says this gate was "never destroyed. Rashi comments that this was the gate where she sat and taught; it is referred to as "Mishneh" in the verse (Melachim II 22:14). .... [There is a comment added to Rashi's commentary on that verse in Melachim, suggesting that Chuldah taught... to the sages by that gate....] (
She resided in an area adjacent to the temple, in a western section called the "Second Quarter" which in some older translations is called "the college." It may be inferred that she was one of the group that had been found to be true to God since the king had spent several years ridding the land of pagan priests, temples, groves, and idols. She, along with Hilkiah the High Priest, and unnamed others, can be considered to have passed the test as King Josiah cleansed the land. Some scholars understand that the prophets had areas where they worked: some roamed, some were rural, and some were city. Some, like Huldah, were part of the daily working of the temple. People would have come to her to do as King Josiah ordered his ambassadors to do and "Go, inquire of the Lord for me." (2 Chron. 34.21).
Male biases about the role of women further eroded her presence from the pages of scripture and scholarly books and thus from church sermons. Many men made the decision that women could not be prophets, leaders, or teachers and thus blinded themselves to the examples shown through out scriptures of women doing just those things! Jesus recognized this trait when he talked about those who "had ears to hear" or "eyes to see".

Stupid Bible Tricks with the OT Prophetess

Good blog with an insightful article on "Stupid Bible Tricks" :

Correcting False Teaching

There is a group that can be found on the Internet that incorrectly defines, among many other things, the use of the word "prophetess" as being a false prophet. Nothing could be further from the truth (see the discussion below). A false prophet is a prophet who does not respond to the spirit of God but rather from their own spirit and for their own means.

The Scriptures, the Prophet and Balance

Just what is the role of the modern prophet? Do they receive new "revelation"? Is the Bible canon closed? Just how should the modern prophet view the messages they discern? In the Old Testament prophets served as the communication link between the people and God. Beware of any who offer secret knowledge, who offer to validate your relationship with God, or who do not use scripture as the basis for anything they share.
Remember the words of 2 Peter 1:20-21: " prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy that came in older times, not by the will of Man; but holy ones of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (Note the KJV uses "men" but the Greek uses the word for "humans" inferring that the prophecy was spoken by either man or woman.).
How do we identify "false prophets"? Without a standard it is hard to prove a prophet false and that is what con artists over the centuries have used to their advantage. When people have "itching ears" and only want to hear what they want to hear it becomes easy to manipulate them. Peter stresses that just as in the old days there were "false prophets" there would also come in the new faith, "false teachers". Even as the new faith was being crafted in the New Testament, Peter to "stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye be mindful og the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets...."(2Peter3). Jesus warned of falseness in Matthew 24:24: "...there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders...if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect." "For many deceivers are entered into the world...." 2 John 1: 7-9. How can a person determine the truth? That is the role of scripture.
"Beloved follow not that which is evil, but that whis is good. He that doeth good is of God...but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." 3 John 1:11 How to tell? "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1 John 4: 1-5.
The Bible provides the standard, the balance, the means of saying 'is this prophet of God?' It requires, however, that the people know the "Book". False prophets arise where there is no longer knowledge of the message of God. They present themselves as the replacement for the book, they have the new revelation, the new message, and the only truth. They become the mouthpiece of god - but perhaps not the God of the scriptures.


Women in Religion

Many assumptions are made about the role of women in religion. Several sources - Christian an otherwise - draw from their own culture to present the role of woman in ancient Israel. Through the lens of the Medieval Virgin or the Victorian ethos they define her role. They transfer those values on to the women depicted in scripture. She is passive, she is gentile, she is motherly and she is beautiful if pure and virginal. The truth of this comes through clearly when reading about the question if Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Long misidentified by early papal writings as a prostitute, the assumption is that she had to have been young and lovely. Chances are just as high she was an older woman...maybe as old as an aunt or a grandmother. What Jesus knew and appreciated was that Israel had long had a place for its women as leaders and spiritual guides. These "wise women" and "mothers of Israel" are found throughout the pages of the Bible for those with eyes to see their presence.

12/28/2008 Arise

God made women to be able to wait. Women see their friends, sisters and mothers waiting as the long nine months go by before they are delivered of a child. They watch and wait as a struggling life takes on layers of richness and fulfilment. They wait for something better to happen. They wait to mature and gain recognition and social value. They wait to be recognized and included. They wait til things calm down. They wait til heads are clear and bruises heal. They wait with wisdom and knowledge and "been-there-done-that" experience that goes begging by a child who thinks they know it all and need no help. They wait as a meal is prepared, rooms cleaned, and preparations made for another round of the same... Women can wait, that is a strength....women can also pray and that is a gift. Women also know that there is time when the waiting is over....the birth is at hand....the final task done.....and then they will arise to be the people God has wanted them to be....

Are There Prophetesses Today?

Here is an informative article on women as prophets and how prophets function today

The following are links to sites about women in ministry.

AG Women in Ministry

Women in the Pentecostal Movement

Women in Pentecostal – Charismatic Leadership

Cyberjournal: History of Women in the Pentecostal Movement

Pentecostal_Charismatic Gender Issues Bibliogrpahy

Cyberjournal: Pentecostal Women in Ministry: Where do we go from here?

Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained [funny but pointed]

Journal of Society & Religion: Pentecostalism

Women in Ministry: Re-examining Biblical Pattern. GROUP.

Applying Scripture to Young Women

AME Women in Ministry

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: Women in Leadership

Women in Ministry
[great video previewed on this site as well]

Western Seminary – Women’s ministry center

What Does the Bible Say About Women Preachers?

Let the Women Preach. Tony Compolo


Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion: Gender and Mainline Pastors Time Allocation

Women in Church History: Women Pastors in the Early Church

Focus On the Family: Clergy Care Network

Christian Science Monitor: Women Clergy Bring New Sensibility to An Old Calling
Women Preachers, 1879 by Robert Louis Dabney

Women Preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Modern Women of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Tradition - negative view but many of the names are hard to locate otherwise.

AG Seminary, Course Syllabus on Women in Ministry

Holiness-Pentecostal Churches; Emerging from Cultural Isolation

Women in Ministry: Bibliography (James Watkins)

Women As Clergy; History of Ordination

UnNamed Prophetess

Isaiah 8:3 --"And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived.." Some interpret this to mean 'wife of a prophet', yet the word is the same as the word used to define the female prophets listed elsewhere (Strong, #5031)

Joel 2:28 ; Acts 2;17 - -""And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And also upn the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." The word is defined by Strong's (#4395) "to foretell events, divine, speech under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office." The term used here is also identified as the term used to define the act by a man as well (see I Cor. 11:4 when it reads "Every man who praying or prophesying...." it is the same word used to refer to women engaged in the same act in 1 Cor. 11:5).


Phillip's Daughters

In Acts 21:8-9 --"...and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist.....and the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." Who was Philip? In Acts chapter 6 there came a need to choose several trustworthy, spiritual, and honorable people to oversee the fair distribution of ministry and resources between the widows of the Grecians and the Hebrews. The leaders whom Jesus had picked to be his students said to choose...." seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business...and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip....."(Acts 6:3-5). His spiritual credentials are high and it can be assumed he has raised his family in the same manner. This man had four daughters who were prophets. The term virgin probably refers to their age rather than to define some preferred state for the woman prophet. We know from the Bible that Old Testament women prophets were often married (Deborah, the wife of Isaiah, and Huldah for example) and so the use of the term cannot be used (as some early Catholic scholars attempted) to be the first nuns or similar female only ministry cohort. It is an assumption to say they would have been prophets "to other women."


In Luke 2:36-38:

"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God, with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (KJV)


Setting the scene: Jerusalem had been ruled by a godless man , Manasseh, who raised idols, offered pagan sacrifices and committed great sins. He was followed by his son Amon who also :did that whic was evil in the sight of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 33:22). His young son was 8 years old when he was placed on the throne and he "did that which was right". He began a cleanup campaign to bring the land back to the way it had been under his ancestor, King David. He broke down the idol altars, the groves where the pagan rituals had taken place, and he sent his servants to take funds to the High Priest, Hilkiah, to repair the "house of the Lord his God." During this repair the High Priest took the money paid for the repairs and in putting it away found a 'book of the law of the Lord given by Moses." The book was sent to the king and when he heard the words of the book of the law, he was greatly disturbed and grieved at the way the land had drifted from the words of the Lord. He commanded his assistants go "Inquire of the Lord for me....for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord..." So several ambassadors of the king went to Hulda, the prophetess....

Who was Huldah? Hulda was a prophetess, or female prophet, who was the wife of the keeper of the garments (in the Temple perhaps but it is unclear where). Her husband was named Shallum. She lived in a region called the "Second Quarter", what they KJV calls the "college". It may have been a place where a scribal or prophetic school was located. Some have even suggested, without apparent evidence, that there was a library there as well. Some assume that she was a librarian and not a prophet. Yet, scripture is clear she was a prophet.

Why did they go to Hulda and not to one of the 'big league' prophets? Some have suggsted that she was closer, she was the only one available so they had to settle for second best, and some suggest that Josiah was hoping to circumvent God's wrath by hoping a woman would temper the punishment of the land for its sins.


In Judges 4:4-5:31:

"And Deborah, a prophetess...she judged Isarel at that time. And she dealt under the palm tree ...and the children of Israel come up to her for judgement....And she sent and called Barak...and said to him...."


In Exodus 15:20-21 is an example of a "call and response" as the leaders sang and danced leading the people in praises to God. First Moses and others call out the praises and then....

"And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all of the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them [ the song of Moses and the people which proceeded this] , Sing ye to the Lord, he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea..."
"Call and response" is an ancient form of music and ritual from a time before written lyrics, prayers, or formula, that is retained to this day in many traditions.
The significance of Miriam is born out as being called one of the prophets sent by God in Micah 6:4.
There is no evidence, as some fringe elements have suggested, that she was a priestess in Egypt, anymore than Moses was a priest. There is no evidence that her failure with Aaron of trusting to God's choice of Moses in all things was held to her account all of her life. She was strucj with leprosy as a result. This seems to not be intended as an unredeemable act. In fact, it appears that the people waited on her healing before moving forward. These seem to indicate that she was in all things just what the Bible calls her: a prophetess, a leader, and a woman of God.


The passages of the Bible are filled with women who served God in many different ways: Leaders, Queens, heroes, fighters, worship leader, speaker, parent, sister, and wife. An intriguing revelation is that often women expressed the word of God with high creativity in oral poems or hymns. They, like King David, may have operated on a highly developed creative plane. The problem has been over the decades that the misapprehension that women are dangerously "emotional" while men are totally rational beings has robbed women and men of the ability to experience that same level or type of spiritual experience. It should be remembered that the idea that men are total rational creatures comes from the philosophical errors of the Ancient Greeks, who despite their high levels of art, writing, and government, had one of the most immoral societies where women were equated with animal life.

What is a Prophet?

In Biblical studies the prophet is a messenger between God and humanity. The prophet is a visionary, a seer, given divine impressions, message, or information to be conveyed to the people. The prophet was someone on whom the Spirit of God descended, anointed, or in some other means used to achieve specific goals.

The prophets warned of the consequences of abandoning the faith, of forgetting to whom they belonged as created children of God, and foretold events that would happen in the future. All of this under the direct influence of God in an ecstatic episode.

The role was not easy and not one usually sought after. Some prophets even attempted to escape from the role by running away.

A Prophet is Prophet is a Prophet....

A common mistake one sees in various commentaries and other texts is that there is some vast and mysterious difference between a "prophet" and a "prophetess". One is the real thing and the other is something....less. Sometimes it is even assumed they are merely the wife of a prophet with out having any basis for the assumptions. Strong's Concordance is a fault in this as one of the most accessible and least costly resources - but also one of the oldest....and not in a good sense. Written in 1890 the source carries many of the biases and assumptions (or presuppositions) of that day regarding a great many things. These all color the choices of definitions and text in the book. There is no major difference between the two terms. One refers to a woman and one to a man. It is similar to the way we use the terms "actor" and "actress" . Both do the same task and the only difference is a convention that identifies their gender. The same is true of the terms "prophet" and "prophetess".


Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006



Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God

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If you would like more information on implementing a Daughters of Huldah or a Sisters of Huldah group in your church or community, or in starting a RFA chapter please contact:

Marilyn A. Hudson
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