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Three obscure Old Testament women with clout

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Ever heard of Sera, Aksah or Sheerah? I hadn’t . . . not until I decided to read through the Old Testament, slowly, keeping an eye out for every women 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. Due to her longevity, she lived to know both her grandfather Jacob (born around 2000BC) and, five hundred years later, Moses (born around 1500BC). Serah’s personal connection with Jacob and the Twelve Patriarchs gave her importance in later generations.

According to midrashic interpretations (ancient commentaries on Hebrew Scripture) 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. Another Midrashic commentary states that Serah made sure that Joseph’s bones were brought from Egypt to Canaan, the Promised Land.

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 Israelite community. He 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 other Israelites who eventually entered the Promised Land had been born in the wilderness and not in Egypt.)

3 obscure Old Testament women with CloutIn 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. They were an alliance between two families, and often made for political and financial reasons, rather than for reasons of affection. Parents, especially fathers, played the major role in organising a match.

Othniel was the man 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 and asked him for land with springs of water. 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, at that time, the family line was traced through the men. So it is significant when a woman is mentioned, and even named, in one.

Sheerah was obviously an influential and wealthy woman. 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 an Old Testament 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.


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Posted June 17th, 2013 . Categories/Tags: Bible Women, Equality and Gender Issues, , ,

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10 comments on “Three obscure Old Testament women with clout

  1. Karin says:

    I had noticed the names of theses women in the genealogies too and wondered what they did, so thanks for providing a bit of extra information on them.

  2. […] Sheerah could be added to this list.  Sheerah was clearly an influential woman and probably a leader of […]

  3. […] One Bible woman even built towns (1 Chron 7:24).  The Bible nowhere criticises women who worked outside the home, in the public sphere […]

  4. […] (14) Build towns: Sheerah (1 Chron. 7:24); or help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: the daughters or Shallum (Neh. 3:12).  More on Sheerah here. […]

  5. Bev Murrill says:

    I didn’t know about Serah, but I’ve preached about Aksah and Sheerah… heroes of the Old TEstament.

  6. […] 3 Obscure Old Testament Women with Clout […]

  7. […] Three Obscure Old Testament Women with Clout […]

  8. […] The events in the Old Testament mostly occurred at a time when patriarchy was the pervasive social dynamic, and men ruled women (cf. Gen 3:16b). Nevertheless, some women were leaders of towns, civil leaders (e.g. Sheerah); and some women were prophets, religious leaders (e.g. Miriam). These women held respected and recognised leadership positions in society, […]

  9. […] Three Old Testament Women with Clout […]

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