Four Bible Mothers and Their Significant Strengths

Updated on February 8, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, has spent over 20 years empowering young and adult women to pursue positive, productive womanhood.

There are exceptional women everywhere whose names remain unfamiliar and even unknown. The following four Bible mothers are among those who are not included on the list of most popular mothers, but each of them made impressive contributions to the value of motherhood.

We do well to consider the unique strengths of Rizpah, Belshazzar’s mother, the Canaanite Mother, and Eunice.

Story Sources

The Women
Their Children
Text Location
Rizpah
Armoni and Mephibosheth
2 Samuel 3:7; 21: 8-13
Belshazzar’s Mother
King Belshazzar
Daniel 5:10-12
The Caananite Mother
Unnamed daughter
Matthew 15: 21-28; Mark 7: 24-30
Eunice
Timothy
2 Timothy 1:5

Rizpah: Sense of Entitlement

Among all the heart-moving episodes in the Bible, none is so compelling and touching as the story of Rizpah and her care of the dead. (All the Women of the Bible, Copyright Zondervan 1988)

Rizpah Protecting the Dignity of Her Sons

George Becker
George Becker | Source

Rizpah was a concubine to Saul, King of the Israelites and she bore him two sons. Her name does not appear on the list of popular Bible mothers, because her devoted motherhood is overshadowed by the political events of her day.

Despite a previous promise of the Israelites to protect the Gibeonites, Saul tried to annihilate them. When David, his successor, tried to appease them, they asked to even the score by hanging (and leave hanging on a hill) seven of Saul’s descendants. David gave up seven of Saul’s sons, including Rizpah’s two children. She was powerless to stop the killing; but she would not allow their flesh to be devoured by vultures. She kept lonely vigil for about six months until David took down the rotting bodies and buried them.

“Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night." (2 Samuel 21:10 NKJV).

The lonely grieving mother disregarded her personal pain to ensure that her children received the respect to which human beings are entitled. She demonstrated the kind of selfless love, generated only in the deepest depths of motherly hearts.

Belshazzar’s Mother: Intuition

Her sudden appearance . . . is enough to tell us that where she went, she went for God, and what she said, she spoke for God. (Mary Elizabeth Parker)

Handwriting on the Wall

Credit: Digital Bodleian
Credit: Digital Bodleian | Source

Although she was the queen mother living in the palace, she did not attend Belshazzar’s banquet in which he desecrated the temple vessels. In the midst of his revelry, he watched as part of a mysterious hand wrote his doom on the palace wall. He was never more scared. Then the queen mother appeared and rendered a short speech based on her intuition that her advice was the perfect remedy for the situation. She calmed his fear.

Elizabeth Mary Baxter in The Women in the Word commends the queen mother for her strength of godliness in the midst of ungodliness; it helped that she had probably become friends with Daniel the prophet. She knew that God have given him the description and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and she trusted that God could also explain the current mystery through him. She knew that the interpretation could mean judgement for her son (and it did), but his behavior had to be corrected some time.

This nameless woman did and said what her godly intuition thought was best for her son. She is an encouragement to mothers everywhere to turn their children over to God when leaving them up to their folly would cause their self-destruction.

The Canaanite: Determination

Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! (Matthew 15:28)

She is nameless also, and referred to in the texts as “Canaanite” and “Syro-Phoenician,” providing a clue to her non-Hebrew race; also as “Gentile” and “Greek”, which identifies her as heathen. Despite these descriptions, Jesus saw some character strength which caused Him to offer her such commendation.

Her daughter was demon-possessed and she heard that Jesus, the Teacher Healer was within walking distance. She searched for Him, found Him and humbly asked that He delivered her daughter from her suffering. Despite the fact that Jesus initially ignored her; that His disciples tried to chase her away; that He, in his delayed response, compared His attention to her with giving the children’s bread to the dogs, she insisted that her child deserved His help. She would not let Him deny her.

She is an example for mothers who are determined to see their children succeed even if they live on the wrong side of the tracks, even if nobody else sees their value. Such strength of determination usually wins against all odds.

Eunice: Influence

I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you [Timothy], which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5)

Photo Credit:  Robert Bugbee
Photo Credit: Robert Bugbee | Source

Eunice’s name is mentioned only once in Scripture, and only as a woman of “genuine faith” who passed on this virtue to her son, Timothy. She is just one of the many mothers who intentionally plant good seeds within their children and reap their reward in the fruit that their offspring produce.

Eunice was a Jewess married to a Greek husband (Acts 16:1). It is likely that their home offered conflicting religious training to their son. However, her influence helped to guide him into the acceptance of her faith. Paul, his ministry mentor credited his devotion to the influence of his mother and grandmother who trained him in the Scriptures from an early age (2 Timothy 3:15).

Mothers like Eunice remain unseen, while their influence shines through godly lives from generation to generation. It begins with diligence in child training.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Rosheda. It is so encouraging to find someone else who likes Bible stories as much as I do.

      • nomadspirit profile image

        Rosheda Stephenson 

        5 months ago

        This is such great motivation to delve deeper into the Old Testament: I honestly had never even heard of the name Rizpah, much less the story. The bible really is a treasure chest that keeps giving.

        Gained a follower here!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Lawrence. There are so many more where these came from. Glad you like my pick.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Msdora

        Four great stories you've reminded us of here.

        Thank you

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        8 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Manatita. I agree with you. Your last sentence says it all.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        8 months ago from london

        Yes, that is where I feel that diligence should begin, in the children. Noble examples of women in scriptures and I'm sure that there are others. Thank you for highlighting them. We need both pair of wings in order to fly.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Jill, you're right. After Saul's death, she became wife to Abner. It seems that she is most popular (if we consider her popular at all) for her commitment to her sons.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Sharon, I'll keep trying. These Old Testament stories are even more interesting when we try to find lessons which fit our contemporary lifestyles.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Rev, thanks for your encouragement. Means much to me. That story is one of my favorites.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile image

        Jill Spencer 

        9 months ago from United States

        I did not remember Rizpah at all and, even after reading her story in the Bible and your hub, am sketchy on the events she lived through, including (apparently) a relationship of some sort with Abner. Her story is a grim one! Wow!

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Margaret, Bless you and thank you, I have spent numerous hours, short of reading the whole Bible looking for this specific story that I remembered my Mammaw reading to me as a child.

        Dora, thank you also for writing such interesting and significant article.

        Blessings my friends

      • revmjm profile image

        Margaret Minnicks 

        9 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Dora, I like what you said: "humorous and symbolic." I never thought of that description before, but you are right. Keep writing. I am enjoying your articles, and it is apparent that others are engaging with them also.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Rev, thanks for providing that prompt reply to Sharon's question. See what I told her about the names of these women.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Shyron, sorry for the delay in answering your question. True, the women are not named, but in my presentations, I usually refer to them as "the first woman" and "the other woman" the way they are described in the text. Humorous and symbolic.

      • revmjm profile image

        Margaret Minnicks 

        9 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Shyron E. Shenko, the passage you refer to is 1 Kings 3:16–28 that gives an account of two mothers living in the same house with an infant son. After one of the babies died, they went to King Solomon for him to handle the case. The women were not named.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        9 months ago from Texas

        I could not find her name, if you do, send me the passage please.

        *

        Blessings

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Good, Bill. Wish I could attend your series on Bible women. Hope you'd publish at least some of your messages.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Hi, Dora. Interesting stuff. I'm planning to do a series of messages on the women of the Bible at our church soon. this is great information to get me started. Thanks for the time you put into this.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks,Shyron. I love her too. She may just make the next batch of strong women.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        9 months ago from Texas

        Dora, wonderful hub, I love your stories of these strong and faithful women. One of my favorite mother other than Mary is the woman who would give up her baby to the woman that would see that baby cut in half as King Solomon suggested.

        Blessings always my friend

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Peg. Glad that you like the article. The lessons these women teach are so relevant for mothers today.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        9 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        These four women serve as examples to all women that hope to be strong of faith, spirit and determination. I loved the stories you told here. Thank you for the explanation of Jesus's statement about the bread of children. I never understood that one until I read this.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank, Kari. Sometimes women have to be the cheerleaders for other women who go unnoticed. That is as true now as then.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        9 months ago from Ohio

        Isn't it funny that the mothers are the unnamed and unseen in stories, although the mother is probably the most important person to any young child. I love how you give the reason each is an example to us. :)

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Frank. I appreciate you sharing your observations. So true!

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        9 months ago from Shelton

        thank you MsDora for sharing.. for me educational as well as inspirational pieces.. They warm the spiritual heart during these transitional times.. religion has fallen on irrelevant times and hubs like these help reel them back in.. bless you

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Devika. Glad you like these stories. Will try to find others.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Blossom. My pleasure to find positive stories of women and share them.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Demas. The punishment was for Saul's wrongdoing, nor for anything his sons did. Sins of the father? I'd say yes. That hurts.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Denise. We also may be denied the popularity that some others get, but somebody somewhere may be impressed by our efforts.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Linda. Mothers have made outstanding contributions since Bible times. These stories encourage us to do likewise.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Rev, thank you for pointing out that error. I started with six in mind. I am honored to have you read and like my work.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        9 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        Incredible read! I like the way you explained and each and with great knowledge too.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        9 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        I love these stories and of how these women, as mothers, showed what a heart they had for their children; concerned for their offspring more than for their own well-being. Thank you for writing about them.

      • Perspycacious profile image

        Demas W Jasper 

        9 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

        Bible = A history of God's relationship with man.

        Question I will want to study: How bad were Saul's sons, that David could allow such deaths? Something for "the greater good" philosophy? An eye for an eye? The sins of the father?

        This reminds me of a minister friend who was desperately searching to understand the difference between God of the Old Testament and God of the New Testament.

        A thought provoker is what you have presented here. Good show!

      • denise.w.anderson profile image

        Denise W Anderson 

        9 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

        These are certainly less well-known in the stories of the Bible. Thanks for pointing out that their example is worth emulating.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you for sharing these interesting stories about the devotion of mothers, Dora. Good mothers are very important in our world and in our lives.

      • revmjm profile image

        Margaret Minnicks 

        9 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Ms. Dora, I enjoyed reading about the four women you selected to write about. When I read your title I couldn't wait to see who you had picked. Then in the body of your article you mentioned six women. I become more excited. However, you still reported on four. Therefore, you owe your readers two more women. Just kidding!

        I love your images and your chart. Keep up the good work writing after such thorough research.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. These stories are not favorite picks for Mothers' Day sermons, but they can be.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        9 months ago from Brazil

        Thank you for these stories, I wasn't familiar with them.

        There is no greater strength than a mother's love when she speaks from faith.

        The story of Rizpah was dramatic and the image perfect for your article.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Bill. And the role in which women are strongest seems to be in motherhood.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        9 months ago from Olympia, WA

        There is no doubt in my mind at all that women are stronger than men. I've seen proof of it constantly in my lifetime. Beautiful read, Dora!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. You made an interesting observation: the parent's devotion to the child takes precedence over his or recognition by name. The Canaaanite mother is one of my Bible favorites.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Jackie. Sometimes we have to dig for the Bible stories about women, but the search is worth it. Yes, every kind we need is there.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Whonu. Your comments are always appreciated. Blessings also to you and yours.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        9 months ago from USA

        It's so interesting that several of these mothers are nameless, as that is so consistent with the role -- devotion to one's child rather oneself. I particularly appreciated the lessons of The Canaanite.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        9 months ago from The Beautiful South

        Oh, Dora the Rizpah story was so amazing. Can you imagine the toll this played on her and how she ever lived through it. Day and night of keeping watch on top of the sorrow of her loss.

        What fantastic, interesting writing. I knew none of this and it is so interesting I want to go in search of more. Any story we could want is right there in the bible, and true stories!

        Thank you for another winner. You really do deserve a reward. How do you even imagine these things!

        So glad you do.

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 

        9 months ago from United States

        Thank you MsDora for sharing this information and of its importance in our scriptures. All women, as well as men, are important. Many blessings. whonu

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Eric. We appreciate your respect for mothers. The women in your life obviously did well by you.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Tim. Happy that you find the article informative and happy that you want to share. I appreciate you.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Lori. Some of these mothers are remain quiet in the background, but their work speaks volume. This of true of women then and now.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. When a woman earns the title of Church Mother, it is because we have benefited from the fruit of her motherhood. These Mothers keep the church going.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        As my role as a Sunday School teacher I tried never to fail in putting the women on equal footing. How could you dare talk about Timothy without giving credit to Eunice. Christ without Mary. How can you spark a child without understanding the unknown? There are/were six women in my life that I owe my good to, the bad I own all by myself.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        9 months ago from U.S.A.

        Wonderful article. These women are powerful symbols of faith and strength. I had forgotten Eunice was the mother of Timothy (my name sake.) Thanks for writing such an informative article, Ms. Dora. To quote the young people: You rock, my friend! (Blame it on my Sunday school class today.) I'll definitely share this with some of the mothers who came to church.

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        9 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        The only one of these mother's I'm familiar with is Eunice. The others I found exceptional, especially Rizpa, then Belshazzar's mother. I always love your profiles of people in the Bible. Nice work Dora.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        The Mother has always played a key role in religion, the Bible and the Church is referred to as Mother. As a symbol, it is the closest to us so it is powerful. I have not known of some of these mothers. Thanks for writing about them.

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