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Biblical People

Biblical People: Queen Esther

After King Xerxes banishes Queen Vashti from his presence, he regrets his irrevocable edict. His aides suggest a plan to find a replacement. Their proposal is to round up the most beautiful virgins in the land for the king to try out. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. 

The most pleasing one will be crowned queen. This isn’t a voluntary beauty pageant. This is conscripted service that forces the selected women into a harem. They effectively become well-cared-for sex slaves. Esther (Hadassah) is rounded up in their dragnet. She waits at least four years for her assigned time to sleep with the king.

Finally, it’s her turn. Though inexperienced, Esther’s night with the king must have been most pleasing to him, because the next morning, he proclaims her queen. This, however, is not a Cinderella story where she lives happily ever after.

In the expanded version of this story, found in some Bibles, Esther says she abhors sleeping with the king. As an uncircumcised foreigner, he repulses her. She finds no joy in her position as queen. However, aside from involuntary sex with the king, she keeps herself true to her upbringing. 

Later, when Haman plots the Jews’ extermination, Esther is challenged by Mordecai, her cousin who adopted her, to intervene with the king on the Jews’ behalf. She balks. It’s been a month since she’s seen the king and she risks immediate execution by appearing before him without being summoned. Mordecai begs Esther to take the risk, saying, “What if God put you in this position so you could address this situation?”

Eventually, she agrees: “If I die, then I die.” In preparation, Esther fasts for three days and asks others to fast with her.

When she approaches the king, he spares her life. However, instead of directly appealing to him, she invites him and Haman to a private banquet with her. She then requests they come a second evening and at that time she reveals Haman’s plot, appealing to the king for justice. Because of her actions, Haman is executed, and the Jews are spared. The Purim celebrates Esther and her heroics in saving the people.

Though she needed to think about it and took time to fast, Esther bravely set her own safety aside and risked her life to save others.

Are we willing to save lives regardless of the risk?

[Discover more about Queen Esther in Esther 2:7–17, 4:1–17, 5:1–7, 7:1–10, and 9:12–15. For more information, see “Bonus Material: The Full Picture.”]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Queen Vashti

Queen Vashti, wife of the mighty Persian King Xerxes, gives a weeklong party for the women in the palace. At the same time, her husband throws his own celebration, complete with an open bar.

On day seven, an intoxicated Xerxes commands the beautiful Vashti to parade herself before his drunken guests. When the chaste Vashti refuses to debase herself and be subjected to their ogling eyes, the king is furious.

Embarrassed, the enraged ruler asks his advisors what to do. Their answer is unequivocal: depose Vashti and forever bar her from his presence. The king does as they suggest, issuing an irrevocable edict. 

Though Queen Vashti acts with virtue and refuses to stoop to the king’s drunken depravity, she pays a heavy price for maintaining her integrity. Sometimes there are consequences for doing what is right. May we hold to our principles and persevere despite the outcome.

How much value do we place on our integrity? How much will we risk to do what’s right?

[Discover more about Queen Vashti in Esther 1:7–20.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Noadiah

Noadiah is a prophetess during the time of Nehemiah when he leads the people in rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. There is opposition to Nehemiah and his mission from some of the local people. They merely seem to want to stir up trouble. 

His chief opponents are Tobiah and Sanballat. They also enlist the help of a few others, including Geshem and Shemaiah. Tobiah and Sanballat pay Shemaiah to give Nehemiah bad advice, but Nehemiah discerns Shemaiah’s duplicity, accusing Shemaiah of prophesying against him.

Immediately after this, Nehemiah turns his detractors over to God for punishment. He lists Tobiah and Sanballat by name, but not Geshem and Shemaiah. He does, however, mention another person, the prophetess Noadiah. He says she and the rest of the prophets tried to intimidate him. 

While several chapters in the Bible detail the efforts of Tobiah and Sanballat to derail Nehemiah’s mission, this is the first we hear about Noadiah, her efforts to intimidate, and her misguided influence over the other prophets. We don’t know the details of what she did or why Nehemiah was so vexed with her, but we do know that after Tobiah and Sanballat, Nehemiah views her as his third biggest nemesis.

Noadiah could have used her status as prophetess for good or for bad. She chose wrong.

How can we best use our position, skills, and abilities to support God’s purpose and not oppose him?

[Discover more about Noadiah in Nehemiah 6:14.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Lo-Ruhamah

Lo-Ruhamah is the daughter of Gomer, the product of an affair. Her mom, a former prostitute, cheats on her husband and hooks up with someone more appealing. Understandably, the child’s stepdad, Hosea, rejects his wife’s daughter. To make sure everyone knows he’s not the dad, he names her Lo-Ruhamah, which means no pity or not loved

What a terrible way to begin life. What a condemning legacy to carry. Each time someone calls her name, it serves as a painful reminder to Lo-Ruhamah of being rejected by the only man in her life.

Eventually Hosea reconciles with his wife. He accepts Lo-Ruhamah as his daughter and loves her. We wonder how Lo-Ruhamah responds. Does she rise above the conditions of her birth or does she remain forever wounded? 

Though all parents fall short in childrearing, that’s not an excuse for not making the best of our lives. We don’t get to choose our parents, but we can choose how we respond to their mistakes in raising us. 

How can we best react to the situation we find ourselves in?

[Discover more about Lo-Ruhamah in Hosea 1:6 and Hosea 2:23.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Gomer

Gomer is a prostitute, likely working the temple of Baal. She uses her only marketable skill to put food in her stomach and clothes on her back. She is certainly not marriage material, especially not for a man of God. Yet, in a shocking move, God tells his young prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. 

Hosea picks Gomer. They marry, but they don’t have a happy union.

They have a son together. Then she has two more children, but Hosea doubts he’s their father. The first, a girl, Hosea names Lo-Ruhamah, which means no pity or not loved. The second, a boy, he names Lo-Ammi, which means not mine.

God then prompts Hosea to use his relationship with Gomer and her illegitimate kids as sermon illustrations in his scathing rebuke against the nations of Israel and Judah for their unfaithfulness to God.

Then Gomer runs off and takes up with another lover. At God’s direction, Hosea goes after her. He must buy her freedom. He tells her to stop running around, to be faithful to him. He offers her undeserved love and even accepts her two kids who another man fathered.

Hosea married Gomer even though she was undeserving. And he offered her unconditional love when she ran away. 

So it is with God and us.

How far are we willing to go to show love to others when they hurt us badly?

[Discover more about Gomer in Hosea 1–3 and Hosea 14:4.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Jehosheba

At great personal risk, probably execution, Jehosheba takes bold action to keep her nephew Joash from being killed by his evil grandmother, who has seized power and is wiping out the royal family. Jehosheba likely has little time to consider her actions when she rescues Joash from among the royal princes who are about to be killed. 

Jehosheba hides Joash and his nurse in the temple for six years. When Joash is seven, he’s crowned king and his power-hungry grandmother is slain. The people rejoice and peace returns, all because of the boy-king and his aunt who made it possible.

Jehosheba plays a decisive role in protecting the rightful heir to the throne, keeping him alive so that he could one day rule and restore peace to the land.

Sometimes we must react quickly, with little time to analyze the situation. May we all be like Jehosheba, who acted decisively to do the right thing without concern for her own wellbeing.

What do we need to do regardless of the personal risk?

[Discover more about Jehosheba in 2 Kings 11:2 and 2 Chronicles 22:11.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Athaliah

Athaliah is an evil woman. She encourages her son, the king, to make some ill-advised decisions. He does and is soon assassinated. Then Athaliah seizes control and asserts herself as queen. Her lust for power is so great that she kills all the members of the royal family, including her own grandchildren. 

One baby, however, is rescued by his aunt, Jehosheba. His name is Joash. Six years later, he, the rightful heir to the throne, is crowned king by the priest with the support of the Levites and heads of the leading families.

Athaliah accuses them of treason and tears her clothes to express outrage. But she can’t change what happened. At the direction of the priest, the army kills her.

The country celebrates her death and calm returns.

Athaliah could have positively influenced her son and helped him rule wisely. She could have protected and groomed his successor. Had she done so, the people might have celebrated her life. Instead, they celebrated her death.

How do we want people to remember us?

[Discover more about Athaliah in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22–23.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: Two Starving Women

In perhaps the most gut-wrenching story in the Bible, two women conspire to do the unthinkable. The city of Samaria is under siege. Supplies are scarce and food is running out. To survive, the people resort to eating whatever they can find, such as the head of a donkey or dove droppings. 

In their deep hunger, two women agree to a most depraved scheme: to eat their children. They cook and eat one woman’s son, but when it comes time to eat the other boy, his mom hides him. The first woman appeals to the king for justice. He can do nothing but lament their barbarism.

If only the women had waited. The next day the siege ends when the enemy abandons their blockade in a panic, leaving all their supplies behind. There is plenty of food for everyone.

How often do we grow tired of waiting for God and do something rash? 

[Discover more about these two women in 2 Kings 6:24–31 and 2 Kings 7:1–16.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: The Servant of Naaman

An unnamed Israelite girl is captured in a raid and forced to work as a slave in the household of the enemy commander, Naaman. Although Naaman is an accomplished military leader, he suffers from a limiting physical ailment. He has leprosy, a contagious skin disease that can cause a loss of feeling, flesh decay, and even deformation.

Though she could have been bitter over her forced servitude, the young girl instead desires the best for her master. She tells him of the prophet Elisha, who can heal Naaman of his terrible disease. Naaman proceeds at once and receives God’s healing—as soon as he humbles himself and follows Elisha’s instructions. 

Naaman then affirms the power of God and pledges to worship only him.

Though she has every reason to remain quiet, the girl’s confidence in God’s power and her willingness to speak up leads to a man receiving healing and God receiving praise. 

How willing are we to help others, regardless of our situation?

[Discover more about Naaman’s servant girl in 2 Kings 5:1–19.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Biblical People

Biblical People: The Shunammite Woman

Elisha travels to the city of Shunem, and a wealthy woman urges him to stay for a meal. From then on, whenever he’s in the area, he stops by. Realizing he’s a man of God, she makes a room for him to stay in when he’s in town.

Grateful, Elisha wants to do something nice for her. She has no son. And with an aging husband, they have no expectation of ever having kids. Elisha prophesies that within a year, she will have a boy.

As promised, a year later she gives birth to a son.

When the boy grows older, one day his head begins to hurt, and he dies in her arms. She puts him in Elisha’s room. Without telling her husband what happened, she searches for the prophet. With great intent, she finds him, but then blames him for raising her hopes in the first place, when she didn’t even ask for a son.

The prophet sends his servant to resurrect the boy, but she refuses to leave Elisha. So the two of them head for her home. It’s a good thing they do, because despite following what Elisha instructed, his servant can’t resurrect the boy. Though it takes a couple of tries, Elisha brings the boy back to life.

Later, Elisha warns the woman of a seven-year famine and sends her away to another country. When she returns, the king restores her land to her, along with the profits it generated while she was gone.

The Shunammite woman honored God by caring for his prophet. As a result, God cared for her, through both good times and bad.

What can we do to honor God?

[Discover more about the woman from Shunem in 2 Kings 4:8–37 and 2 Kings 8:1–6.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.