Women of the Old Testament you’ll meet while studying ‘Come, Follow Me’ this year

Woven within the Old Testament’s accounts of the rise of the kingdom of Israel, God’s promises to His people and the words of prophets prophesying of the coming Messiah are the stories of the faithful and righteous women who played critical roles.

Compiled here is a list of some of the Old Testament women mentioned in the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum for 2022, what weeks they are found in, and where in the Old Testament or Pearl of Great Price they appear. For some extra credit, included are some women not mentioned in “Come, Follow Me,” but by reading a little further, one can make note of their stories too.

"The Joy of Our Redemption" is by Al R. Young.
“The Joy of Our Redemption” is by Al R. Young. Credit: Provided by Deseret Book

Eve

Eve was a help meet for and the wife of Adam, the first man on Earth. They were given the commandment to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28), making her the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). They were also told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But after the serpent beguiled her, Eve made a decision: “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

The prophet Lehi taught that thanks to her decision, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Eve herself stated, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).

When: Jan. 3-23.

Where: Genesis 2:21-25; 3; 4:1, 25; Moses 2:27; 3:22-25; 4:6-30; 5:1-27; 6:2-6, 9; and Abraham 5:16-19

Sarah and Hagar

When the Lord made a covenant with Abraham that his seed would multiply and he “shalt be a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4), Sarah was promised that she would bear a son named Isaac, which she did at 90 years old. “God hath made me to laugh [or rejoice], so that all that hear will laugh with me,” she said (Genesis 21:6).

Hagar was an Egyptian woman and a handmaid to Sarah. She bore a son, Ishmael, and was promised by an angel of the Lord, “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 16:10).

When: Sarah — Feb. 7-20
Hagar — Feb. 7-13.

Where: Sarah — Genesis 11:29-32; 12-14; and 49:31; Isaiah 51:2; Abraham 2.
Hagar — Genesis 16:1-16; 17:20; 21:9-21; and 25:12.

Extra credit: Abraham’s third wife, Keturah, who bore six sons, is found the Feb. 21-27 readings. She’s mentioned in Genesis 25:1-6 and 1 Chronicles 1:32-33.

Rebekah

“Rebekah at the Well” is by Michael Deas.
“Rebekah at the Well” is by Michael Deas. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Abraham sent his eldest servant to find a wife for Isaac. Just outside the city of Nahor, this servant stopped at a well with his 10 camels and prayed that the woman he was meant to find would fetch him and his camels water. Before he finished praying, Rebekah came to the well. The servant asked her for water, “And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink” (Genesis 24:18). She then ran back to the well to draw water for his camels.

Rebekah is the wife of Isaac and the mother of twins Esau and Jacob. She received revelation from the Lord for her family that “the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23), and disguised Jacob as his older brother so his aging father could bestow the birthright on him as God intended.

When: Feb. 21-27

Where: Genesis 22:23; 24-29; 35:8; and 49:31

Leah and Rachel

Jacob worked for Laban for seven years in order to marry Rachel. But during the wedding ceremony, Laban switched Rachel for Leah, her older sister. To marry Rachel seven days later, Jacob agreed to work for Laban another seven years.

While Rachel was the wife who Jacob loved, she was barren for many years. Leah could bear children, giving birth to six sons before Rachel bore Joseph and died giving birth to Benjamin. However, she was incredibly lonely, her emotional pain and eventual acceptance written into the meaning of her sons’ names.

Their eight sons’ tribes became part of the twelve tribes of Israel, and it is through the lineage of Leah’s son Judah that Christ was born. 

When: Feb. 28-March 6

Where: Leah — Genesis 29-31; 33; 34:1; 35:23, 26; 46:15, 18; 49:31; and Ruth 4:11
Rachel — Genesis 29-35; 46:19, 22, 25; 48:7; and Ruth 4:11

Extra credit: Zilpah (Genesis 29:24; 30:9-13; 35:26; 37:2; and 46:18) and Bilhah (Genesis 29:29; 30:3-7; 35:22, 25; 37:2; 46:25; and 1 Chronicles 7:13) also married Jacob and bore sons who founded the remaining tribes of Israel. After Rachel’s death, it’s possible that they cared for Joseph and Benjamin.

Sunday School general presidency suggests 3 ways to approach the Old Testament with ‘Come, Follow Me’ 2022

Tamar

“Come, Follow Me” asks readers to compare Joseph’s experience with Potiphar’s wife and Judah’s experience with Tamar. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he fled from her immediately. This woman then claimed that Joseph acted inappropriately toward her, and he was imprisoned. He acted righteously in resisting temptation and refusing to offend God.

Judah had three sons. The oldest two, who had each married Tamar, died after displeasing the Lord. Because of the laws his people lived by, Judah was obligated to have Tamar marry his youngest son so the inheritance could be passed along properly and Tamar would be cared for. Instead, he sent her back to her father, claiming his youngest son was not of age yet. But even when his son did come of age and his own wife had died, he did not bring Tamar back.

With Judah having failed to fulfill his duty towards her, Tamar disguised herself as a harlot and seduced him. She became pregnant and had his signet, bracelets and staff as proof that he was the father. Judah then acknowledged he had been in the wrong, saying, “She hath been more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:26). Tamar bore twin sons, Pharez and Zarah, and is part of the lineage of David and Jesus Christ.

When: March 7-13

Where: Potiphar’s wife — Genesis 39:7-9, 12 and 19; Tamar — Genesis 38, Ruth 4:12, and 1 Chronicles 2:4.

Extra credit: Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian priest, married Joseph and bore Ephraim and Manasseh. She’s mentioned in Genesis 41:45-52 and 46:20.

Faithful women in Moses’ life

“Moses in the Bulrushes” is by George Soper.
“Moses in the Bulrushes” is by George Soper. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Midwives Shiphrah and Puah saved Hebrew baby boys’ lives from Pharaoh’s extermination orders by claiming that Hebrew women simply gave birth without their assistance. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, and the daughter of Pharaoh were instrumental in saving his life as a baby. His sister, Miriam, was a prophetess. When Moses had fled from Egypt, he met Reuel (or Jethro), the priest of Midian, and married his daughter Zipporah.

When: March 21-27

Where: Shiphrah and Puah — Exodus 1:15-21
Jochebed — Exodus 2:1-10
Daughter of Pharaoh — Exodus 2:5, 7-10
Miriam — Exodus 2:4-8; 15:20-21; Numbers 12:1-16; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:8-9; and 1 Chronicles 6:3
Zipporah — Exodus 2:16-22; 4:20, 25-26; and 18:2. It’s possible that Zipporah is the Ethiopian woman mentioned in Numbers 12:1.

Rahab

Joshua, who succeeded Moses as prophet, sent two servants to spy on the land of Jericho. They stayed at the home of a harlot named Rahab. When the king of Jericho learned of the spies, he demanded that she turn them over. Instead, she hid them in the roof of her house and lied, saying they had already left. With the king’s men sent off in another direction, Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us … for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9, 11).

In return for keeping the spies safe, she was given a scarlet thread to tie in her window. When the walls of Jericho fell and Israel destroyed the city, they “saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25).

When: May 23-29

Where: Joshua 2:1-21 and 6:17-25

Deborah 

"I arose a Mother in Israel" is by Elspeth Young.
“I arose a Mother in Israel” is by Elspeth Young. Credit: Provided by Deseret Book

Deborah is the only woman in the line of listed judges who ruled Israel before the monarchy, and the only one to claim the title of prophet, or in her case, prophetess. She called herself “a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7), not due to having children, but because of her role in leading Israel back to the Lord.

For 20 years, Israel was held in captivity by “the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera” (Judges 4:2). Deborah directed Barak to gather an army of 10,000 men on Mount Tabor. Barak would only do so if Deborah went with him, which she did, prophesying, “notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

At Deborah’s word — “Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee?” (Judges 4:14) — Barak’s 10,000 men went up against Sisera’s 900 chariots and destroyed them.

When: May 30-June 5

Where: Judges 4-5

Extra credit: The woman who Deborah prophesied would defeat Sisera was Jael. Learn how she killed him in her tent after he’d fled the battle, in Judges 4:17-22 and 5:6, 24-27.

Ruth and Naomi 

Ruth of Moab married one of Naomi’s two sons, who was an Israelite. When Ruth’s husband died, she chose to stay with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, and live in the land of Israel rather than return to her people. “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” she said to Naomi (Ruth 1:16).

“Ruth Gleaning in the Fields (Ruth and Naomi)” is by Judith Mehr.
“Ruth Gleaning in the Fields (Ruth and Naomi)” is by Judith Mehr. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ruth and Naomi traveled to Bethlehem where a kinsman of her husband — Boaz — lived. Ruth gleaned in his fields after the reapers. When Boaz learned of her, he commanded his reapers to leave extra for her.

Ruth married Boaz and bore a son named Obed who was the grandfather of King David. And it is through this lineage that Jesus Christ was born.

When: June 6-12

Where: Ruth 1-4 

Extra credit: Orpah, mentioned in Ruth 1:4 and 14, was the wife of Naomi’s other son who also died. She did not choose to stay with Naomi.

Hannah 

“Hannah Presenting Her Son Samuel to Eli” is by Robert T. Barrett.
“Hannah Presenting Her Son Samuel to Eli” is by Robert T. Barrett. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hannah, the first wife of Elkanah, had a bitterness in her soul from being unable to bear children for many years. She prayed to the Lord, vowing, “O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11).

Soon after, “the Lord remembered her” (1 Samuel 1:19) and she bore a son whom she named Samuel. When he was weaned, Hannah delivered him to the priest Eli, saying, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

“My heart rejoiceth in the Lord,” Hannah said in her song of gratitude and praise to the Lord, which is recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

When: June 6-12

Where: 1 Samuel 1; 2:1-11 and 18-21

Esther and Vashti 

When Queen Vashti refused to be paraded around King Ahasuerus’s inebriated guests, she was deposed and a new queen was sought out. Esther, a Jewish woman and cousin of Mordecai, was chosen to replace Vashti. After the king decreed that all Jews would be put to death, Mordecai persuaded Esther to appeal to the king, saying to her, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). It was Esther’s courage to come forward, at the risk of losing her life should the king refuse her, and reveal herself as a Jew that saved her people from destruction. She also created a legal document, with the king’s full support, that protected Jews from extinction (Esther 8:8).

When: July 25-31

Where: Esther — The Book of Esther and Ezra 4:6; Vashti — Esther 1:9-19

“Esther (Queen Esther)” is by Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert.
“Esther (Queen Esther)” is by Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sources: “Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families” for 2022, “Women of the Old Testament” by Camille Fronk Olson, and Amy Fisher’s Unsung Heroines of the Old Testament classes at BYU Education Week Aug. 16-20, 2021.