There are some women of great influence in the Bible, such as Esther, and the wonderful example of Ruth, a Gentile who chose to go with her mother-in-law Naomi. Yet there are other women who had negative influences.
The First Woman
We all know about Eve, the woman who influenced Adam in the Garden of Eden and is blamed for all our troubles. Even a brief study of Eve and you need to ask was she blameless or accountable? Eve had a full partner in her ‘crime’ and his name was Adam. Both fell into disobedience and according to the Bible, changed the course of human history. After all, wouldn’t we all like to live in a perfect world without the influence of sin.
Pontiphar’s Wife the Seducer
She is only ever known by her husband’s name, the powerful ruler of all Egypt. Pontiphar’s wife had no children and does not appear to be in love with her husband, who it seemed ignored her. Rich, idle, bored, lacking the affection she craved from her husband she is the epitome of idle hands finding mischief. She was open to the desire for more than she had.
Potiphar’s wife was certain she had the power to seduce this good-looking slave, and slaves were little more than property. Joseph had risen to be overseer of Potiphar’s household and estate. He was a slave but with a lot of power and was totally trusted by his master. Potiphar’s wife had the right by culture to claim the sexual favour of any slave of her choosing.
However, Joseph had more sense than to allow himself to be seduced by his attractive master’s wife. He feared the anger of his master more than the anger of a spurned woman. Naked, Joseph fled from the scene leaving his loin-cloth behind.
The result was hysterical revenge. Potiphar was forced to either discredit and divorce his wife, or lose a valuable servant. He chose the latter and sent Joseph to prison, rather than rightfully have him killed.
Delilah, Seductress – Women of Evil Influence
Delilah was loved by the strongman Samson. She represents persistence with an underlying motive that was driven by the promise of wealth and was a woman of evil influence. Many believe that Delilah was a high-class prostitute. Her name meant night, while Samson’s name means day. Their story is the unending struggle between darkness and light.
Delilah may have felt triumph, financially rewarded by the Philistines for having betrayed Samson. However, the prisoner Samson, stripped of his strength, he repented and overcame his weaknesses, both physically and morally. Slowly, his hair began to regrow, and his strength returned. Despite having had his eyes poked out, he continued his fight against the Philistines. He took out more at the time of his death than during his lifetime. One wonders if the traitor Delilah was among the gathered elite who were killed when the ceiling caved in.
Queen Jezebel – Woman of Evil Influence
Jezebel was a foreigner married to a prince of Israel, Ahab, and exerted a lot of influence. She worshipped the rain god Baal, in a time when there was open war between the God of the Israelites and the pagan Baal. A war that was led by the prophet Elijah on one hand, and the conniving Jezebel on the other. At one point Elijah fled for his life, knowing that Jezebel was a fearsome enemy. The key to Jezebel was that she behaved like the Phoenician princess she was, rather than the wife of an important Israeli. She created false evidence, and duly convicted and executed a vineyard owner who refused to sell his land to King Ahab.
Both Jezebel’s husband and son were killed in battle. She knew what was in store for her, as an ambitious army officer, Jehu, succeeded in a coup d’état against Ahab’s dynasty. Jezebel did not flinch but dressed herself in the full regalia of a queen, complete with ritual make-up and head-dress of a priestess of Baal and the female god Asherah. Jezebel openly challenged Jehu, who had eunuch throw her from the window. Jehu continued into the palace to eat and drink until he remembered the dead queen’s body. Told to bury her, the soldiers only found her hands, feet and skull as marauding dogs had eaten her flesh, just as the prophet Elijah had predicted. Jehu went on to kill 70 males of Jezebel’s family.
Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, rose to become the most powerful women ever seen in Israel but, like her mother she was a woman of evil influence. She had been well trained by her mother and continued in her mother’s blood-filled example. She was married to King Jehoram of Judah in an attempt to seal a treaty between northern Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Athaliah ruled as queen regent after her husband was killed in battle until her son was also killed by Jehu.
Athaliah then murdered all Jehoram’s remaining dynasty, including Jehoram’s six brothers and her grandsons, so that she could become the first woman to reign solo in Israel. Only one grandson was rescued and secretly raised by a priest. This priest rose up against Athaliah and had her killed, so the young boy could succeed to the throne. With the death of Athaliah the influence of Jezebel was cut off, though the name Jezebel still represents the influence of a woman with evil intent.
While the Bible talks to us of godly woman, it is not silent on the heartache that can be caused by women who yield to an evil nature. Even when we don’t feel like it, as women we influence many people, not just our immediate family. We need to ensure that we use our voice to influence for good.
Check out other posts at Whispering Encouragement. We are here to inform and encourage. Talk to us. Tell us of any person, business, or incident you would like to see highlighted. Subscribe for free, so you can keep up to date with topics that interest you.