The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t the only Proverbial woman in Scripture. We adore her dedication to her home, the recognition she receives, and the many gifts she has (I mean, sewing, baking, selling?). And we didn’t even get her name! But our foremothers In The Word have a lot of homemaking wisdom to offer, too, if we’re looking closely enough that is.
I can only speak for myself. I find it easy to skim YouTube and blog search results for homemaking inspiration, to watch other women care for their homes, to watch them feed their families, and to hear their thoughts on their vocation. While kitchen vignettes and seasonal life updates really are inspiring, nothing has been as fruitful for me as finding inspiration from women and wives in Scripture.
I took a moment to not look at women of the world, and instead took a glance at Scripture. Here is what I found:
7 Homemaking Lessons from Women in Scripture
Our dear sweet Princess Abigail, one of the wives of King David. Did you know she was married to a wicked, wealthy man named Nabal before marrying King David?
Yep, you can read about her struggle in 1 Samuel 25. When her husband rebelled against kindness towards King David, King David set out for his blood. But when she learned this, Abigail rose up, saddled her asses, and set forth to meet King David with peace offerings.
This not only saved her life, but it spared the lives of her servants, her flocks, any inheritors she would birth, and herself.
What a heavy pressure!
Abigail shows us:
- Prioritizing your home is number one
Let’s be honest: your life probably won’t be threatened like hers was, and you probably don’t have servants to look after. Does that make your home any less worthy of being prioritized? Abigail shows us not to slumber when it comes to looking after our homes.
- Protecting those in it is nonnegotiable
Her servants came to her to tell her all that her husband had done and said, and to warn her that judgement was come upon them for his evil. You know why they came to her? Because she was their mistress, the head of operations at the home. They trusted her, they loved her, and they were depending on her to do something. I can’t speculate whether they trusted her because she had a holy reputation, or if they were just desperate enough to put their lives in a woman’s hands. But Abigail felt their pain, she feared for them, and she humbled herself accordingly so that they wouldn’t have to suffer for sins they did not commit. That is being a good homemaker!
- Caring for your husband’s heart
Finally, Princess Abigail shows us how to care for your husband’s heart. She heard that danger was nigh for Nabal, and she set out to do something about it! And her resolution didn’t involve nagging, complaining, or throwing herself a pity party! Instead, she girded her loins like a Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:17) and did what needed to be done. And even after she found success in shielding her husband, she didn’t turn around and say, “See! You fool! I had to… because of your incompetence! You need to listen to me more! How could you be so inconsiderate!” She remained humble, showed her husband grace, and was rewarded greatly for her holiness and diligence.
Hannah is the mother of our beloved Samuel. She prayed for a child to come through her womb, because she had been barren while her husband’s other wife had been very fruitful. Can you imagine the intense shame, despair, and heartache she must’ve, knowing that it was obvious her husband could reproduce, but that it was her who was somehow broken? We even see that her co-wife teased her and tormented her because YAHUAH had closed up her womb.
We feel Hannah’s heartache in her prayer in 1 Samuel as she begs for YAHUAH to have mercy on her and remember her.
And she vowed a vow, and said, 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, and there shall no razor come upon his head.1 Samuel 1:11
Hannah shows us:
- Letting your needs be known and heart made visible to Yah is safe
Hannah could have kept moping and refusing to eat and crying in secret. But she didn’t. She had pain that she realized she couldn’t carry, and decided to not only seek Yah for comfort and relief, she sought Him for a solution. This is major, because her depression and sadness had even hexed her husband, Elkanah, who wept to her “Am I not better to you than even 10 sons???” Her heartache was not ignorable in her home, and she couldn’t be consoled. I’m sure you, like me, know all too well how depression and heartache distracts us from our home, and can often lead to neglect of our duties. Hannah’s decision to pray for a child and get her needs met from Yah was not just a blessing for her, but a blessing for her home, and most importantly, her marriage.
- It’s okay to be vulnerable before others, too
Eli was present to hear her vow to YAHUAH that day. He confronted her, asking “Are you drunken? Cover your shame!” because she was that much of a mess as she wept and prayed. But she said, no I’m not drunk, I’m in sorrow and I’m pouring out my soul to YAH. Eli blessed her, sent her away in peace and bid that the Most High grant her petition. Are you too ashamed or afraid to admit to someone when you’re in sorrow? Do you lie when people ask you how you’re doing? We never know when someone else’s prayer for us may be the one Yah chooses to answer. He says “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I AM.” (Matthew 18:20). Your vulnerability is powerful. Don’t underestimate how Yah will move when you are present in His Name with another true believer.
Hagar is another woman whose prayer changed her life.
You’re probably already very familiar with her story. She was the handmaiden of Sarah, who was chosen by Sarah to bare a child for Abraham. According to Sarah, after bearing a son, Ishmael, Hagar became haughty, proud and appeared to taunt Sarah. Sarah cast her out along with the child, and Hagar found herself in the wilderness with nothing.
Imagine being so underclass that your only option in life is to be a maid servant for the rest of your life. And your mistress makes you her sister-wife, just so she can have a child. And after you get pregnant with child, she casts you out on the dirt road with nowhere to go, and nothing to care for this child you weren’t even planning on having.
Regardless of what we think about the Egyptian bondwoman Hagar, surely this evokes some type of sympathy from us. What would you do in her position? (It kind of makes me think of The Handmaid’s Tale!)
Hagar shows us:
- Once again, the power of vulnerability
She could have grown bitter, she could have resisted, and she could have done what many divorced, single, or outcast women did in her time and still do today: resort to whoredoms in order to feed herself and her baby. The options were far fewer than today, during a time when women couldn’t do much to earn their living besides get married, gleam fields, or sell the work of their hands. But the Word says Hagar fled, and an Angel found her at a fountain in the wilderness, where he gives her a very special promise.
And the angel of YAHUAH said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.Genesis 16:10-11
Hagar returned to her husband, Abraham, obeyed her mistress Sarah, and saw the promise of YAHUAH be fulfilled in her life.
Because the promise given to Abraham was that he would have more descendants than could ever be counted, this also applied to Hagar’s children to him, and not just Sarah, according to the promise she received that day.
She was so elated, that the name El Roi came from her, The God That Sees Me. How beautiful is that?
No matter what life throws our way, what burdens may befall us, or how little others think of us, Hagar shows us that we are seen by Yah, we are heard, and He does not abandon His Children.
We get an entire book to see Judith’s story unfold in the Apocrypha. The Book of Judith chronicles the ongoing war and conquests in the area, and one wicked ruler’s hunger to conquer the Holy City. His plans were working, and the Israelites were falling into his trap by falling into sin even after fasting and praying for protection. But one woman, Judith, saw what was happening, and knew something needed to be done.
She didn’t know what, though. So what did she do? She prayed.
Judith shows us:
- Your home as a holy temple, but also, the place to prepare for warfare
Just as much as she prayed, I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to be a weapon of defense for her people. We often don’t know exactly what Yah is going to do when we pray for those in our homes or communities. Sometimes, we think, Yah will work something out for them, for us. But how often do we anticipate that we will be what He uses to work something out? Moreover, something as intense as Judith’s path? (Her warfare starts at Judith 8).
- YAHUAH is never done with us
She was a widow, someone whom society often forgets about. Even to the point that Yah has to REMIND us to visit widows and care for them (James 1:17). Similar to an unmarried young maiden, the community at the time likely wasn’t expecting her to be the door for salvation any more than she was expecting herself, either. Not only does society not expect women to be significant, but it also doesn’t expect unmarried women to be significant, especially. But Judith shows us that Yah can use us no matter what, if we’re open to him. We are not too small, to insignificant or too old or too young to be used. Married or not, women have a divine role in the Holy City just as much as men. Never underestimate what Yah may want to accomplish through you.
Martha & Mary
Ah, yes. Martha and her sister Mary. Polar opposites, most would say. They received a very special guest one day: Yahusha himself. While Martha was tidying, cooking and being hospitable to her guest, her sister Mary had sat down at his feet, gawking, and enjoying the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing.
Martha, busted and overworked, asked Yahusha to rebuke Mary, and make her join in on creating a pleasant presentation for him. He was going to be the King after.
And Yahusha answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’Luke 10: 41-42
Both Martha and Mary show us:
- Productivity and servitude versus companionship and affection
Most wives and mother will look at their account and think “Well, yeah! Mary should have been helping! Who wants to feel like they’re the only one who cares about the guests and the home?” We can all relate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with prioritizing serving your guests and members of your home. They DO need clean towels, they DO need hot food, and they DO need a clean space to relax in. So what did Yahusha mean?
There was simply something more important in the moment than Mary abandoning her spot at his feet just to disappear in the kitchen. That more important thing was simply being present with him, and showing her love with her attention.
We need a good balance of both Martha’s servitude and Mary’s companionship. Martha shows us housekeeping: tending to chores, offering food, and keeping things orderly. But Mary shows us homemaking: offering easygoing love, sharing her laughter and joy, and knowing how to slow down with those whom she loves.
This is something I’ve admitted to struggling with many times, and even still find difficult. Homemaking is more than chores. It is also warmth, affection and connection. Both Martha and Mary ministered to Yahusha that evening, in their own ways. Don’t assume your simple presence doesn’t mean anything or provide anything significant to your family, because it does!
The mother-in-law of Ruth, who lost both of her (only) sons. I’m sure you know her story, well, too (I mean, who hasn’t read the Book of Ruth?). She returned to Israel with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, even after her sons died, with her sights set on the property she is supposed to inherit. Poor, jobless, and old, Naomi sends Ruth out to gleam the fields of Boaz for food, and favor.
Naomi not only shows us the power of vulnerability, she also shows us:
- Order, divine instruction, and discernment:
Naomi knew what needed to be done: she needed a redeemer for her family. As you’ll see when you read Ruth, the man who was supposed to redeem her family wasn’t willing to do it. He wanted the property and perks, but he didn’t want to have to marry Ruth and give her children in the name of her late husband. This meant his other children would have no parts in the inheritance, and that all of the property would be in the deceased’s name. Boaz was the one who stepped up, despite the loss of property, and decided Ruth, and Naomi even, were worth redeeming.
None of this would have occurred had Naomi not given Ruth divine instruction. She understand the importance of being redeemed, she discerned the timing of everything, and she wasn’t afraid to give her daughter-in-law a mission. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, Naomi looked well to the ways of her home, even in her old age.
Naomi was a woman who had lost a lot, and had a lot of shame as a woman who had to come running back home to her family for help. But she used wisdom and order to overcome, and Yah was with her the same way He promises to always be with you, too.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.Proverbs 31:27
Ana, the Wife of Tobit
I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t recognize this name. Tobit was a generous and faithful servant of Yahuah who became blind thanks to hot bird feces getting into his eyes. He went from being a strong provider and protector of his wife, family, and community, to being almost like a toddler over night.
Society tells us today that if our man can’t do anything for us, then we have no reason to be with them. Even in the Israelite community are sisters pressured to ‘never take care of a man’. But here we have Anna, who’s life was drastically changed, and became the breadwinner in her home. And as a woman, she wasn’t winning a lot, either. But she shows us:
Just because her husband couldn’t do what he used to do or provide the same luxuries anymore, that didn’t mean they had to suffer. Anna did what she could in selling her patchwork, even as a captive in Nineveh, and brought home earnings for her family’s sake. She did not make excuses, find any reasons to let her house fall apart, or eat the bread of idleness. She shows us how to gird our loins with strength and put our hands to the spindle for the sake of our homes.
I love this because it demonstrates true humility. It reminds us that we as wives are not just kept women who enjoy our husband’s hard work and protection– we are their HELPERS. Their servants. The ones they can count on no matter what.
- Caring for your husband yet still following his leadership
Anna could have taken her role as the new breadwinner and ran with it. How easy it is to lose respect for your husband when it doesn’t feel like he’s doing his job. But Anna still obeyed her disabled lord, and took care of him without rebelling, without rebuking him, and without giving him more reason to be ashamed. She didn’t lose respect for him.
Sisters who must assist their husbands in providing may sometimes grow bitter and resentful. Our frustrations from working outside the home and also coming home to do more work inside can lead to burnout, exhaustion and despair. The Word doesn’t say explicitly how Anna managed this life change she had to face. But I’m going to guess she had no choice but to turn to Yah for her Bread and her Water.
Sometimes full-time homemaking is a lifelong career for us. Other times, we may need to go outside the home to help our homes, for a season. No matter the case, we mustn’t forget that our home is as much our responsibility as it is our husbands’. I believe Yah has a special blessings for wives and mothers who gird their loins and do what they must, and that blessing isn’t just ‘later in the Kingdom’. It is also today, if we are willing to turn to Him daily in our frustration and fatigue.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
I pray this post is as fruitful to you as it was for me! Thank you for reading; don’t forget to follow along the Watered Womanhood podcast for more Biblical Femininity and Relationship Vulnerability for Israelite women!
Who else offers us great homemaking lessons in Scripture? Share with us ????????????????????