When you think Nativity at Christmas, you probably think baby in a manager with adoring parents and a random mix of visitors. But did you know Mary isn’t the only pregnant woman in the Gospels?
In the very first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we are introduced to Elizabeth. The wife of a priest, Elizabeth is one of the older women in town. She’s quite possibly past the age of childbearing, at least in regards to the Jewish culture then. To top it all off, her husband is deaf and mute as a result of not believing the angel’s message about his wife’s pregnancy. That’s really quite a lot to deal with. Yet Elizabeth manages to come out the other side still worshipping God and raising a son who becomes a prophet.
Whenever I come across an incredible woman in the Bible, I love to check out Proverbs 31. Previously, I’ve put Anna and Leah in the spotlight and compared them to the wonder woman of Proverbs 31. Reading through Elizabeth’s story has now got me wondering how she would compare too.
Defined by Men
The wife of a temple priest and the future mother of a prophet, she was a woman defined by the men in her life. Yet, in just the first chapter of Luke, Elizabeth comes to life as a vibrant woman of God. Her husband doubts God’s messenger and as a result loses his voice. Yet Elizabeth praises God for the gift of a child, who would go on to define her more than her husband did.
Proverbs 31 doesn’t talk about what happens to women who are not expected to be able to have children. We equally don’t know enough about Elizabeth’s life to give a blow-by-blow comparison to Proverbs 31. Yet, at first glance, both Elizabeth and Proverbs 31 woman can seem to be defined by their husband and children. Proverbs 31 suggests that the biblical wonder woman is remarkable because her husband is well known. Her care of her household and family is the traditional focus of many bible studies. In a similar way, it is Elizabeth’s relationship to Zechariah, John, and Mary that have defined the woman we hear about at Christmas.
Shaped by God
So just how defined are Elizabeth and the Proverbs 31 woman? Let’s start with our biblical wonder woman. It is not just her relationship to her husband that defines her. The proverb cites her wisdom and kindness when speaking, alongside the hard work she applies to everything she does. From making clothing for her household through to selling profitable merchandise, the woman of Proverbs 31 doesn’t seem to sleep.
Luke doesn’t talk about Elizabeth’s ability to make clothes or to make a profit from merchandise. However, he does tell us of her wisdom and kindness.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would beg] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Luke 1 v 41-45
Where she could have been dismissive of the Holy Spirit’s promptings or ignorant of Mary’s child, Elizabeth responds with blessings. Not only is she wise enough to see her pregnancy as a gift from God but she also recognises Mary as the Mother of the Messiah. Her blessing is filled with the kindness and wisdom that Proverbs 31 talks about.
A Wonder Woman must have Kindness and Wisdom
While they are only two of the attributes given to the woman in Proverbs 31, they are such important ones. It is these attributes that Elizabeth also has in bucketloads. While the men that surrounded Elizabeth may be the reason that Luke recorded her story, they are not what define her. A woman after God’s own heart, Elizabeth allowed Him to shape her for kindness and wisdom. In fact, she is known more for her kindness towards her pregnant cousin than our biblical wonder woman is!
Any woman who can be better known for even one characteristic than the ideal woman of Proverbs 31 deserves the title of biblical wonder woman. And that includes Elizabeth!
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