(Mentioned “between the lines”)

by Lois Donahue

The last group is by far the largest because it encompasses the remaining, legitimate, unnamed women who existed ‘between the lines’ of the Bible. They were part of that same majority of people who live day-to-day during any given historical time-frame — the kind of people usually lumped together in the overused expression ‘great masses’ or, worse yet, so often grossly underrated and mistakenly described as ‘ordinary’. In reality, of course, these are the people who are an absolute necessity in ‘making history’ but, in most instances, overlooked in recording it. This does not mean we intentionally overlook these particular Bible women – we know they were there – we just need to be reminded – we need to occasionally ‘bring them to life’. First, by realizing that they were as diverse as we are – in size and shape and disposition and personality and temperament; but even more importantly, by making an effort to extract them from the homogenized crowd and think of them as individuals. After all, let’s face facts by using the following examples. At any given moment during the Bible time slot, there was an actual living, breathing woman who most likely —

– feared for her life as the flood waters rose –
– was a neighbor to Lot and his family in Sodom –
– also laughed at the possibility of Sarah getting pregnant at her age –
– had calloused hands from working as a slave in Egypt –
– walked on dry land through the Red Sea with a child in her arms –
– had a relative who fought with Joshua at Jericho –
– had dry and wrinkled skin from the desert sun –
– worked as a servant for Elizabeth and was there when Mary visited –
– saw her infant son killed because Herod was paranoid –
– asked Joseph to make her a table –
– lived in Nazareth and watched Jesus grow up –
– drank wine at the Cana wedding –
– got too old to carry water from the well –
– knew personally one of the lepers Jesus cured –
– cleaned and cooked fish caught in the Sea of Galilee –
– questioned her son about the missing barley loaves and dried fish –
– knew her husband paid his taxes to Matthew –
– sat in the shade of one of Gethsemani’s olive trees –
– on a hot day sat with her feet in the cool water of the Jordan River –
– waved palms when Jesus entered Jerusalem –
– helped prepare food for the meal we now call the “Last Supper” –
– shouted “crucify him!” –
– was frightened by that Friday afternoon “eclipse of the sun” –
– lived on after Jesus died –
– stayed in a tent made by Paul –
– cried when she heard Stephen had been stoned to death –
– at some point had to decide – remain Jew or become ‘Christian’?

I hope the above sampling of women from this final group will help you think of other women, just as real, who, for whatever reason, have been ‘overlooked’.

Here at the end I would like to repeat the quote I used at the very beginning of this two-parter on Bible women, “people are the ingredients from which history is made”. I hope it will always be remembered that women who lived in Bible times as well as each of us and all those women yet to come — whether they are a ‘pinch-of’, a ‘teaspoon-of’, a ‘cup-of’ or a ‘quart-of’ — are all “ingredient women” obviously chosen by God to be part of what we might think of as His “recipe” for history.