As a Christian in ministry, I have been blessed to work on different missions supporting the church’s less fortunate. One group of people I love working with are widows, as they deeply understand what abandonment and being looked down upon feel like. This week, I developed an interest in knowing what the Bible says about widows, and my main question was, “How many times is a widow mentioned in the bible?”
The word widow has been mentioned 103 times in the New International Version (NIV) bible. Sixty-eight mentions are from the Old Testament, while thirty-five are from the New Testament. Leviticus 21:14 suggests that a priest was not to marry a widow but a virgin from his people. Deuteronomy 10:18 also indicates that God defends the cause of the widows. The first mention of the word widow in the New Testament appears in Matthew 22:23-33 concerning marriage and resurrection.
So, join me to end as I discuss this topic more. In this article, I will discuss what the Bible says about widows and some inspiring stories of courageous widows who appear in the Bible. I will also mention ten verses about them, among other topics.
What does the Bible say about widows?
The Bible suggests that it was okay for a woman who was made a widow in her youth to return to her father’s house and eat his food. This was applied to the widows whose fathers were priests, as recorded in Leviticus 22:13.
The Bible also implies that if a widow were to take any vow, she would be bound by it for the rest of her life, as recorded in Numbers 30:9.
The Bible mentions that God is the provider for the widows in Deuteronomy 24:19. In the Old Testament, the people were required to leave a few harvests in their fields so that widows could come and collect them. This was one way God provided for them and ensured they had something to eat.
The Bible also says that God is the defender and protector of the widows, as recorded in Psalms 68:5. Often, widows may be subjected to mistreatment in society because they do not have a male figure in their life to stand up for them and protect them. Go still protects their safety even after their husbands’ deaths.
The Bible also suggests that the true religion God sees is without fault and pure and that it has the best interests of the orphans and the widows. The Bible encourages Christians in the church to look after the widows in distress, as recorded in James 1:27.
Biblical references about a widow
1 Timothy 5:3 says that we should give proper recognition to the widows who are in need.
In Psalms 109:9, David wishes his enemy to die so his children can be fatherless and his wife a widow.
1 Timothy 5:4 also suggests that the church would not take care of a widow if she still had children or grandchildren. Instead, her children or grandchildren were to take care of her.
Proverbs 15:25 says that the Lord tears down the house of a proud person but sets the widow’s boundary stone in place. This may indicate that God protects widows.
1 Timothy 5:5 suggests that a widow is to put all her hope in God and continue to pray to him every day whenever she feels alone or is in need.
Malachi 3:5 also suggests that God’s wrath will fall upon those who oppress the widows.
1 Timothy 5:6 also warns against a widow who lives for pleasure after the death of her husband, as God considers her dead while she is still alive.
1 Corinthians 7:8 says it is good for the widows to stay unmarried.
Apostle Paul also encourages young widows to marry and bear children to manage their homes for themselves and prevent any enemy from attacking them, as suggested in 1 Timothy 5:14.
Zechariah 7:10 says we should not oppress the widows or plan anything evil against them.
How many widows are mentioned in the Bible
It is unclear to know the exact number of widows mentioned in the Bible, as the scriptures do not provide accurate numbers. Additionally, several scholars suggest that there are women in the Bible who become widows and are not recognized, like Mary, the mother of Jesus, or some women were widows for a short time before getting married again, like Bathsheba.
However, ten notable widows have been recognized in the Bible. These widows include the widow with the two coins in Luke 21:1-4, Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah in Genesis 38:6-11, the widow of Nain in Luke 7:11-16, the mother of Hiram from Trye in 1 King 7:13-14, Anna in Luke 2:36-38, Zeruah he mother of Jeroboam in 1 King 11:26, Ruth in the book of Ruth 1:1-5, the widow who had two sons in 2 Kings 4:1-7, Orpah in Ruth 1:1-5, and Naomi, the mother-in-law to Ruth and Orpah.
Inspiring stories of Courageous widows in the Bible
The first inspiring story is that of Ruth, the daughter-in-law to Naomi. Her courageousness is seen in the book of Ruth after she becomes a widow after being married for ten years. After the death of her husband, her mother-in-law Naomi wants to go back to Bethlehem and begs her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to return to their mothers’ homes so they can remarry.
Orpah agrees and returns home, but Ruth insists on going to Bethlehem with Naomi. Ruth’s courage is seen as she vows never to leave her mother-in-law, knowing very well that there is a possibility that she will never get married again. However, the Lord remembers her, and she marries Boaz.
Another inspiring story of a widow in the Bible is that of Abigail, who, through her wisdom, begged pardon on behalf of her husband to King David. Her story is mentioned in 1 Samuel 27. Abigail had been initially married to Nabal, a wealthy man from Maon. One time, David sent his men to Nabal to plead for food, but he turned them away, alleging that David was just but a servant.
David was angered by Nabal’s sentiments and decided to go and meet him in person alongside his four hundred men. This would have resulted in a huge war, and Abigail did not want that. She instead went to meet David on the way and asked him to forgive her husband. This act was courageous of Abigail as she had single-handedly stopped the conflict that was to arise between David and her husband. Nabal died a few days later, and David took Abigail as his second wife.
Another inspiring story of courageous women in the Bible is that of Tamar, which is recorded in Genesis 38. Tamar was the wife of Er and the son of Judah. Shortly after their marriage, God took Er’s life as he was wicked, leaving Tamar widowed. Since Tamar had been left without any children, Judah commanded his other son Onan to sleep with Tamar to give his late brother children. Onan was disobedient and could spill his semen onto the ground whenever he made love to her to prevent Tamar from getting pregnant. This angered God, who again killed him.
When Judah saw that his second son had died, he ordered Tamar to return to her father’s house until his other son Shelah grew up. Determined to keep her husband’s name for generations to come, Tamar dressed as a prostitute and went to lie with Judah after the death of his wife. This led to Tamar getting pregnant and giving birth to twins Perez and Zerah.
How were widows treated in biblical times?
Widows in the Old Testament were usually subjected to mistreatment and injustice, a thing that greatly angered God. He then commands in Deuteronomy 24:17 that no one should take anything that belongs to a widow as a pledge, as it is not right.
The Bible also suggests that widows were oppressed, especially in the Old Testament. This prompts prophet Isaiah to call out to everyone to do what is just and plead the cases of the widows, as recorded in Isaiah 1:17.
Despite being oppressed and mistreated, things changed for the widows as people started treating them with care and even providing them with food. Widows were taken care of by everyone around them. In the Old Testament, during harvest time, people were not required to clear their fields to provide food for the widows, as recorded in Deuteronomy 24:19.
A widow had to meet certain specifications in the bible times to pass as one. She was then to be taken care of by the church. For one to be recognized as a widow, they had to be over sixty years, had to have been faithful while her husband was alive, and was well known for her good deeds, as suggested in 1 Timothy 5:9-10.
What does the Bible say about how widows are to be treated?
The Bible suggests that widows should be treated with compassion and honor. The Bible also indicates that we should look after the widows who are in distress and not abandon them, as recorded in Deuteronomy 1:27.
The Bible also suggests that young family members with a widow in their homes should step up and support their needs as they care for them.
The Bible implies that we should treat widows with empathy and compassion and not mistreat them, as recorded in Exodus 22:22
The Bible also encourages us to provide the widows with financial or material support whenever we can, as most widows are Old and can no longer fend for themselves.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.