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10 Bad Girls of the Bible

  • DiAne Gates GriefShare
10 Bad Girls of the Bible

Why do you suppose God preserved life stories of bad girls in the Bible? Perhaps to illustrate “… that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NAS). From the Garden, God gave instructions, the consequences, and allowed His creations to make their choices—faith in Him or eternity with the devil.

Could it be, like beauty in the eye of the beholder—all bad girls in our eyes may not be condemned in God’s eyes? Why? Because of Jesus and their changed hearts. What encouraging words for us that harlots, murderers, liars, and rich, evil queens are listed in God’s Word. Could whosoever mean there’s hope for you and me? Absolutely. You have a choice. Your past doesn’t dictate your future or your eternity.

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1. Tamar

1. Tamar

One of Jacob’s 12 sons, Judah, married a Canaanite woman who had two sons. According to custom, Judah obtained Tamar as wife for his eldest, Er. But God called this boy evil and took his life. According to the law, Judah told his next born, Onan, to perform his duty as Tamar’s brother-in-law, to raise up offspring for his brother. He refused, wasted his seed, and God took his life. Judah had a third son but told Tamar to return to her father’s house and wait. This was ignoring Jewish law. But do you think God had a plan?

Tamar removed her widow’s clothing, covered her face, and dressed like a harlot. And when Judah saw her standing by the road his flesh took over. Being a smart lady, Tamar requested his seal, cord, and staff as payment. Three months later Judah was informed his daughter-in-law had played the harlot and was pregnant. Judah shouted, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Tamar sent the seal and cord and staff to Judah and he was man enough to admit, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” Read Genesis 38:6-30, Psalm 78:68-71, and Matthew 1:1-4 to find out why and where Tamar fits in God’s plan.

“Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord shall give you by this young woman” (Ruth 4:12 NAS).

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2. Potiphar's Lying Wife

2. Potiphar's Lying Wife

Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. We know the story of his coat of many colors, his jealous brothers, the pit, and Joseph’s unwilling journey to Egypt. But through the warfare of Israel’s beginning days, God protected this nation’s bloodline.

Potiphar’s wife became a willing tool in the devil’s hand. Scripture tells us Joseph was handsome and caught the sensual eye of Joseph’s master’s wife. God doesn’t tell us her name—only the account of her unending seductions after this young man. But Joseph refused.

Then she laid a trap—a day when they were home alone. When he refused she threw a tantrum and lied. Her husband cast Joseph in prison for years. But Scripture tells us: “But the Lord was with Joseph… and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper” ( Genesis 39 NAS). God elevated Joseph to second in command of Egypt. Genesis 39-50 records how God used this faithful man, reunited and blessed this family of His own choosing.

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3. Rahab

3. Rahab

God’s chosen people crossed the Jordan into the promised land. Joshua was their leader and God instructed him to send two men as spies to view this land, “… especially Jericho.”

The spies lodged at the house of Rahab, the harlot. But the king of Jericho was told and sent men to arrest them. Rahab hid the two under stalks of flax on her roof and lied to the king, telling him the spies left before the city’s gates closed. Before the two men went to sleep, Rahab returned and professed her faith in the Lord God of heaven and earth. She asked if they would deal kindly with her and her father’s household.

The spies instructed Rahab to hang a scarlet cord in her window and to gather all her family inside. Rahab and her family were spared when the walls of Jericho fell flat. The faith of Rahab the harlot is confirmed in Hebrews 11:31. And Matthew 1:5 confirms this woman-with-a-past is listed in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ through her marriage to Salmon and birth of her son Boaz. Read Joshua 2 for the beginning of Rahab’s encounter with God and Israel.

“… Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” ( Joshua 6:25 NAS).

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4. Jael

4. Jael

Fast forward to the times of Israel’s Judges. A time when the sons of Israel continually chose evil in the sight of the Lord. God sold His people into the hands of a Canaanite king whose commander was Sisera—a leader with 900 iron chariots who oppressed the sons of Israel for 20 years.

Israel’s commander, Barack, less than a mighty warrior, quipped to Judge Deborah’s instruction from God to him…I’ll go to battle if you’ll go with me. Deborah said, “I will go… but the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

God routed Sisera’s army and this enemy commander fled to the tent of Jael. Her husband was at peace with the Canaanite king, but Jael invited this evil, fleeing commander into her tent, soothed him with kind words, fed him, and wooed him to sleep on her living room carpet. She grabbed a hammer, drove a tent peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. Scripture blesses Jael forever in Judges 5:24-27. Read Jael’s story in Judges 4 and 5. Could God count on you to be that kind of bad when He calls you to serve Him?

“Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; most blessed is she of women in the tent…” ( Judges 5:24 NAS).

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5. Delilah

5. Delilah

The account of Israel’s most colorful judge—Samson—introduces another truly bad girl, Delilah. Scripture reveals Samson was a Nazarite from the womb, but Samson had a great weakness. Women. Foreign women. And Scripture tells us he loved Delilah. But Delilah also had a weakness… money.

She must have been a beauty with a persuasive manner fed by a lust for gold. She pleaded for Samson to tell her the secret of his great strength. But he teased her with false tales, and over and over came back for more. Even though every time she enlisted Philistines to take him captive. 

Scripture tells us his soul was annoyed to death and finally told her all that was in his heart. And this money-minded bad girl went straight to the Philistines, collected her blood money, and set the trap. Judges 13 through 15 gives us the complete story of Samson’s life… and cold-hearted Delilah knew what the Philistines planned, yet lulled Samson to sleep and rendered him helpless for the sake of cold, hard cash.

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6. Jezebel

6. Jezebel

Even today, the name Jezebel paints an unattractive picture. Not many moms name their daughters Jezebel. A foreign woman—daughter of Ethbaal, King of Sidonian. Her father’s name defines the god this cruel, pagan woman and her Jewish husband, King Ahab, worshiped.

Her list of crimes included slaughtering God’s prophets. Bringing Baal worship to Israel. Having a neighbor killed because her weak-minded husband wanted the man’s vineyard. And she issued a death warrant for God’s prophet Elijah. If ever there was a bad girl who belonged to Satan, Jezebel was indeed his child.

But God numbers our days… even the days of this bad girl. God anointed Jehu as King over Israel for the sole purpose of wiping out the family line of Ahab and Jezebel. God even said, “And the dogs shall eat Jezebel and none shall bury her.” 1 Kings 16:29-43 sets the stage for this evil queen. And II Kings 9 illustrates how God deals with those who continually chose evil.

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7. Athaliah

7. Athaliah

Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, followed her mama’s footsteps—a devout Baal worshiper. Married to Jehoram, King of Judah, their son Ahaziah inherited the throne of David when Jehoram died. But if ever there was a mama’s boy, King Ahaziah filled the bill. His mother counseled him in all things evil. He reigned one year before Jehu, ordained by God, killed him.

Scripture tells us: “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring” ( 2 Kings 11:1 NAS). But one of Ahaziah’s sisters hid Ahaziah’s little son, Joash. This little one and his nurse were hidden in the house of the Lord for six years while this bad-to-the-bone woman usurped King David’s throne.

Joash was seven years old when the high priest gave Judah’s soldiers King David’s spears and set the crown on the boy’s head. Queen Athaliah heard the cheers, saw the boy, and shouted “Treason!” But the soldiers seized her as she stormed the entrance to the king’s house. They put her to death on the spot. If you think your mother-in-law’s awful… remember Athaliah. The details about this horrible period in Judah’s history can be found in 2 Kings 10 and 11.

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8. Herodias

8. Herodias

In this day of no-fault divorce, the condemnation by John the Baptist of Herod Antipas and Herodias may cause some discomfort. Yet God is clear. He says, “I hate divorce.” Those of us who’ve lived long enough to see and experience the pain and consequences divorce brings understand. God instituted marriage in the beginning—a three-way covenant between God, a man, and a woman—until death.

But Herod desired his brother’s wife and she obviously agreed with the plan. John the Baptist spoiled their illicit relationship when he rebuked Herod. And Herodias was furious—enough to get even. She incited Herod to throw him in prison. And John sat in the dungeon while Herod and his friends celebrated the tetrarch’s birthday.

The daughter of Herodias danced before all these lude men and Scripture says she pleased them so much Herod promised whatever she wanted. And mama prompted daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Though it grieved Herod, Scripture says he was too proud to refuse and immediately ordered the slaughter.

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9. The Samaritan Woman

9. The Samaritan Woman

Traveling from Judah to Galilee, Jesus passed through Samaria at the noon hour. Being weary, He sat down at Jacob’s well. Now the proper women came to fill their water jugs in the cool of the morning, but those of questionable character came in the heat of the day to avoid accusing stares. The Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink and she was astonished this Hebrew would even talk to her.

Jesus told her He was the Living Water and requested, “Go call your husband.” She answered, “I have no husband.” Jesus responded, “You have well said… for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband…” And Jesus revealed Himself to her as the long-anticipated Messiah. She was so excited she left her water pot, ran back into the city, and spread the word.

And this woman of questionable reputation led many of her city to Jesus Christ. The men asked Him to stay and Jesus stayed two days, and many more believed He was the promised Messiah. John 4 records this divine appointment.

“Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven” ( Matthew 10:32 NAS).

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10. Sapphira

10. Sapphira

New believers flourished in the early church, being filled with the Holy Spirit as God increased their numbers. Peter and John performed miracles of healing. The atmosphere was jubilant. But not for the priests and Sadducees. They ordered Peter and John to cease speaking the name of Jesus. They refused. The church body prayed, the place was shaken, and the Spirit filled the believers who were of one heart and soul. There was not a needy person among them as they sold and shared their property.

But Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and agreed to withhold some of the money, but pretended they were giving the whole amount. Peter, through the power of the Spirit, asked Ananias why he lied to the Spirit. Then rebuked him, “You have not lied to men but to God.” And Ananias fell down dead. 

Scripture reports Sapphira came in three hours later and repeated her husband’s lie. Peter said, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?” Sapphira fell dead at his feet. No second chance. No do-overs. No opportunity for repentance. 

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 NAS). 

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