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  • tser-oo-aw'
"full breasted

1 Kings 11:26:
Jeroboam son of Nebat, and Ephramite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow, rebelled against the king.

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  • 1 Samuel 26:6, 2 Samuel 2:13, 2 Samuel 2:18, 2 Samuel 3:39, 2 Samuel 8:16, 2 Samuel 14:1, 2 Samuel 17:25, 2 Samuel 18:2, 2 Samuel 19:21-22,2 Samuel 23:18, 2 Samuel 23:37, 1 Kings 1:7, 1 Kings 2:5, 1 Kings 2:22, 1 Chronicles 2:13-17, 1 Chronicles 11:6, 1 Chronicles 11:26-47, 1 Chronicles 18:12, 1 Chronicles 18:15, 1 Chronicles 26:28, 1 Chronicles 27:24

  • tser-oo-yaw'


Quite often we think of men founding great warrior families, however the Bible the offers an example of a woman founding such a dynasty. Zeruiah, David's sister, is mentioned throughout the Books of Samuel and Chronicles. Each time, one of her warrior son's is identified by his relationship to her.

1 Samuel 26:6:

Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab's brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, 'Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?' Abishai said, 'I will go down with you.'

2 Samuel 2:13:

Joab son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat on one side of the pool, while the other sat on the other side of the pool.

2 Samuel 2:18:

The three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle.

2 Samuel 3:39:

Today I am powerless, even though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me. The Lord pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness!

2 Samuel 8:16:

Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder.

2 Samuel 14:1:

Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's mind was on Absalom.

2 Samuel 16:9-10:

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.' But the king said, 'What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, "Curse David," who then shall say, "Why have you done so?"'

2 Samuel 17:25:

Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash , sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother.

Zeruiah was Absalom's aunt, for Joab was his cousin.

2 Samuel 18:2:

And David divided the army into three groups: one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the men, 'I myself will also go out with you.'

2 Samuel 19:21-22:

Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, 'Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord's anointed?' But David said, 'What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?'

2 Samuel 21:27:

But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, 'You shall not go out with us to battle any longer, so that you do not quench the lamp of Israel.'

2 Samuel 23:18:

Now Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was chief of the Thirty. With his spear he fought against three hundred men and killed them, and won a name beside the Three."Now Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was chief of the Thirty. With his spear he fought against three hundred men and killed them, and won a name beside the Three.

2 Samuel 23:24-39:

Among the Thirty were Asahel brother of Joab; Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem; Shammah of Harod; Elika of Harod; Helez the Paltite; Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa; Abiezer of Anathoth; Mebunnai the Hushathite; Zalmon the Ahohite; Maharai of Netophah; Heleb son of Baanah of Netophah; Ittai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites; Benaiah of Pirathon; Hiddai of the torrents of Gaash; Abi-albon the Arbathite; Azmaveth of Bahurim; Eliahba of Shaalbon; the sons of Jashen: Jonathan son of Shammah the Hararite; Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite; Eliphelet son of Ahasbai of Maacah ; Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite; Hezro of Carmel; Paarai the Arbite; Igal son of Nathan of Zobah; Bani the Gadite; Zelek the Ammonite; Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah; Ira the Ithrite; Gareb the Ithrite; Uriah the Hittite—thirty-seven in all.

1 Kings 1:7:

He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah.

1 Kings 2:5:

Moreover you know also what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner son of Ner, and Amasa son of Jether, whom he murdered, retaliating in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist, and on the sandals on his feet.

2 Kings 2:22:

King Solomon answered his mother, 'And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom as well! For he is my elder brother; ask not only for him but also for the priest Abiathar and for Joab son of Zeruiah!'

1 Chronicles 2:13-17:

Jesse became the father of Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh; and their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. The sons of Zeruiah: Abishai, Joab, and Asahel, three.

1 Chronicles 11:6:

David had said, 'Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander.' And Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief.

1 Chronicles 11:26-47:

The warriors of the armies were Asahel brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammoth of Harod, Helez the Pelonite, Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, Abiezer of Anathoth, Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah, Heled son of Baanah of Netophah, Ithai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites, Benaiah of Pirathon, Hurai of the wadis of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Baharum, Eliahba of Shaalbon, Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan son of Shagee the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sachar the Hararite, Eliphal son of Ur, Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Hezro of Carmel, Naarai son of Ezbai, Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, Uriah the Hittite, Zabad son of Ahlai, Adina son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, Hanan son of Maacah , and Joshaphat the Mithnite, Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel sons of Hotham the Aroerite, Jediael son of Shimri, and his brother Joha the Tizite, Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai and Joshaviah sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, and Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.

1 Chronicles 18:12:

Abishai son of Zeruiah killed eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

1 Chronicles 18:15:

Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder.

1 Chronicles 26:28:

Also all that Samuel the seer, and Saul son of Kish, and Abner son of Ner, and Joab son of Zeruiah had dedicated—all dedicated gifts were in the care of Shelomoth and his brothers.

1 Chronicles 27:24:

Joab son of Zeruiah began to count them, but did not finish; yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered into the account of the Annals of King David.

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  • 2 Kings 12:1, 2 Chronicles 24
  • tsib yaw roe

2 Kings 12:1:
In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign; he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba.

2 Chronicles 24:

Joash was seven years old when he began to reign; he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; his mother's name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba.

The Bible gives us no more information on Zibiah. She was the mother of king Jehoash. Was she married? The Bible does not say, not does it identify who Jehoash's father was.

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  • Genesis 4:19, Genesis 4:22-24
  • tsil law shade

Genesis 4:19:
Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah , and the name of the other was Zillah.

This is the first recorded case of polygamy in the Old Testament. Lamech married two women, despite the commandment of one man taking a wife in Genesis 2:24. Also, Lamech was of the line of Cain. Cain's line is contrasted by the line of Seth throughout Genesis. Cain's line tend to chose disobedience to God, while Seth's line chooses obedience.

Genesis 4:22:

Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Genesis 4:23-24:

Lamech said to his wives: ' Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.'

Lamech boasted to his wives that he had killed a man in vengeance. He even claimed to better God, who had promised to avenge Cain sevenfold.

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  • Genesis 29:24, Genesis 30:9-12
  • zil paw

Genesis 29:24
(Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.)

Zilpah was a "servant", or rather a slave. She was passed from Laban onto Leah. In being passed on to Leah, Zilpah became ensared in the battle of babies between Leah and Rachel

Genesis 30:9-12
When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Then Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. And Leah said, "Good fortune!" so she named him Gad. Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son."

Leah gave Zilpah to Jacob. This family had become so dysfunctional that Leah and Rachel resorted to putting their maids into sexual service. Leah does not seem to even acknowledge Zilpah as a person, rather she sees only her own benefit and desires.

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  • Exodus 2:22, Exodus 4:18-20, Exodus 4:24-26, Exodus 18:1-6, Numbers 12:1 (possible reference)

  • tsip-po-raw'


We first meet Zipporah in Exodus 2:22:
Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, 'I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.'

Often we look to the most "spiritual" people we know to discern our problems--we just know the Lord will reveal Himself through some great elder or prim personage. Yet, discernment is a gift of the Lord, granted at His discretion. In Exodus we find the story of a foreign woman showing the discernment her husband lacked. The Bible tells us some background first.

Exodus 4:18-20:

Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, 'Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.' And Jethro said to Moses, 'Go in peace.' The LORD said to Moses in Midian, 'Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.' So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.

In our eyes it may seem odd that a man should ask his father-in-law for permission to leave and serve God. Yet, Moses had, knowingly or unknowingly, followed the Law gave Adam and Eve. A husband was to leave his family to join with his wife. Moses had left his family and joined with Zipporah and her family. As part of Jethro's household, he rightfully sought permission first-simple courtesy. Thus, Zipporah finds herself embarking with Moses and her sons on one of histories greatest adventures.

During this part of the story, an even slips into the tales that still baffles scholars today--and reveals Zipporah's gift of discernment and her quick thinking.

The Hebrew in this passage is extremely obscure. I will limit myself to the generally agreed upon aspects of the story, but will then point out some of the obscurities.

Exodus 4:24-26:

On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD met him and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' feet with it, and said, 'Truly you are a bridegroom of blood by circumsion.'

Moses has done something or failed to do something-the Bible does not specifically say what- that has displeased the Lord. God stalks Moses with the intent of killing Moses. Moses, does not seem to respond, or even know how to respond. An unlikely heroine steps forward. Zipporah discerns what needs to be done to restore the relationship with God. When Moses seems unable to appease the Lord, Zipporah acts to avert disaster. I've read several "teachings" that lay blame for these circumstances at Zipporah's feet. One minister even indicated that Zipporah nearly got Moses killed. Nothing in this story indicates such an interpretation. Instead we see a woman boldly, and accurately, addressing a spiritual problem in her family, a problem that specifically involves her husband's failure to address spiritual issues.

Now, those were the "knowns" of the story. However, due to the obscure nature of the Hebrew in this section, several unknowns impact our understanding of this story and can shade our interpretations. Where this translations indicates "her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' feet with it" a great deal of ambiguity in the Hebrew exists. In fact, in the Hebrew we really don't know whose foreskin Zipporah cuts--whether it is the son' or Moses'. More, we don't know who she spread they blood on--was it the son, Moses or God? Another twist in the Hebrew is the usage of "feet". "Feet" can be a euphemism in Hebrew for genitals---which leads us to ask not only who she put blood on, where exactly she put it. The final puzzle in this short section involves Zipporah's cry, "Truly you are a bridegroom of blood by circumsion"--what exactly does it mean?

By the middle of Exodus, however, Zipporah seems to have returned to the home to her father. Some will say she abandoned Moses-the Bible doesn't indicate this. Others say Moses sent her home while there was trouble with the Israelites--again, the Bible doesn't indicate this. In fact, the Bible provides no "reason" at all other than saying "Moses sent her away" -"Shilluwach"-which Strong's Concordance defines as "sending away, parting gift", leaving any guess on our parts to be mere speculation. The same word is used for divorce in Deuteronomy 21:14, 22:19, 22:29). I would be suspicious of attempts to blame Zipporah (and I've read plenty), for if there truly was blame to be assigned, blame from which the Holy Spirit expected us to learn, He would have told us exactly what was going on. Due to the lack of information I tend to assume that Zipporah rightfully returned home to the family Moses had left his family to join-particularly as Jethro brings the family along when the time is right.

Exodus 18:1-6:

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, 'I have been an alien in a foreign land'), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, 'The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh'). Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses' sons and wife to him. He sent word to Moses, 'I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.'

From the tone, it seems most likely that Moses "sent" Zipporah away until things could be settled. Then once it was practical for her and the boys to join him, Jethro brought them to the camp. Nothing here indicates discord within the family.

The final possible reference to Zipporah is Numbers 12:1:

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman).

The possibility exists that this reference isn't to Zipporah, but Midianites were Cushites. It is therefore possible Zipporah is the wife in question.

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"The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A, and are used by permission. All rights reserved."

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