The Talmud tells us that there were 48 prophets and seven prophetesses of the Jewish people. Now, the Talmud qualifies that there were many more prophets—a whopping 1,200,000 prophets in fact—but only those prophets whose message was relevant for future generations made the list.1

Here are the seven prophetesses of the Bible:

1. Sarah

As the wife of Abraham, Sarah was an equal partner in his efforts to spread monotheistic beliefs and morality. Abraham led the men, and Sarah shepherded the women.2 She was originally named Yiscah, but Abraham called her Sarai (“my princess/superior”) because she was superior to him in her prophetic abilities. When she was 89 years old, G‑d commanded that her name be changed to Sarah (which means “princess”) and Abram (“exalted father”) become Abraham (“father of many nations”), and they were soon blessed with a son, Isaac.

Sarah was so holy that her bread would remain fresh all week, her Shabbat candles would burn until the following Friday, and a cloud would hover above her tent.3 In telling Sarah’s age at the time of her passing, the verse states that her life was “100 years, and 20 years, and 7 years.” The sages explain that when she was 100, she was as pure of sin as a maiden of 20; and when she was 20, she was as beautiful as an innocent 7-year-old.4

Lear more about Sarah

2. Miriam

Abraham and Sarah’s descendants made their way down to Egypt, where they were enslaved by Pharaoh. In those bitter times, a little girl named Miriam (which means “bitter”) was born to Amram and Yocheved. Her father was the leader of the generation and her mother was a busy midwife. Determined not to have more children for Pharaoh to slay, Miriam’s parents separated. Miriam divined that they were destined to give birth to the child who would lead the people out of slavery, and she convinced them to remarry. From that union came Moses, the redeemer of Israel.

Miriam continued to believe in a better future, even when her father doubted her prophecy.5 When the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, leaving the Egyptians behind, Miriam led the women in song and dance.6 And due to Miriam’s merit, G‑d provided the people with a traveling well for most of the 40 years that they were in the desert.

Learn more about Miriam

3. Deborah

Deborah the Prophetess ruled Israel from under a date tree (tomer Devorah) in the land of Ephraim. One reason for this open-air office was that she was wary of being alone with men who came to seek her counsel, and therefore chose to meet them in plain sight. Scripture describes her as “a woman of flames (lapidot).” The sages understood this to mean that she had the honor of making wicks for the Temple menorah.7

She conveyed G‑d’s message to General Barak that he should go to war against the Canaanites, who had been oppressing the people of Israel. Barak agreed to go to war only if Deborah would go with him. She obliged, the Israelites won (with the help of Yael, another brave woman), and Deborah sang a song to thank G‑d for His deliverance. The land was then tranquil for 40 years.8

Learn more about Deborah

4. Chanah (Hannah)

Chanah was married to a prophet named Elkanah.9 Chanah had no offspring, but her husband’s other wife, Peninah, was blessed with many children. One holiday, she was so saddened that she went to the Tabernacle and wept, silently praying. She promised G‑d that if she would be blessed with a son, she would give him to G‑d all the days of his life. Her prayer was unusual in that it was silent, and Eli, the High Priest at the time, thought she was drunk. When Chanah explained what she was doing, he was impressed and agreed that she was correct.10 In fact, many laws of Jewish prayer are derived from Chanah’s prayer.

Learn More about Chanah

5. Abigail

Abigail was the wise and beautiful wife of Nabal, a stingy man who was as tough as a dog.11 After Nabal, who was as rich as he was bad, refused to give provisions to King David and his men, Abigail gave them bread, wine, meat and dried fruits, and convinced David not to kill her husband. According to the Talmud, she did so using proofs from Jewish law.12 Ten days later, Nabal died and David and Abigail married. Tradition tells us that Abigail did more than just say wise words, but that she actually prophesied to David.13

6. Huldah

Huldah the Prophetess was the one who encouraged King Josiah to continue his program of renovating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and reintroducing the service of G‑d. After the king asked her the significance of the open Torah scroll they hand found the Temple, she conveyed the following message from G‑d to the King:

“I will bring a calamity on this place, and upon its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read—because they have forsaken Me and have worshipped other gods . . . Therefore My anger shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

But to the king of Judah . . . Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the L‑rd when you heard what I decreed against this place and against its inhabitants . . . and you rent your clothes and wept before Me—I heard you. Therefore I will gather you unto your fathers, and you will go to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the misfortune which I will bring upon this place.14

Learn more about Huldah

7. Esther

The only woman to author a book of the Bible, Esther was the Jewish girl who rose to the occasion and saved the Jewish people—then exiled in Persia—from the wicked Haman, who wished to wipe them out in a single day.

Taken to the king’s palace against her will, Esther used her position as queen to expose Haman as a scheming scoundrel, and her people were saved. Working together with her cousin Mordechai, she had the Book of Esther recorded for all posterity,15 to be read every year on Purim, the day the Jews celebrated after their enemies had been vanquished.

Read the Book of Esther