10 Bad Mothers in the Bible (And 10 Good Ones!) 

10 Bad Mothers in the Bible (And 10 Good Ones!)

I doubt I’m bursting your bubble but: Not everyone in the Bible was good. As a matter of fact, there are several bad mothers in the Bible.

Last year I wrote a book (Unsung Heroes) about ten good mothers in the Bible. It got me thinking, what can I learn from the not-so-good mothers in the Bible?

Why would we want to study bad mothers in the Bible? It’s nice to learn what TO DO and what NOT TO Do, right? In this blog, we will talk through the incredible stories of moms in the Bible, from Eve, the very first mom, to Mary, mother of Jesus.

Today’s discussion will not only cover these significant moms but also offer deeper insights into the less spoken about but equally pivotal mothers like the wife of Abraham and the mother of Moses, who navigated God’s plans amidst trials and tribulations.

We’re not just here to admire them but to learn from them too—seeing what actions to follow and what mistakes to avoid, from the godly moms featured in Genesis to cautionary figures like Lot’s wife.

At the bottom, I’ve included a detailed list of 10 exemplary mothers, including the queen mothers and single mothers who have demonstrated qualities of faith, resilience, and unconditional love.

Let’s make this journey through the Bible’s stories about motherhood a chance to really get what being a mom is all about—the ups, the downs, and the incredible impact these women have had throughout history.


10 Bad Mothers in the Bible

These tales cover all sorts of motherly experiences, giving us serious warnings of what not to do:

1. Jezebel

Jezebel, the notorious queen of Israel, wielded her influence not just over the nation but deeply within her own family, fostering a shift towards idolatry that reverberated through the generations.

Her fervent promotion of Baal worship and the suppression of the worship of Yahweh led her offspring and the nation into significant spiritual decay.

This shift set a grim backdrop for her reign, marked by political and religious upheavals that included dramatic confrontations with prophets like Elijah and Elisha, which underscored the eternal struggle between true worship and idolatry.

Her actions not only led to personal retribution but also exemplified the dangerous power of leading a nation astray through ungodly influence.

Jezebel’s profound impact on Israel’s history and her catastrophic fall are detailed in the biblical narratives of 1 Kings, starting from chapter 16, through to 2 Kings, chapter 9.

These scriptures not only chronicle her manipulative political maneuvers but also highlight the moral and spiritual lessons stemming from her reign.

Her life serves as a cautionary tale on the consequences of misusing power and the importance of godly leadership in shaping the moral direction of a society.

2. Athaliah

Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, is a striking example of how a relentless quest for power can overshadow familial bonds.

Her story in the Bible is one of the darkest portrayals of maternal ambition. Upon her son King Ahaziah’s death, she executed all potential heirs from her own royal lineage to secure her position on the throne of Judah, committing an unprecedented atrocity against her own family.

Her reign was characterized by bloodshed and deception, ultimately leading to her own violent demise. This tale starkly illustrates the catastrophic consequences of unchecked power and the impact of such actions on a nation’s moral and ethical fabric.

Athaliah’s story, a grim reminder of the perils of power over family, serves as an important cautionary tale about the extreme lengths of ambition and the severe repercussions it can have on personal and societal levels.

For those interested in delving deeper into Athaliah’s tumultuous rule and its effects on the history of Judah, her narrative unfolds in the Second Book of Kings, chapters 11 and 12, and the Second Book of Chronicles, chapters 22 and 23.

These scriptures not only detail her drastic actions to cling to power but also chart the course of her eventual downfall, offering valuable lessons on the dangers of such ruthless ambition.

3. Herodias

Herodias, a figure notorious in the New Testament for her chilling role in the death of John the Baptist, exemplifies the dangerous intersection of ambition and maternal influence.

Married to Herod Antipas and mother to Salome, Herodias manipulated her daughter into a grim scheme to secure John’s execution, a plot motivated by John’s outspoken criticism of her marriage.

This manipulation not only led to a gruesome end for John but also marked Salome’s life forever.

Herodias’s actions starkly contrast the qualities expected of godly mothers, providing a cautionary tale about placing personal ambition over the nurturing and ethical guidance of one’s children.

Her story, outlined in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, verses 17-29, offers a vivid account of her machinations and their dire consequences, presenting a narrative filled with moral and ethical reflections relevant to understanding the complex role of a mother in biblical times and beyond.

This alarming episode serves as an important lesson in the pitfalls of wielding maternal influence to fulfill personal vendettas rather than fostering virtue and integrity.

4. The Cannibal Mothers of Samaria

During the severe famine that accompanied the siege of Samaria, a particularly disturbing episode unfolded that underscores the dire extremes of human suffering.

Two unnamed mothers, driven by unimaginable desperation, made a horrific pact that involved the cannibalism of their own children.

This bleak narrative from the Bible serves as a profound cautionary tale about the depths to which humanity can sink under extreme conditions. It highlights not only the moral collapse but also the heart-wrenching decisions made in times of desperate survival.

This chilling story, found in the 2 Kings, chapter 6, verses 24-33, provides a grim insight into the catastrophic effects of the siege on the inhabitants of Samaria.

The account details the profound despair and the drastic measures that mothers were forced to consider, reflecting a broader commentary on the impact of societal collapse and the breakdown of moral and ethical boundaries in the face of overwhelming crises.

It serves as an important lesson on the fragility of human ethics under the pressure of life-threatening scarcity and fear.

5. Maacah

Maacah, as the queen mother and mother of King Asa of Judah, held a significant but ultimately detrimental influence within the kingdom due to her idolatrous practices.

Her commitment to pagan worship directly contradicted the godly reforms her son sought to establish, which strained their relationship and led to her dramatic removal from power.

This act underscored a critical lesson on the profound impact a mother’s spiritual choices can have, not just on her immediate family but on the moral direction of an entire nation.

Her story is a poignant reminder and a cautionary tale, illustrating how personal actions can echo through generations, influencing both royal policy and spiritual life across the kingdom.

To delve deeper into Maacah’s story and understand the full implications of her actions on the kingdom of Judah, her narrative is recounted in the 1 Kings, chapter 15, verses 13-14, and further explored in the Second Book of Chronicles, chapter 15, verse 16.

These scriptures provide a detailed account of King Asa’s challenges and efforts to cleanse Judah of his mother’s idolatrous influence, reflecting the ongoing struggle between holy devotion and earthly power within the royal family.

are there bad mothers in the bible?

6. Gomer

Gomer, the wife of the prophet Hosea, epitomizes infidelity and is often seen as neglectful in her role as a mother.

Her story serves as a vivid metaphor in the Book of Hosea for Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. Despite Hosea’s unwavering love and forgiveness, Gomer repeatedly strayed from her family, showcasing a troubling pattern of behavior that undoubtedly impacted her maternal duties.

Her actions provide a poignant insight into the personal and spiritual consequences of infidelity and neglect.

For a detailed exploration of Gomer’s complex character and her interactions within her family, the narrative unfolds across several chapters of the Book of Hosea, particularly highlighted from Hosea 1 through Hosea 3.

These chapters delve into her life’s choices and their implications, framed within the larger context of Israel’s relationship with God.

7. Solomon’s Judgement Mother

This mother, featured in the dramatic account of King Solomon’s judgment, displayed profound selfishness when faced with a harrowing decision over the custody of a child.

When Solomon proposed dividing the living child in two, she was willing to accept the death of the child rather than see him raised by another woman.

This act starkly highlights her prioritization of personal vindication over genuine maternal care, providing a deep insight into the corrupting nature of selfish desires.

For those interested in the full story of Solomon’s judgment and the lessons it imparts about wisdom, justice, and maternal instincts, you can read the detailed account in 1 Kings 3:16-28.

This passage offers a rich narrative that showcases Solomon’s wisdom and the moral challenges faced by those involved.

8. Michal

Michal, the daughter of Saul and wife of King David, is a complex figure in biblical history, known for her disdain towards David’s spiritual expressions.

This contempt is vividly illustrated during a moment of celebration when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and Michal scorned him for his ecstatic dancing.

Her reaction, which could have influenced any potential offspring negatively, highlights the spiritual and relational rifts that such disdain can cause. Although Michal herself did not bear children, her story serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of disrespecting sacred celebrations.

For a deeper understanding of Michal’s relationship with David and her reaction to his devout celebrations, her story is detailed in 2 Samuel 6:16-23.

This passage provides insight into her character and the complexities of her marriage with David.

9. Jeroboam’s Wife

Jeroboam’s wife played a pivotal role in a deceitful quest that had profound implications for her family.

To seek guidance about her sick child, she disguised herself and visited the prophet Ahijah, supporting her husband’s idolatrous ways, which ultimately led to dire prophecies against their children.

This episode highlights the severe consequences of deceit and idolatry within the royal family, particularly how these actions precipitated the downfall of Jeroboam’s dynasty.

For those interested in the full narrative of Jeroboam’s wife and the prophecy that affected her family, you can explore the detailed account in 1 Kings 14:1-18.

This passage delves into the complexities of her actions and the prophetic outcomes that reshaped the fate of her family and the northern kingdom of Israel.

10. Eli Sons’ Wives

While the biblical text focuses more on the actions of Hophni and Phinehas themselves, their corrupt behaviors imply a neglectful upbringing, reflecting poorly on their mothers’ influence.

As priests who did not know the Lord and engaged in wicked practices, the narrative suggests that their familial environment lacked the spiritual guidance necessary to foster righteousness.

This aspect of the story serves as a somber reflection on the impact of parental guidance—or its absence—on the moral development of children.

For a more detailed account of the environment that contributed to the behaviors of Hophni and Phinehas, and the consequences faced by Eli’s family, refer to 1 Samuel 2:12-36.

This passage outlines the grave outcomes of their actions and the divine judgment upon Eli’s house.

Each story provides deep insights into the significant impacts, both positive and negative, that a mother’s actions and attitudes can have on her children and wider society.

good mothers in the bible

10 Good Mothers in the Bible

Obviously there are not only bad mothers in the bible, there are plenty of good ones. Theyare often celebrated for their faith, wisdom, and dedication.

Figures like Sarah, who despite her initial doubt, embodied patience and became the mother of a nation. Hannah is another exemplary mother; her heartfelt prayers and promise to God led to the birth of Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord’s service.

These stories, along with others like Mary, the mother of Jesus, illustrate the profound influence of maternal figures in shaping their children’s destinies through faith and godly principles.

I write more about them in my book Unsung Heroes — check it out!

Mom Bible Study

11. Eve

As the first woman and mother, Eve set the foundational experiences of motherhood, influencing all of humanity. Her narrative unfolds in Genesis 3-4.

12. Sarah

Sarah, through her journey of faith and patience, became the mother of Isaac, significantly shaping the destiny of the Israelite people as promised by God. Read more in Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7.

13. Rebekah

Rebekah’s intricate role in the lives of her twin sons highlights the complexities and lasting impacts of a mother’s decisions. Her story is detailed in Genesis 25:19-28.

14. Rachel

Rachel endured the hardship of infertility before becoming the mother to Joseph and Benjamin, crucial figures in the lineage of Israel. Explore her life in Genesis 30:22-24; 35:16-20.

15. Jochebed

In an act of profound faith and bravery, Jochebed saved her son Moses, who would lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Her story can be found in Exodus 2:1-10.

mothers in the bible who are good

16. Samson’s Mom

This unnamed but impactful mother raised Samson, a Nazirite dedicated from birth to be Israel’s deliverer. Her story is captured in Judges 13.

17. Hannah

Known for her devout prayer and dedication, Hannah’s story of mothering Samuel, a key prophetic figure, underscores the power of a praying mother. See 1 Samuel 1:9-28.

18. Bathsheba

From tumultuous beginnings to redemption, Bathsheba’s guidance helped shape Solomon into a wise king, testament to her profound influence as a mother. Her narrative is in 1 Kings 1-2.

19. Lois & Eunice

Celebrated for their devout faith, this grandmother-mother duo profoundly influenced Timothy, a pivotal New Testament figure. Their faith journey is noted in 2 Timothy 1:5.

20. Mary

The mother of Jesus, Mary embodies profound obedience and faith, playing a pivotal role in God’s plan as she raised the Savior of humanity. Her story is detailed in Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-52.

These mothers, each in their unique way, demonstrated the qualities of godly mothers, leaving legacies that have shaped both biblical history and our understanding of maternal impact and faith.

20 Mothers in the bible

Final Thoughts: Good and Bad Mothers in the Bible

Reflecting on the stories of flawed (and exemplary) mothers in the Bible, we uncover profound lessons about the influence of these moms on their children and society at large.

From Eve, the first mother, to the queen mother Athaliah, each narrative is woven with God’s plan and showcases the significant impact of a mother’s guidance—whether it steers towards righteousness or leads astray. 

As we consider these biblical examples—from the virtuous woman to cautionary tales like Lot’s wife and the unnamed mothers during the siege of Jerusalem—we see the broad spectrum of motherhood depicted in God’s word.

This Mother’s Day, let’s meditate not only on the qualities of a godly mother but the life lessons from bad mothers in the Bible.

Whether guiding kings of Israel or nurturing the next generations, the maternal influence is pivotal in shaping the moral and spiritual framework of both family and community.


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