In this article, we will explore a list of bad mothers in the Bible and what we can learn about these moms. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
It’s no secret that mothers have an incredibly big job to do. On top of all the ordinary and extraordinary tasks moms take on the week in and week out, some throughout history have taken things a bit too far (for better or for worse).
We’re all familiar with the amazing mothers of the Bible – Hannah, Ruth, and Mary, to name a few. But what about their not-so-great mommas? The ones who were power-hungry, manipulative, or just plain evil?
Plenty of infamous moms in Scripture are waiting to be talked about, and we’re here to take on that challenge! It’s time to meet the women who won’t be winning “Mother of the Year” anytime soon!
If you would like to check out some more leading ladies in the Bible, then please check out these posts as well:
- 16 Interesting Queens of the Bible
- 6 Fascinating Princesses of the Bible
- 15+ Influential Women Leaders of the Bible
- 5 Lessons From the Women at Jesus’ Tomb
Examples Of Bad Mothers In The Bible
Lot’s Wife: The Ill-Fated Look Back
The Bible does not provide much information about Lot’s wife as a mother, so it is difficult to say whether she was a good or bad mother overall. However, one salty incident in the Bible is often associated with Lot’s wife, which may be seen as a reflection of her character.
According to the book of Genesis, Lot and his family were living in Sodom, known for its wickedness. God decided to destroy the city, but He sent angels to rescue Lot and his family before the destruction.
The angels warned Lot and his family not to look back as they fled the city, but Lot’s wife disobeyed and looked back. As a result, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
While this incident is not explicitly related to Lot’s wife’s motherhood, it may reflect her character and her relationship with God. Looking back, she showed a lack of faith and a desire to cling to the past, even if it meant disobeying God’s commands.
The bigger problem is that because she couldn’t resist looking back, she let her two daughters become motherless. How different would their story have been if she had been alive when they decided to commit incest with their father? (Genesis 19:30-36)
Rebekah: Favoritism With A Side Manipulation
In the Bible, Rebekah is not often praised for her motherly actions. Despite her strong faith and her pivotal role in the story of Isaac and Jacob, Rebekah exhibited some concerning behavior that had a negative impact on her children.
One instance was when she favored her son Jacob over her firstborn, Esau. Rebekah even went as far as to deceive her husband, Isaac, in order for Jacob to receive the blessing that was rightfully Esau’s.
This resulted in a deep rift between the brothers and led to much strife in the family. While Rebekah’s actions were not all wholly negative, and God used it. It is clear that her parenting methods were a little on the shady side.
The Baby Killing Mom: Compassionless To The Bone
Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17 And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18 Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21 And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.” - I Kings 3:16-21
The story of the murderous mother in I Kings 3:16-27 is a shocking one; it is a story of a woman willing to take the life of an innocent child. The story begins with two women coming before King Solomon, each claiming to be the mother of a young baby boy. This is because one mom accidentally killed their son by sleeping on him.
To decide who was telling the truth, King Solomon proposed a plan where he would cut the infant in half and give each woman half. The real mother immediately refused and showed compassion for her son’s life by rejecting this plan, while the fake mother agreed.
Like killing your own baby wasn’t enough. You wanted your roommate’s baby to die as well.
This murderous mom demonstrates how truly selfish, cruel, and cold she was. The fact that she was willing to have her friend’s child killed reveals that she had no respect for human life and even less love for children.
For any mother, it would be unthinkable to consider sacrificing another child’s life. This action makes it clear that she didn’t care about anyone besides herself and showed us how terrible of mother she was.
The Cannibalistic Moms – Baby Is What’s For Dinner
26 Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” 27 And he said, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?” 28 Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.” - II Kings 6:26-29
During the siege of Jerusalem in II Kings 6, a particularly gruesome and horrific event is told. As a result of famine and desperation, two mothers agreed upon the most grotesque and insane kind of deal – to cook and eat their own children.
I have never experienced a famine or severe hunger like those in the Bible times. But I do know that severe hunger makes people do crazy things. (source)
This ghastly incident is a testament to the immense depths of depravity and abject despair one can reach in times of severe trials. What makes it worse is these moms planned it out. They lost all their love, empathy, and morals.
Jezebel: The Manipulative Mastermind
He too followed the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him to act wickedly. -2 Chronicles 22:3
Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, was an evil queen who promoted idolatry in Israel and conspired against God’s prophets. She wasn’t just a terrible ruler but also a terrible mother.
Her parenting skills, or lack thereof, led her two sons, Ahaziah, Jehoram, and daughter, Athaliah, into chaos, wickedness, and eternal judgment.
Jezebel infamously arranged the murder of Naboth in order to steal his vineyard for her husband, showing her ruthless and manipulative nature. This heinous act led to her gruesome end, where she was thrown out of a window and quickly devoured by dogs.
A mother’s actions are not only influential in her children’s lives but also set a precedent for future generations. Jezebel’s vices eventually spelled doom for her children and caused a lot of pain in the kingdom of Israel and Judea.
Athaliah: The Treacherous, Power-Hungry Queen
Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel and the queen’s mother during her son Ahaziah’s reign. Greedy and power-hungry, Athaliah believed in consolidating her position at any cost.
When her son died, she took matters into her own hands and ordered the execution of all the royal heirs, including her grandchildren.
However, one of her grandsons, Joash, was saved by his aunt and raised secretly. Six years later, he was rightfully crowned king, leading to Athaliah’s downfall and execution.
Manipulation and self-centeredness can lead to terrible decisions, even for parents. Athaliah’s blind ambition led to not only the deaths of her grandchildren but also her own ruin.
Herodias: The Cunning Vengeful Mother
So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” – Matthew 14:8
Herodias, wife of Herod Antipas and mother of Salome, held a grudge against John the Baptist for condemning her marriage. After her daughter’s performance at a banquet, Herod offered Salome anything she desired as a reward.
Seizing the opportunity, Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. As a result, John was executed, and Herodias reveled in her vengeance.
Bitterness, anger, and revenge can lead parents to make horrific choices that affect their children. Herodias used her daughter as a pawn, teaching Salome to value vengeance over compassion.
We can learn a lot from these bad mothers in the Bible…basically, what NOT to do. But it also teaches how far a person will go for power, control, and fear.
I hope you have enjoyed this lesson, and it has made you more curious about the stories in the Bible. If you would like to leave me a comment, you can do so below. I would love to hear from you!
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…