No doubt our world is filled with women who seem to have nothing more in mind than to tempt a man into and illicit relationship. Sometimes I look at a young girls and in my mind I ask “Did your Mama see what you were wearing when you left the house today?” These young girls and women have been around for many, many years and in fact, we can look to the Bible for some famous temptresses. Here are a few that I have studied; I think we can learn from them.
This is one of the first names that comes to mind when considering temptresses in the Bible. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a commander in King David’s army. Uriah was away in battle during the time recorded in the Bible at 1 Samuel 11. Take a look at why we can consider Bathsheba a temptress as well as the consequences that transpired because of her unchaste behavior with the King who was not her husband:
Some history and some sin
1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. (2 Samuel 11:1-5)
The account goes on to show what King David did to hide his illicit affair with Bathsheba. To summarize, the King sent for Uriah to return from the battlefield. David wanted Uriah to spend a night with his wife so that when the news got out about her pregnancy everyone would believe that the baby belonged to her husband and not to the King. Well, Uriah being the good and loyal soldier that he was did not believe it to be right to go into the cozy house and spend the night when his men were out in the field, so he did not sleep in the house with his wife. This greatly disturbed David and so he convinced Uriah to stay another night and day before returning to the field. David fed Uriah and even made him drink to drunkenness – even so, Uriah did not sleep with his wife.
Some more Sin
So the King’s plan was foiled and he needed to go to plan B. Take a look at what the King did next:
14And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.
17 And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. (2 Samuel 11:14-17)
The consequence for the sin
We can read about Bathsheba’s response to her husband’s death and the King’s subsequent marriage to this temptress in 2 Samuel 11:26-27:
26 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
The saddest part of the whole account, in my opinion is that the baby that Bathsheba delivers dies in infancy. But in the end the LORD has mercy on David and His country and David repents of his evil ways. This is an example of how a temptress almost destroyed a nation.
Samson was a man of great strength and he was a judge over Israel. So here is an account of another ruler who was tempted and tested by a woman. Her name was Delilah, a harlot, and Samson fell deeply in love with her though she was really just part of a scheme that the Philistines (Samson’s enemies) had concocted to bring him down. They sent Delilah to Samson to learn of the secret of his great strength. Delilah became close enough to Samson that he confided the truth about his strength to her.
You see when Samson was young he took the Nazarite vow to be sanctified by God. Part of the vow was to never cut his hair. He told Delilah that if his hair was ever cut that his strength would leave him.
Once Delilah learned the truth she took it back to Philistines. Together they made a plan to cut his hair. When he was asleep with Delilah, she cut his hair. When he awoke his weakness allowed the Philistines to capture him. Samson was not killed by the Philistines; instead they tortured him and subjected him to a life of slavery.
Victory for Samson; Demise for others
As Samson labored his hair began to grow again; unnoticed by his captors. In desperation Samson called out to the Lord and he humbled himself before the Lord. The Lord heard his prayer and answered.
During a celebration to the pagan gods the Philistines proudly showed off their prisoner as they led him into the temple where the crowds where. Samson (having his strength returned) stood between two pillars and moved them with his mighty strength to destroy the temple. This sacrificial death of Samson was responsible also for the death of more enemies than he ever destroyed in his entire lifetime.
Although the story has a sad ending (the death of Samson) we see that Delilah the temptress was used indirectly to lead Samson to the Lord.
You can read this account in the Bible in Judges chapter 16.
This is a story about a princess, daughter of Herod Agrippa the first, which means she had an Uncle Herod too (Antipas, he’s the one who had John the Baptist beheaded). Drusilla was known for her beauty among the Jews (of which she was a convert). She was yet a girl of fifteen when she married King Aziz. But the King was not the object of her affection; instead she was interested in his governor, Felix. Eventually Felix kidnapped Drusilla and she married him too, even though she was neither divorced nor widowed from the King! And another thing, Felix was a heathen and an evil ruler.
The only man who ever made Felix shake in his boots was Paul, when he spoke of his faith in Christ (read about it in Acts 24). As you read through the account you get the distinct impression that Felix is on the edge of being moved to salvation – except Drusilla seemed to prevent it. We don’t hear about Drusilla after this but clearly after reading Acts 24 we can see that Felix’s strong desire to “own” this temptress kept Felix from understanding and receiving the truth of the gospel. It is quite possible that the temptress Drusilla continued in her sinful ways until the day she died and it is clear that she was a stumbling block for Felix.
I believe that the first Bible character that comes to mind when you think of temptresses, seducers or wicked women is Jezebel. For thousands of years this queen has been known as the wickedest of wicked women. Here are some of the things the Bible says about her:
She was a princess and a Queen, married to an evil King
1 Kings 16:30-32
30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.
31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
She was feared by the prophets
1 Kings 18:3-5
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
She took over leadership from her husband
1 Kings 21:6-8
6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
Her actions angered the LORD
1 Kings 21:21-24
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
She provoked King Ahab to do evil things
1 Kings 21:25
But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
Her death happened exactly as Elijah the prophet said it would
2 Kings 9:35-37
35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.
36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.
Jezebel is an example of what happens when a wife steps outside of her role as a helper and into the role as leader. She was held responsible by the LORD as the reason that King Ahab worked wickedness in the sight of the LORD.
Summary of an historical event
The entire account of this temptress is written in Genesis chapter 39, here is a summary:
This temptress has no name in the Bible, she is simply known as Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar was an Egyptian officer and captain of the guard. His wife, as the wife of an officer was used to having everything she wanted. She decided she wanted Joseph the son of Jacob, who was an Egyptian prisoner and the trusted overseer of Potiphar’s home. One day Potiphar’s wife beckoned Joseph to come into her bed and he refused because he believed sleeping with his Master’s wife was a sin against God. His refusal did not stop her from daily tempting him to come into her bed and when the opportunity presented itself that no one was in the house except for she and he, she grabbed him. He quickly escaped from her grasp but as he ran out of the house his garment was left behind.
She was so furious that Joseph rejected her time and time again that she made up a lie, here is what the Bible says happened:
17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
Nothing more is told of what happened to Potipher’s wife, but the account of Joseph in prison continues. Although she sought revenge upon Joseph for not giving her what she wanted, the LORD continued to bless Joseph because of his loyalty and obedience to Him. This is just one little part of all that God did with Joseph. Of course we could say that what Potiphar’s wife meant for evil, God used for good. The chapter concludes with the following:
21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.
Bathsheba tempted David to commit adultery and murder and in the end David’s repentant heart and surrender to the LORD outweighed all of his unholy deeds, for he is mentioned in Hebrews 11:32-33 as one of the many patriarchs who by faith was made righteous. Delilah thought she was saving her people with her seductive and sneaky plan and in the end her people were destroyed. Drusilla had such a hold on Felix’s life that he could not answer a call to salvation; instead his hard heart sent away the one man who had the best news of his life. Jezebel was so evil that the LORD would not even allow her to be buried as was befitting a queen; instead He had the dogs eat her beyond recognition. Potiphar’s wife was so full of lust of the flesh and pride that she sent an innocent man to prison. Each of these women has something to teach us. I pray that you take the time to read these accounts in the Bible and see what God has for you in these examples.
The Holy Bible, King James Version