Our Jewish Roots: The Matriarchs of the Faith

Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, often called The Matriarchs of the Faith, provide a remarkable insight into God's commitment to women and His interest in how women play an integral part in His plan for mankind.  These women teach us about the roots of our faith but also how our faith has unfolded so that we, as Christian women today, can live more fully for Christ.  We learn from these women how to be better in all aspects of our life because we understand that His promises to us are unshakable.

Sarah was a woman whose life's goal was to have a child.  The Talmud teaches that Sarah, along with her husband Abraham, was a great converter of people to the monotheistic religion of Judaism.  She is credited with saving many souls as she converted innumerable people from their pagan beliefs to monotheism.  Additionally, Sarah's own faith was such that she accompanied Abraham as he answered God's call to leave Ur and journey to the Promised Land.  Abraham heard directly from God but Sarah relied on faith alone to make the journey and thus won great favor from God.  Her faith was an admirable and necessary quality as she was to be the woman to whom countless generations would be born.  Ultimately Sarah, at the remarkable age of ninety, does give birth to a son, Isaac.

Sarah's beloved son Isaac grows into a young man who marries Rebekah.  We see, quite pointedly in Scripture, that Isaac's marriage to Rebekah occurs very near to the time of Sarah's death.  Rebekah is meant to carry Sarah's mantle and continue the line of the Matriarchs.  Rebekah is a devoted wife and hers is a marriage filled with loving kindness.  Through Sarah's marriage to Abraham and Rebekah's marriage to Isaac, we are shown the great value God puts upon the union of a man and a woman and how they are meant to work, as partners, toward His goals.

 Rebekah gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob.  Jacob falls in love with Rachel but is tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah.  Although Jacob eventually marries Rachel as well, it is Leah whom God continually blesses as she gives birth to more than half of the men from whom the tribes of Israel will issue.  The Talmud teaches that each sister, Rachel and Leah, brings a particular aspect of the divine feminine into the lineage of God's people.  It is Rachel who cries out from the heavens, generations later, as Pharaoh slaughters infant Hebrew baby boys in Egypt while it is Leah who steadfastly becomes the mother of many of the tribes of Israel.    

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of John Paul's Apostolic letter, On the Dignity of Women, these remarkable women, along with Noah's wife, Lot's wife, the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, Zipporah, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene will be studied in a ten week course that begins January 7th, 2008 and is titled, "Renewing Your Christian Self in a Secular World."  Intended for women of all ages, this Catholic Exchange woman's study focuses on the inherent worth of women and how Christian women today share in the promises of God as they, too, work for His kingdom.  The study includes the book of the same name, access to Catholic Exchange online moderated discussions, and CE weekly podcasts.  The podcasts introduce the specific chapters and give foundational information on the women while the online discussions enhance each participant's knowledge through the sharing of insights and ideas.  The podcasts feature the music of Teresa Smith and can be accessed, like the online discussions, at the participant's convenience.  We at Catholic Exchange encourage you to invite a mother, sister, daughter, or friend and enjoy the ten week woman's study as you embrace your life as a Christian woman today.

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Guest



    I'm so excited about this!  It sounds wonderful!  How do we sign up/register? A great way to start the new year…

    Lisa M. Hendey

    http://www.catholicmom.com – Celebrating Catholic Motherhood

    http://www.catholicmoments.com – Catholic Moments Podcast

  • Guest

     "Intended for women of all ages, this Catholic Exchange woman's study focuses on the inherent worth of women and how Christian women today share in the promises of God as they, too, work for His kingdom."

    I hope Cheril that the study will not take a shy approach of "sharing" and "us too".

    The fact is that women have always shaped civilization and driven history. Kingdoms rose and fell because of the influence of the king's mother, wife or a princess; not to mention the queen herself.

    I'm puzzled that there's a need to explain the "inherent worth of women". I would not read a paragraph past the first sentence on the inherent worth of men. Both are so blatantly obvious, at least in our society. I'm sure it will be good stuff regardless.

    Just a peep out of the loyal opposition.

  • Guest


    It is my understanding that the downloadable registration forms will be available in the CE Faith Factory area any day now!  I am delighted to be part of this effort to honor John Paul's interest in today's Christian woman learning more about her faith sisters in history, some shy and others bold, and thank you for your enthusiastic response!  God bless.

  • Guest

    The women listed in this course are quite interesting!  I am looking forward to starting my new year out with this study.  When or how do we register?

  • Guest


    Please accept my sincerest gratitude for your interest in this study.  As I mentioned to Lisa Hendey, it is my understanding the registration forms should be online quite soon.  I believe you will thoroughly enjoy learning about the women mentioned in the article as well as enjoy the online time spent with women everywhere as we encourage one another in, what John Paul II called, "our diginity."  I believe JPII saw an enormous need for women to know and understand themselves, their inherent worth, and the way in which their sisters in their faith history have worked for God and I am delighted to be part of this celebration of his letter, Mulieris Dignitatem

  • Guest


    The spirit of this study is to both intimately know and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the message of John Paul II…

    "The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling"…

    While this may be blatantly obvious to all the women you know, unfortunately that is not the case for all the women I know and I believe that Catholic Exchange's endeavor to impart the knowledge of this "inherent worth" in every woman is indeed a noble one that should also be a lot of fun!  Besides, who doesn't like to be reminded how much God loves themSmile  God bless.

  • Guest

    Cheryl, just to read the beautiful and prophetic quote from JPII was worth my earlier comment. Thanks for that glimpse into your "mission".

    Without going into details, my life revolves around women. These days one is hard pressed to find a shy one. Certainly the story of the great matriarchs needs to be taken out of the shadows and told from a perspective that adds our modern day insights. Only good will come out of this endeavor.

  • Guest

    Goral with all due respect, you wouldn't stop reading at "the inherent dignity of every human being" a phrase oten found in Catholic writings and the basis of Catholic moral teaching — just because there is a certain "obviousness" about something, does not mean that we cannot explicate it for the purpose of drawing out its implications. I assure you there is much value — and number of surprises — in this study.

    We will start promoting this study prominently on our site and have registrations available in a few days. Once we do that we will be counting on friends of CE, such as yourself, to help spread the word. 

  • Guest

    My mild challanges were intended to draw out more info. I agree with all that you say above, mkochan. I will help spread the word.

  • Guest

    I have heard Cheryl speak in the past and learned a great deal from her.  She is able to take the stories from the Bible and relate them to our today.  Cheryl is a wonderful person, very knowledgable speaker and an enthusiastic Catholic believer.  I look forward to this experience, and what I glean from these talks.  I believe everyone will find a peacefulness and calming presence about Cheryl as we explore these wonderful women in the Bible.