Here is a longer list of Biblical references to God’s people and the metaphor of a woman, first from the Old Testament:
- Genesis 3:15
- Jeremiah 3:20
- Ezekiel 16:8-14
- Hosea 1-3
- Amos 5:2
And also from the New Testament:
- John 3:29
- Ephesians 5:25-27
- Revelation 19:7-8; 22:17
- Revelation 21:2, 9-10 – interestingly, these references are explicitly calling the New Jerusalem God’s bride, adorned, glowing, and pure in readiness for her Groom. Why the two? Perhaps because the New Jerusalem is filled with God’s people, who are also his bride.
These other references from the Old Testament also compare Israel with a women in birth pangs, so the original reader may have known this image, or it would have been familiar from biblical history:
- Isaiah 26:17-18; 66:7-9
- Jeremiah 4:31
- Micah 4:10
Here’s a great quote from a biblical scholar also helping with perspective and interpretation:
Although the woman may be an individual, a study of the OT background suggests that she is a collective figure like the two witnesses [see Revelation 11:1-14]. In the OT the image of a woman is a classical symbol for Zion, Jerusalem, and Israel.Ford, J. Massynberde. Revelation. Anchor Bible, vol. 38., p. 195
I hope these additional resources are helpful. We will eventually get to it, but something else to consider is the other side of the meaning of a woman in the Bible: a whore who is impure and filled with antagonism toward God and his people, appearing like God’s people, but not of them.
Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!