This unnamed wife of a wicked priest put her trust in the ark of the covenant.

What are you putting your faith in? Is it your family? Your friends? Your church? What happens with they let you down? Is your faith strong enough to see you through the loss of everything you hold dear?

This nameless woman married to a corrupt man of God placed her faith everywhere but where it needed to be, and that’s in God Himself.

Who Was the Mother of Ichabod?

We’ve covered many women who inspire us to greatness because of their faith. Today we look at a woman who teaches us through her lack of faith. I wish we knew her name, but though we know her husband’s name, her father-in-law’s name, and her son’s name, God didn’t seem fit to share with us her name. Perhaps it’s because as a nameless woman she represents so many women filling the pews in churches every Sunday.

We find the mother of Ichabod in 1 Samuel. She gets 4 verses in the Bible, and all of those are related to the birth of her son. So who was she and why was she included?

The Wife of Phinehas

First, she was the wife of Phinehas and Eli’s daughter-in-law. Marrying into the priestly family, she was a preacher’s wife. But her husband was an evil man who used his position to take advantage of other people. He and his brother began by stealing from the worshippers when they came to the temple to offer burnt offerings. They bullied and threatened until they got their way. The Bible tells us that they didn’t know the Lord. 

As time passed, they grew even more corrupt, raping and taking advantage of women who came to worship at the tabernacle. 

Eli, their dad tried to scold them and warn them about transgressing against God, but they paid him no heed. 

So where does Phinehas’s wife come in? We’re not sure. Did she marry him when he was young before he went astray? We have no evidence that he ever walked with the Lord, but it does appear he grew more evil as the years went on. Did she know all that he was doing? Surely she had to know, as the Bible tells us all of Israel knew. So why did she marry him?

Perhaps she was seeking for prestige. She was attracted to his position of authority as priest. She wanted to be a part of a prominent family. She wanted to bask in the limelight of the attention he received. She was willing to overlook his faults figuring they were offset by what he could offer her.

Or maybe, like many women, she saw what she wanted to see. She overlooked his transgressions, dismissing them as inconsequential. Maybe she thought she could change him. 

Whatever her reasons for marrying him, there had to have come a time when the truth could no longer be ignored. She was married to an evil man, caught up in a life of corruption and total disregard for other people. 

What a lonely life she must have led, Deceived by her husband, shunned by the Israelites, discouraged that the life she sought was not the life she found.

It appears she may have found comfort in Eli, her father-in-law. Though he was a weak man who failed to discipline his sons and put them above God, he was nonetheless a good and kind man. Perhaps she turned to him for spiritual direction when she realized her husband had no connection to the Lord. 

The Faith of Eli’s daughter-in-law

Her primary source of faith, however, was in the ark of the covenant. Originally built by Moses, the ark had accompanied the Israelites through the desert and into the Promised Land. During Eli’s lifetime, it stood in the sanctuary at Shiloh. 

The wife of Phinehas, like many of the Israelites of her time, superstitiously believed that God’s power was in the ark. When the Israelites lost a battle with the Philistines, Phinehas and his brother Hophni  carried it to the battle site, thinking it would help them defeat the enemy army.  Instead, the ark was stolen by the Philistines, and Phinahas and Hophni were killed. 

When word reached Eli that his sons were killed and the ark was stolen, he fell over backwards, broke his neck, and died. 

When the wife of Phinehas, who was pregnant at the time, heard what happened,  she went into labor. As she was dying during childbirth, the nurse tried to comfort her by telling her she had a son. She responded by naming the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

Not exactly a heartwarming story, and yet, the story of Ichabod’s mother is a story we all need to hear, especially in light of all that is going on around us. 

What Can We Learn From the Story of the Mother of Ichabod?

Many of us, like the mother of Ichabod, have placed our faith in the things of this world. For some, it’s family. Others, it’s prestige or financial security. For many, the church itself has become an idol. 

In these days of turmoil, our faith has taken a beating as we’ve watched helplessly while everything we hold dear has been turned upside down. People we thought we could trust have let us down. Our security has been replaced with fear. And church as we knew it may never be the same. 

So how do we respond? Do we give up and die like Ichabod’s mom? Or do we use this turn of events to get down on our knees and seek a more personal relationship with God? Do we live in the fallen dreams of our past? Or do we search for new meaning and hope in this current situation we’re in? 

The glory was not gone when the ark was stolen. In fact, better days were to come as Samuel, a godly man, took over as judge over Israel and led the wayward nation back to the Lord. 

Right now it’s not looking good for our country. We’ve allowed godless men and women to make a mockery of God. But the story isn’t over. In fact, we know how the story ends. God is the final victor. We just have to hold on to our faith, keeping our eyes on Him, and not lose sight of what it is He would have us to do.

Whatever happens in the days ahead, God is good, and his glory lives on. May we never forget that.

Listen to the All God’s Women podcast episode on the mother of Ichabod.


Lord God, we come to you seeking your face. How easy it is for us to get distracted and to misplace our faith on things of this world. But You are God, and we know that You will never forsake us. Guide us through these difficult times. Awaken us to all that comes between us and you. Give us peace and hope in the days ahead. We love you. In Christ name. Amen.

Mother of Ichabod wife of Phinehas

Wife of Phinehas Bible Study

Scripture Background

1 Samuel 4

Bible Study Review

  1. Who was Ichabod’s mom married to?
  2. Who was her father-in-law?
  3. Where did she live?
  4. What does Ichabod mean?

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. What kind of marriage might Phinahes and his wife have had?
  2. Where did Ichabod’s mom place her trust?
  3. Had the glory truly left Israel?

Personal Reflection

  1. Where are you placing your trust?
  2. What might you have done in Ichabod’s mom’s situation?
  3. Do you know women in an unhealthy marriage? How might you be able to help them?
  4. Has the glory left our country?

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One response to “Mother of Ichabod: Wife of a Wicked Priest”

  1. I loved this!!!!

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