Regarding Eve and her role, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has explained:
“All the purposes of the world … would be brought to naught without woman—a keystone in the priesthood arch of creation. …
“From the rib of Adam, Eve was formed (see Genesis 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abraham 5:16). … The rib signifies neither dominion nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side.
“… She was designed by Deity to cocreate and nurture life, that the great plan of the Father might achieve fruition. Eve ‘was the mother of all living’ (Moses 4:26).”
Together Adam and Eve taught their posterity the gospel and set a righteous example for them.
Latter-day Saints honor Eve for her wisdom and courage in providing, with Adam, the opportunity for mortal life to all the human family. Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).
Sarah was of royal lineage, the wife of the prophet Abraham, and the mother of Isaac.
Sarah and Abraham were originally called Sarai and Abram. After marrying, they eventually moved to Canaan, the land that the Lord gave them for their inheritance. Throughout this time, their faith was tested and grew. (See Genesis 12−14.)
The Lord covenanted with Abram, “I will make of thee a great nation” (Genesis 12:2; see also 15:5; Abraham 2:9). The Lord fulfills His promises in the way and the time He knows is best for us, and it was decades before this promise of posterity was realized.
After years of not being able to bear a child, Sarai gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abram to wife (see Genesis 16:2), and Ishmael was born.
The Lord changed Sarai’s and Abram’s names to Sarah and Abraham when He confirmed His covenant with Abraham, stating that the patriarch would be “a father of many nations” (see Genesis 17:4–5, 15). The Lord promised that 90-year-old Sarah would have a son (see Genesis 17:16; 18:10). Both Abraham and Sarah rejoiced at this news, perhaps evidencing a bit of joyful disbelief (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 17:23–24 [in the Bible appendix]; 18:12). The Lord assured them, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Their son, Isaac, became the father of Jacob, later known as Israel, whose descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel.
Rebekah was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Esau and Jacob.
When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac, the servant prayed that he would recognize Isaac’s wife-to-be by a simple act: she would be the one who gave the servant and his camels water to drink. Upon his meeting Rebekah at a well, she quickly and eagerly gave water to both the servant and his 10 thirsty camels.
Arriving at the home of Rebekah’s family, the servant asked if they would consent to her marriage to Isaac. The family left the decision up to Rebekah, who responded in simple faith, “I will go.” Rebekah veiled herself upon seeing Isaac. This act, one writer observed, “was a sign of her virtue, reverence, humility, and modesty and showed respect for her future spouse.” Such qualities indicated Rebekah’s “readiness for a covenant marriage.”
After the couple married, Rebekah was unable to conceive a child for many years, but eventually, in answer to prayer, she was blessed with twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The Lord revealed to Rebekah that the second-born son, Jacob, was to have the birthright (Esau showed his disregard for the birthright by selling it to Jacob for “a mess of pottage”). An inspired Rebekah helped guide Jacob to receive the birthright blessing. (See Genesis 24; 25:19−34; 27:1−40.)
Rachel and Leah
Sisters Rachel and Leah were married to Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebekah.
When Jacob met Rachel, he loved her immediately and agreed to serve her father, Laban, seven years for her. Then Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, the elder daughter. Nevertheless, Jacob was soon allowed to marry Rachel also, on condition that he serve seven more years.
Jacob loved Rachel dearly, but she could not have children for many years, a great trial for her. Although Jacob had not first been interested in Leah (her great trial), she was able to bear him children. The sisters sought Jacob’s love and attention through giving him sons. Both also gave Jacob their handmaids to marry in order to increase the number of their children. In this way they became the mothers of the twelve tribes of Israel. (See Genesis 29−30.)
Eventually the sisters learned to work together. When Jacob was instructed by the Lord to return to the land of Canaan, leaving all he had worked for, Rachel and Leah together replied, “Whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do” (Genesis 31:16).
We read in Judges 2:7 that “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua.” However, the Israelites then began to forget the Lord, and the next 200 years were characterized by periods of apostasy and repentance. During this time, individuals known as judges, chosen either by the Lord or by the people, served to deliver the Israelites from their ever-present enemies.
Deborah was one of these judges, the only woman recorded in scripture to serve in this capacity. She was a prophetess, judge, and deliverer. In her role as prophetess, Deborah did not hold the priesthood or possess ecclesiastical keys but enjoyed the gift of prophecy in a more general sense (see Revelation 19:10).
Deborah and the Israelite captain Barak delivered Israel from the Canaanites and then sang a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord (see Judges 4–5). Deborah’s courage and faith inspired the Israelites so that they enjoyed a 40-year period of peace.
(Ensign March 2014)