Ancient Women Before Their Times: A Princess, a Warrior, and a Prophetess

They lived and breathed. They walked where other women feared to tread, and they had the tendency of making their male contemporaries very uncomfortable. One was young, barely a woman yet, and still she had the audacity to stand against the forces converging against her country in the true patriotism her more notorious sister lacked. One was a Hebrew woman who operated a school for other women at a time when women were traded like cattle. Another was the seed from which, eventually, our modern idea of female warriors grew. That they lived at all is a service to all of us.

1) Arsinoe Ptolemy – She was Cleopatra’s kid sister. She was somewhere between 14 and 17 years old when Caesar came from Rome to settle the dispute between her older brother and sister, who were both fighting for control of Egypt. She was taken captive by Caesar, forced to be imprisoned in her own home. Yet, she bided her time until the Roman forces were distracted and broke free of her detention. She then became the leader of the patriotic Egyptian forces and her armed men nearly killed Caesar, who had to jump into the Mediterranean to save his own hide. There have been rumors that she was having a passionate affair with her tutor, who may have been the man to have helped her escape her incarceration. She was, ultimately, recaptured by the Roman forces and made to participate in Caesar’s Triumph in Rome. Caesar, whom usually slaughtered his imperial captives, was forced to spare her life when the Roman people fell in love with the chained, beautiful, adolescent princess. He feared they would revolt if he spilled her blood. Thus, she was granted asylum at the Artemesium. She lived there in peace for some years before she became a victim of Cleopatra’s jealousies. Cleopatra, aware of how much support and influence Arsinoe had once had in Egypt, had her lover Marc Antony end her sister’s life. Arsinoe’s striking tomb was recently discovered in Turkey.

2) The Prophetess Huldah – She lived at the same time as the Prophet Jeremiah, but still her name was known for her ability to speak true portents and her dedication to the Almighty of Israel. She ran a school for women to teach them the Word, even though women at this time were not encouraged to be scholastically educated. She advised her King, Josiah, who held her in warm regard as one of his spiritual advisors. It was, possibly, due in part to her influence that Josiah became the pious, upstanding man he was and did not follow in his father’s footsteps (his father had been murdered for turning his back on the Almighty). When Jeremiah left his people to cater to Jews is Assyria, it was Huldah the king turned to with his religious questions, and it was she who prophesized the destruction of Jerusalem.

3) The Warrior Princess Urduja/Deboxah– She was an Asian princess who is said to have led an army of men and women into battle. She was rich beyond measure and gave gifts of rice, fine clothing, work animals, and spices. In fact, she was ancient Asia’s answer to the Queen of Sheba. Aside from her battlefield prowess, she also owned and commanded an armada of ships that rivaled and tyrannized Mongol China. She was said to be so powerful and so bellicose, that her tribal peoples feared her wrath enough to come under perfect unity during her rule. While some historians refute her existence, the Philippine people have named a capitol building after her and continue to be certain that she lived, loved, and ruled autonomously on their lands.