Elizabeth, likewise spelled Elisabeth (Hebrew Elisheva, אֱלִישֶׁבַע—"An oath to my God") was the mother of man the Baptist and the wife of Zechariah, follow to the Gospel of Luke. A righteous woman of a priestly lineage, she conceived her boy miraculously together an old woman, after her husband obtained a revelation while serving at the holy place of Jerusalem. During her pregnancy, she and also Zechariah provided hospitality to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who visited the couple immediately ~ receiving her very own revelation that she, too, would miraculously conceive a son. Elizabeth acted prophetically in greeting mary by sensing that her young cousin would be "the mommy of mine Lord."


1 Biblical narrative2 exterior of the Bible
In Christian tradition, Elizabeth is revered as a saint. Modern scholarship questions the historicity that Elizabeth"s partnership to Mary, asserting the the brand-new Testament appropriated a as soon as independent source about man the Baptist"s family. Unificationism has a distinct take top top Elizabeth, seeing Elizabeth and Mary together standing in the position of elder sister and also younger sister, attempting to reclaim the case of Jacob"s wives, Leah and Rachel.

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Biblical narrative

Family background

According come Luke 1:36, Elizabeth was related to Mary. The word used in the Greek original to describe their kinship is suggenes, a blood relative. Traditionally, lock are thought to have actually been cousins. St. Hippolytus of Rome affirmed the Mary"s mom (Saint Anne) and Elizabeth"s mom (Sobe) to be sisters.<1>

Luke reports the Elizabeth was a descendant that Aaron the monk (Luke 1:5). She and her husband Zechariah were "righteous prior to God, living blamelessly" (1:6). Favor several other providential women in the Bible, Elizabeth was barren. Luke mentions that she was additionally old, gift "far advanced in years."

Miraculous conception

Zechariah, having actually been liked by lot for the respect to minister at the altar that incense in the holy place of Jerusalem was saw by the angel Gabriel, that told him the Elizabeth would have actually a kid who "will be great in the sight of the Lord" (1:15) and would be motivated by the "spirit and power the Elijah." Zechariah express doubts that such a thing can be possible, because, "I am an old man and my wife is well follow me in years." Gabriel led to him to lose the power of speech due to the fact that of his doubt.

Nevertheless, ~ Zechariah went back to their residence in the hill country of Judea, both he and also Elizabeth proved equal come the task. Overjoyed, Elizabeth declared, "The Lord has actually done this for me. In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." come ensure the success of her pregnancy, she secluded herself for 5 months.

Elizabeth and also Mary

In the 6th month, however, Elizabeth received an unanticipated visit indigenous of she young cousin, mary (1:39). Gabriel had actually visited mary in Nazareth and also informed that she, too, would develop a son, also though she had actually not however "known a man." (1:34) Asked exactly how such a thing might happen, he educated Mary the Elizabeth"s very own miraculous pregnancy. Mary instantly left Nazareth for the hill nation in response. The visit had actually a an effective effect on Elizabeth, as her fetus came to be agitated, and also she prophesied:

Blessed space you among women and also blessed is the fruit of her womb. But why am ns so favored, the the mom of my mr should come to me? (1:41-43)

Elizabeth and also Zechariah then listed hospitality to mary for three months, yet as the moment for Elizabeth to give birth neared, Mary went back to Nazareth.

The birth of John

After this, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and also when the extended family, not consisting of Mary, gathered because that his circumcision eight work later, she called him John. The family members protested on the grounds the none of the child"s ancestors had been so named. At this point Zechariah evidenced the name v the use of a creating tablet, and his strength of decided miraculously returned. He also then prophesied, predicting:

You, my child, will be dubbed a prophet the the many High; for you will certainly go on before the lord to prepare the method for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation with the forgiveness of your sins. (Luke 1:76-77)

John would undoubtedly go ~ above to be a famed prophet in Christian tradition, being the forerunner that Jesus who baptized plenty of thousands in ~ the Jordan River and also testified to Jesus together the kid of God. External of the new Testament, john is stated in the works of the historian Josephus. Luke reports John"s call to it is in so good that, "The human being were wait expectantly and were every wondering in their hearts if John might possibly it is in the Christ. (3:15)

Outside the the Bible


Elizabeth is stated in the new Testament just in the Gospel the Luke. However, she is likewise mentioned in several books of the brand-new Testament Apocrypha, many prominently in the Infancy Gospel of James.

In this account Elizabeth"s husband Zechariah is figured out (erroneously) as the "high priest," and also thus ministers consistently in the temple of Jerusalem. Also, mar is stated to it is in unaware of Gabriel"s annunciation of she coming pregnancy, having actually "forgetten" it; and also she answers Elizabeth"s greeting through saying, "Who to be I, O Lord, that all the generations that the earth should bless me?" Later, Elizabeth hides her infant boy John from the agents the Herod the Great, who look for not only to death Jesus but John together well. Can not to discover a perfect hiding place, she cries the end to God, who opens a slit in a mountain where she and John hide, watched over by an angel. Zechariah, however, is soon killed by Herod"s agents when he refuses to divulge the hiding place.

Elizabeth is revered together a saint in the Catholic, Orthodox and also Anglican traditions. She feast is commemorated on September 8 by the Greeks, and also November 5 by the Catholics.

The Gnostic Elizabeth

While the Infancy Gospel the James was never accepted into the brand-new Testament Canon but likewise never condemned together heretical, various other aprocryphal sources for Elizabeth were specifically rejected because of their association v the heresy of Gnosticism.

In the Valentinian gnostic job-related Pistis Sophia, the pre-existent Christ inseminates Elizabeth through a "power" that, bound along with the spirit of Elijah, manifests in john the Baptist:

I looked down on the civilization of mankind, by command of the very first Mystery. I discovered Elizabeth, the mommy of john the Baptizer, before she had actually conceived him, and also I sowed right into her a power which I had received indigenous the little Iaō, the Good, that is in the Midst, that he might have the ability to make proclamation prior to me and also make ready my way, and also baptize v the water that the forgiveness the sins. That power then is in the body of John... So the strength of the small Iaō, who is in the Midst, and the heart of the prophet Elias, they to be bound right into the human body of john the Baptizer. (11:7)

The Pistis Sophia later defines that John and Elizabeth stand for "Truth," if Mary and also Jesus represent "Grace." (chapter 67)

In the Mandaean Gospel of john the Baptizer, Elizabeth is called Enishbai. Since the Mandaeans<2> hold John and not Jesus to it is in the true teacher, she is an ext important 보다 Mary, that is mentioned but briefly. In this source we learn that Elizabeth was 88 year old once she offered birth to John:

"My father," states Yahyā (John), "was ninety and also nine and also my mom eighty and eight years old. Out of the container of Jordan they take it me. They boring me up and laid me in the womb that Enishbai. "Nine months," stated they, "thou shalt remain in she womb, as carry out all other children." No wise woman," stated he, "brought me into the human being in Judæa, and they have actually not reduced my cord in Jerusalem. They created me no picture of lies, and also for me hung increase no bell the deceit. I was born from Enishbai in the an ar of Jerusalem."

Later in the story, we room told that both Zechariah and Elizabeth made it through until after John began his windy ministry. Having actually been long separated from she son, Elizabeth rushed the end of her residence with she veil to satisfy John, for which Zechariah planned to divorce her:

Enishbai... Hurried the end veil-less. When Old father Zakhriā witnessed her thus, he wrote her a bill of divorcement. The sun down-murmured indigenous heaven and the Moon native its place mid the stars. The Sun opened his mouth and also spoke to Old dad Zakhriā in Jerusalem: "A youth has come to Judæa, a prophet involved Jerusalem. A youth has come to Judæa; why dost you send Enishbai away?"

Modern views

Modern criticism takes various views towards Elizabeth. Some check out her as a fictitious character, while rather ascribe to her a higher role, at least as a speaker, 보다 that offered by Luke. One concept holds that the story of Elizabeth and also Zechariah were once component of a non-Christian heritage centering on john the Baptist, who was thought by plenty of to it is in a messianic number in his own right.

In this view, the Gospel writers go to some size to existing John together subordinate to Jesus.<3> Thus, once John baptizes Jesus, this does not signify—as one might expect—that Jesus needed to it is in cleansed that sin or that he had end up being a disciple that John. John renders it clear the he self is no Elijah no one the Messiah (John 1:20-21), and he protests that it need to be Jesus the baptizes the (Mt. 3:14). Likewise, when the miraculously pregnant Elizabeth receive a visit indigenous Mary, Elizabeth greets her through with an excellent honor, also though mar is much younger that she. Some have suggested that the Magnificat that Mary, recited in an answer to Elizabeth"s greeting, orginally belonged to Elizabeth herself, because that it echoes the prophecy uttered by her husband Zechariah in ~ John"s birth, and is utterly there is no of Christian theology:

My heart glorifies the Lord and also my heart rejoices in God my Savior,for he has been responsibility of the humble state of his servant.From currently on every generations will call me blessed,for the Mighty One has done good things because that me—holy is his name.His mercy extends to those who fear him,from generation come generation.He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has actually scattered those who space proud in their inmost thoughts.He has brought down rulers from your thrones however has lifted up the humble.He has actually filled the hungry with great things yet has sent the affluent away empty.He has actually helped his servant Israel, psychic to be mercifulto Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he stated to our fathers. (Luke 1:46-55)

Elizabeth in Unificationism

In Unificationist tradition, Elizabeth plays an essential role together Mary"s counterpart. She was standing in the very same postion together Jacob"s wife Leah, while mar is in the place of Rachel. Elizabeth"s duty was to foster unity between herself and Mary, and also to encourage her husband, Zechariah, to protect Mary and also her unborn child. Once Mary left Zechariah"s home just before Elizabeth"s giving birth, the relationship between herself and also Elizabeth had actually soured, leading to serious complications for Jesus" mission, including producing distance between Jesus and also Elizabeth"s kid John the Baptist.



Marley, Stephen. The Life of the Virgin Mary. Lennard Publishing, 1990.Wink, Walter. Man the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition. Cambridge university Press; new Ed edition, 2006.

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