Elizabeth, additionally spelled Elisabeth (Hebrew Elisheva, אֱלִישֶׁבַע—"An oath to my God") to be the mom of man the Baptist and also the mam of Zechariah, according to the Gospel that Luke. A righteous mrs of a priestly lineage, she conceived her boy miraculously as an old woman, after her husband obtained a revelation while serving at the holy place of Jerusalem. Throughout her pregnancy, she and also Zechariah listed hospitality come Mary, the mommy of Jesus, who saw the pair immediately ~ receiving her own revelation the she, too, would miraculously develop a son. Elizabeth plot prophetically in greeting mary by sensing the her young cousin would be "the mother of my Lord."


1 Biblical narrative2 outside of the Bible
In Christian tradition, Elizabeth is revered together a saint. Modern-day scholarship inquiries the historicity of Elizabeth"s partnership to Mary, asserting that the brand-new Testament appropriated a when independent source about john the Baptist"s family. Unificationism has a unique take on Elizabeth, see Elizabeth and Mary as standing in the position of elder sister and younger sister, attempting to regain the instance of Jacob"s wives, Leah and Rachel.

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Biblical narrative

Family background

According come Luke 1:36, Elizabeth was pertained to Mary. The word supplied in the Greek original to define their kinship is suggenes, a blood relative. Traditionally, they are believed to have been cousins. St. Hippolytus of Rome affirmed the Mary"s mommy (Saint Anne) and also Elizabeth"s mother (Sobe) to be sisters.<1>

Luke reports the Elizabeth was a descendant the Aaron the priest (Luke 1:5). She and also her husband Zechariah were "righteous before God, life blamelessly" (1:6). Favor several other providential women in the Bible, Elizabeth was barren. Luke mentions the she was likewise old, gift "far advanced in years."

Miraculous conception

Zechariah, having been favored by lot because that the honor to minister at the altar of incense in the holy place of Jerusalem was went to by the point of view Gabriel, who told him the Elizabeth would have a son who "will be an excellent in the sight of the Lord" (1:15) and would be motivated by the "spirit and also power the Elijah." Zechariah to express doubts that such a thing might be possible, because, "I to be an old man and my mam is well follow me in years." Gabriel led to him to shed the power of speech since of his doubt.

Nevertheless, ~ Zechariah went back to their house in the hill nation of Judea, both he and also Elizabeth confirmed equal come the task. Overjoyed, Elizabeth declared, "The Lord has done this because that me. In this days he has shown his favor and taken far my disgrace amongst the people." to ensure the success of her pregnancy, she secluded it s her for 5 months.

Elizabeth and also Mary

In the sixth month, however, Elizabeth obtained an unanticipated visit from of she young cousin, mary (1:39). Gabriel had visited mar in Nazareth and informed that she, too, would conceive a son, also though she had not yet "known a man." (1:34) Asked how such a thing might happen, he notified Mary of Elizabeth"s very own miraculous pregnancy. Mary automatically left Nazareth because that the hill nation in response. The visit had actually a powerful effect on Elizabeth, together her fetus came to be agitated, and she prophesied:

Blessed room you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But why am i so favored, the the mommy of my lord should pertained to me? (1:41-43)

Elizabeth and also Zechariah then listed hospitality to mar for 3 months, yet as the time for Elizabeth to give birth neared, Mary returned to Nazareth.

The birth of John

After this, Elizabeth offered birth come a son, and also when the expanded family, not including Mary, gathered for his circumcision eight days later, she called him John. The loved ones protested on the grounds the none that the child"s ancestors had been for this reason named. At this suggest Zechariah evidenced the name with the use of a creating tablet, and his power of decided miraculously returned. He as well then prophesied, predicting:

You, my child, will certainly be referred to as a prophet that the most High; for you will certainly go on before the lord to prepare the method for him, to provide his human being the expertise of salvation with the forgiveness of your sins. (Luke 1:76-77)

John would certainly go on to be a well known prophet in Christian tradition, being the forerunner that Jesus that baptized numerous thousands in ~ the Jordan River and testified to Jesus as the kid of God. External of the new Testament, john is discussed in the functions of the historian Josephus. Luke reports John"s reputation to it is in so an excellent that, "The world were wait expectantly and also were all wondering in their hearts if John can possibly it is in the Christ. (3:15)

Outside that the Bible


Elizabeth is discussed in the brand-new Testament only in the Gospel the Luke. However, she is likewise mentioned in several publications of the brand-new Testament Apocrypha, most prominently in the Infancy Gospel that James.

In this account Elizabeth"s husband Zechariah is figured out (erroneously) as the "high priest," and also thus ministers frequently in the holy place of Jerusalem. Also, mary is stated to be unaware the Gabriel"s annunciation of she coming pregnancy, having actually "forgetten" it; and she answers Elizabeth"s greeting by saying, "Who am I, O Lord, the all the generations the the earth should bless me?" Later, Elizabeth hides she infant kid John native the agents that Herod the Great, who seek not only to death Jesus yet John together well. Can not to discover a perfect hiding place, she cries the end to God, who opens a slot in a hill where she and also John hide, watched end by one angel. Zechariah, however, is soon killed by Herod"s agents when he refuses come divulge the hiding place.

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

The Gnostic Elizabeth

While the Infancy Gospel the James to be never welcomed into the brand-new Testament Canon but likewise never condemned together heretical, various other aprocryphal resources for Elizabeth were specifically rejected since of your association through the heresy that Gnosticism.

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

I looked under on the civilization of mankind, by command of the very first Mystery. I discovered Elizabeth, the mommy of man the Baptizer, prior to she had conceived him, and I sowed into her a strength which I had received native the little Iaō, the Good, who is in the Midst, the he might be able to make proclamation before me and also make all set my way, and baptize v the water that the forgiveness that sins. That strength then is in the human body of John... For this reason the power of the small Iaō, who is in the Midst, and also the spirit of the prophet Elias, they to be bound right into the body of man the Baptizer. (11:7)

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

In the Mandaean Gospel of john the Baptizer, Elizabeth is referred to as Enishbai. Because the Mandaeans<2> host John and not Jesus to it is in the true teacher, she is more important 보다 Mary, who is mentioned yet briefly. In this resource we learn that Elizabeth to be 88 year old when she offered birth to John:

"My father," claims Yahyā (John), "was ninety and nine and my mommy eighty and eight years old. The end of the container of Jordan they take it me. They bore me up and also laid me in the womb of Enishbai. "Nine months," stated they, "thou shalt continue to be in her womb, as perform all various other children." No wise woman," stated he, "brought me into the human being in Judæa, and they have not cut my cord in Jerusalem. They made for me no snapshot of lies, and also for me hung up no bell that deceit. Ns was born from Enishbai in the an ar of Jerusalem."

Later in the story, we are told that both Zechariah and also Elizabeth survived until after ~ John began his windy ministry. Having been long separated from she son, Elizabeth rushed out of her home with she veil to satisfy John, because that which Zechariah planned come divorce her:

Enishbai... Hurried the end veil-less. As soon as Old father Zakhriā experienced her thus, he wrote her a invoice of divorcement. The sunlight down-murmured indigenous heaven and also the Moon from its ar mid the stars. The Sun opened his mouth and spoke to Old dad Zakhriā in Jerusalem: "A youth has involved Judæa, a prophet pertained to Jerusalem. A youth has come to Judæa; why dost thou send Enishbai away?"

Modern views

Modern criticism takes miscellaneous views towards Elizabeth. Some watch her as a fictitious character, while others ascribe to her a higher role, at the very least as a speaker, than that given by Luke. One concept holds the the story of Elizabeth and also Zechariah were once part of a non-Christian heritage centering on man the Baptist, who was thought by countless to it is in a messianic figure in his very own right.

In this view, the Gospel writers go come some size to existing John as subordinate come Jesus.<3> Thus, as soon as John baptizes Jesus, this does not signify—as one could expect—that Jesus required to it is in cleansed of sin or that he had become a disciple of John. John makes it clear the he himself is no Elijah no one the Messiah (John 1:20-21), and he protests the it have to be Jesus that baptizes him (Mt. 3:14). Likewise, when the miraculously pregnant Elizabeth obtain a visit from Mary, Elizabeth greets her v with great honor, even though mary is much younger that she. Part have said that the Magnificat of Mary, recited in response to Elizabeth"s greeting, orginally belonged to Elizabeth herself, for it echoes the prophecy uttered by she husband Zechariah in ~ John"s birth, and is utterly there is no of Christian theology:

My spirit glorifies the Lord and my heart rejoices in God mine Savior,for he has actually been mindful of the humble state that his servant.From currently on every generations will speak to me blessed,for the Mighty One has actually done an excellent things for me—holy is his name.His mercy extends to those who are afraid him,from generation to generation.He has performed mighty deeds through his arm;he has actually scattered those who room proud in your inmost thoughts.He has lugged down rulers from their thrones however has lifted up the humble.He has filled the hungry with an excellent things however has sent out the affluent away empty.He has actually helped his maid Israel, mental to be mercifulto Abraham and also his progeny forever, also as he claimed to ours fathers. (Luke 1:46-55)

Elizabeth in Unificationism

In Unificationist tradition, Elizabeth plays an essential role together Mary"s counterpart. She stands in the exact same postion together Jacob"s wife Leah, while mary is in the place of Rachel. Elizabeth"s responsibility was to foster unity between herself and Mary, and to encourage she husband, Zechariah, to defend Mary and her unborn child. Once Mary left Zechariah"s house just before Elizabeth"s providing birth, the relationship between herself and also Elizabeth had actually soured, bring about serious complications because that Jesus" mission, including creating distance between Jesus and also Elizabeth"s child John the Baptist.



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

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