When we think about all the women named Mary in the Bible, the most prominent one is the young virgin who gave birth to Jesus. We hear her story, in detail, every Christmas. She’s the Mary who was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told her she was going to have a son and to name him Jesus. This is the Mary who traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey and gave birth in a stable because it was tax season and the lodging places were booked.
Mary who is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ is well known, but what about the others?
Where Are the Marys?
The name Mary is mentioned in the Bible over 50 times, varying by translation. However, the name Mary is only found in the New Testament. The name Mary comes from the Latin and Greek names Maria and Mariam.
In the Old Testament, we find Miriam (Miryam), which is believed to be the Hebrew form of Mary.
In the New Testament, we find many Marys, and in the Old Testament, we only find two.
Old Testament Marys
The first Mary (Miriam) we find in the Old Testament is one many are familiar with. Miriam the sister of Moses, of the tribe of Levi.
The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar (1 Chronicles 6:3).
This “Mary” watched as Pharaoh’s daughter found her brother, Moses, hidden in the bulrushes and then suggested to her that a Hebrew woman could nurse the baby for her. As an adult, after escaping slavery in Egypt, this Mary danced in worship after crossing the Red Sea.
The second Mary (Miriam) is only mentioned one time in 1 Chronicles 4:17, in the lineage of Judah.
The sons of Ezrah: Jether, Mered, Epher and Jalon. One of Mered's wives gave birth to Miriam, Shammai and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa.
New Testament Marys
The number of women who carry the name Mary in the New Testament is difficult to pin down due to how the scriptures read. The number varies from six to nine, depending on your source and opinion.
Six of the New Testament Mary’s are clearly defined.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
As stated above, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the most well-known Mary in the Bible. A not-so-well-known detail about her is that she is the daughter of a man named Eli (Heli) who is of the tribe of Judah. This means that she is of the royal line of King David. Jesus’ mother was one of three Mary’s present at his crucifixion.
Mary Magdalene is another Mary we’re familiar with. Her name comes from the city Magdala on the coast of the Sea of Galilee where she was from. This Mary is known for having had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus and then becoming a faithful follower. Mary Magdalene is another one of the three Marys present at the cross. She is also known for being the first to see Jesus risen from the dead and reporting the news to the disciples.
Mary of Bethany
This Mary was a personal friend of Jesus who enjoyed his company at her home along with her siblings Martha and Lazarus (who was raised from the dead by Jesus). She is known for sitting at Jesus’ feet listening intently to him speak and being praised for it.
Before Jesus was arrested, he was in Bethany and had his feet anointed with costly oil by this Mary. She wept as she did this and wiped his feet with her hair. As onlookers objected, Jesus declared her act as a blessing.
Mary The Mother of John Mark
We find this Mary in the book of Acts as she opened her home to the believers for prayer. It was at her home that Peter showed up after being miraculously released from prison. Her son, better known as Mark, is who authored the Gospel of Mark.
Mary of Rome
This woman named Mary was a believer who lived in Rome and is mentioned only one time in the Bible. In his letter to the Romans, Paul sends greetings to her by name stating her dedication in serving the church.
The Other Mary’s Or Mary
In Mark 15:47, we find a Mary, the mother of Joses (Joseph) along with Mary Magdalene going to see where Jesus’ body was laid. In Mark 16:1, we find a Mary the mother of James who went with Mary Magdalene to anoint Jesus’ body with spices after his crucifixion.
Some say these are two different Marys, which is how they come to the conclusion of nine Marys. However, in Mark 15:40, it says how this Mary is the mother of both James and Joseph which lowers the number to eight.
Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.
Then in Matthew 27:61, we find “the other Mary,” who is with Mary Magdalene at the sepulcher. Looking at the context, this would seem to be the same Mary as the mother of Joseph and James. This lowers the count of Marys to seven.
And finally, in John 9:25, we find a Mar,y the wife of Cleophas (Clopus), along with the two other Marys at the cross. This appears to be a separate Mary. But according to some, her husband, Cleophas, is also known as Alphaeus the father of James, which would make her the same Mary as the mother of Joseph and James lowering the count to six.
Why Does This Matter?
So, no matter how many Mary’s there were, we can learn from their love and devotion to their faith, and Jesus’ regard for them.
©iStock/Getty Images Plus/mashabr
Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/