The Ten: Bible characters who spent significant time alone

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1. Adam

Before we even get three chapters into the Bible, the concept of isolation rears its head when Adam notices that he’s the only being who doesn’t have a partner. So God—graciously unoffended that His company isn’t enough for Adam—creates a helper for him: Eve. Sure, Adam probably only spent a day or two alone, but when you live in a perfect world and have never experienced pain, that’s gotta be significant.

2. Joseph

A heart-wrenching tale of human trafficking and false imprisonment, Joseph’s story takes the Egyptian date-cake when it comes to social isolation. Fourteen years trapped in a dark, dingy hole, his only friends a forgetful wine-bearer and a now-dead baker. And no, I don’t imagine it was as glamorous as Joseph: King of Dreams portrays it.

3. Moses

Throughout his life, Moses spent a lot of time in social isolation. Some of his early days were spent in a reed basket on the Nile, he fled from Pharaoh to become a reclusive shepherd, and he spent 40 days on the mountain with God (while the small-brained Israelites made a golden calf). To everyone’s benefit though, these #iso experiences gave Moses time to write the Torah and the opportunity to see God’s back!

4. Elijah

Jezebel must have been a real scary alpha-female boss lady because her death threats sent Elijah spiralling into panic, fleeing into the wilderness, crying out to God in anguish, and spending 40 days and nights isolated on Mount Horeb. But, unlike the others, Elijah wanted to be socially isolated in this situation . . . and for good reason.

5. John

Whether it’s John the Baptist or John the Beloved, it seems that both spent a fair amount of time in social isolation. While the former was put in prison by Herod—and then promptly killed, the second was banished by Rome to the island of Patmos where he wrote Revelation. Some probably thought he was crazy, but as it turns out, his legacy in isolation lives on.

6. Jesus

Jesus endured the worst in social isolation: alone for 40 days in the desert, with no food, all while being tempted by Satan. Just peachy. But once He overcame temptation and began His ministry, Jesus was seldom alone. The crowds followed Him everywhere, and He often snuck away early in the morning or late at night to spend time alone with His Father. I wonder if He ever longed for those 40 days again (minus the temptation and starvation, of course)?

7. Man with leprosy

Although we don’t know how long he was unclean for, the man with leprosy in Matthew 8 would have been extremely socially isolated. Hated by society, lepers were forbidden from entering towns and were banished to the wilderness. Just imagine the pins-and-needles feeling of someone—the Son of God—touching you for the first time (for a tear-jerking rendition of this encounter, watch The Chosen TV show).

8. Woman with blood

She’s written in the history books as desperate, but if you were bleeding for 12 years and considered “unclean” by society, you’d be desperate too. Due to Jewish law (Leviticus 15:25-27), excessive blood flow made a woman ceremonially unclean. Any furniture she touched was unclean, and if other people touched anything that she had touched, they would be unclean as well. Just imagine the isolation and loneliness that would cause! Until Jesus healed her.

9. Jeremiah

Ahh, the weeping prophet—but for good reason, really. Jeremiah endured the absence of a spouse or family, being hated by society, removed from all social events, and in a thankless and despised profession. Few individuals in the Bible had greater reasons to feel socially isolated.

10. Paul

This great evangelist probably spent more time in prison than any other Bible character. Although we don’t know how many times or years he spent in prison, in just one instance he spent two years under house arrest by Rome. If COVID-19 social isolation restrictions were to last two years, would you cope? Me neither. Paul, you legend!

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