XXwid-o (almanah; chera): In the Old Testament widows are considered to be under the special care of Yahweh (Ps 68:5; 146:9; Prov 15:25). Sympathetic regard for them comes to be viewed as a mark of true religion (Job 31:16; Jas 1:27). Deuteronomy is rich in counsel in their behalf (24:17, etc.).
The word is first mentioned in the New Testament in Acts 6:1: "There arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." Paul charges that they be particularly cared for, especially those that are "widows indeed," i.e. poor, without support and old (1 Tim 5:2-16). Some try to find proof in this passage of that ecclesiastical order of widows mentioned in post-apostolic writings.
See LITERATURE, SUB-APOSTOLIC; WOMAN, IV, 5.
George B. Eager