The Bible’s Only Holy Week Dream—What Does It Tell Us?

Of the 21 dreams recorded in the Bible, only one came to a woman. Who was she?

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Posted in , Mar 21, 2022

Holy Week dream

There are some 21 dreams recorded in the Bible, and only one of them comes to a woman. Who was she? Let me give you a minute to guess...

Give up? Scrolling through Old and New Testament for some clue? Let me just say this: She only appears in the book of Matthew, in the gospel writer’s account of Holy Week. At the time she probably wasn’t a follower of Jesus.

Still wondering? How about if I said she was the wife of a Roman authority?

Yes, that’s it. Pilate’s wife. She appears in one verse leading up to the Crucifixion, as Pilate is trying to determine the Lord’s fate. “While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’” (Matthew 27:19)

We don’t even see her. We just hear of her dream. It didn’t change the course of things, but somehow it seemed important enough to include in the gospel account. Here are some things I take from it.

Speak up about your dream. Dreams can seem bizarre, outlandish. We often wonder where they come from. What they might mean. But they can make more sense when we share them with a trusted listener. We don’t even see Pilate’s wife, but she felt compelled to share her dream with her husband. She must have thought he would listen and pay heed.

How does your dream make you feel? The mood a dream conveys is often as important as what happens in the dream. Whatever Pilate’s wife’s dream was—possibly a nightmare—it came with a sense of urgency. She felt it.

Act on a dream. Dreams have more resonance when we act on them. I often hear people say, “I don’t remember any of my dreams.” How true. One way to open our minds and hearts to their wisdom is to do something about the dream. Let’s say you have a dream about eggs. Next time you’re at the market buy a dozen or go to your refrigerator and hold one or two in your hand. What do they say? What associations do they bring up? 

Search for any moral truth in the dream. The dream Pilate’s wife had somehow conveyed that Jesus was an innocent man. We don’t know what caused her suffering, but the moral truth that a good man would be crucified shook her. 

Can a dream change you? Pilate’s wife’s dream didn’t reverse the course of things on Good Friday. But there have been many theories and writings about this little-known woman of the Bible since. In some traditions she’s known as Procula, in others Claudia Procula. Some thought her dream was Satanic. Others claimed that she became one of the earliest Christians. Do we know for sure? No. For me, it’s poignant enough to read that a witness to the Crucifixion—a Roman at that—wanted to do something to stop it. All because of a dream.

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