For context, read Judges 4 and 5
Today we read a gruesome account of a strong woman who finished off the Canaanite commander, Sisera, who had been oppressing the Israelites for 20 years. Last week, we read about Deborah, the judge and prophetess of Israel at this time. She led Barak and his army in an attack against their oppressors and the LORD gave them into their hand. They completely wiped out Sisera’s army. Except for Sisera himself, who was on the run.
Remember, in Judges 4:9
, Deborah prophesied that the honor of this victory would not go to Barak, but to a woman. And this week, we meet that woman-Jael. Judges 4:17
tells us that Sisera is fleeing on foot to Jael’s tent. Jael’s husband, Heber’s family had an alliance with Jabin, the king of the Canaanites. Sisera thought he would be safe in her tent and could hide from Barak and the Israelite army.
But Jael did not align herself with Jabin as her husband had. Apparently, she was fighting on the LORD’s side. When Sisera appeared at her tent seeking shelter, she offered him a safe place to hide. He asked for water, but she gave him milk and a blanket instead. She seems to be trying to make him sleepy and he relaxes his guard. He’s exhausted so he falls asleep. That’s when she takes her opportunity to finish off what the Israelite army started. She crept over to him while he was asleep and drove a tent peg through his skull. Deborah’s words were fulfilled. A woman would receive the honor of killing a man who had cruelly oppressed Israel for 20 years.
In order to do this, Jael violated cultural norms. First, she invited a man into her tent which was forbidden. Second, men fought military battles, not women. And yet, Jael deceived Sisera using fake hospitality and used her cunning to devise a way to kill him. Finally, she violated a peace treaty that her family had entered into. We don’t know what her husband thought of all of this. But we know what Deborah and Barak thought. In their Song of victory and praise in Judges 5
, they hailed Jael as “Most blessed of women”. She took down their enemy!
Now, we know that God is against murder and lying. But He also commanded His people to conquer their enemies and completely wipe them out. That is the whole reason the Israelites were in this mess during the time of the Judges to begin with. They had not obeyed God to completely eradicate the inhabitants of land. As a result of that, coupled with their disobedience to follow God, the Israelites were consistently harassed and oppressed by their enemies. Jael was a female warrior who fulfilled the role that God had for her by using a tent peg as a weapon.
Sisters, the WORD about women in the story of Jael, is that God often uses women who are strong, courageous, and wise to ensure the welfare of His people. In Scripture, He often used women who decided to disobey cultural norms to obey God instead. Who did the tough stuff required of them to save their people. Who used their God given wisdom to discern the right course of action and bravely took it despite the risks.ReflectHave you ever been called to act in a way that God says is right but requires courage and wisdom to follow through?PrayLord, I want to be strong and courageous. Please give me the courage and discernment necessary to obey You instead of man and do Your will. Amen.