Jael Part 1: A Tent Dwelling Woman

We’re starting a favorite of mine! I’ve always loved this woman, Jael. She’s so cool!

Our story starts with Deborah but she’s just a supporting character this time, (though she will have her day to shine later.)  Before Israel had a king, it had judges as and Deborah was a judge of Israel.  She sent for Barak and told him the Lord commands you to go to battle against Jabin (king of a nation who was oppressing Israel,) and his general, Sisera.  Barak’s response is completely understandable yet surprising: Only if you come, too!  Then Deborah tells him he’s being a wuss about this whole thing by not trusting God and therefore he won’t get the honor of being “victor.”  Instead, God will give this honor to a woman. Haha! A humble woman would get the honor over the commander — that’s had to have been a hit to his pride.  Hehe, I love it!

So Barak and Sisera and their armies start to battle and, since the Lord has already promised victory, things go Barak’s way.  General Sisera takes off running for his life, leaving remnants of his shattered army behind. And here, our leading lady makes her entrance. But first, a little background.

Jael was married to Heber the Kenite, who was on friendly terms with King Jabin. They were a semi-nomadic tent dwelling people of farmers and metal workers. A woman’s job included pitching tents, making the fires, cooking, having children, raising the children, plus much much more. Seems like a hard life, doesn’t it? But to her, it was just…life. She were strong with plenty of stamina living an ordinary life…her normal.

There were also strict hospitality rules.  After all, there weren’t convenient stores on the corner of the wilderness and the rolling hills where they could stop and grab a drink.  When a stranger appeared at your tent, you were expected to make them feel welcomed, offer them a drink, shelter, and let them rest. Sending them to the next tent however far away wasn’t an acceptable alternative.

So, it’s quite possible that a woman could be left alone going about her business in her own tent with her children, her husband off working for periods of time, when a stranger appeared at her doorstep asking and expecting help. And whether or not it was convenient, she was expected to stop and courteously provide such hospitality.

And this is where we’ll meet Jael…soon.  A surprising visitor comes knocking on her door…

(Judges 4: 15-24)

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