Jael Part 3: Xena Warrior Princess?


Welcome back to Jael, it’s about to get exciting. Grab your cup and enjoy!

Now comfortable and safe in Jael’s tent, General Sisera asks her to keep watch, knowing Barak’s looking for him.  He advises that should someone ask, tell them no one is here. Pay attention to her answer…there is no reply recorded in scripture. She never agreed to lie for him, she remained silent when words were not her friend.

Wait…you mean, Jael isn’t a friend of Sisera? I thought her husband’s tribe was on good terms with Sisera’s king? She makes a much better alliance.  And so she remains quiet. There’s a lesson for us, knowing when to keep silent and actually staying quiet! I should work on that. But, back to the story.

Exhausted and feeling all cozy after drinking some milk, Sisera falls asleep. Shh…

Remember, Jael’s calm and patient demeanor was intentional and with purpose.  This is where it gets good…

“But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” (2 Ki 4: 21.)

Did you see that coming?  It plays out like a scene from a movie! Jael hadn’t aligned herself with her husband’s clan’s friends. She allied herself with God. She kept her cool under pressure.  She made Sisera comfy and when the time came, BAM! Jael gets it done for the Lord. What was it that Deborah had said? “The honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.” (2 Ki 4:9) Wow, ya think?!

When I heard Jael’s story as a girl I had always thought of her as Xena Warrior Princess. I mean, it fits, doesn’t it? Anyone who can take a tent peg and hammer and nail it through a bad guy’s head is a fierce and formidable warrior, right?

Maybe not. After reading Jael’s story as an adult, I started rethinking that view. I never really watched Xena Warrior Princess, so I don’t really know the story, I just know she was a fierce fighter (in a questionable fighting outfit.)  Jael was a wife and a tent dweller. She had a hard life of a nomad and physical labor. As a woman, we’ve already discussed all the different things she’d be doing — pitching tents, starting fires, cooking, bearing and raising children as part of a farming and metal working community. She probably did many other things, as well. S this was just normal life for her. It’s not like she donned a mask and went about swinging from skyscapers in her spare time driving pegs through the heads of any other bad guys. So, maybe she was actually less Xena and more…average wife and woman?

Now, please please please hear me. I am NOT saying to go and take anyone out!  NO NAILING PEGS IN ANYONE’S HEAD.  Ok?  Promise? (Thank you!)

How ironic that Sisera, the great general fleeing from mighty warriors sought refuge in the tent of a humble woman whose husband was his ally, but ended up suffering the greatest humiliation in his death.  Killed at the hands of an ordinary woman.  Now that’s an exciting and unexpected twist!

(Judges 4: 15-24)

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