Deborah and Jael

Deborah and Jael

Have you ever heard this song?  "Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed is she among women in tents. He asked for water, she gave milk; she brought out cream in a lordly bowl. She stretched her hand to the tent peg, her right hand to the workmen's hammer; she pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, she split and struck through his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead." Judges 5:24-27. Well here is the context.

"When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.  And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.  Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, 'Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, "Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand"?'

And Barak said to her, 'If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!' So she said, 'I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.' Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.

Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh. And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.  So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.

Then Deborah said to Barak, 'Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?' So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, 'Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.' And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket. Then he said to her, 'Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.' So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. And he said to her, 'Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, "Is there any man here?" you shall say, "No."'

Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, 'Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.' And when he went into her tent, there lay Sierra, dead with the peg in his temple. So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan." Judges 4:1-24

Isn't it interesting how God can bring an end to an extremely difficult situation with such simple means? The King of Canaan had nine hundred chariots of iron and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel. Yet the commander of his army was not  even killed in battle, he was killed by Jael while sleeping in her tent. Do you have a situation that seems like it will never end? Cry out to God and trust Him to deliver you. God can end it in ways you wouldn't think possible.

This story also says a lot about how God can use women to encourage His people. Deborah was a prophetess that had a high position in Israel and Israel came to her for judgment; they didn't avoid her because she was a woman and assume her only acceptable role was in the home. Deborah encouraged Israel to go to war against Canaan but even Jael the Kenite's wife while being around her home played a great role for the nation of Israel. Her husband was related to Moses' father- in-law and the commander of the Canaan's army apparently didn't realize the relationship between the people of these two women because after he fled the army he willingly walked into Jael's tent where he would die.

We have a relationship to one another as believers and our decisions affect each other although it may not always be obvious. What if Deborah said, "I don't want to be a judge in Israel or encourage Barak to start a war"?  What would have happened if while Deborah was a judge in Israel Barak didn't come when she called thinking it was beneath him to listen to a woman? What if he refused to be encouraged so there was no war and Sisera never fled and met Jael? What would have happened if when Sisera did flee or go into the tent Jael did nothing? God may not be limited to any single method of working but our lives can be so much smoother in this world if we all would just be faithful to live up our individual callings to the best of our ability wherever God has placed us. We may not all serve in the same role but every position God calls us to fulfill is important so we should humbly ask God for guidance strength to live for Him.

Picture originally found here

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