Forty women: 20. Jael

Yesterday I mentioned Deborah’s prophecy that Sisera would be delivered into the hands of a woman. Indeed he was. But that woman was not Deborah. It was Jael.

When the Israelite troops attacked Sisera’s army-ful of chariots, it soon became clear that it was going to be a rout. The Israelites were destroying their enemies. Sisera, their leader, did not stay to be destroyed. He got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

He fled to a safe place, to the tent of one of his allies, to hide and lick his wounds. He fled to a safe place, where there was no one dangerous to fear. Just a woman. Just Jael, inviting him in, telling him not to be afraid, giving him a blanket to rest under. Just Jael, generously giving him milk when he’d only asked for some water.

And so he lay down and slept, weary and exhausted, trusting that Jael would guard the tent. Trusting that Jael would lie for him, pretending there was no one inside.

But Jael was no ally of Sisera’s, even though her husband was. Perhaps Jael knew of Sisera’s cruelty in oppressing the Israelites. Perhaps like Rahab generations earlier, she’d heard about the Israelite God and knew him to be the Lord of the heavens above and the earth below.

And so, while Sisera was sleeping, when he was most vulnerable, she picked up her weapons. The tent peg and the hammer.

And so, when Barak, the leader of the Israelite army came past, she went out to meet him. ‘“Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.’ (Judges 4:22).

Don’t assume that the mighty leader of the great army with all its chariots and horses, the man with all the wealth and power, the tyrant and the oppressor – don’t assume that he will be victorious in the end. Don’t assume that he is invulnerable. Don’t assume that you are too weak, too insignificant, too female to defeat him.

Don’t assume that the woman minding her own business at home is no threat. Don’t assume she’ll do what she’s told. Don’t assume that her husband speaks for her.

Because you never know when that man will turn out to be Sisera, and that woman will prove herself to be Jael.

Forty women: 21. Delilah