1025 BC, Mt Tabor, Israel.
The thundering of the man’s wildly pumping heart was overridden by the sound of his pounding footsteps as he escaped through the forest foliage. Haunted, driven as a madman by the fear of death, he frequently glanced behind him to see if he was being pursued. He could still hear the roar of the raging battle, the dreadful clashing of swords, screams of dying men, shouts of bloodied heroes vanquishing foes…
Driven by the desire to live, the fleeing man pressed deeper in the forest towards the only safe haven he knew existed between Mt Tabor and his distant homeland. Pausing to gather his bearings, he rested under a large tree. Fear was etched in every line of his sweat-drenched face, his lips swollen from dehydration, lungs heaving violently with the physical exertion of his flight from the enemy. Discarding his battle armor, he strained his senses for danger, his keen, trained, soldier eyes quickly scanning for movement behind and before him. Another mile or so to safety he reckoned.
A sudden rustle in the undergrowth behind propelled him to his feet and to instant flight once again. Peering behind, he discovered the commotion to be only a forest fowl searching for food, but it was enough to compel him forward.
“The word has been decreed by the Prophetess.” Michael announced, gesturing to the powerful Warring Angels, who had gathered for Israel’s battle with the Canaanite King, Jabin. “The man is fleeing in forest. Make sure he reaches the woman’s tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh. Instruct her of the Lord’s purpose.”
Immediately the angels descended into the forest, some remaining with the man, the others gathering at the woman’s tent.
“Bring me the milk skin.” The woman instructed her maidservant. Pouring in the milk that had been prepared early that morning, she filled the skin. The light of Yahweh shone on her face, His love and passion burned within her heart. She was a woman of exquisite beauty.
Angels gathered around her. Sensing His Presence, she lifted her heart to listen.
“A man is about to emerge from the forest. Go and meet him. Do what I show you.”
Jael stood and lifted her eyes to the forest rim. “Put the skin inside my tent and bring the best drinking vessel.” She instructed her maidservant as she walked towards the forest edge. She could hear the sound of a running man long before he appeared.
Sisera! She instantly recognized King Jabin’s military Commander. Israel has routed Jabin’s army! Elated, a broad smile filled her face.
Seeing her engaging smile, Sisera visibly relaxed.
"Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid.(1)” Her comforting words drawing him closer.
“Here, lord Sisera, rest here safely.” She soothed, covering the weary man with a blanket.
"I'm thirsty. Please give me some water.”
“Give him the curdled milk.” the angels whispered to her.
Jael offered the milk in a noble’s vessel, “Here my Lord, drink this.”
"Stand in the doorway of the tent. If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.(2)'"
“Yes, my lord.” She answered, smiling.
The exhausted man fell fast asleep.
“What now, LORD?” Jael whispered.
“Pin his head to the ground with a tent-peg.”
Quickly, silently, Jael returned to Sisera’s side with tent-peg and hammer. Taking the long metal tent-peg in her left hand, she positioned it over the sleeping man’s temple. Holding the hammer up high, she swiftly, forcefully brought it down onto the tent-peg, penetrating Sisera’s skull and brain. She continued to drive the hammer until the tent-peg pierced through the other side of his head, pinning him to the ground, securing the man in death.
With dignity and strength, Jael stood above the adversary crushed by her hand. Her heart swelled with the joy of victory over the enemy nation…at the hand of a woman. She laughed out loud in delight as she washed the blood from her hands.
The sound of horses could be heard in the forest. Leaving the man lying in death, Jael went out to greet her visitors.
"Come, Commander Barak," 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.(3).”
Barak’s eyes met Jael’s in a penetrating stare as he suddenly recalled Deborah’s prophecy, “…for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman. (4).”
Author’s note: Adapted from Judges 4:2 – 23. NIV.
In those days, it was the women’s job to erect the tents, so wielding the hammer and tent-pegs would have been a very familiar role for Jael, but killing a man with these tools was indeed, a very gutsy act!
(1) Judges 4:18
(2) Judges 4:19
(3) Judges 4:20
(4) Judges 4:9
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