Monday, May 9, 2016

Jael - she slew a "Goliath"

This week we will complete our study of the story in Judges, and we'll meet the second woman who figures largely in the story: Jael.

Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite,because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”
21 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.
22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael 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.
23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites.24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him. (Judges 4:16-24)
Last week, we saw that the battle, which should have been won easily by the Canaanites, was a victory for the children of Israel. Yahweh was in control here, not the Jabin, or his general, Sisera.
There was a tremendous downpour -- those nine hundred iron-trimmed chariots would have been able to maneuver quickly on firm ground, but in the mud? Not so much. They became bogged down and the Israelite foot soldiers had the advantage.
It is an interesting side note here, to know that Baal, the main god of the Canaanites, was god of storms and weather, but they lost the battle because of a storm!

Now let's meet our heroine: Jael was the wife of Heber, who is described as a "Kenite." These nomadic people were known for being tinsmiths, or metal-workers, who made farming implements, home utensils, and weapons. They would pack up their tents and travel to where they could find work, and they may have pitched their tents nearby, seeing the possibility of a battle, and the opportunity to supply weaponry.

Heber, Jael's husband, was related to the children of Israel, for he was descended from Jethro, Moses' father in law. So, they probably sympathized with the Israelites, but apparently Heber was a sensible man, and a man of business, so he was on pretty good terms with the Canaanites by supplying them with metal items. (Grin) Sisera would have seen their encampment as a refuge, or safe haven.

Now, the ancient laws of hospitality in the Middle East were pretty strict. The guest, once he was ritually invited into the home, was to be cared for and even protected. But, to make things clear, that was ritual hospitality that was offered by the man, the head of the household.
Jael offered help, not that special hospitality . . .

We'll see the rest of this story unfold the next time we study.

1 comment:

Ramblingon said...

THIS is such a great study! I am sorry to say it escaped me as I read.