Jael- The woman who killed Israel’s enemy
Family Background- Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite
Name Meaning- Jael also Yael, is a Hebrew name which means wild mountain goat
Who is Jael?
We are introduced to Jael in Judges 4. God told Deborah that she would deliver Israel from the King of Canaan. Deborah called Barak to lead a army against the King of Canaan. However Barak wished that Deborah would go with him in battle. Deborah agreed but prophesied that it was a woman that would deliver Israel from its enemy. The King of Canaan’s army was led by Sisera.
We learn that Sisera the enemy of Israel fled to Jael’s tent. The Bible tells us this is because there was an alliance between Jabin the King and Jael’s husband.
Jael greets Sisera and invites him into her tent. She tells him not to be afraid. He asks for water and she gives him milk. Sisera tells Jael to stand by the doorway of the tent and if anyone asks if anyone is in the tent say no.
However Jael picket up a tent peg and hammer, went quietly to him while he was sleeping and killed him.
Then Barak was looking for Sisera and Jael met him. She showed him the dead Sisera.
Why is Jael great?
To be honest when I first came across Jael when reading Deborah’s story, I did not think much of her. Should I include this woman in my study of the Great Women of the Bible? This woman used her hospitality skills to kill a man. What a sly woman? These were the thoughts running through my head. But then something struck me which is in Judges 5:17-22 and completely changed my mind on Jael.
Deborah described her- ‘Most blessed of women be Jael’. This struck me. Why did it? Jael is only one of two women in the Bible to be described as blessed, the other is Mary (mother of Jesus). This tells us something, that this woman is special indeed. She is great because she was a fearless heroine, who killed the man who oppressed God’s people.
What can we learn from Jael?
Jael is not your ‘typical biblical great woman’. She is not as well known as the others. I questioned Jael’s actions over and over again. To offer hospitality and safety to a person, then the next minute murder him, I thought was really mean. In fact, evil. Remember, Jael’s husband was at peace with Sisera’s master King Jabin.
She may not be your Mary or your Hannah but there is something incredible we can learn from her. That God can use anyone to fulfil his plans. God told Deborah that he would deliver Israel from Jabin and Sisera. Jael, a non-Israelite and woman gave Israel the final victory over King Jabin and Sisera. Imagine at the time, a woman playing a role like that- it is only right to describe Jael as fearless and blessed.
Jael’s actions could be seen as unjustifiable, as she murdered Sisera. However God out of that, brought something good. Sisera under Jabin oppressed God’s people, Jael’s actions gave Israel deliverance and victory. There is a lesson here that although we may have committed a sin or been unfaithful to God, God can always bring about good.