Great Women of the Bible Challenge- Jael

Jael- The woman who killed Israel’s enemy

Bible Reference- Judges 4:17-22, Judges 5

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.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of The Bible Challenge-Hannah

Hannah- The woman of prayer

Bible Reference- 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 2

Family Background- Hannah was married to a man called Elkanah (who was the son of of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph who was an Ephraimite). The Bible says her husband was from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim. Elkanah had another wife called Peninnah who had children, Hannah had none. Hannah was Elkanah’s favourite wife. Hannah later gave birth to Samuel, three other sons and two daughters.

Name Meaning- Hannah in Hebrew means favour or grace

Who is Hannah?

Hannah, is one of the most famous characters of the Old Testament. Like many others in the Bible, she was barren.  At that time, not being unable to conceive was considered shameful.

Yearly, Hannah and her husband went to worship  the Lord at Shiloh. The Bible says ‘Year after Year’ , which suggests Hannah and her family went frequently to worship the Lord. The Bible describes Elkanah’s love for Hannah, as he would give her double portion to sacrifice because of his love for her. His other wife, Peninnah reminded her of her sorrows constantly. The Bible says she provoked her until she wept and would not eat. Her husband reminded her that he loved her by asking her why she wept, was sad and that his love was more than ten sons.

Hannah, was in the house of the Lord  praying and weeping bitterly. She made a vow to God, that if he gave her a son she would give him to God for all of his life.  She continued to pray and Eli, the priest observed her mouth. She was praying so intently that her mouth moved without words coming out. Eli thought she was drunk. Hannah told Eli, that she was pouring out her heart to God. Eli, moved by Hannah’s pain told her to go and that God will give her what she has asked for.

Afterwards, Hannah and her husband went back to their home at Ramnah, they slept together and she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son, called Samuel. She named Samuel, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’.

Hannah had made a promise to God, to give him back for God’s service. Hannah kept her promise. She gave her son to Eli, where her child was trained in ministering and priesthood.

God honoured Hannah for keeping her promise. She gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. Hannah’s son Samuel, grew up to be the last Judge for Israel, a prophet and counselled Israel’s first two Kings (Saul and David).

Why is Hannah great?

Hannah, is one of the most well known women of the bible.  She was the mother of Samuel, who himself was a great man of God. I believe Hannah is great for several reasons: she was perseverant, had extraordinary faith, she kept her promises, prayerful and lead a godly life.

Hannah was perseverant, she never gave up on God. She continued to pray day and night and never lost hope. She prayed year after year and was frequently at the house of God. She prayed until people thought she was drunk. It reminds of when Paul, said that we should pray without ceasing. This is what Hannah did and God answered her prayers.

Hannah had extraordinary faith, it was a peculiar type of faith. To be  praying for the same thing year after year  is incredible. Especially, when her rival wife Peninnah was poking fun at her constantly. Yet, her hope in God remained. True to her name, she walked in grace and did not retaliate. Even though God had shut her womb, she opened up her heart even more to God. As Eli told her to go home, notice how she went and was no more weeping. She believed that God had answered her prayers.

I admire Hannah for keeping her promise: to  give her child back to God. Remember this was her first child that she had prayed for many years. The sacrifice that she made, blessed her even more. She was rewarded, Hannah and her husband gave birth to five more children.

Hannah was a praying woman. She prayed without ceasing. Even though what she had asked for did not come immediately, she continued in prayer. Even though she was barren, she still believed and through her pain she found refuge in prayer. She took her worries to God even when she was sorrowful. In 1 Samuel 2, it gives us Hannah’s prayer. She gives thanksgiving for God’s goodness.

What can we learn from Hannah?

The lessons I believe we can learn from Hannah is to never give up. Hannah never gave up and pressed on in faith.  She never doubted God’s abilities. After years and years of waiting on God, her prayer life remained constant even though her rival wife irritated her. Many of us would give up, but Hannah didn’t.  Hannah teaches us to never give up, to remain prayerful, to lead a godly life, to have faith and to stay perseverant.

Stay Blessed

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