Categories: Women in the Old Testament
- The name Jael means "mountain goat."
- Jael is a woman of action - she goes out to
meet Sisera, initiates conversation with him,
invites him into her tent, and covers him up.
- When Sisera asked for water, she gave him
- She disarmed him with her words of reassurance.
- Sisera determined his own fate by ordering
her to stand in the doorway and tell any man
that asked, "There is no man in the tent!"
- Once he was asleep, she killed him with a
- Next Jael went out to meet Barak.
- She knew who he was looking for and she led
Barak to the dead Sisera, thereby robbing Barak
of the glory of victory.
- When Deborah predicted Sisera would be sold
into the hands of a woman, most readers thought
she was referring to herself. Jael was not yet
on the scene.
- Most scholars see Jael as a heroine, not a
- She was the instrument of divine deliverance.
- She was not an Israelite.
- Jael's husband was a Kenite, a friend (ally)
of Sisera's "boss", King Jabin.
- Moses' father-in-law was a Kenite.
- Those critical of Jael claim she violated
customs of hospitality.
- Perhaps Sisera should have gone to her husband's
tent instead - generally hospitality was a man's
- But Sisera violated the rules, too.
- Good guests don't make demands (Sisera made
two, one of which was to ask her to lie on his
- In light of his transgressions against rules
of hospitality, scholars suggest that Jael was
justified in killing him to restore honor to
herself and her household.
- Sisera was a great warrior, who generally
used and abused women.
- Jael might have believed he meant to do her
- This, then, is not murder, but a clear case
- This is made credible by the three-fold repetition
of "he fell" at her feet (5:27). Oftentimes
this expression references sexual abuse.
- She defeated the man who had oppressed the
Israelites for 20 years.
- Deborah's Song says that Jael is "blessed
above women." (5:24)
- In Judges, Jael is a heroine, one who did
the very work of God.
- Ultimately, credit for the deliverance is
given to God.
Ackerman, Susan. Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen. New York: Doubleday, 1998.'
Auld, A. Graeme. "Joshua, Judges, and Ruth." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.
Block, Daniel. "Judges, Ruth." The New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999.
Gehman, Henry Snyder, ed. The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1974.
Hamlin, E. John. "Judges, At Risk in the Promised Land." The International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1990.
Harris, J. Gordon. "Joshua, Judges, Ruth." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000.
McCann, J. Clinton. "Judges." Interpretation. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.