“Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above the women in the tent.” Judges 5:24
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told that she was blessed “among women” (Luke 1:28), a high compliment, indeed. But, as you can see, this woman is called blessed “above women.” This is puzzling, especially when you take into consideration that we have the record of only one episode in her life. Her name is Jael (pronounced as two syllables), and we read about her in Judges 4:17:22 and 5:24-27. Here’s the story:
The Israelites were once again in bondage to another nation, because, once again, they had done “evil in the sight of the Lord.” If you are familiar with this book of the Bible, you are aware of this reoccurring scenario. Each time, God raised up a deliverer; and this time, it was the Deborah, the fourth judge, who, along with Barak, was pressed into service to lead the battle against the current oppressors, the Canaanites. When you read Judges 4:9, where Deborah says to Barak, “I will surely go with thee, notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera [the Canaanite captain] into the hand of a woman,” it’s easy to assume she is referring to herself. But, if so, you would be wrong. As you will see, it’s Jael to whom she is referring.
By the time you reach Judges 4:17, Israel, led by Deborah and Barak, has killed every last Canaanite warrior, except the captain, Sisera, who somehow had managed to slip away and flee for protection to Heber the Kenite, his supposed ally. But, for some reason, he didn’t go to the men’s tent, but rather, into the tent of Heber’s wife, Jael. As far as what happened next, I can only tell you the “what,” not the “why,” humanly speaking. But then there’s a lot in the book of Judges that defies explanation.
Jael welcomed Sisera into her tent, promised him safety, gave him refreshment, and covered him with a blanket when he lay down. Then, when he had fallen asleep, she crept in with a hammer and nail, and promptly fastened his head to the ground by driving the nail through his temples. I’m not sure why she did this; but I do know the man was God’s enemy and He used her to bring judgment on him.
I laid this groundwork to drive home one principle that those of us who are, or will be, wives and mothers should not forget. Notice again the last part of verse twenty-four, where we read, “Blessed shall she be above women in the tent.” Here I wish to make a distinction between Deborah and Jael, and use them both to illustrate a truth.
Deborah represents to me the Christian woman who, for one reason or another, is thrust into the world outside her home, ostensibly to work, etc., but more importantly, to do battle for God. Jael, on the other hand, is the stay-at-home woman—confined to the “tent,” if you will. But (you’re way ahead of me, aren’t you?) both women did battle for God, each in her own way, in her own place. And each was successful.
If Jael had not been at home that day, she would not have been able to strike that fateful blow for God; and Sisera would have slithered to safety and lived another day to defy the armies of God. So, here is my challenge: if some of us women do not stay at home, under pressure to do otherwise, we will lose an opportunity to do battle for God in the hearts and lives of those within our sphere of influence there. Everyone knows you always have the advantage when you are competing on home territory.
Jael did not ride a mighty horse into battle that day, nor did she sing a song of triumph at victory’s end with other warriors; but she did manage to do in the captain of the enemy, who had slipped away from everyone else. And she was able to do it, because she was exactly where God meant for her to be…in the tent.