Jael in the Bible is one of the women that we don’t often hear about, it’s not often that she’ll become a sermon topic. She’s not one of the women in the pages of scripture that are held up to be shining examples like Esther or Deborah. In fact, it’s easy to miss her story altogether, but she’s there with her own lessons to teach us.
Jael wasn’t a ruler, she wasn’t a judge, and she didn’t lead God’s people, but God used her story all the same. Her story is unique and different from all the other women of the Bible we’ve looked at, frankly, it’s gory, it’s raw and in many ways ugly. But just like Esther and Deborah God used her for a great purpose.
Who Is Jael In The Bible?
Just who was Jael in the Bible? We find the story of Jael in the book of Judges, in the Old Testament in the midst of the leadership of Deborah.
Who is the husband of Jael? Jael in the Bible was the wife of Herber a Kenite. The Kenites are the descendants of Moses’s father-in-law’s family, and according to Joshua 1:16 the Kenites settled in the Negev, in Judah.
What nationality was Jael? The Bible doesn’t reveal much about Jael’s past, in fact, we don’t know whether she was a Kenite like her husband or an Israelite. We aren’t even sure what motivated Jael in the Bible to take a tent peg and kill general Sisera. All we know is that she was a bedouin (her people living in tents) and that she is the wife of Herber.
What does the name Jael mean? The name Jael means mountain goat. It’s pronounced yaa·el.
The Bible simply plunges us into the story in the midst of Deborah’s story in Judges 4-5.
What Is The Story Of Jael?
Jael in the Bible steps to the forefront of the story during yet another tumultuous time in Israel’s history during the time of the judges. The people of Israel have been living under the oppression of the Canaanite army and King Jabin of Hazor. Judges 4 tells us of Deborah and Barak’s victory over Sisera, and this is where we meet Jael wife of Heber.
Tent Peg Bible Verse
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. 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. “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’” 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.Judges 4:17-21 NIV
Jael and Sisera In The Bible
As we read in Judges 4, Deborah, Barak, and the people of Israel have been victorious over the Canaanite arm and commander Sisera. This is where we find the fulfillment of verse 9 comes in: for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” We find Sisera fleeing for his life, his army has been routed and he comes upon the house of Heber and here it is that we finally meet Jael.
Jael in the Bible probably had no idea what she was about to get into that morning, far removed from the battle for her it must have been an ordinary day. Chores, daily tasks, the mundane normal that makes up everyday life. Little did she know that God was about to use her, that He had ordained her to be here this morning, for this moment long before she had even been born.
What Did Jael do? We don’t know why this heroic woman became the slayer of Sisera, but one thing we can be sure of is that Jael’s act was part of God’s plan. She opens her home with hospitality and welcomes Sisera into her tent, making him feel safe so that he will fall into a deep sleep.
Whether like Rahab she had come to know the one true God, or like Deborah she was an Israelite we don’t know but all the same we see Deborah’s prophecy come to life. The Bible tells us that once Commander Sisera was asleep Jael took a tent pin and drove it through Sisera’s head. Graphic, gory and a little uncomfortable but where God leads isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
Jael’s actions fulfilled God’s promise, and He used her to strike the victory blow- from the hand of a woman.
Deborah and Jael In The Bible
The last time we hear of Jael is as we continue through the story of Deborah, we find she and Barak singing the song of Deborah after their victory, and among the lyrics, we find one last mention:
“Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women. He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk. Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.Judges 5:24-27 NIV
We don’t know what transpired after this, or if Jael and Deborah ever met but it’s clear Deborah knows of her from this section of scripture.
Lessons From Jael In The Bible
Jael’s story like many others in the pages of scripture is a hard one, it’s not fairy tale perfect, and yet there is much to glean.
God is Faithful
Jael in the Bible is a wonderful reminder that God is always faithful, even when the answer doesn’t look like what we expect it to.
Be Obedient To God
Jael’s story reminds us to be obedient to God’s direction in our lives.
Use the Tools God Has Given You
If God has placed you here, trust that he’s already given you the skills or the tools to accomplish His plan and bring Him glory.
God Keeps His Word
Jael in the Bible is yet another reminder that God always keeps His word, and His promises.
Act on the Opportunities God Gives You
God provided her with the opportunity and the resources to take the victory, and she went for it. Jael in the Bible is a reminder to trust God and act when He places us in a situation.
Jael In The Bible
Jael’s story in the Bible is one of courage, wisdom, and trust. Her life and story are a fabulous reminder that God always keeps his word and is faithful to complete His plan. Her story is also a wonderful reminder that we should be faithful with the opportunities God gives us in our everyday life.
What did you learn from Jael in the Bible?
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