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 4:21
Righteous women are far from boring. In fact, in Judges 4, we have a glimpse of women who had a voice and who did tough things for the sake of God’s people. First, we have a prophetess named Deborah leading Israel (see Judges 4:4) who took on the role of judge, deciding on disputes for the people of Israel. The second woman, whom we are going to look more closely at, is Jael. In many ways, she was simply a woman of the tents or in modern terms, a “housewife” who didn’t exactly wield sword or spear.
Jael was a Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law. That meant that grace existed between the people of Israel and her tribe because of a shared family bloodline. Yet it just so happened that there was an alliance existing between her husband and Jabin, the king of Hazor, the king whom Sisera served; the enemies of Israel. Because of this alliance, Sisera sought refuge in the tents of Heber as he fled for his life, his troops falling to the sword of Israel.
I can imagine Jael saying hello, appearing safe as a gentle host. There was no trace of violence in her. In fact, she was extremely hospitable! Instead of water, she gave Sisera some milk. She gave him a blanket, too, and made sure the exhausted man felt comfortable and secure enough to go to sleep.
But as soon as the snores came, she rose up as a defender of Israel. Yes, this woman was far from safe. She stood with the Lord’s people and knew her alliance with them was stronger than the alliance her husband had made with the enemy. She may not have known sword or spear, but as a woman of the tents, she was capable and seasoned in driving tent pegs to the ground.
So just like David who used a slingshot as a weapon to kill Goliath, Jael used an unusual weapon– a tent peg— to kill Sisera. She knew how to wield it like an expert since she probably had to take down tents and install them whenever the tribe moved.
This should make us look at the weapons in our hands. We are all different—male and female–and we wield strengths that differ. Jael’s example shows us that women are also called to fight in the Lord’s army. Women don’t have to match men in competition or in strength because they are not men. But women can do things that come more naturally to them, like welcome an enemy with a smile and give him milk (most men might be too clumsy doing this).
When it comes to weapons, there are a variety that exist within us. Some of us may be terrific with crowds, while others are more of the background type, behind a camera or holding a pen. Some of us may be skilled at a sport where we have trained for decades, while others in singing and dancing. Whatever weapon the Lord has given us to grow in expertise— do we use this in fighting the enemy and standing with the Lord for His purposes?
The tent peg was an unusual weapon. Still it was a weapon. It made Israel win.
And so we must ask: what is the weapon in our hands? Are we ready to use it against the enemy?
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.