Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weird, Wild, and Wacky Stories of the Old Testament: Jael

This one is a particularly humorous story, if you think a general being brutally murdered by a woman is hilarious (and I must confess that this story does bring a smile to my face). This is the story of Jael, General Barak, and Sisera. You can read about it extensively in Judges 4, but I'll focus on verses 15-24. But this story can be a little confusing without its context, so I encourage you to real the entire chapter. Basically, General Barak is an Israelite general under command of Deborah the judge. Sisera is an enemy general. And Jael is the woman who kills Sisera. Now what happens is Deborah tells Barak to fight the battle against Sisera her way, but he wants it done his way because he is bloodthirsty for Sisera's death. So she tells him to have his way, but that Sisera will not die by his hand, but by a woman's, because Barak was subversive to Deborah. Like I said, it's complicated. It's easier to just read it yourself.

Anyway, General Barak's troops beat up Sisera's troops, so Sisera flees. Sisera runs on foot "to the tent of Jael, the wifer of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite." Sisera is Jabin's general, so they had some kind of friendly alliance going on. Anyway, so Jael takes Sisera in, gives him some milk, and puts him to bed, because he is tired from battle. Now comes the cool part. While Sisera is sleeping, Jael "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." Wow! That sounds like an awful way to go!

This general was murdered in his sleep, in the tent of a friend, by the hand of that friend, by the hand of a woman, with a tent peg through his brain. Now that's weird, wild, and wacky! The bottom line is that Sisera was an enemy of God and his death brought glory to God. It's sad that a human died that way, but it ultimately brought glory and attention to God.

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