Saturday, 3 March 2012

11. Jael - different ways to use a tent peg

I've often camped at the New Wine Christian festival near Bath, England, and I can report that tent pegs are normally invaluable. No pegs, no home for a week. 

Occasionally you need a tent peg for another reason - maybe to pierce a hole in the top of your polythene pack of sausages in the absence of scissors - but generally they're for hitting into the ground with a mallet. Never have I heard of someone bashing one into a man's skull whilst he was asleep - certainly not at Week A anyway. 

But this is what our fabulous female for today does, outwitting the mighty army Commander, Sisera, into the bargain.

Israel's enemy have been defeated but the hated Sisera is still at large and staggers into the camp of Heber, the Kenite, an ally. He is met by Jael, Heber's wife, and all indications are that she will hide him safely in her tent till danger is past. She offers a bed, tucks him up, gives him a bedtime drink and meekly receives her instructions: 'Stand in the doorway of the tent (...) If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say no.' (Judges 4:20).

But this lady ain't no pushover. While Sisera's asleep, she creeps in, takes a hammer and inserts the tent peg through his temple (I'm thinking these Ancient near Eastern ones are a bit tougher than your average Millets variety).

For this action she is called 'most blessed' and gets her own jolly song - 

                        'She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
                         She shattered and pierced his temple.

                         Chorus: At her feet he sank,
                         He fell; there he lay.
                         At her feet he sank, he fell;
                         where he sank, there he fell - dead'
                         (dee dum, dee dum, dee dum...etc.)

TBH I'm having a few 21st Christian qualms about this one, but the text suggests positives: she is part of the divine plan; she is blessed; the land has peace for forty years (Judges 5:31). 

Make of it what you will.


  1. Having now READ Judges chapter 4, I await the arrival in the 40 ladies line-up of ...Deborah.
    This is certainly taking me to read bit of the Bible I have not read very often (if at all) -thanks Claire XXX

  2. pleasure - I think Deborah was yesterday!!