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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yael's Victory

Heber was not an Israelite, but he was a kinsman of Moses wife. He was married to Jael and they lived as nomadic herdsmen. He pitched his tent near Kedesh. The habits and culture of the nomadic herdsmen are singular to this group. While they did live in tents which had the capability of mobility, they often stayed in one location for 2 or 3 years. 

The tents were large with multiple rooms. They were made of heavy woolen fabric and leather. The women were responsible for erecting the tents when they were moved. The women's rooms were their private sanctuary and strangers were not invited there. Finding a man in a woman's rooms was justification to kill him. She would have been executed if she invited him there.

Many commentators criticize Jael's defense of herself. It was indeed a brutal and violent act; however in her defense, I feel we should look at 20 years of torment Israel suffered under Jabin's rule and Sisera's iron chariots. Yael would surely have become a slave when 
Sisera's army divided the spoils if he had won.

Judges 5 contains one of the oldest extant examples of Hebrew poetry. It is the victory song of Deborah and Barak describing the battle and Jael's act of self defense. The story includes the storm which contributed to Sisera's sound defeat. The final scene describes Sisera's mother anticipating his return.

Deborah led Israel in peace for 40 years. Read the whole story in Judges 4 and 5.