17Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
18And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
19And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
21Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
Now, it’s probably safe to say that this is not one of those Bible stories you learned in Sunday School as a toddler. David killing a giant with a slingshot is one thing. It’s pretty straightforward. Something every preschooler can identify with. Bad ugly dude being bad and ugly. Good handsome guy challenges bad ugly dude to a smackdown. Good guy wins the smackdown. Gives the bad dude a headache with a rock and then cuts off his aching head. Happens every day. But the story of Jael and Sisera is something else entirely. First of all, it takes place during a very dark period of Israel’s history. Not much heroic was going on. It was really hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Israel was full of compromise with the enemy...actually many enemies. These people that should have been wiped off the map were periodically playing footsies with the Israelites, and vice versa. Sisera (presumably the bad guy) was not a roaring giant, but a rather wimpy and effeminate man, if we’re to read between the lines. On the other hand, Jael, the heroine of the story, was not only crafty, but viciously so. I don’t know about you, but hammering a tent stake through a sleeping man’s head wouldn’t have been the first option to come to mind as a method of execution, no matter how badly the person in question needed executing. But that’s just me, I suppose. Needless to say, this story has all the elements of great literature. Here we have intrigue, violence, implied sexuality, and, best of all, a great punch line: “So he died.” Ya think? Back to the kiddies for a moment. There are lots of great children’s Bible songs most of us learned as tykes. “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”, “Arky-arky”, “Father Abraham” and the like. But there’s no kid’s song about Jael and Sisera. If there was, I imagine it might start out something like this:
Sisera was a sissy
That’s what the Bible said
And Jael took a nail
And jammed it through his head...
Can’t you hear the angelic voices of a hundred kindergarten tots singing this at your church’s next kid’s choir presentation? You’ll have me to thank.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.