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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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See DEBORAH on the "blessing" pronounced on her notwithstanding the treachery of which she was guilty in slaying Sisera who sought refuge with her. Besides the commendation of her real faith, though not of the treachery with which her act was alloyed, we should remember that the agents who execute God's righteous purposes are regarded in Scripture as God's "sanctified ones," not in respect to their own character and purposes, but in respect to God's work; so the Medes who executed His vengeance on Babylon (Isaiah 13:3; Psalms 137:9). Moreover Deborah anticipates a fact, namely, that Jael would be regarded as a heroine and praised as a public benefactress above her fellow women). Wife of Heber the Kenite, head of a nomad elan who, migrating from S. Canaan where his brethren had settled at the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, had encamped under the oaks named the "oaks of the wanderers" (KJV "plain of Zaanaim," Judges 4:11), near Kedesh Naphtali in the N. (See HEBER; ISSACHAR.)

He kept a neutral position, being at peace with both Jabin and Israel (Judges 4:17) Her tent, not Heber's, is specified as that to which Sisera fled, because the women's tent seemed a more secure asylum and Jael herself "went out to meet" and invite him. She covered him with the mantle (Judges 4:18, Hebrew), and allayed his thirst with curdled milk or buttermilk (Judges 5:25), a favorite Arab drink. Often Palmer found in asking for water none had been in an encampment for days; milk takes its place. The "nail" with which she slew him was one of the great wooden pins which fastened down the tent cords, and the "hammer" was the mallet used to drive the nails into the ground. In Judges 5:6 "Jael" is thought (Bertheau) to be a female judge before Deborah; but as no other record exists of such an one the meaning probably is, "although Jael, who afterward proved to be such a champion, was then alive, the highways were unoccupied," so helpless was Israel, "until I Deborah arose."

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Jael'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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