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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Jael, the Kenite Woman

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Wife of Heber, the Kenite (Judges 4:17 ). Jabin, the king of Canaan, "that reigned in Hazor," had tyrannized over Israel for twenty years. Deborah and Barak aroused the northern tribes and assembled them at Mount Tabor, to throw off, if possible, the yoke of their oppressor. Jabin's general, Sisera, took the field at the head of a great Canaanitish army, but was defeated by Israel. In his flight Sisera, who was on foot, came to the tent of Jael, whose husband had been on good terms with King Jabin. She invited him into her tent: "Turn in, my lord, turn in to me fear not." He accepted the proffered refuge and hospitality. She gave him nourishment in the form of curds, and concealed him in her tent. He asked her to protect him against any one who should be seeking him. As soon as he had fallen asleep she stealthily crept up to him and drove a tent-pin into his temples and when she saw Barak in pursuit she invited him in to see his enemy prostrate in death.

The poetic account (Judges v.), while it does not give all the details of the prose record, by no means conflicts it is complementary. Jael's act, praised in Judges 5:24 , is contrary to modern ideas of right and to the obligations of hospitality as recognized in the East to-day. But she was a Kenite, akin to Israel and history contains many precedents to justify a breach of faith under such circumstances. Though barbarous to modern sentiment, her act was not below the morality of her times.

E. G. H. I. M. P.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Jael, the Kenite Woman'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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