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  • Writer's pictureS Oliver

For Warrior Women

17 Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So, she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.

20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”

21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.  (Judges 4:17-21)

Have you ever been called tough, cold, masculine, angry, stubborn? Strong, but not in a good way? It seems that confident, intelligent, focused, shrewd women are under appreciated. We seem to stir up negative stereotypes (bossy, b*tchy, abrasive, etc.) and rouse the insecurities of men and women alike.

Warrior women are the antithesis to traditional stereotypes of hyper- femininity that include being fragile, cooperative, demure, graceful, and nurturing among other things. But, truth told, most women do not lean to the extreme of either/or but find we have characteristics of both categories. After all, human beings are complicated.

I often wonder what would happen if our daughter’s heard stories of strong girls and women in our faith-based youth groups who were not confined to traditional gender roles? The story of Jael found in Judges 4 and 5, totally flips the script on everything women have been taught to be.


It is mind-blowing to know that God shows favor to women warriors! The story of Jael helps us to know that God loves and approves of strong, assertive, and quick-witted women. That is why I want to share Jael’s story here in honor of Women’s History Month.


Jael was the wife of Herber, the Kenite, and a woman warrior who won the Lord’s victory in what appeared to be a cruel and unusual way. Jael’s character seemed to possess qualities that can be contrasted to Barak, the military commander who Deborah led into battle.  Unlike Barak, who was reluctant to go to battle, Jael devised the strategy and initiated the violence that killed Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army. It was the clever and skillful maneuver that gave the Israelites the victory.


Worn out from battle, Sisera sought a safe place to rest and Jael welcomed him into her tent. Parched and weary, all he wanted was a refreshing cup of water, but Jael gave him milk instead. Of course, warm milk (there’s was no refrigeration) is a known sedative for the sleep deprived.


While he was sleeping, exhausted from what seemed to be a never-ending battle, she drove a spike through his temple. This killed him and fulfilled the prophecy that the Lord would give Israel’s victory into the hands of a woman.


Jael is interesting because she displayed a blend of characteristics that are considered both masculine and feminine. She is married, nurturing, strong, decisive, and proactive. Jael is touted as a hero for attributes that are commonly despised in women. She was violent, aggressive, crafty, and artful and she was celebrated for just that!


In Judges 5:24-27, Jael was celebrated as “blessed among women.” Does this sound like anyone else you know?  Yes. Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not only do they celebrate Jael as blessed, but they sing in detail of the cunning act of brutality and deliverance she committed. If God can celebrate strong women, so should we.


The truth is whether a woman engages in military service or the service of motherhood, both are to be equally celebrated. Whether a politician or a preacher, you deserve to be celebrated. Whether a scientist or a secretary, a CEO or chef, a tech engineer or a teacher’s assistant you deserve to be celebrated. No matter what you do, you deserve to be celebrated. Happy International Women’s Month!

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