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Women Who Win

Blessed among Women!

 

We all know Jael as the incredible lady who killed Sisera, the army captain of Jabin, the Canaanite king. She was praised as “Blessed among women” by the dynamic Deborah. Most of us are only dimly aware of her background. We shall try to connect the dots to see how Jael attained that status.

Jael was a Kenite woman. The Kenites were a Canaanite tribe destined for destruction. God promised Abraham to give the land of Canaan along with the tribes who lived there and the Kenites were one among them (Gen 15:19). However when Moses abandoned Egypt and fled from the face of Pharaoh, he landed up in Midian of Canaan where the Kenites lived. He married the daughter of a Kenite priest of Midian whose name was Reuel (Ex 2:15). When Moses’ father-in-law Reuel came to meet him on his return journey from Egypt with all the people, Moses grandly recounted to him the miraculous deliverance the Lord had wrought for the people of Israel (Ex 18:7-12). Reuel (or Jethro) rejoiced and exclaimed, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.” Then he offered sacrifices to God and departed to his own place as a believer (Ex 18:27). He must have introduced this mighty God of Moses to his family and tribe.

As Israel meandered through the desert, at a certain point the brother-in-law of Moses, Hobab met them. The torrid wilderness and Canaan were strange places for Moses and all the Israelites, and we know it is not easy to find one’s way in the wilderness. So Moses pleaded with him saying, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well; for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.” In other words, just like Rahab or Ruth who believed on the Lord were absorbed into the tribe of Israel, an offer was extended to Hobab the Kenite to come under the wings of the Lord. This was a terrific offer because all the Canaanites knew they were set for annihilation.

However Hobab refused the offer. Again Moses wanted to make a covenant with him - “You be our eyes and we will share the Lord’s blessings with you.” There ends the conversation. Whether Hobab said, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to his sister’s husband is seen only later (Num 10:29-32).

Israel proceeded on its journey and reached the plains of Moab. This was also the territory of Midian where the Kenites dwelt. When the Moabite King Balak tried to win over Balaam to curse Israel, the curse boomeranged. For Balaam saw the Kenites and prophesied, “Your dwelling place is secure, your nest is set in a rock; yet you Kenites will be destroyed when Asshur takes you captive” (Num 24:21,22). In such a scenario Hobab was probably shaken up and finally decided to join hands with the Israelites, influencing his tribe also to follow Him.

So the Kenites showed kindness to all the children of Israel but Amalek assaulted Israel. When God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, Saul told the Kenites to depart from among the Amalekites that they may be spared for the kindness they showed to Israel. So the Kenites separated themselves from among the Amalekites and escaped destruction (1Sam 15:1-6). Thus they merged with Israel. Later David would deceive King Achish saying that he fought against Judah and the Kenites (1Sam 27:10). So we understand that it was accepted among the Canaanites that the Kenites were favourably looked upon by the Israelites.

The Kenites also helped David when he hid himself in the wilderness from Saul. So David used to send a share of his booty to them (1Sam 30:29).

Judges 1:16 very clearly states that “the descendents of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenites, went up from the city of Palms with the men of Judah to live among the people of the Desert of Judah in the south, near Arad.” So it is, that a people who were the target of the gun of God started to enjoy “whatever good” the Lord did to His people.

Hobab vacillated with one foot in the river and one foot on shore; but then ultimately decided for the true and living God. He escaped destruction to inherit blessings along with God’s chosen tribe. He chose life instead of death. Elijah asked the people of Israel, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1Ki 18:21). Here a pagan Hobab embraces God.

Many, many years after the death of Joshua, war broke out between Israel and Jabin, king of Canaan (Jud 4:2). Now Heber the Kenite, decendent of Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses, was residing in the war zone(Jud 4:11). Heber, though now for all practical purposes was an Israelite maintained good relations with Jabin, the Canaanite king (4:17). The situation deteriorated all the way to the disastrous final and the ignominious defeat of Jabin. So when Sisera, the captain of the army of Jabin saw that he was losing ground and that his options were dwindling, alighted from his iron chariot and ran on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. He was very familiar with the place and could easily locate Jael’s tent. But he did not know that he was fleeing to meet his death by a remarkable confluence of events. A half hour later he was dead (Jud 4:15-17).

While history is dominated by men, once in a while the traditional male bastion is broken by a lone woman like Jael. So the crunch—A Canaanite woman killed a Canaanite commander and put an end to his nefarious activites. How? She shifted position to defeat the devil proving that if you are with God, heads you win, tails you win! She did not allow fear to control her. She learnt that she was a lot stronger than she thought.

How did a tent peg and hammer find their way into Jael’s tent? Either they were tentmakers or all tent dwellers possessed them. That explains her strength and dexterity in driving a tent peg through the skull of a military giant. The calculated risk was almost surreal. That doesn’t explain it all. She was after all a woman. We find the answer in the last stanza of Deborah’s song. “Let those who LOVE Him be like the sun when it comes out in full STRENGTH” (Jud 5:31). She loved the Lord and He gave her the strength of the mid-day sun. For those who trust in God it is never rise and fall but always rise and rise.

A verse in the New Testament may well fit in here. “I will call... her beloved, who was not beloved” (Rom 9:25). Jael who ought to have been massacred with the millions and millions of Canaanites not only flourished but became a star, a beloved of God. Absolutely it was not God’s will to pulvarize the whole lot of Egyptians and Canaanites and send them to the pit. Out of His mercy God waited 400 years before deciding to stamp them out (Gen 15:16). If they had turned to Him like the Kenites, God would have taken them too under His wings. But they chose to wallow in their sins and reject the living God inviting His wrath. When Israel exploited the poor, trampled the weak and turned their backs on God, did not the righteous God chase them, whip them and kill them? Paul quotes this verse from Hosea 2:23 which goes like this: “I will sow her for myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy.” Thus the hated one of God set for doom, finds her way into God’s heart to enjoy a boom! A seed that God sowed!

If you want to be a Jael do not falter between two opinions. Hold on to the Lord with all your strength. Then you will be a seed in God’s hand. You will defeat the devil like Jael and deliver people from his clutches. Yes, we do not deserve to be called beloved but God calls us His loved ones. We do not deserve God’s mercy but He showered on us His mercy abundantly.

To what extent? “Most blessed among women is Jael” said Deborah for she put Israel’s horrible past to rest (Jud 5:24,3 1). She is the counterpart of the New Testament girl Mary to whom the angel said, “Blessed are you among women” (Lk 1:28). Jael risked her life and became a seed to literally die for the redemption of the people of Israel. Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your Word” (Lk 1:38). Thus she became the seed to bring forth Jesus into the world.

If you and I give ourselves in the hands of God to fall to the ground and die we will produce much grain. Jesus said: She who loves her life will lose it and she who hates her life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let her follow Me (Jn 12:24-26). Jesus was a seed who died to bring forth much grain. So join the suicide squad, the suicide squad for Jesus! (Acts 15:26; Rev 12:11).

Shall we follow the example of the Kenites to unshackle ourselves and join God’s mighty army this Christmas season? Shall we follow Jael to defeat satan and become blessed among women? Shall we imitate Mary in bowing down to the call of God to bring forth Jesus to this world? Shall we walk in the footsteps of the Seed of the woman to fall on the ground and die that we may bring forth much grain? Then we shall surely be blessed!

Deborah the prophetess sang, “They did not come to the help of the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty” (Jud 5:23). Does the Almighty need help against the mighty? No. But He gives an opportunity for us to give Him a helping hand that we may be blessed. It is now, more than ever that the Lord is looking for our help. It is rightly said that we cannot do anything without Him and He will not do anything without us. When the battle trumpet sounded, “people willingly offered themselves”(Jud 5:2,9). The people of Zebulun and Naphtali jeopardized their lives to the point of death (5:18). God knew that He could trust them and that’s why He wanted Barak to take these two tribes particularly (4:6).

No one was at the neck of Jael. It was a voluntary act of risking her own life. What if Sisera woke up and assaulted her? She tip-toed to Sisera diffidently with the determination of, “If I perish, I perish.” It was a leap of faith! She has become a phenomenon and her courage resonates loudly even today. She has shot from near obscurity to global celebrity.

If you want to enjoy the blessings of God’s warriors, join the mighty army, so God can use you in His warfare and make you “Blessed among women!”

 


 


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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