Though this is based on a story in the book of Judges, it is fiction. What I found in my study of this Biblical account in history made me want to imagine what it might actually look like. This is the image that came to my mind.
There was a low rumble in the distance. Then, it was like the earth held its breath. Nothing. Nothing save the dark clouds swirling in from the west.
Jael stood in the doorway of her tent watching the weather, glad her children were inside her husband’s tent. At age 12 and 13, they were apprenticing with their father in his metalwork shop. With the clouds rolling in, they had abandoned their stove and taken the detail work inside.
She turned toward her loom where her project waited for her return. Though a storm was coming, the Kenite people knew that was just the beginning.
Captain Sisera had led his army into battle with the Israelites. While Jael and her tribe were on good terms with the Canaanites, she couldn’t help but feel terribly sorry for the Israelites.
There was no way they would win. Sisera had 900 chariots—iron chariots that her husband had designed. The armored chariots were weapons in and of themselves with spikes on each of the wheel spokes.
The Israelites had some sticks and farm equipment.
What were they thinking? This was a losing battle before it had even begun. But yet even with the impossible task in front of him, Captain Barak began this fight for freedom.
Understanding the desire for freedom, Jael thought the Hebrews were foolish but didn’t blame them for wanting to be free. Captain Sisera and King Jabin had her people within their grasp as well. If the weapons created were inferior in any way, Jael knew her husband would lose his life as well as anyone else who worked with him, including her children.
It could be just as easily the Kenites fighting as the inept Hebrew farmers.
Rain started to fall in torrents just outside her tent, but still Jael did not close the tent’s covering. She wanted to be ready if the battle made it as far as their camp. With an unease in her spirit, Jael was unable to sit at her loom. Instead she puttered around her quarters, putting things away, heating water for the noon meal, when movement outside the tent caught her eye.
She looked out into the rain seeing Captain Sisera coming toward their camp. This could not be. Captain Sisera? Alone? On foot? Where was his chariot? His horses? What happened to his army?
Realization struck her. Had the Israelites been victorious? The simple-minded farmers who were under the rule of the powerful King Jabin had risen up and defeated Captain Sisera!
Could they too, the Kenites, be freed from the tyranny of the Canaanites? If she had anything to do about it, the answer was an absolute yes. Taking a moment to think through her plan, Jael knew that she was not strong enough to fight the captain full on. She needed to lure him into a sense of security.
That would be easy. She was a mother. She knew how to make people comfortable.
Setting the folded blanket on her mat, Jael snatched her cloak and held it over her head. She dashed into the pelting rain straight for Captain Sisera.
As she approached, Jael called, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.”
Captain Sisera tried to wipe the water from his eyes and saw the smiling face of Jael through the raindrops.
“I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.”
Jael nodded and ushered the captain into her tent. As Captain Sisera stood shivering in Jael’s tent, she warmed some milk for him. Wrapping him in her blanket, Jael offered him the drink, “My lord.”
The captain received the drink gratefully, and when he was finished, he sat back refreshed. Knowing that no one would suspect him to be in this woman’s tent, Captain Sisera relaxed his body.
Before drifting off to sleep, the captain, always being an army man, murmured, “Stand in the doorway of the tent. If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”
Moments later, he was sleeping.
A flutter of nerves invaded her belly, but Jael knew it was now or never.
With the iron tent peg and hammer in hand, she was prepared to do what needed to be done.
(from Judges 4:16-24, during the time of Deborah, the prophetess)
Gianna Kordatzky has been a part of the First Free family since 1997. She graduated from Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern–St. Paul) in 1999 with a B.A. in youth ministry which prepared her and her husband, Chris, to raise four amazing kids. She is one of the founders of Family Fun Twin Cities and the Moms in Prayer leader for Bel Air Elementary in New Brighton. Gianna is passionate about serving families whether she is volunteering with New Life Family Services in St. Paul or overseas at the ELIC conference.