From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

JAEL . The wife of Heber, the Kenite (  Judges 4:11;   Judges 4:17 ). The Kenites were on friendly terms both with the Israelites (  Judges 1:16 ) and with the Canaanites, to whom Jabin and his general, Sisera, belonged. On his defeat by the Israelites, Sisera fled to the tent of Jaei, a spot which was doubly secure to the fugitive, on account both of intertribal friendship and of the rules of Oriental hospitality. The act of treachery whereby Jael slew Sisera (  Judges 4:21 ) was therefore of the basest kind, according to the morals of her own time, and also to modern ideas. The praise, therefore, accorded to Jael and her deed in the Song of Deborah (  Judges 5:24-27 ) must be accounted for on the questionable moral principle that an evil deed, if productive of advantage, may be rejoiced over and commended by those who have not taken part in it. The writer of the Song of Deborah records an act which, though base, resulted in putting the seal to the Israelite victory, and thus contributed to the recovery of Israel from a ‘mighty oppression’ (  Judges 4:3 ); in the exultation over this result the woman who helped to bring it about by her act is extolled. Though the writer of the Song would probably have scorned to commit such a deed himself, he sees no incongruity in praising it for its beneficent consequences. This is one degree worse than ‘doing evil that good may come,’ for the evil itself is extolled; whereas, in the other case, it is deplored, and unwillingly acquiesced in because it is ‘necessary.’ The spirit which praises such an act as Jael’s is, in some sense, akin to that of a Jewish custom (Corban) which grew up in later days, and which received the condemnation of Christ,   Mark 7:11; in each case a contemptible act is condoned, and even extolled, because of the advantage (of one kind or another) which it brings.

In  Judges 5:6 the words ‘in the days of Jael’ create a difficulty, which can be accounted for only by regarding them, with most scholars, as a gloss. See also Barak, Deborah, Sisera.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

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."

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

Wife of Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses, who was head of an Arab clan which was established in the north of Palestine. When Sisera's army was defeated by Barak and Deborah, he left his chariot and fled on foot to the tent of Jael, whose husband was at peace with Jabin. Jael invited him into her tent, and bade him not to fear, gave him milk to drink, and covered him up. Being weary he fell asleep, and Jael with a hammer drove a tent-peg through his temples till it entered the ground.  Judges 4:17-22;  Judges 5:6,24 .

Great indignation has been expressed at this act of Jael, and even Christians have blamed her severely; but it was foretold that Jehovah would "sell Sisera into the hand of a woman;" and immediately after the deed, it is added, "So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel." And Deborah, in her song of praise, pronounced Jael to be "blessed above women." It is clear from this song that Sisera was an enemy not only of God's people, but of the Lord Himself, for she prophetically utters the words, "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord." Compare  Numbers 10:35 . Hence God empowered Jael to take his life — as He had led Joshua in some instances to destroy the women and children of the places conquered by him. Where an act is clearly the execution of God's righteous judgement, it rises altogether above what would be justifiable under ordinary circumstances of hospitality or of warfare. Of course in some instances the thing accomplished may be according to the will of God, but not the way in which it is effected.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

The wife of Heber the Kenite. Her name is a compound of Jah and El. Her history is but short, yet truly blessed. We have it  Judges 4:17-24. And the Holy Ghost hath recorded her heroic act of faith,  Judges 5:24-27. Some have wantonly traduced the character of Jael, and charged her with a breach of hospitality in slaughtering one who fled to her for protection, and especially as she had taken Sisera into her haram. And it hath been farther said, that the refreshment Jael gave him was, according to the custom of eastern nations, a pledge of friendship. But to both of these I answer, it becomes no breach of hospitality to destroy the known foes of God. Besides, Sisera asked for refreshment, and requested her to tell a lie. It was not Jael's offer, neither did she give him a promise of security. The tyranny of this man, and zeal for God's glory and his people's safety, prompted her generous mind to deliver Israel from his oppression. Add to these, the Lord's hand must have been in this transaction, as Deborah the prophetess foretold the event,  Judges 4:9. But let men say what they may, God the Holy Ghost hath honoured her memory for ever, and declared it blessed. And I cannot but conclude, that she is one of those worthies, of whom the Holy Ghost hath again spoken so hononrably in the New Testament, "who through faith subdued kingdoms." etc. ( Hebrews 11:33)

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Ja'el. (Mountain Goat). The wife of Hebe, r the Kenite, (B.C. 1316). In the headlong rout which followed the defeat of the Canaanites by Barak, at Megiddo on the plain of Esdraelon, Sisera, their general, fled to the tent of the Kenite chieftainess, at Kedesh in Naphtali, four miles northwest of Lake Merom.

He accepted Jael's invitation to enter, and she flung a mantle over him as he lay wearily on the floor. When thirst prevented sleep, and he asked for water, she brought him buttermilk in her choicest vessel. At last, with a feeling of perfect security, he feel into a deep sleep.

Then it was that Jael took one of the great wooden pins which fastened down the cords of the tent, and with one terrible blow with a mallet, dashed it through Sisera's temples deep into the earth.  Judges 5:27.

She then waited to meet the pursuing Barak, and led him into her tent that she might, in his presence, claim the glory of the deed! Many have supposed that, by this act, she fulfilled the saying of Deborah,  Judges 4:9, and hence, they have supposed that Jael was actuated, by some divine and hidden influence. But the Bible gives no hint of such an inspiration.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

Wife of Heber the Kenite, slew Sisera, general of the Canaanitish army, who had fled to her tent, which was then temporarily on the western border of the plain of Esdraelon. Jael took her opportunity, and while he was sleeping, drove a large nail or tent-pin through his temples,  Judges 4:17-23 . The life of Sisera was undoubtedly forfeited to the Israelites by the usages of war, and probably to society by his crimes. Besides this, the life or honor of Jael may have been in danger, or her feelings of hospitality may have been overpowered by a sudden impulse to avenge the oppressed Israelites, with whom she was allied by blood. The song of Deborah celebrates the act as one of justice and heroism, and as a divine judgement which, as well as the defeat of Sisera's host, was the more disgraceful to him for being wrought by a woman,  Judges 5:1;  21:25,25 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Jael ( Jâ'El ), A Wild Goat . Wife of Heber, the Kenite who slew Sisera, general of the Canaanitish army. While Sisera was sleeping in her tent Jael drove a large nail or tent-pin through his temples.  Judges 4:17-23.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Judges 4:17 Judges 5:24-27Deborah

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Judges 4:17-22 Judges 5:27

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

(Heb. Yael', יָעֵל , a wild goat or Ibex, as in  Psalms 104:18;  Job 39:1; Sept. Ι᾿Αήλ , Josephus Ι᾿Άλη ), the wife of Heber the Kenite, and the slayer of the oppressor of the Israelites ( Judges 4:17-22). B.C. 1409. Heber was the chief of a nomadic Arab clan who had separated from the rest of his tribe, and had pitched his tent under the oaks, which had, in consequence, received the name of "oaks of the wanderers" (A.V. plain of Zaanaim,  Judges 4:11), in the neighborhood of. Kedesh Naphthali. (See Heber). The tribe of Heber had maintained the quiet enjoyment of their pastures by adopting a neutral position in a troublous period. Their descent from Jethro secured them the favorable regard of the Israelites, and they were sufficiently important-to conclude a formal peace with Jabin, king of Hazor. (See Kenite).

In the headlong rout which followed the defeat of the Canaanites by Barak, Sisera, abandoning his chariot the more easily to avoid notice (comp. Homer, II. v, 20), fled unattended, and in an opposite direction from that taken b)y his army. On reaching the tents of the nomad chief, he remembered that there was peace, between his sovereign and the house of Heber, and therefore applied for the hospitality and protection to which he was thus entitled (Harmer, Obs. 1 460). "The tent of Jael" is expressly mentioned either because the harem of Heber was in a separate tent (Rosenm Ü ller, Morgenl. 3, 22), or because the Kenite himself was absent at the time. In the sacred seclusion of this almost inviolable sanctuary (Pococke, Easst, 2, 5) Sisera might well have felt himself absolutely secure from the incursions of the enemy (Calmet, Fragr. e. vo. 25); and although he intended to take refuge among the Keilites, he would not have ventured so openly to violate all idea of Oriental propriety by entering a woman's apartments (D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, s.v. Haram) had he not received Jael's express, earnest, and respectful entreaty to do so. (See Harem).

He accepted the invitation, and she flung the quilt ( הִשְּׂמַכָה , A.V. "a mantle;" evidently some part of the regular furniture of the tent) over him as he lay wearily on the floor. When thirst prevented sleep, and he asked for water, she brought him buttermilk in her choicest vessel, thus ratifying with the semblance of officious zeal the sacred bond of Eastern hospitality. Wine would have been less suitable to quench his thirst, and may possibly have been eschewed by Heber's clan ( Jeremiah 35:2). Curdled milk, according to the quotations in Harmer, is still a favorite Arab beverage, and that this is the drink intended we infer from Judges 5, 25, as well as from the direct statement of Josephus ( Γάλα Διεφθορὸς Ἤδη , Ant. 5, 5, 4), although there is no reason to suppose with Josephus and the Rabbis (D. Kimchi, Jarchi, etc.) that Jael purposely used it because of its soporific qualities (Bochart, Hieroz. 1 473). But anxiety still prevented Sisera from composing himself to rest until he had exacted a promise from his protectress that she would faithfully preserve the secret of his concealment; till at last, with a feeling of perfect security, the weary and unfortunate general resigned himself to the deep sleep of misery and fatigue. Then it was that Ja Ë l took in her left hand one of the great wooden pins (A.V. "nail") which fastened down the cords of the tent, ant( in her right hand the mallet (A.V. "a hammer") used to drive it into the ground, and, creeping up to her sleeping and confiding guest, with one terrible blow dashed it through Sisera's temples deep into the earth. With one spasm of fruitless agony, with one contortion of sudden pain, "at her feet he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell down dead" (Judges 5, 27). She then waited to meet the pursuing Barak, and led him into her tent, that she might in his presence claim the glory of the deed! (See Barak).

Many have supposed that by this act she fulfilled the saying of Deborah, that God would sell Sisera into the hand of a woman ( Judges 4:9; Josephus, Ant. 5, 5, 4), and hence they have supposed that Ja Ë l was actuated by some divine and hidden influence. But the Bible gives no hint of such an inspiration, and it is at least equally probable that Deborah' merely intended to intimate the share of the honor which would be assigned by posterity to her own exertions. If, therefore, we eliminate the still more monstrous supposition of the Rabbis that Sisera was slain by Ja Ë l because he attempted to offer her violence-the murder will appear in all its hideous atrocity. A fugitive had asked and received dakhil (or protection) at her hands-he was miserable, defeated, weary-he was the ally of her husband-he was her invited and honored guest-he was in the sanctuary of the harem-above all, he was confiding, defenseless, and asleep; yet she broke her pledged faith, violated her solemn hospitality, and murdered a trustful and unprotected slumberer. Surely we require the clearest and most positive statement that Ja Ë l was instigated to such a murder by divine suggestion. Smith. (See Hospitality).

It does not seem difficult to understand, on merely human grounds, the object of Ja Ë l in this painful transaction. Her motives seem to have been entirely prudential; and on prudential grounds the very circumstance which renders her act the more odious-the peace subsisting between the nomad chief and the king of Hazor-must to her have seemed to make it the more expedient. She saw that the Israelites had now the upper hand, and was aware that, as being in alliance with the oppressors of Israel, the camp might expect very rough treatment from the pursuing force, which would be greatly aggravated if Sisera were found sheltered within it. This calamity she sought to avert, and to place the house of Heber in a favorable position with the victorious party. She probably justified the act to herself by the consideration that, as Sisera would certainly be taken and slain, she might as well make a benefit out of his inevitable doom as incur utter ruin in the attempt to protect him. It is probable, however, that at first the woman was sincere in her proffers of Arab friendship; but the quiet sleep of the warrior gave her time to reflect how easily even her arm might rid her kindred people of the oppressor, and she was thus induced to plot against the life of her victim. It does not appear that she committed the falsehood, which she was requested by him to do, of denying the presence of any stranger if asked by a passer-by. See Kitto's Daily Bible Illustrations, ad loc.

It is much easier to explain the conduct of Ja Ë l than to account for the apparently eulogistic notice which it receives in the triumphal ode of Deborah and Barak; but the following remarks will go far to remove the difficulty: There is no doubt that Sisera would have been put to death if he had been taken alive by the Israelites. The war-usages of the time warranted such treatment, and there are numerous examples of it. They had, therefore, no regard to her private motives,' or to the particular relations between Heber and Jabin, but beheld her only as the instrument of accomplishing what was usually regarded as the final and crowning act of a great victory. The unusual circumstance that this act was performed by a woman's hand was, according to the notions of the time, so great a humiliation that it could hardly fail to be dwelt upon in contrasting the result with the proud confidence of victory which had at the outset been entertained ( Judges 5:30). Without stopping to ask when and where Deborah claims for herself any infallibility, or whether, in the passionate moment of patriotic triumph, she was likely to pause in such wild times to scrutinize the moral bearings of an act which had been so splendid a benefit to herself and her people, we may question whether any moral commendation is Directly intended. What Deborah stated was a Fact, viz. that the wives of the nomad Arabs would undoubtedly regard Ja Ë l as a public benefactress, and praise her as a popular heroine. "She certainly- was not blessed' as a pious and upright person is blessed when performing a deed which embodies the noblest principles, and which goes up as a memorial before God, but merely as one who acted a part that accomplished an important purpose of heaven. In the same sense, though in the opposite direction. Job and Jeremiah cursed the day of their birth; not that they meant to make it the proper subject of blame, but that they wished to mark their deep sense of the evil into which it had ushered them-mark it as the commencement of a life-heritage of sorrow and gloom.

In like manner, and with a closer resemblance to the case before us, the psalmist pronounces happy or blessed those who should dash the little ones of Babylon against the stones ( Psalms 137:9), which no one who understands the spirit of Hebrew poetry would ever dream of construing into a proper benediction upon the ruthless murderers of Babylon's children. as true heroes of righteousness. It merely announces, under a strong individualizing trait, the coming recompense on Babylon for the cruelties she had inflicted on Israel; her own measure should be meted back to her: and they who should be instruments of effecting it would execute a purpose of God, whether they might themselves intend it or not. Let the poetical exaltation of Ja Ë l be viewed in the light of these cognate passages, and it will be found to contain nothing at variance with the verdict which every impartial mind must be disposed to pronounce upon her conduct. It is, in reality, the work of God's judgment, through her instrumentality, that is celebrated, not her mode of carrying it into execution; and it might be as just to regard the heathen Medes and Persians as a truly pious people because they are called God's sanctified ones' to do his work of vengeance on Babylon ( Isaiah 13:3), as, from what is said in Deborah's song, to consider Ja Ë l an example of righteousness" (See Deborah).

As to the morality of the act of Ja Ë l for which she is thus applauded, although it can not fairly be justified by the usages of any time or people, yet the considerations urged by Dr. Robinson (Biblical Repos. 1831, p. 607) are of some force: "We must judge of it by the feelings of those among whom the right of avenging the blood of a relative was so strongly rooted that even Moses could not take it away. Ja Ë l was an ally by blood of the Israelitish nation; [Sisera, the general of] their chief oppressor, who had mightily oppressed them for the space of twenty years, now lay defenseless before her; and he was, moreover, one of those whom Israel was bound by the command of Jehovah to extirpate. Perhaps, too, she felt called to be the instrument of God in working out for that nation a great deliverance by thus exterminating the chieftain of their heathen oppressor. At least Israel viewed it in this light; and, in this view, we can not reproach the heroine with that as a crime which both she and Israel felt to be a deed performed in accordance with the mandate of heaven." We must, moreover, not forget the halo with which military success gilds every act in the popular eye, and that, in times of war, many things are held allowable and even commendable which would be reprobated in peace. Dr. Thomson, indeed (Land and Book, 2, 146 sq.), justifies Ja Ë l's course by the following considerations:

1. Jabin, although nominally at peace with the Kenites, had doubtless inflicted much injury upon them in common with their neighbors the Israelites, and may have been probably was especially obnoxious to Ja Ë l herself.

2. We are not to assume that Bedouin laws were of strict force among the settled Kenites.

3. Ja Ë l must have known her act would be applauded, or she would not have ventured upon it.

4. There is every reason to believe she was in full sympathy with the Israelites, not only from friendly, but also religious grounds; and the neutrality of the Kenites seems to be mentioned merely to account for Sisera's seeking her tent, although he appears to have felt himself insecure.

Nor did her promise of protection contain any warrant against violence at her hands, but only of secretion from the hostile army. (See Sisera).

The Ja Ë l mentioned in Deborah's song ( Judges 5:6)" In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Ja Ë l, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways"-has been supposed by some (e.g. Gesenius, Lex. s.v.; Dr. Robinson, Ut Supra; Furst, and others) to have been a local judge of the Israelites in the interval of anarchy between Shamgar and Jabin. It is not necessary, for this supposition, to make Ja Ë l the name of a man, for the case of Deborah shows that the place of judge might be occupied by a female. The reasons for this supposition are,

1. That the state of things described in  Judges 5:6 as existing in Ja Ë l's days, is not the state of things existing in the days of Ja Ë l. the wife of Heber, whose time was famous for the restoration of the nation to a better.

2. That the wife of a stranger would hardly have been named as marking an epoch in the history of Israel. (See Bertheau in the Exeyet. Ifandbuch, ad loc.) But there is no evidence either of such an interval or of such a judgeship; and it is, therefore, more natural to refer the name to the wife of Heber as the most prominent character of the period referred to, the recollection of her late act giving her a distinction that did not previously attach to her. The circumstance that the name Ja Ë l is Masculine in the Hebrew is of no force, as it is freely used (literally) of the female deer ( Proverbs 5:19, "roe"). (See Judges).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

jā´el ( יעל , ya‛ēl , "a wild or mountain goat," as in   Psalm 104:18; Ἰαήλ , Iaḗl ): The wife of Heber the Kenite and the slayer of Sisera ( Judges 4:17-22; 5:2-31). Jael emerges from obscurity by this single deed, and by the kindest construction can hardly be said to have reached an enviable fame. The history of this event is clear. For years Jabin the king of Canaan had oppressed Israel. For twenty years the Israelites had been subject to him, and, in largest measure, the instrument of their subjugation had been Sisera, the king's general, the "man of the iron chariots." Deborah, a prophetess of Israel, by her passion for freedom, had roused the tribes of Israel to do battle against Sisera. They defeated him at "Taanach by the waters of Megiddo," but Sisera sought in flight to save himself. He came to the "oaks of the wanderers," where the tribe of Heber lived. Here he sought, and was probably invited, to take shelter in the tent of Jael ( Judges 4:17-18 ). There are two accounts of the subsequent events - one a prose narrative ( Judges 4:19-22 ), the other a poetic one, found in Deborah's song of triumph ( Judges 5:24-27 ). The two accounts are as nearly in agreement as could be expected, considering their difference in form.

It is evident that the tribe of Heber was regarded by both parties to the struggle as being neutral. They were descendants of Jethro, and hence, had the confidence of the Israelites. Though they had suffered somewhat at the hands of the Canaanites they had made a formal contract of peace with Jabin. Naturally Sisera could turn to the tents of Heber in Kedesh-naphtali with some confidence. The current laws of hospitality gave an added element of safety. Whether Jael met Sisera and urged him to enter her tent and rest ( Judges 4:18 ), or only invited him after his appeal for refuge, the fact remains that he was her guest, was in the sanctuary of her home, and protected by the laws of hospitality: She gave him milk to drink, a mantle for covering, and apparently acquiesced in his request that she should stand guard at the tent and deny his presence to any pursuers. When sleep came to the wearied fugitive she took a "tent-pin, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the pin into his temples" ( Judges 4:21 ), and having murdered him, goes forth to meet Barak the Israelite general and claims the credit for her deed. Some critics suggest that Sisera was not asleep when murdered, and thus try to convert Jael's treachery into strategy. But to kill your guest while he is drinking the milk of hospitality is little less culpable than to murder him while asleep. There is no evidence that Sisera offered Jael any insult or violence, and but little probability that she acted under any spiritual or Divine suggestion. It is really impossible to justify Jael's act, though it is not impossible to understand it or properly to appreciate Deborah's approval of the act as found in  Judges 5:24 . The motive of Jael may have been a mixed one. She may have been a sympathizer with Israel and with the religion of Israel. But the narrative scarcely warrants the interpretation that she felt herself as one called to render "stern justice on an enemy of God" ( Expositor's Bible ). Jael was unquestionably prudential. Sisera was in flight and Barak in pursuit. Probably her sympathy was with Barak, but certainly reflection would show her that it would not be wisdom to permit Barak to find Sisera in her tent. She knew, too, that death would be Sisera's portion should he be captured - therefore she would kill him and thus cement a friendship with the conqueror.

As to Deborah's praise of Jael ( Judges 5:24 ), there is no call to think that in her hour of triumph she was either capable of or intending to appraise the moral quality of Jael's deed. Her country's enemy was dead and that too at the hand of a woman. The woman who would kill Sisera must be the friend of Israel. Deborah had no question of the propriety of meting out death to a defeated persecutor. Her times were not such as to raise this question. The method of his death mattered little to her, for all the laws of peace were abrogated in the times of war. Therefore Jael was blessed among women by all who loved Israel. Whether Deborah thought her also to be worthy of the blessing of God we may not tell. At any rate there is no need for us to try to justify the treachery of Jael in order to explain the words of Deborah.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Ja´el (wild goat), wife of Heber, the Kenite. When Sisera, the general of Jabin, had been defeated, he alighted from his chariot, hoping to escape best on foot from the hot pursuit of the victorious Israelites. On reaching the tents of the nomad chief, he remembered that there was peace between his sovereign and the house of Heber; and, therefore, applied for the hospitality and protection to which he was thus entitled. This request was very cordially granted by the wife of the absent chief, who received the vanquished warrior into the inner part of the tent, where he could not be discovered by strangers without such an intrusion as Eastern customs would not warrant. She also brought him milk to drink, when he asked only water; and then covered him from view, that he might enjoy repose the more securely. As he slept, a horrid thought occurred to Jael, which she hastened too promptly to execute. She took one of the tent nails, and with a mallet, at one fell blow, drove it through the temples of the sleeping Sisera. Soon after, Barak and his people arrived in pursuit, and were shown the lifeless body of the man they sought.

It does not seem difficult to understand the object of Jael in this painful transaction. Her motives seem to have been entirely prudential, and, on prudential grounds, the very circumstance which renders her act the more odious—the peace subsisting between the nomad chief and the King of Hazor—must, to her, have seemed to make it the more expedient. She saw that the Israelites had now the upper hand, and was aware that, as being in alliance with the oppressors of Israel, the camp might expect very rough treatment from the pursuing force; which would be greatly aggravated if Sisera were found sheltered within it. This calamity she sought to avert, and to place the house of Heber in a favorable position with the victorious party. She probably justified the act to herself, by the consideration that, as Sisera would certainly be taken and slain, she might as well make a benefit out of his inevitable doom, as incur utter ruin in the attempt to protect him. We have been grieved to see the act vindicated as authorized by the usages of ancient warfare, of rude times, and of ferocious manners. There was not warfare, but peace between the house of Heber and the prince of Hazor; and, for the rest, we will venture to affirm that there does not now, and never did exist, in any country a set of usages under which the act of Jael would be deemed right.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [13]

The Jewish matron who slew Sisera the Canaanitish captain, smiting a nail into his temples as he lay asleep in her tent, Judges iv. 18,21.