JAEL, THE MOUNTAIN GOAT: Deborah, Barak and Jael, Part 2

This next study is a very personal one for me.  Let me elaborate.  I didn't know until about fourth or fifth grade that I walked "funny." I was made fun of and became very self-conscious as a young girl.  At a time in our lives where we just want to blend into our surroundings, I felt like all eyes were on me with every step I took. My walk would come to define who I was. I wouldn't find out why I walked the way I do until I was in my forties.  And the details don't matter.  What does matter is that God taught me so many things that I wouldn't have known otherwise, simply because of the way I walk.  It began to have a parallel meaning of my walk with the Lord. Also, I don't have pretty feet. It's all related.  So when I was studying Jael, I made a discovery that really spoke to my heart.  You'll see in the lesson when we see that Jael's name means "mountain goat."  These mountain goats are surefooted climbers.  Their feet are designed for climbing steep, rocky slopes.  It's sweet how the Lord brings these lessons to us in such personal ways.  Hope this study speaks to your heart as it does to mine.


Read JEWELS FROM THE JOURNEY: Deborah, Barak and Jael, Part 1.

We left off in the last lesson in Judges 4:9 where Deborah had told Barak that she would go with him to Kedesh, but that since he wouldn't go unless Deborah went with him, that the Lord would deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.

Judges 4:10-11 'And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, [fn] and Deborah went up with him.  Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh.

In studying the Bible, every detail is important.  Every word, every name, when explored can lead to fascinating discoveries.  Again, I will be using the Blue Letter Bible Outline of Biblical Usage and Strong's to show meanings of names and words.

Heber means "comrade." The root word is Cheber and means:

1. association, company, band

2. shared, association, society

3. a magician, charmer, spell

Strong's: a society, also a spell:––charmer(-ing), company, enchantment, x wide.
Kenite means "smiths."

1. a tribe from which the father-in-law of Moses was a member.

Hobab means "cherished."

1. the son of Reuel, the Midianite father-in-law of Moses, also known as Jethro, and brother-in-law of Moses. 
But notice, he had separated himself. The word is parad. (Niphal)

1. to divide, separate

Strong's: disperse, divide, be out of joint, part, scatter (abroad), separate (self), sever self, stretch, sunder.
He had pitched his tent at the terebinth tree at Zaanaim "removings", beside Kedesh "holy place".
He had removed himself from his family and from the holy place and had made friends (comrade) with the enemy.

Judges 4:12-19 'And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.  So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.  Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up!  For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand.  Has not the Lord gone out before you?"  So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.'

Notice: 'And the Lord routed (hamam "to move noisily, to confuse, discomfit, trouble, vex) Sisera and his chariots and all his army with the edge (peh "mouth") of the sword before Barak.' What a picture!  The Lord moves with the mouth of the sword!

Verse 16: 'But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; (emphasis mine) not a man was left.' This should bring to mind Ephesians 6: 17 'And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.' (emphasis mine)

Verse 17: 'However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.' Remember, Heber had made friends with Jabin, the enemy and had given him information about Barak.

And Jael went out to meet (qir'ah "encounter") Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear."  And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.  Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty."  So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.'

Jael, Ya'el, means "mountain goat".  This is not the typical billy goat that we might think of, but is from the family that includes antelopes and gazelles.  The Greek word is oreamnos which is derived from oros - mountain and amnos - lamb.  I like that.  Mountain Lamb. Mountain goats are sure footed climbers.  Their feet are well suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart.  The tips of their feet have sharp dewclaws that keep them from slipping.  They live in rough, dry mountainous terrain.  Their coats allow them to sustain winds of 100 mph.  Also, they are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and rest at night.  Does that bring to mind when the Lord said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work."  John 9:4?  Jael's name gives her an image of beauty, ruggedness and being equipped.  Ready for the job.

To understand Jael better, we need to look at Judges chapter 5: 6-9.  This chapter is the song that Deborah and Barak sang on that day: "In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways.  Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.  They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates; not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.  My heart is with the rulers of Israel who offered themselves willingly with the people.  Bless the LORD!"

What a picture that first sentence paints!  The word days is yowm "day, time, year, day (as opposed to night).  Shamgar means "sword." Anath means "answer."  The word of God is always the answer.

In the Blue Letter Bible Commentaries, Chuck Smith says this regarding the state of things at this time, "Now it is speaking really of the fear in which the people lived in these days.  They were oppressed by their enemies so bad that they wouldn't take the main roads when they wanted to go someplace.  They'd always go by the back roads because their enemies were possessing the land.  If they would take the main roads that they'd be ripped off by their enemies.  So, in getting from one place to another, so much fear that they would always by way of the back roads to get to-from one place to another...Actually, they were just disarmed, they had nothing...Actually they were so oppressed by their enemies that their enemies would go to the springs and to the places where there were water and they would just sit in the bushes with their bows and arrows.  People would come, they would just take target practice at the people.  I mean, they really were living a very tough life.  They had forsaken God.  God had forsaken them." (sic)

Back to Jael.  Judges 5: 24-27 '"Most blessed among women is Jael.  The wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed is she among women in tents.  He asked for water, she gave him milk; she brought out cream in a lordly bowl.  She stretched her hand to the tent peg, her right hand to the workman's hammer; she pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, she split and struck through his temple.  At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead."

There is so much here.  First, notice she is "most blessed among women."  This phase is used in the New Testament when Mary, the mother of Jesus visited Elizabeth.  Luke 1: 39-42 'Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered  the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth, and it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"'

We know that after the shepherds visited the Christ Child and made known to everyone what the angels had told them, that Mary "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  The Greek word ponder is symballo and means "to throw together; to bring together, to bring together in one's mind, confer with one's self."

Back to Jael. A closer look shows that she was a tent dweller.  This suggests she had no permanent dwelling, symbolic of the wilderness life.  The word tent 'ohel can also mean "covering, dwelling, tabernacle." We know as Christians that this world is not our home...we are just passing through.  Many, if not all, will experience the wilderness in our journey with the Lord.  But He tabernacles over us.  John 1: 14 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt (skenoo "to tabernacle, to dwell) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.'  Don't you just love the way His Word plays on words?

I suspect in her wilderness existence, that Jael pondered things, also.  She certainly seemed to know exactly what was going on.  She must have been a listener, an observer, and must have thought about things.  Maybe she even planned what she would do if the opportunity presented itself.  She knew who the enemy was and it wasn't her husband.  Her husband may have been used by the enemy; he may have separated himself from where he should have been, but her battle was not with him. She went out to meet the enemy and told him to turn aside to her and not to fear.  She must have been pretty calm, herself.  Maybe her heart was about to beat out of her chest, but she maintained her composure.  That's what we have to do in warfare. Sisera came inside her tent and she covered him with a blanket or rug.  Sisera was thirsty and asked for water.  Jael took his request a step further and opened up a jug of milk and gave him a drink of milk from a "lordly bowl,"  Judges 5: 25.  Though he was the enemy, she showed him the proper respect.  Remember in Jude verse 9 'Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"  Though he is the enemy, Satan is still a dignitary.  He was once God's anointed.  David was careful in his dealings with Saul, regretting that he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe, because Saul was anointed of the Lord.  We must let the Lord do the rebuking.

Then Sisera, the enemy tells Jael what to do.  She doesn't do what he says, but takes a tent peg and a hammer in her hand and went softly (secretly, silently) to him and drove the peg into his temple into the ground.  Remember from Part 1 that Satan wants us to think the enemy is our loved ones.  He wants us to agree with him. Even when he uses our loved ones to accuse us, we must not believe him, but we must know who the enemy really is. Jael didn't get hysterical. She didn't over react.  She knew who the enemy was.  She knew what she had to do and she did it.  She drove the peg right through the temple of the enemy.  That's what we have to do, too.  Drive that peg right through the temple of the enemy. We don't need to be afraid.  We are told over and over in Scripture not to be afraid.  Not to fear.  We are in battle, but the victory has already been secured, just like it was with Sisera.  He had already been given into her hands.  We just have to walk in obedience and know who the real enemy is, and drive the tent peg through his temple. And were do we last see him?  At her feet.  Because Jesus has defeated the enemy, we can walk in victory.


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