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Yael (or alternately, Jael) (Hebrew Ya'el, יעל, the Hebrew name of the Nubian Ibex) is a character mentioned in the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible, as the heroine who killed Sisera to deliver Israel from the troops of king Jabin. She was the wife of Heber the Kenite.
God told Deborah (a prophetess and leader) that she would deliver Israel from Jabin. Deborah called Barak to make up an army to lead into battle against Jabin on the plain of Esdraelon. But Barak demanded that Deborah would accompany him into the battle. Deborah agreed but prophesied that the honour of the killing of the other army's captain would be given to a woman. Jabin's army was led by Sisera (Judg. 4:2), who fled the battle after all was lost.
Yael received the fleeing Sisera at the settlement of Heber on the plain of Zaanaim. Yael welcomed him into her tent with apparent hospitality. She 'gave him milk' 'in a lordly dish'. Having drunk the refreshing beverage, he lay down and soon sank into the sleep of the weary. While he lay asleep Yael crept stealthily up to him, holding a tent peg and a mallet. She drove it through his temples with such force that it entered into the ground below. And 'at her feet he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell down dead'.
As a result of the murder of Sisera, God gave the victory to Israel. The praise given to 'blessed' Yael in the Bible, is given for her action.
This is the part of Deborah's song (Judg. 5:23-27) that refers to the death of Sisera:
- "Extolled above women be Jael,
- The wife of Heber the Kenite,
- Extolled above women in the tent.
- He asked for water, she gave him milk;
- She brought him cream in a lordly dish.
- She stretched forth her hand to the nail,
- Her right hand to the workman's hammer,
- And she smote Sisera; she crushed his head,
- She crashed through and transfixed his temples.
- At her feet he curled himself, he fell, he lay still;
- At her feet he curled himself, he fell;
- And where he curled himself, let it be, there he fell dead."
Scholars have long recognised that the Song of Deborah, on the basis of linguistic evidence (archaic biblical Hebrew), is one of the oldest parts of the Bible. A similar theme was explored in the Apocryphal Book of Judith ('lioness').
According to Jewish tradition Jael was a convert to Judaism.
Pseudo-Philo refers to Yael in the book, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum:
Now Jael took a stake in her left hand and approached him, saying, “If God will work this sign with me, I know that Sisera will fall into my hands. Behold I will throw him down on the ground from the bed on which he sleeps; and if he does not feel it, I know that he has been handed over.” And Jael took Sisera and pushed him onto the ground from the bed. But he did not feel it, because he was very groggy.
And Jael said, “Strengthen in me today, Lord, my arm on account of you and your people and those who hope in you.” And Jael took the stake and put it on his temple and struck it with a hammer.
And while he was dying, Sisera said to Jael, “Behold pain has taken hold of me, Jael, and I die like a woman.”
And Jael said to him, “Go, boast before your father in hell and tell him that you have fallen into the hands of a woman.”/p> </blockquote>
This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (April 2008)
This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.
- ↑ Charlesworth, James (1985). Pseudo-Philo, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 31.7, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 2:. Anchor Bible. pp. 1056. ISBN 0385188137.
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