GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
While some are cursed for taking no part in the battle, one person only, Jael, is blessed. Her blessing here reminds us of the seriousness of Jesus’ warning: “Many are called, few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14), which is the concluding and explanatory passage in the parable of the wedding banquet (Matt. 22:2-14). It means that although the invitation of the gospel goes throughout the world, there are many who reject it. Paul used a scene from the Olympic games: “In a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). Jude also warns: “Jesus delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5).
By calling Jael “most blessed of all tent-dwelling women,” Deborah recalls the words of Moses: “You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock-- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:3-5). She would be blessed by all. At a time when almost everyone lived in a tent, Jael would stand out among them all and would indeed be blessed by God. Although this is the last mention of her in the Bible, we can be confident that the Lord continued to be with her for the rest of her life.
25 He asked for water and she gave him milk,
In a bowl fit for noblemen she presented cheese curds. (EHV)
In later (post-Biblical) Hebrew, the word chemah is ‘butter’ or ‘buttermilk,’ artificially soured milk made “by shaking milk in the skin-bottle in which it is stored, and fermenting it with the stale milk adhering to the skin from previous processes” (Dr. Cohen p. 201).
This is a good place to mention the translation called the Evangelical Heritage Version. Formerly called “the Wartburg Project,” the EHV is a new translation worked on by a large number of WELS and ELS pastors and professors. The New Testament and Psalms will be published later this year (2017). Long-time readers of this devotion may remember that our study of Jeremiah was based on the first draft translation of that book for the EHV.
Here is a comment on this verse from EHV editor John Brug: “The prose account mentions only milk to drink, so if this poetic couplet is synonymous parallelism, the chemah is liquid enough to be drunk. If that is the case, the translation should be changed to curdled milk. But many of our readers might find cheese curds more appealing than curdled milk, so this maybe is a toss-up.”
Whatever cheesy drink / delicacy Jael gave to Sisera, it’s what she had on hand in her tent--her praiseworthy tent--as she obeyed the command of the Lord through the words of the prophetess.
26 She put her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmens’ mallet;
she struck Sisera a blow,
she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 He sank, he fell,
he lay still at her feet;
at her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell dead.
With a staccato style worthy of any English madrigal or even the prophet Nahum (cp. Nah. 3:1-4), Deborah drops her words down, down, to the floor of the tent, lower, lower to the very dust--and then with the delicacy of the poem, replays the scene as spike and hammer drive the general to his death.
Let’s compare and contrast Sisera and Jesus. I have found eight or so items on both sides, but there might be many more.
□ Both Sisera and Jesus said that they were thirsty at the time
□ Both Sisera and Jesus were offered drinks (we might even say
strange or unusual drinks) just before they died.
□ Both Sisera and Jesus were attended by women as they died.
□ Both Sisera and Jesus were wounded in the head and put to
death with hammer and nails.
□ Neither Sisera nor Jesus were put to death inside a city.
□ Both Sisera and Jesus were shown to soldiers after they died.
□ It was necessary to prove that both Sisera and Jesus had died.
□ At the deaths of both Sisera and Jesus, there is talk about
soldiers dividing up the spoils (Judges 5:30; Matt 27:35).
■ Sisera, the powerful commanding general, was fleeing from
soldiers. Jesus, the powerful, commanding and all-powerful God
with legions of angels at his command (Matt 26:53) did not flee
from the soldiers who arrested him.
■ Sisera was covered by Jael to help him sleep; Jesus was draped
with a purple robe so that the soldiers could mock him (Mark 15:20).
■ Sisera fell asleep just before he died; Jesus rebuked his disciples
for falling asleep, saying, “Get up and pray that you will not fall
into temptation” (Matthew 22:46).
■ Sisera was killed in the tent (Hebrew ohel). Jesus was taken
away from the temple (the word for tabernacle is also ohel) to
be killed outside the city.
■ Sisera died for his own sins, with his sins on his own head;
Jesus died innocently to take away the sins of the whole world.
“Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal
life” (John 3:16).
■ Sisera’s last words were a lie (Judges 4:20); but all of Jesus’ words
were true (Ps 119:160; Matthew 22:16; John 7:18; 8:46).
■ Sisera’s followers were all cut down by the sword (Jg 4:16); Jesus
did not want his disciples to carry swords at all (Luke 22:38).
■ Sisera’s mother was left waiting for her son (Judges 5:28-30),
but Jesus took care that his mother would be provided for (John
The death of God’s enemy is the just judgment of God. During the giving of the Ten Commandments God said, “I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5). That doesn’t mean that the child of a condemned sinner could not show his faith, put his trust in God, and be saved. For example, good king Josiah’s father was wicked king Amon (2 Chron 33:25). Both are in the line of the Savior (Matthew 1:10), one damned for unbelief, and one saved by faith. So we keep proclaiming God’s will so that people will recognize their sins. And we keep proclaiming Christ crucified so that people will not despair, but turn away from their sins and back to God, and be rescued by Jesus.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul's Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota