Jael

Amy Leigh Bamberg's picture

Nondescript. The daughter of no one,

married to a drifter whose family name

was her only defense in a world gone mad.

 

Weeks disguised themselves as days,

reckoned only by the periodic returns of the

drifter—drenched in stale wine and rage, declaiming

marital rites. With a yank and thrust he dashed her humanity,

dispensing of it like the delicate yarn that restrained

her raven hair. She watched it descend to the floor—

silent, soft, slow. He dressed and, turning back from the door,

demanded that she pack; they’d depart within the month.

 

She stepped outside. The downpour was unexpected,

but each drop a welcomed washing of his dankness

from her skin. Despite the drumming of thunder,

an eerie silence fell. Her thoughts drifted to her neighbors—

unknown except for their constant drone, that deafening tone of

countless souls in delusion or derision or both. She considered

their demise, a descent from conqueror to captive, and the decades-old

death warrant from the King. Then, a blaze of lightning torched the dark.

Through it she saw a man, approaching. Deprived of his armor, yet instantly

Identified as her family’s ally, the King’s general, Sisera.

 

Decorum dictated her invitation, but he could have demanded

entry. Her home, a parcel of land, a human head—all was

his to despoil. Still she dealt with him gently, disarming him with

docility, her deference playing as a duet with his dominance until

drowsiness succumbed to slumber.

 

Dashing across the room she opened the drawer, darting her gaze to

the deserter asleep on her floor. There, neatly-arrayed, were the

wooden pegs and the mallet: weaponry of her domesticity. Kneeling,

she made out his breathing: deep, undisturbed. His head was turned, just so;

his temple, still covered with sandy clay—a stain from his mortification in battle.

A shallow breath—his. A gasp—hers. Then, death’s blow. It came in

the den of a friend, not the clash of a foe. By a peg rather than sword.

At the hand of a woman named, but nondescript.

 

*Read Judges 1-3. Why are enemy tribes still in the Promised Land?

*Read Judges 4. Who had God commanded to fight and conquer the Canaanites? Is Jael an Israelite? 

Consider: Is Deborah's prophecy of Jael's act (Judg 4.9) divine sanction of it or is there greater meaning? 

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