So what makes Jael so special? Well, to begin with, Jael was a woman.
The story of Jael begins with the oppression of the Israelite nation by the Canaanites, under the judgeship of the woman Deborah. Now, Deborah summoned Barak to tell him that God commanded him to gather 10,000 people together at Mount Tabor, where the Lord would draw out Sisera and give him into his hand. But Barak would not go up without Deborah, so she prophesied “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” So Barak and the army of Israel routed the Canaanite army, causing the commander Sisera to flee from Mount Tabor to “the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.”
Jael had Sisera turn aside to her tent, under the pretext of hiding him. She gave him some milk to drink and covered him with a rug, but when he had fallen asleep, she drove a tent peg right through his temple to the ground and he died. When Barak came, Jael met him and and showed him Sisera with a peg through his temple inside her tent. From this victory, Israel pressed harder against Jabin until they destroyed him. Later, in Judges 5 The Song of Deborah and Barak, Jael is praised:
“Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.”
Kind of gruesome, right? But look at what she was able to do. Even though Jael is a little known figure in the Bible (not to mention a woman), she played a large role in saving the Israelite nation. She proved that God can use even the most unlikely of people to do His will and save His people. Some people might look at her story and think ‘She lied to a man, told him he was safe and then killed him, and she still gets praised?’, but it just goes to show that no one truly understands the way God works, and that He can use any instrument He wants in any way that He wants. Thus her courage, and her faith in God caused her to turn on and kill a man who not only served a king, but served one that had a good relationship with her husband. And she was actually praised for it in the song of the Judge Deborah and army commander Barak, and her story written down in the Bible for all generations after her to read. Impressive.
The story of Jael is one very few people know; most know of the female judge Deborah, who told Barak victory would come at the hand of a woman, but few remember the woman who actually culminated the victory. Even though she was the most unlikely, she was the one God chose to display His power and complete control over any situation. Jael is most certainly an unlikely instrument of God’s victory, and every single one of us has the potential to be used by God to accomplish His will.