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Lesser-known women in the Bible

If someone were to ask you about a woman of the Bible, who comes to mind? Chances are, she wouldn’t be the wise woman from Abel or the Kenite Jael. Though unnamed or lesser known, we remember these brave women, whose contributions remind us of the promise-keeping Protector above.

In 2 Samuel 20, when Sheba the Benjamite started another revolt against king David, the commander of David’s army, Joab, pursued him to a city in the north: Abel Beth Maakah. Focused only on his goal, Joab built siege ramps and had his army bring down the city walls. Enter the wise woman from Abel. Over the walls, she attempted to reason with Joab to protect her city. ‘We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?’ (2 Samuel 20:19)

The wise woman’s words appeared to have shown Joab what he was doing to innocents, and he agreed to withdraw as soon as Sheba was handed over. ‘Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city…’ (v22)

Not only was she successfully able to negotiate with the single-minded army of the king, the wise woman was also able to urge her fellow citizens to action. Thanks to her quick thinking and brave intercession, her town was saved from unnecessary bloodshed.

When the Israelites were oppressed by the Canaanites led by Sisera, their leader and prophetess Deborah proclaimed, ‘the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ (Judges 4:9) And she wasn’t talking about herself.

Jael was a Kenite from a nomadic tribe whose survival depended on neutrality. Sisera fled on foot to Jael’s tent and asked for a drink. While he rested, Jael seized the opportunity and drove a tent peg through his temple. As Deborah’s song sums it up in Judges 5:

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women. 25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk. 26 Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.

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