One of my favorite heroines in the Old Testament is Deborah, a prophetess people looked to for guidance during the oppressive rule of Jabin king of Canaan as recorded in the book of Judges chapter 4. His name says it all: He was a “jab-bin’” sort of guy.
“Jab, jab, jab. Ow, ow, ow.” “Get your rotten chariot off my foot!” Oh, for a ditch in which to pitch his iron war machines!
The tyrant was mean and he was well armed. But he wasn’t as smart as Deborah, who received strategy straight from God detailing how to beat him. She shared her battle plans with a man named Barak, telling him exactly where to go and who to recruit for his army.
“God says He’ll hand the jab-bin’ guy’s Army General Sisera over to you. So, go to it and do it!”
Barak hesitated. “That Sisera guy is no sissy,” he must have thought. So, he told Deborah, “I’ll only go if you go with me.” Was Barak acting like a sissy by insisting she support him?
“Sure, I’ll go with you,” Deborah said. “But because of the way you’re going about this, you won’t get any glory from it for God will hand Sisera over to a woman.”
The men in this story are nothing without the women. But that’s how it has been from the beginning.
“It’s not good for man to be alone,” the LORD had said when he made Adam, the first man (see Genesis 2:18). “I will make a helper for him.” How was Eve to help him? Well, God had given Adam a job to do, tending to the garden of Eden. He warned Adam not to eat from the knowledge of good and evil, but the serpent deceived Eve, who in turn led Adam into temptation. Could he have resisted the forbidden fruit she offered to him? Obviously, he should have, but he didn’t, and the result was tragic: a life of grueling toil for men; hard child-raising for women (in my opinion, raising them is ten times harder than giving birth); and a lifetime of slavery to sin. For they had both sinned against God and “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23). However, it is through Adam that sin was passed down to all of us, because by his disobedience all were made sinners (Romans 5:19). Through his offense, death reigned (Romans 5:17).
Yet God did not look to fallen man to solve this problem, for it is not man but the devil who had the power of death. Adam was simply the one who handed it to him when he listened to his wife and ate the forbidden fruit. She in turn had been tricked by the serpent – or rather, the devil working through the serpent. The Apostle John in Revelation 12:9 describes the devil or Satan as the old serpent who deceives the whole world.
Getting back to Deborah and Barak, the oppression under which they suffered was great. Being slaves to “Jab-bin’ Jabin” was no picnic. It was sort of like a picture of bondage to sin, with General Sisera holding the devil’s pitchfork. Through a woman who was not deceived but who believed what God had spoken to her, God called a man to do battle against this devil that the bondage might be broken, but he couldn’t do it by himself. A woman’s touch was needed.
Jael, a woman Sisera trusted, helped lure this devil to his doom. He was deceived into believing that she had his best at heart. But while her enemy was sleeping, she took a nail and crushed his head, thus bringing deliverance to the people. By way of a metaphor, she parallels the virgin Mary, who helped fulfill God’s promise given in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed (Jesus); he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The Hebrew word for “bruise,” which some translate as “crush,” carries with it the idea of breaking or overwhelming. Satan bruised Jesus’ “heel” upon a cross, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14