The Incredible Story of Jael in the Bible

There are many powerful women in the Bible that we read about and admire such as Esther, Ruth, Sarah, and Rebekkah who have chapters or books of the Bible dedicated to them. But for most of us, the story of Jael in the Bible may be unfamiliar. 

Her story, found in the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Judges, is closely intertwined with the story of Deborah, a mighty female judge and prophet of Israel. 

Jael is one of the lesser-known women of the Bible, but as we will see, her contribution changed the lives of a whole nation! Her action delivered the children of Israel from oppression. She was hailed as a heroine and is mentioned in the victory song of Deborah as a blessed woman.

Let’s take a deeper look at the life of Jael, her significance in history, her character, and the valuable lessons we can learn from her actions. 

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young woman holding mallet standing over dead soldier inside tent

Who Was Jael in the Bible?

Jael was the wife of Heber, a Kenite man. The Kenites were a descendant of Jethro who was the father-in-law of Moses. Jael’s husband Heber had left his people and pitched his tent by the oaks of Zaanaim near Kedesh. 

While the house of Heber had an alliance and were on friendly terms with the Canaanite king, Jael was bound to the Israelites by kinship obligations. As a Kenite woman, she was one of the tent-dwelling women of that time. She became an expert in making, pitching, and maintaining tents. She and her husband had separate tents according to the traditions of the time. 

During a time of war, Jael rose and became a hero who was responsible for the death of the commander of the Canaanite army. 

In the Song of Deborah, Jael is hailed as blessed, because of her brave actions which played a huge role in giving God’s people peace for four decades to come. 

Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

Judges 5:24

What Does the Name Jael Mean in the Bible?

The name Jael means “wild mountain goat”. These animals are well adapted to extreme winter conditions and their hooves are specially designed for climbing in steep, rocky, and slippery terrain.

Jael is a girl’s name with rich Hebrew origins. The name means someone who’s stable, steady, and able to survive in harsh environments. It refers to a woman who has great strength and courage. It signifies a woman who is resilient, determined, and fearless in the face of challenges. 

As we will see in the life of Jael, she certainly lived up to her name.

What Is the Story of Jael in the Bible?

The story of Jael in the Bible is found in Judges 4 and in Deborah’s song of victory in Judges 5. The Israelites did evil in God’s eyes, and He delivered them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan. The commander of Jabin’s army was Sisera, a cruel and powerful man who oppressed the nation of Israel for 20 years. 

When the Israelites cried to the Lord to help them, He did so through a new judge named Deborah. She was one of the wisest ladies in the Bible who sat under a palm tree solving disputes among God’s people. 

The Lord spoke to Deborah about a plan to set Israel free, so she called Barak of the tribe of Naphtali, commander of the army of Israel. Barak was to take ten thousand men to Mount Tabor, and God would lead Sisera and his 900 chariots of iron and his troops to the Kishon River where God would deliver Sisera into Israel’s hands. 

But Barak asked to go with Deborah. She agreed but prophesied that Sisera’s death would be at the hand of a woman. The army of Israel proceeded under the leadership of Deborah and Barak. God sent rain, and the chariots of the Canaanites were stuck in the mud. The army of Israel gained victory over Sisera’s troops and defeated them. 

Commander Sisera fled on foot and ended up in the camp of the friendly tribe of Heber. The house of Heber had an alliance with the Canaanite king, and based on these good terms, Sisera saw the encampment of Jael and Heber as a refuge.

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

Jael went to meet Sisera and invited him in. So Sisera went to the tent of Jael and asked for a little water. She, however, gave him a skin of milk to drink and covered him with a blanket. Sisera asked her to keep watch at the door of the tent and not tell anyone that he was inside. 

Exhausted, Sisera fell into a deep sleep. Jael then quietly approached him and drove a tent peg into his temples, fastening the peg into the ground! When Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael showed him Sisera lying dead in her tent. 

Because of Jael’s actions, the people of Israel fought harder against King Jabin of Hazor and destroyed him. After this, the Israelites had peace for 40 years. 

What Is the Significance of the Story of Jael in the Bible?

Deborah’s prophecy that Sisera would be delivered at the hands of a woman came true. Jael is mentioned extensively in Deborah’s song of victory in Judges 5. In it, Deborah mentioned that it was Jael, Barak, and herself through God’s help and direction that defeated the enemy. She also mentioned how Sisera’s mother would wait for her son’s return to no avail.  

Some of the key characteristics of Jael include her courage, faithfulness, and discernment of God’s will. She was a brave woman who showed her character and strength in a time of war. 

Jael’s deed can be likened to David’s. They both used unlikely weapons to defeat the enemy. David used a stone and sling to kill Goliath, and Jael used a tent peg and hammer. They both defeated people who were far more experienced in battle than they. 

Both saved the children of Israel from the enemy. They trusted more in God than the weapon they used or their physical strength, and they teach us to do the same. When we put our faith in God, He certainly performs miracles in our lives. 

In our own spiritual battles, like Jael killed her enemy, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we should nail sin and disobedience to the cross of Jesus Christ and live in a way that honors Him. 

In our own spiritual battles, like Jael killed her enemy, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we should nail sin and disobedience to the cross of Jesus Christ and live in a way that honors Him. 

Lessons from Jael in the Bible

Jael’s story teaches us several important lessons. Here are three of them.

1) Jael’s story teaches us to use the opportunities God gives us for His kingdom and glory.

When Sisera was in her tent, Jael had a choice to make. She used this opportunity to defeat the enemy of the people of Israel and give them the victory they needed from their oppressor. 


2) The Story of Jael in the Bible shows us that God can use anyone.

Jael’s action wasn’t the only one that resulted in the defeat of the Canaanites, but it was certainly one of them. She teaches us that God can and will use anyone He chooses to carry out His plans.

3) Jael in the Bible teaches us that God uses our experiences and skills for His glory.

As a tent dweller, Jael had experience using a tent pin and hammer to build her own tent. She wouldn’t have known that one day these skills would lead to executing a well-directed blow to the head of the commander of the Canaanite army. 

This teaches us that God uses our skills, talents, and experience for His glory. We don’t know what we are being trained and prepared for, but as we keep being faithful, the Lord will reveal His purpose and plans for us in due time. All we can do is wait and trust Him. 

mallet iron head wood handle lying on hard ground text overlay Jael in the Bible study for beginners

4) Jael’s story teaches us that God has a plan for each person.

Jael’s husband is hardly mentioned in this passage of God’s Word. Some tasks are given to only you and not your spouse. This teaches us to build our own intimate relationship with the Lord and allow Him to lead and direct our paths.

5) The story of Jael in the Bible teaches us that with God we can do the hard things.

Jael would not have known that morning what she would be called on to do in the name of the Lord and for His people that day. But with the strength God had given her, she prevailed, and Israel was liberated! With God we can do whatever is needed to fulfill His will for our lives!

The story of Jael in the Bible is an encouraging and inspiring one filled with many lessons for us to apply to our daily lives. Jael, a woman, was solely responsible for the death of Sisera, a cruel commander who had oppressed God’s people for two long decades. 

Jael rose and became a warrior in her own right. She was brave and faithful to the Lord, who used her to fulfill Deborah’s prophecy. She is definitely one of the most incredible women we find in God’s Word. 

Learn More About the Story of Jael in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into her story, you’ll want to check out this story of Jael in the Bible study that comes with free resources! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Jael

Download these Jael Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

Jael in the Bible - Free printables Bible Study Questions

Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!

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Tinashe Jaricha is a child of God, saved by His amazing grace. Her passion is to encourage moms to grow in Biblical knowledge. She shares Christian living tips and resources at Our God Is With Us.

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