Most Blessed of Women? Jael » Shawna R. B. Atteberry
via my Twitter (PrincessDing is my 'public' Twitter; if you'd like my personal, less bitchy Twitter, just email me) i came across this post, an interesting reading of Jael.
Just as my current feminism was informed partly by my dislike of cooking vast amounts of food on Thanksgiving, it was also created in part by the stories I read of interesting women in the Bible who either reminded me of something in myself or made me want to be something more. Leah, who was plain; Esther, who was beautiful and canny; and Jael, who drove a tent peg through Sisera's temple (who i've written about before.)
I didn't like this story because I, too, wanted to drive a spike through a man's head (though, in college, it resounded in a rather militant virgin feminist way with me) but because I liked the contrasts within it. There's Deborah, riding into battle with Barak and there's Jael, the woman alone in her tent. There's the fierce action of the battle scenes against the quiet domestic sphere of a woman's darkened tent. There's the sweaty man in his battle gear, asking for sanctuary; and there's the woman, giving him aid and some milk.
These contrasts mostly balance one another, making easily recognized binaries: battle/peace; action/inaction; man/woman; politics/domesticity. But when Jael takes the tent peg and nails Sisera to the ground, that's a pretty big disruption of balance. (Not to mention the disruption of a female envoy of God, Deborah.)
I'd sit in church and hold my mother's white leather bible on my lap and flip through until I came to this story and I'd read it again and again, and look at the illustrated plate showing Jael in her robes standing over a sleeping Sisera in his armor, with a spike in her hand. Thrilling. That female figure was to me strength, action and duty.
And, I have to admit, it also made me giggle.
The idea of a dude being nailed to the ground while he slept struck me as hilarious and I'd show it to my sister and we'd laugh and laugh until our mother pinched us to be quiet.