And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in to her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jael went out to meet Sisera.—This makes it probable that her design was already formed, unless we suppose that Jael as a chieftainess was placed above the ordinary rules which regulate the conduct of Oriental women. As nothing is said of Heber, he may have been absent, or he may have kept out of the way in order to further his wife’s designs.
Turn in to me.—Without that special invitation Sisera would not have ventured to violate every law of Oriental propriety by entering the privileged sanctuary of the harem.
Fear not.—Treachery is far too common among Bedouin tribes to render the exhortation needless.
She covered him with a mantle.—Rather, with the tent-rug. Evidently, the moment he was satisfied that her intentions were honest the weary and unfortunate fugitive flung himself down on the ground, or on a divan, to sleep. The word used for “mantle”—semîcah (Vulg., “pallio”; Luther, “mit einan Mantel”)—occurs nowhere else; from its root it probably means “a coverlet” (LXX., epibolaion, for which the Alexandrine Codex reads derrhis, “a skin”). A large “tent-rug” of goat’s hair is usually a part of the furniture of an Arab tent.Jdg 4:18-19. Jael said unto him, Turn in, my lord — If Jael now intended to betray and deliver him to Barak, or otherwise to injure him, her addressing him in this manner was dissimulation and treachery, and is not to be excused. But it is highly probable that she had now no other intention toward him, in inviting him into her tent, than merely to afford him that shelter and protection which he sought of her, and such relief and refreshment as she would have afforded to any weary and distressed Israelite. Accordingly she covered him with a mantle, that he might take rest in sleep, and when he asked for a little water to drink, because he was thirsty, she opened a bottle of milk and gave him drink. In what she did afterward she seems to have been actuated by a divine impulse or suggestion, of which she had beforehand neither thought nor conception. God, it must be remembered, had foretold by the prophetess, not only before the battle, but before the enterprise to shake off the yoke of Jabin was undertaken, that he would deliver Sisera “into the hand of a woman,” Jdg 4:9. This method then, God, who is wise in all his ways, and holy in all his works, took to accomplish this prediction. He brought Sisera to Jael’s tent, disposed her mind to invite him in, and when he lay sunk in sleep, powerfully suggested to her mind what before was the very reverse of all her thoughts, namely, to take his life, and that in a way so very singular and unprecedented, that one can hardly suppose she would ever have thought of it, had not God put it into her mind, and impelled her to it. Bishop Patrick justly observes, “she might as well have let Sisera lie in his profound sleep till Barak took him, if she had not felt a divine power moving her to this, that the prophecy of Deborah might be fulfilled.” Dr. Waterland is of the same opinion. “It can scarce be doubted,” says he, “but that Jael had a divine direction or impulse to stir her up to this action. The enterprise was exceeding bold and hazardous, above the courage of her sex, and the resolution she took very extraordinary, and so it has the marks and tokens of its being from the extraordinary hand of God.” Certainly, as Dr. Dodd remarks, “nothing but this authority from God could warrant such a fact, which seemed a breach of hospitality, and to be attended with several other crimes; but was not so when God, the Lord of all men’s lives, ordered her to execute his sentence upon Sisera. In this view all is clear and right, and no objectors will be able to prove there was any treachery in it: for she ought to obey God rather than man; and all obligations to man cease, when brought in competition with our higher obligations toward God.” And that this is the true view of the action appears still more evident from the celebration of it by Deborah the prophetess, in a hymn or song of solemn praise and thanksgiving offered to God on the occasion of it: see Jdg 5:24-27. In Dr. Leland’s answer to Christianity as Old as the Creation, p. 2, and in Saurin’s 11th Discourse, vol. 3, the reader will find a more complete justification of this affair. Genesis 18:6, Genesis 18:10; Genesis 24:67. Fear not: this was a promise of security, and therefore she cannot be excused from dissimulation and treachery in the manner, though the substance of her act was lawful and worthy.
and said unto him, turn in, my lord; that is, into her tent: and she addresses him with the title of "lord", for the sake of honour, having been general of a large army; and not because her husband was a servant, and in subjection to him, as Abarbinel suggests:
turn in to me, fear not; she repeats the invitation, to show she was hearty and sincere, and that he had nothing to fear from her, nor in her house; and it may be at first she had no thought of doing what she afterwards did to him, it put into her heart after this:
and when he had turned in unto her in the tent; and laid himself down upon the ground, being weary:
she covered him with a mantle; either to hide him, should any search be made for him, or it may be to keep him from catching cold, being in a sweat through his flight, and being also perhaps inclined to sleep through weariness. The word for a mantle, according to Kimchi, signifies such a garment which has locks of wool on both sides of it, a sort of rug, and so very fit to cover with, and keep warm. So David de Pomis (m) describes it, as having locks and threads hanging down here and there.And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. Turn in] turn aside, cf. Jdg 19:12; Genesis 19:2-3 etc.
rug] Only hereere. The exact meaning is unknown; no help is afforded by the versions.Verse 18. - With a mantle. Rather, "with the coverlet," such as was always at hand in the nomad tent. Judges 5:19, at Taanach by the water of Megiddo.
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