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The DEEP

Ethics

can't be compartmentalized.

Judges 4:17–24

However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.” And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.

Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’”

Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.” And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.

So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Once again we see that trusting someone completely because you don’t see them as a threat can be a fatal mistake. We aren’t told why Jael wants to kill Sisera, but he makes it easy for her to do it.

And, once again, we see women taking initiative. Jael’s husband had made peace with King Jabin, but Jael appears to not be a fan. Her name sounds a lot like the Hebrew for “The LORD is God.” That doesn’t feel like a coincidence. Sisera’s hiding in a woman’s tent is about as cowardly as it gets, so the result is fitting.

In that culture, it’s shameful to be killed by a woman.


Sisera’s dishonorable behavior is representative of his life and his culture. The claim that someone’s ethics can be “compartmentalized” is dubious in any case, but laughably suspect back then. Children were either raised on righteousness or they weren’t.

A modern society can kill ethics too. When the USSR punished people like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn for writing poetry about goodness, they were trying to obliterate ethics.

One of our tasks as Christians is to inculcate right and wrong into our children. Parents and Sunday School teachers must be ever mindful of this. We live in an era of a battle for truth. It’s not just a battle for what is true; it’s a battle for whether there is a truth at all.

This is the subject of CS Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man. It’s a must read.

http://www.samizdat.qc.ca/cosmos/philo/AbolitionofMan.pdf


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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