Matthew Poole Commentary - Judges 4:21 - 4:21

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Matthew Poole Commentary - Judges 4:21 - 4:21

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

A nail of the tent; wherewith they used to fasten the tent, which consequently was long and sharp, being headed with iron: these weapons she chooseth, either,

1. Because she had no better weapons at hand, this being only the woman’s tent, where arms use not to be kept, and these people being wholly given to peace, and negligent of war, or Sisera having disarmed them before this time. Or,

2. Because she had more skill in the handling these than other weapons, being probably accustomed to fasten the tents herewith. Or,

3. Because this was very proper for his present posture, and which she knew would be effectual.

Into his temples; which is the softest part of the skull, and soonest pierced. This might seem a very bold attempt; but it must be considered that she was encouraged to it, partly, by observing that the heavens and all the elements conspired against him, as against one devoted to destruction; partly, by the fair opportunity which God’s providence put into her hands; and principally, by the secret instinct of God inciting her to it, and assuring her of success in it.

Quest. What shall we judge of this act of Jael’s? It is a difficult question, and necessary to be determined, because on the one hand there seems to be gross perfidiousness, and a horrid violation of all the laws of hospitality and friendship, and of the peace which was established between Sisera and her; and on the other side, this fact of hers is applauded and commended in Deborah’s song, Jud_5:24, &c. And some who make it their business to pick quarrels with the Holy Scriptures, from hence take occasion to question and reject their Divine authority for this very passage, because it commends an act so contrary to all humanity, and so great a breach of faith. And whereas all the pretence of their infidelity is taken from the following song, and not from this history, wherein the fact is barely related, without any reflection upon it, there are many answers given to that argument; as,

1. That there was no league of friendship between Jael and Sisera, but only a cessation of acts of hostility; of which See Poole "Jud_4:17".

2. That Deborah doth not commend Jael’s words, Jud_4:18, Turn in, my lord; fear not; in which the great strength of this objection lies; but only her action, and that artifice, that he asked water, and she gave him milk; which, if impartially examined, will be found to differ but little from that of warlike stratagems, wherein a man lays a snare for his enemy, and deceives him with pretenses of doing something which he never intends. And Sisera, though for the time he pretended to be a friend, yet was in truth a bitter and implacable enemy unto God, and all his people, and consequently to Jael herself. But these and other answers may be omitted, and this one consideration following may abundantly suffice to stop the mouths of these men. It cannot be denied that every word, or passage, or discourse which is recorded in Scripture is not divinely inspired, because some of them were uttered by the devil, and others by holy men of God, but mistaken, (the prophets themselves not always speaking by inspiration,) such as the discourse of Nathan to David, 2Sa_7:3, which God presently contradicted, 2Sa_7:4,5, &c., and several discourses of Job’s three friends, which were so far from being divinely inspired, that they were in a great degree unsound, as God himself tells them, Job_42:7,

Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. This being so, the worst that any malicious mind can infer from this place is, That this song, though indited by a good man or woman, was not divinely inspired, but only composed by a person piously-minded, and transported with joy for the deliverance of God’s people, but subject to mistake; who therefore, out of zeal to commend the happy instrument of so great a deliverance, might easily overlook the indirectness of the means by which it was accomplished, and commend that which should have been disliked. And if they further object, that it was composed by a prophetess, Deborah, and therefore must be divinely inspired; it may be replied,

1. That it is not certain what kind of prophetess Deborah was, whether extraordinary and infallible, or ordinary, and so liable to mistakes; for there were prophets of both kinds, as hath been proved above, on Jud_4:4.

2. That every expression of a true and extraordinary prophet was not divinely inspired, as is evident from Nathan’s mistake above mentioned, and from Samuel’s mistake concerning Eliab, whom he thought to be the Lord’s anointed, 1Sa_16:6.