Judges 4:18-20: Jael's Glorious Victory over Sisera, Part 1

Updated: Feb 19, 2018

Verse 18:[1] 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 (or, rug, or, blanket[2]).

[Enter unto me, סוּרָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י] Divert (withdraw [Tigurinus], turn aside [Pagnine]) to me (Munster, Junius and Tremellius).

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.

[He was covered by her with a cloak, בַּשְּׂמִיכָה] With a covering (Pagnine, Montanus), that is, a thick one (Montanus); with a mattress (Munster), blanket (Castalio), cloak (Arabic), curtain of the tent (Syriac), shaggy rug (Vatablus), amphitapa, carpet with pile on both sides (Junius and Tremellius). Ἀμφίταπος/ amphitapos to Athenæus[3] is a type of garment having shaggy hair on both sides (Drusius). With a rug. It has its etymological root from density. For סוּמְכָּה in the Chaldean and סמכה in the Arabic both mean thickness, density. And Kimchi says upon the Chaldean of this passage that גּוּנְכָּא/gunca is a thicker sort of rug, shaggy on both sides (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 1:42:748). She did this cunningly; so that she might allay suspicion of deceit, she hid him, lest one of the Hebrews should find him (Bonfrerius).

Verse 19:[4] And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened (Judg. 5:25) a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

[Give…a little water] He does not say, wine; 1. because it was known that this was not to be found among the Kenites; see Jeremiah 35; 2. because water is more agreeable to the thirsty (Bonfrerius, Menochius).

[I am very thirsty] Of course, he is exhausted from running, the swift flight, labor, and fear (Menochius).

[A skin of milk] Either, because water was not at hand (Drusius); or, so that the drink might be more pleasant (Vatablus); as evidence of greater benevolence (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide); or, so that she might induce him to sleep (Vatablus, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Martyr, Montanus’ Commentary). For milk, if it be consumed in large quantities, is wont raise vapors and fumes, which, ascending to the head, render one disposed to cold/heaviness and sleep. Hence infants sleep often; and milk is wont to be denied to the bilious and those sick with fever by Physicians, as Hippocrates testifies[5] (Lapide out of Tostatus). Perhaps with the milk she mixed opium, mandragora, etc. (Lapide).