Jael’s Story as Initial Fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 | CBE International

You are here

Jael’s Story as Initial Fulfillment of Genesis 3:15

“So the Lord God said to the serpent. . . . I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:14–15 NIV)

The promise of Gen 3:15, quoted above, is a “seed—a small promise that will eventually grow into the full-blown tree of God’s good news, the storyline of Scripture.”1 This promise—the greatest promise of all, known for centuries as the protoevangelium (“first gospel,” meaning “first [glimpse of the] gospel”)—runs through the OT as a beacon of hope.

It is clear that the Gospels’ crucifixion and resurrection accounts record the fulfillment of God’s promise in Gen 3:15. This article further argues that Jael’s story in Judg 4–5 provides a glimpse—that is, an initial symbolic fulfillment—of Gen 3:15’s “first gospel” promise. To begin making this argument, the context of the two OT narratives (Gen 3 and Judg 4–5) will first be discussed before looking more fully at the common elements between these narratives and the NT crucifixion and resurrection accounts.

Background of Genesis 3:15 and the Jael Story

Genesis 3:15

Translations of Gen 3:15 have been problematic. For example, is it “he” that will bruise or crush the Serpent’s head as the ancient Greek Septuagint has it, or “she” as the Latin Vulgate translates it, or “it” as in the King James Bible, or even “they” as in the Jewish Publication Society’s translation?2 As another example, instead of using a word that means “crushed” or “bruised,” the Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew text with “keep” or “guard.”3

The fourth-fifth century north-African theologian Augustine asks about Gen 3:15, “Enmities are not set between the serpent and the man but between the serpent and the woman. . . . Hence, why does Scripture put it this way?”4 His question is apt since Gen 3:15 refers to God setting a hostile distance between the serpent-figure and a female follower of Yahweh. Katharine Bushnell, a nineteenth-twentieth century medical missionary and biblical scholar, believed this verse to be saying that woman is not only the progenitor of the coming destroyer of Satan but also is, in her own person, Satan’s enemy.5 She explains with a quotation from British minister and theologian John Monro Gibson (1838–1921): “So here, it is not only I will put enmity; but I am putting, and will put enmity between thee and the woman. The work is begun. . . . She is the first type and representative of all the separated ones who constitute the Church of God.”6

The woman’s seed, then, are those who are separated, or holy, unto God. However, it can be further clarifying to realize that the “offspring” of the serpent-figure—as will be shown in the NT—represent those exhibiting the ordinary state of all people who are not among the “separated ones” of the seed of the woman. People are not being demonized; rather, recognition is made that there is a spiritual force of evil in the world. Additionally, it is the woman’s spiritual offspring—a male or female follower of Yahweh —who crushes the source or fountainhead7 of evil, represented by the serpent-figure. Ben Witherington notes, “even in [God’s judgment in Gen 3] there is mercy, because the seed of the woman will crush the head of evil and its source. This is poetic language and conjures up the image of evil snapping at our heels.”8 God promises to destroy the source or fountainhead of sin and death that hinders our relationship with God and prophesies of a coming rescuer who will restore humanity to God. Jesus’s action begins this new covenantal relationship between God and the separated ones of the seed of the woman, if they receive Jesus’s action for them through faith. The rescuer destroys what keeps us from God—sin, death, and the devil—and in the new covenant proves God’s renewal of his faithful love for humanity.

Deborah and Barak

In the Hebrew structuring of the biblical canon, the book of Judges is among the Prophets. Thus, Deborah’s prophecy in Judg 4:10 that, “the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman,” and her prophetic song in Judg 5 exhibit several of the same features as the other prophets of the Lord. Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum see seven features of the prophets, of which the following three are most pertinent to Deborah’s ministry: “The prophets are God’s authorized spokesmen [sic],” “the prophets speak in the context of the Law-covenant, which prescribed blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience,” and “the prophets share the same message of judgment and salvation . . . [but] each prophetic voice is like a different ride in an amusement park, with its own turns and twists, scenes and surprises.”9

In Judg 4 and 5, Israel is experiencing immense oppression and a widespread lack of safety. Daniel Block recognizes, as one example of economic oppression, that “Israelite caravaneers have ceased to travel on their normal trade routes for fear of attack and/or extortionary tolls demanded at crossroads by the Canaanite oppressors.”10 This situation gives rise to their cry for God’s help.

As for the Song of Deborah in Judg 5, Trent Butler notes that some see it as being widely distributed and possibly used liturgically.11 According to Arthur Cundall and Leon Morris, “In all probability it was included in one of the anthologies of poetry which existed in ancient Israel.”12 They go on to note, “The unit of Hebrew poetry is normally not the single line but the couplet. . . . the association is one of thought not of sound, as in traditional English poetry; a mental picture is produced which is answered by another supplementary word-picture.”13 Since imagery was the important foundation within the structure of poetry itself, the similarity of imagery in Deborah’s Song and Gen 3 is key.

Block summarizes by stating that, “Most obviously, the ideal Israel is portrayed as the people of Yahweh, engaged in his service, committed to him in covenant love, and called upon to bless and praise him (vv. 2–3).”14 This hymn was clearly crucial to Israel’s identity and it can be supposed that it was therefore still well-known throughout NT times.

Regarding Barak, many scholars find him spineless; however, the NT has a different opinion: he is among those listed in Heb 11 as having great faith in God. Butler notes, “Deborah and Barak sing together in that day, though the feminine singular verb form gives precedence to Deborah but gives no indication of a parody on General Barak.”15 Though often slandered as if he was too timid, it should instead be realized that Barak recognizes the Lord’s presence with Deborah when he says, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judg 4:8 NIV). This is similar to the statements Moses makes to God: “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. . . . If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exod 33:12, 15 NIV). As Block accurately notes, “The request to be accompanied by the prophet is a plea for the presence of God.”16 Ron Pierce goes further, saying, “Barak acts as a man of faith who is willing to obey God’s messenger, even if his personal glory is not part of the reward.”17

Jael's Story

If Jael is the ultimate human deliverer in the book of Judges, “Israel is now identified through the actions and attitudes of their fringe members, not their core constituency,” says Butler.18 But who is Jael?

If Jael is married to Heber the Kenite (Judg 4:17),19 then she—like Abigail in 1 Sam 25—works against her husband, who has foolishly aligned himself with King Jabin. Furthermore, Jael’s motivation to kill Sisera is not given. Jael herself is a non-Israelite woman who has chosen Israel’s side and become their unexpected heroine, like Ruth and Rahab. According to K. Lawson Younger, “Jael would not typically be expected to get involved. Not only is she unrelated to the warring parties, but normally would be about her pacific feminine, tent-dwelling duties. But she has risked everything to execute the enemy of God and to aid God’s people.”20 He goes on to state, “The poem paints Jael in terms of the head-smashing, victorious monarch. Consequently, her praiseworthy deed can be described in terms of the victorious conquering leader. . . .”21 Jael as a “victorious monarch” would align well with Jesus embodying her story by fulfilling the Gen 3:15 promise and victoriously crushing the fountainhead of the Serpent.

Lastly, Zech 10:4 may allude to Jael’s victory: “Out of them shall come the cornerstone, out of them the tent peg, out of them the battle bow, out of them every commander” (NRSV, italics added). The tent peg imagery from this verse may not appear clearly in the NT, but there are many NT allusions to Jesus as the cornerstone.22 N. T. Wright, in Jesus and the Victory of God, contends that Zechariah, particularly chs. 9–14, had a great influence on Jesus: “Israel are like sheep without a shepherd (10:2); they have shepherds but they are not doing their job, and will be punished (10:3) as part of the divine plan for the return from exile (10:6–12).”23 Thus, it is not unlikely that Jesus also saw himself as God’s “tent peg” from Zech 10:4.

Common Elements of Genesis 3 and the Jael Story

“She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.” (Judg 5:26b NIV)

There are many similarities between Gen 3 and the Jael story. At least six types of connection between Gen 3 and the Jael story can be identified: a common formal structure, common motifs, doublets, variant accounts, comments that explain a previous text, and indirect allusions.24 Therefore, Judg 5 may be an initial fulfillment and expansion upon the protoevangelium (“first gospel”), either its written form in Gen 3 or the oral tradition preceding it. The Gen 3 narrative, the Jael story, and allusions to both of them in the Gospels share many obvious common elements: a poetry format, a serpent-figure, deception, mothers, seed/offspring of a woman, seed/offspring of a Serpent, striking/crushing a head, a skull, enmity between the Serpent and its spiritual children and a woman and her spiritual children, and a curse and blessing. These correspondences will be discussed in three groupings below.

A Mother—as "Woman"—and Her Spiritual Children

Genesis 3:15, the Jael story, and the Gospels all comment on female characters being specifically a “woman.” Pierce builds on this fact:

Deborah is introduced dramatically as the story’s main character with a string of seven consecutive, grammatically feminine words: her proper name followed by three paired terms. She is “Deborah,” (1) a “woman, a prophet” (fem. nouns), (2) “a woman of light/fire” (fem. nouns), and (3) “she herself, she is judging” (fem. pronoun, fem. participle).25

The Judges author is clearly being emphatic about Deborah being a woman. Jael’s blessing in Judg 5:24 similarly includes two references to her as a woman, as does the dialogue of chauvinistic Abimelech’s desire to not be killed by “a woman” in Judg 9. Correspondingly, concerning Jesus calling his mother “woman,” the editors of Mary in the New Testament state, “There is no precedent in Hebrew or, to the best of our knowledge, in Greek, for a son to address his mother thus; and so most scholars have detected a special significance in the term.”26 They go on to propose that the two scenes in the Gospel of John “in which Mary is addressed as ‘Woman’ may be seen as a reenactment of the Eve motif with a happier ending.”27 Moreover, since Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman (John 4:21) and Mary Magdalene (John 20:13) in the same way, it can also be argued that Jesus alludes to the Jael story and his Gen 3:15 mission to deliver the world from evil throughout his ministry, as will be further developed below.28

Genesis 3:15, Judg 5:24, and Luke 1:42b (“blessed are you [Mary] among women”)—each foreshadowing for Luke his story of the atonement—also have much in common.29 Younger recognizes Luke’s link to Jael’s story, saying, “The unrestrained praise of Jael is analogous to that given to Mary in Luke 1:42.”30 J. Clinton McCann claims:

That Jael, like the later monarchs, is portrayed as an embodiment of God’s will for justice and righteousness explains why she is called “most blessed of women” (v. 24). This designation anticipates Elizabeth’s proclamation to Mary—who has been told that she will bear a royal child (“Son of God” in Luke 1:35 is a royal title; see Ps. 2:7)—“Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42). Not coincidentally, Mary proceeds immediately to sing a song, the Magnificat, which, like the Song of Deborah and Barak, celebrates God’s defeat of oppressors [italics added].31

This blessing then causes McCann to liken Jael to Mary, for they are both chosen by God to defeat God’s enemy, establishing justice and righteousness. Secondly, like Deborah, Elizabeth can also be seen as a type of “mother in Israel” (Judg 5:7) since she was in the lineage of Aaron and the wife of the priest Zechariah, as well as being the mother of John the Baptist. Deborah and Mary both echo the spiritual mother of the offspring of Gen 3:15. Thirdly, like Deborah, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, also prophesies about Mary and the “mother of my Lord.” In addition, the Luke 1:42b allusion to Judg 5:24 and Gen 3:15 functions to identify Jesus’s lineage with the Woman’s line over the Serpent’s line and foreshadows that the Gen 3:15 promise will be fulfilled and that the offspring of this woman shall be the one to strike the head of the enemy. R. K. McGregor Wright goes further and states, “The whole point of the virginal conception and birth was that Christ was the ‘seed’ of both God and Mary (Gen 3:15; Is 53:10).”32 Lastly, John Goldingay also observes that both Deborah and Jael act as independent women,33 which can also be said of Elizabeth in her prophesying and Mary in her conception, given that neither consulted with men beforehand.

A Serpent-figure and His Spiritual Children

Regarding Gen 3:15, Bushnell writes, “Not only is it prophesied that her seed should be at enmity with Satan, but woman herself shall wage war with Satan.”34 This hostility between the serpent-figure and women can be specifically seen in the hostility between Sisera and Jael and between chauvinistic Abimelech and women. Sisera, analogously, is a spiritual “offspring” of King Jabin, who had cruelly oppressed Israel, a region Deborah was leading, for twenty years (Judg 4:3). One distinct conclusion of Judg 9 is that offspring of the Serpent think less of women than they do of men. Abimelech has a sexist attitude, in contrast to Israel, which was blessed with women leaders in their society as judges and in their religion as prophets. This revelation can be similarly correlated in the Gospels with the male priesthood of Israel and their antagonism with Jesus.

Jesus also frequently identifies the Serpent’s offspring when he refers to Pharisees, Sadducees, crowds, or others as a “brood of vipers”—“offspring of serpents” in other words—or something similar, like “from your father the devil” (see Matt 3:7, 12:34, 13:37–39, 23:33; Luke 3:7; John 8:44; Acts 13:10; and 1 John 3:8–10; cf. with his seed in Mark 16:18; Luke 10:19; Rom 3:13). Moreover, as Michael Green makes clear, Jesus saw his whole life as fighting against Satan. “He saw the whole of his ministry as a conflict with Satan. He saw his death as the supreme battle with the evil one.”35 Jesus realized that he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and that Satan not only snatched away the good news from those listening but also sowed tares in God’s field and usurped God’s place of leadership in the world. Jesus also taught his disciples to pray for deliverance from the evil one and saw himself as the one who needed to bind the strong man (Matt 12:29; Mark 3:27). Green notes, “rather than compromise with the subtle and evil force, Jesus knows that he must oppose him to the bitter end. Hence the way of the cross.”36 This was the only way Satan could finally be defeated.

James Hamilton finds an allusion to Gen 3:15 in Luke 10:19, which he translates, “Behold, I have given to you the authority to tread upon snakes and scorpions, and upon all the power of the one who is at enmity.”37 Here in Luke 10, Jesus’s spiritual offspring, the seventy whom he sent out, have authority over the Serpent, who is at enmity with them. In this Gospel story, Jesus is alluding to more than Gen 3:15. Jesus states, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” in reference to the ministry of his seventy (Luke 10:18 NIV, italics added). Therefore, Luke 10:18’s reference to Satan’s falling may intentionally echo the serpent-figure Sisera falling at the feet of Jael: “At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead” (Judg 5:27 NIV). Thus Luke 10:18, in addition to the Luke 1:42b allusion explained above, may provide an additional connection between Jael’s story and Christ’s saving work. Luke 10 also correlates the work of Jesus’s followers (the seventy) with the work of Jesus himself.

McCann claims that the defeat of King Jabin and Sisera in Judg 4 and 5 is similar to the exodus, which brought renewal of creation:

The episode is not merely a local action against Jabin and Sisera; rather, it is part of a larger trajectory that begins with creation, includes the exodus, and later will include God’s defeat of Israel itself when its kings turn out to be oppressors like Pharaoh, Jabin, and Sisera. The shape and movement of the Book of Judges, along with the larger canonical context, reveal that God shows no partiality to Israel as such. Rather, God is partial to justice and righteousness, which means that God opposes oppressors.38

Oppression is at odds with the new creation God desires. Similarly, when the Scribes and Pharisees bring oppression, God stands against them and brings liberation.

A Curse on the Enemy and Blessing on One who Crushes the Enemy of the Lord

Phyllis Trible recognizes in Gen 3, “When he was enticing the couple to disobey, the serpent spoke specifically to the woman but, through the use of plural pronouns, included the man also. Accordingly, the curse upon this animal continues with an explicit reference to the woman that also involves the man (3:15).” Trible sees that the Serpent, “having spoken to the woman as the representative of the human couple . . . now lives in hostility with the woman and her offspring.”39 In other words, the Serpent dealt with the woman as the representative of both humans, and God took the same approach when he cursed the Serpent: his people had “the woman” as their representative.

This curse and blessing theme from Gen 3 continues in Judg 5:23–24. The town of Meroz, which has not come to help Yahweh, is cursed, while Jael, who did help Yahweh, is blessed. According to Younger, “The repetition of the imperative ‘curse’ and the reintroduction of the divine name, Yahweh, disclose the poet’s point of view clearly: Every soldier, battalion, or community that commits himself/itself to warfare is helping Yahweh; all are needed.”40 Butler adds, “Meroz is central to the repeated theme of blessing on freewill volunteering, battle participation, and personal initiative to defeat the enemy contrasted to cursing on those who do not participate and thus show love for Yahweh.”41 Volunteerism is key to the blessing, even if it comes from non-Israelite women such as Jael.

Therefore, intertextual connections between Gen 3:14–15 and Judg 5:23–24 can be observed. There is a curse upon Meroz, as there is the curse upon the Serpent in Gen 3:14. There is also a blessing upon Jael, who is an unstated spiritual offspring of Deborah, as there is an implied blessing upon the woman’s offspring in Gen 3:15 in the promise to crush the Serpent’s head. A repetition of this curse and blessing in Judg 5:31 can also be seen as another allusion to Gen 3:15. God’s enemies are like Meroz, and God’s friends are like Jael.

Within the curse and blessing of Judg 5:23–24, John Ronning also perceives a type of reverse fall narrative in Judg 4, stating:

As predicted in the curse, we see the introduction of enmity between the seed of the woman (here also a woman) and the seed of the serpent, Sisera. Deborah calls Jael . . . “blessed among women” (Judg 5:24), which in the immediate context is a contrast to the cursed inhabitants of Meroz who would not join the battle (Judg 5:23), but also recalls (in contrast) the beginning of the curse on the serpent . . . “cursed . . . above all beasts” (Gen 3:14). The contrast between Jael and the inhabitants of Meroz suggests that Jael acted from spiritual motives, thus as a true seed of the woman. In Genesis 3 the serpent deceived the woman to bring about her downfall; here the woman deceives the serpent’s seed to bring about his downfall.42

Jael does succeed where Eve failed; she disregards the serpent-figure’s instructions and kills him instead. In Deborah’s Song, Jael is the godly hero. She was not deceived. Younger declares, “With intensity equal to that of the curse of Meroz, blessing is proclaimed for Jael. In fact, she is made the receiving end of blessing, which is given to only one other character in the poem, God himself!”43 Therefore, it can be argued that Jael receives a blessing because she fulfills the Gen 1:28 joint vocation to properly steward creation: Jael exercised her dominion over the Serpent in contrast to Eve (and Adam), who did not.

Implications

The implications of this study on missions are sweeping. Paradoxically, Green notes, “doubt about the existence of a malign focus of evil is to be found, by and large, only in Christian lands.”44 Animism, Islam, and Hinduism acknowledge a great enemy. The conclusions of this study then could have immense influence upon mission to those in non-Western cultures by clearly showing how Jesus has defeated this evil force at the Cross.

For cultures and religions that are patriarchal, this study’s elevation of gender equality could also have far-reaching effects. God’s action at the Cross brings humanity back into the Edenic blessing and joint-vocation of Gen 1:28, where women and men are allies. The OT’s male and female storylines—threads of prefigured redemption—are brought together at the Cross into Christ, the Great Reconciliation. The Kenite Jael, a non-Israelite, being the hero shows that neither racism nor sexism belong in either God’s house or society in general. One’s gender or ethnicity neither privileges nor precludes a person from serving in any way in the family of God—a new day has begun in Christ.

Within the Jael story, too, there is a recognition that in every conflict of war, women are at enhanced risk of being brutalized, raped, and trafficked. Women, as the Serpent’s great adversary, have suffered a disproportionate amount of the world’s injustice. And Jesus gave his life standing against this evil. Yet he does not view women as victims; he sees and encourages their agency. Women are essential to God’s plan of redemption, as Deborah sings, “until I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel” (Judg 5:7). Oppression reigned until she arose. As Bushnell recognizes, there are some problems in the world that only Christ’s women can solve.45 In her biography of Bushnell, Kristin Kobes Du Mez states, “Despite the disappointments [Bushnell] had encountered, however, she remained certain that Christ was ‘the great emancipator of women,’ and that ‘if women were given their God-ordained place in the church, Christendom would expand in breadth and height of influence.’”46 Proving this, God uses Deborah to bring his justice and righteousness. Thereby God puts his endorsement and affirmation upon the New Creation’s religious leadership that includes Deborahs and Jaels, Elizabeths and Marys.

So why has the church tended to disregard the stories of women such as Deborah and Jael in Scripture? Goldingay believes:

It is not merely that the Church has tended to prefer men’s stories in Scripture, though that is so. It is that the violence of stories such as [Deborah’s and Jael’s], or Ehud’s and Shamgar’s, makes us feel uncomfortable. It places us with the fact of violence within ourselves, which we prefer to avoid. But it also seems at tension with the sense expressed elsewhere in Scripture that the solution to violence issues from letting it be done to oneself, not doing it.47

The implications of this study also show that a virtuous woman looks like the strong, resourceful, and courageous Jael. Compassion, action for another’s plight and the courage to live out of one’s comfort zone are at the core of the Jael story. Jael did not need to become involved with Israel’s struggle with King Jabin, for her tribe had a covenant with him. Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, she risked her neck to heal a problem not her own. “The Bible, from its opening chapters, pictures woman as allied with God, in the eventual salvation of the world,” states Bushnell.48 Jael’s actions are a window into heaven, through which one can see what perfect life and worship are like there. Jael represents the people of God; those who love God and God’s ways.

Conclusion

This article has shown that the Gen 3:15 Edenic covenant began in the Garden with the woman. It was then initially fulfilled with Deborah and Jael in Judg 4 and 5. Indeed, the Jael story actualizes the Gen 3:15 promise.

There are God-designs for humanity within Jael’s story that link with the protoevangelium (“first gospel”) of Gen 3:15 and illuminate Christ to us. God enacted the Good News in the story of Jael so that we would recognize it when it came to us in the Gospel accounts.

The hero here is the Kenite Jael, a foreigner. She is not known as a mother, or even as a wife; it is not her relationship status that is emphasized—only her singular action. She stands up for God’s interests and God’s glory. Likewise, the blessing of the gospel has a universal scope and is offered to all ethnicities. And God’s blessings come upon cultures with women as leaders.

Jael and other women and men like her love God and courageously govern creation as God’s image-bearers, especially subduing the evil emanating from “the sliest of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made” (Gen 3:1).49 They reflect God’s rule and thus exercise their mandate to govern together—a joint-vocation of male and female to steward the earth as God’s representatives. They are the agents of the New Creation. As the third-century biblical scholar Origen of Alexandria saw it, God uses the Cross as the tent peg by which God’s people destroy his enemy.50 They crush the fountainhead of evil, especially witnessed in oppression and lack of safety. Salvation comes through rescue and brings a renewal of creation. In this they are following Jesus, their representative head and offspring of the woman. Christ spent his life defeating evil and bringing rescue. We, too, can be God’s tent peg as we live in him.

Notes

This article is a truncated version of ch. 2 of the author’s 2018 book, The Cross and the Tent Peg: How Jesus Retraced Jael’s Story, which shows twelve ways in which the Gospels’ crucifixion and resurrection narratives closely follow the narrative sequence of events of Jael’s story.

1. Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum, Christ from Beginning to End: How the Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ (Zondervan, 2018) 95.

2. Jewish Publication Society, The Holy Scriptures according to the Masoretic Text (1917) and The Jewish Bible: Tanakh (1985).

3. LXX: autos sou tērēsei kephalēn kai su tērēseis autou pternan.

4. Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans 2.18.28.

5. Katharine C. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women: One Hundred Bible Studies on Woman’s Place in the Church and Home (CBE International, 2003) 43.

6. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, 36, quoting Gibson’s The Age Before Moses (Randolph, 1879) 122.

7. Gilbert Bilezikian, referencing 1 Cor 11:3, says, “head has a meaning other than ‘authority’ in this passage, and it is a meaning that applies to a man and not to woman. The use of head as ‘fountainhead’ or ‘supplier of life’ resolves this difficulty, since Christ can be said to be the source of man’s life, as man is the source of woman’s life.” Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, 3rd ed. (Baker Academic, 2006) 227.

8. Ben Witherington III, Torah Old and New: Exegesis, Intertextuality, and Hermeneutics (Fortress, 2018) 51.

9. Hunter and Wellum, Christ from Beginning to End, 173–75.

10. Daniel Block, Judges, Ruth, NAC 7 (Broadman & Holman, 1999) 225.

11. Trent Butler, Judges (Zondervan, 2009) 116n1.a; Emanuel Tov, “The Textual History of the Song of Deborah in the a Text of the LXX,” VT 28/2 (1978) 225.

12. A. E. Cundall and Leon Morris, Judges and Ruth: An Introduction and Commentary (InterVarsity, 1968) 91.

13. Cundall, Judges and Ruth, 92.

14. Block, Judges, Ruth, 216.

15. Butler, Judges, 136.

16. Block, Judges, Ruth, 199.

17. Ronald W. Pierce, “Deborah: Troublesome Woman or Woman of Valor?,” Priscilla Papers 32/2 (Spring 2018) 4.

18. Butler, Judges, 154.

19. Her marital status is disputed. See John Goldingay, “Motherhood, Machismo, and the Purpose of Yahweh in Judges 4–5,” Anvil 12/1 (1995) 29. Ron Pierce also notes the understanding of heber as a common collective noun by A. Malmat, J. A. Soggin, and Johannna W. H. Bos: Pierce, “Deborah,” 7n23.

20. K. Lawson Younger Jr., Judges and Ruth (Zondervan, 2002) 154.

21. Younger, Judges and Ruth, 155.

22. Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10, 11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:4, 6. That the LXX, unlike the Hebrew text, omits “the tent peg” from Zech 10:4 is likely why the several NT references to “the cornerstone” do not also refer to “the tent peg.”

23. N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Fortress, 1996) 586. Cf. John 19:37/Zech 12:10 and John 12:15/Zech 9:9.

24. Cynthia Edenburg recognizes seven literary features that signify possible intertextuality: a common formal structure, common motifs, doublets, variant accounts, comments that explain or actualize a previous text, indirect allusions, and direct quotations. The intertextuality between Gen 3 and the Jael story exhibits all of these literary features except direct quotations. Edenburg, “How (Not) to Murder a King: Variations on a Theme in 1 Sam 24; 26,” SJOT 12/1 (1998) 64–71.

25. Pierce, “Deborah,” 3.

26. Raymond E. Brown, et al., eds., Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (Paulist, 1978) 188.

27. Brown, Mary in the New Testament, 190.

28. See Matt 15:28, 11:11; Luke 7:28, 13:12; 22:57; John 2:4, 4:21, 8:10, 19:26, 20:13.

29. “BHS [Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia] says ‘the wife of Heber the Kenite’ is an addition from 4:17,” which would make the resemblance to Judg 5:24 in Luke 1:42 even stronger (Butler, Judges, 121n24.a). Note also that, in the deuterocanonical novelette Judith, Uzziah the high priest declares Judith “blessed by the Most High God above all other women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies” (Judith 13:18 NRSV).

30. Younger, Judges and Ruth, 154.

31. J. Clinton McCann, Judges (Westminster John Knox, 2011) 58.

32. R. K. McGregor Wright, “God, Metaphor and Gender,” in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy, 2nd ed., ed. Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, and Gordon D. Fee (IVP Academic, 2005) 297.

33. Goldingay, “Motherhood, Machismo,” 29.

34. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, 350.

35. Michael Green, I Believe in Satan’s Downfall, 3rd ed. (Hodder and Stoughton, 1995) 28.

36. Green, I Believe in Satan’s Downfall, 26.

37. James M. Hamilton, “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3: 15,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10/2 (2006) 42.

38. McCann, Judges, 60.

39. Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Fortress, 1978) 124–25.

40. Younger, Judges and Ruth, 153.

41. Butler, Judges, 154.

42. John Ronning, “The Curse on the Serpent (Genesis 3:15) in Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics” (PhD diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1997) 294.

43. Younger, Judges and Ruth, 154.

44. Green, I Believe in Satan’s Downfall, 17.

45. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, 6.

46. Kristin Kobes Du Mez, A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism (Oxford University Press, 2015) 180.

47. Goldingay, “Motherhood, Machismo,” 23, 29.

48. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, 33.

49. This is Phyllis Trible’s translation. Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 106.

50. Origen, Homilies on Judges, 5.5.1: “[Jael] killed [Sisera] with a stake, then, which is to say that she overthrew him by the power and cunning of the wood of the cross.” See J. R. Franke, ed., Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel (InterVarsity, 2005) 117.

Join the Cause

CBE advances the gospel by equipping Christians to use their God-given talents in leadership and service regardless of gender, ethnicity, or class. Together with supporters and ministry partners from 100 denominations and 65 countries, CBE works to inspire and mobilize women and men with the Bible’s call to lead and serve as equals.

Learn More