Image of Jael and Sisera: Jacopo Amigoni
(poem based on a story from Judges 4 and 5, Old
Deborah knew at once what was at stake.
Ha! You need me to take you by the hand?
she mocked Barack. The affiliation
of your name is to ‘lightning’, but your shame
is that you are slow to break oppression,
without female help. Such violation
of masculinity! Violation
of Israelite wombs is, in fact, at stake.
To overcome King Jabin’s oppression,
you need to muster all your troops and hand
out revenge to those charioteers: Shame
to those with a Baal affiliation.
Ignore the Hebites’ affiliation-
their Canaanite trade a violation,
supplying tin weaponry, to their great shame,
but, when the battle chips are down, I stake
my bet that they will show their true hand
and will side with us against oppression.
When Sisera, burdened with oppression,
entered Jael’s tent, her affiliation
was clear and she had a weapon to hand.
She wanted no stain of violation
on her honour; she knew what was at stake.
In war, she knew deceit would bring no shame.
Sisera knew he would be mired in shame,
just like his chariot wheels. Oppresssion
of spirit made him sleep. Jael took the stake;
struck the blow; showed her affiliation.
What of the projected violation
of Israelite women?.. Leaning her hand
on a lattice, a mother’s lined hand
steadied her, when the news of her son’s shame
arrived. (No delay through violation,
feasting, celebration of oppression.)
Now she must change her affiliation:
her own life and reputation at stake.
Jael avenged oppression. By her own hand,
she avoided violation and shame:
at stake the Kenites’ affiliation.