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Jacopo Amigoni 002.jpg

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.