Mary and Jael


#1

Judges 5:24 says (in KJV) Blessed be Jael above women.

My brother who left the Church questions that Jael is closer to God than Mary because Mary is only amoung women not above. He asked why we don’t pray to her.

I immediately thought of Mary being humble and not wanting herslef exulted. Then I thought that something may be lost in translating Hebrew and Greek, and sure enough some versions say Blessed be Jael amoung women.

Any thoughts?


#2

A quick Biblegateway search of this Judges 5:24 passage gives several translations:

“Blest among women be Jael. . .” (Douay-Rheims)
“Blest above women shall Jael. . .be” (KJV)
“Most blessed of women be Jael” (NIV)

And while this may indeed be a good cross-reference to Luke 1:28, the full context of both passages gives enough differences to refute the case presented by your brother.

  1. The full verse: “Blessed among women be Jael, blessed among tent-dwelling women.” (Judges 5:24, NAB) Here we see the literary and poetic context of what is being said about Jael. The language of the sacred author puts Jael as “blessed among women” (or “above” or “most blessed”) within the context of the “tent-dwelling women.” To illustrate the point: Suppose a coach is speaking of a player on his/her team. The coach says, “That is the best player, the best player on the whole team.” Now, certainly the coach qualified the player as the “best player,” but from the REST of the quotation are we to assume that this player is the best in the entire race of sports players or rather that the player is simply the best within the context of the team? In essence, the coach (and the sacred author) are qualifying the superlative statement within a certain context.

  2. The full verse: “Upon arriving, the angel said to her: 'Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” (Luke 1:28) Here, in the original Greek, we see much more going on than we see in the Judges passage. Whole doctrinal theses are based on this one verse. This verse is so rich with meaning! Again, CONTEXTUALLY we see this statement about Mary to be of much more importance in the whole scheme of salvation history than the similar statement made about Jael. Would your brother disagree?

  3. And while there are great and important differences between the Judges and the Luke verses, I’m sure there are similarities that should not go unrecognized. Perhaps (though I am not aware of such from my own study) Jael is a type for Mary? Perhaps the obedience and servant’s heart of Jael is a prefiguring of the perfect obedience and pure servant’s heart of the Blessed Mother? Perhaps when we read “She hammered Sisera, crushed his head; she smashed stove in his temple” (Judges 5:26), we see the same image we have in Genesis 3:15, when God foretells of how instrumental the woman’s role will be in the Messianic mission?

SO, I would not dismiss your brother’s comparison altogether, but rather I would engage him in a comprehensive study of what the context and full meaning is of each of the verses he’s citing.

It’s a start.


#3

She murdered the guy while he was in her hopsitality and she was the one who invited him in. Maybe he was even murdered in his bed/sleep. :eek: Be aware of this.

Deborah praises her, indeed, that is so! But her deeds are colorful.

As far as I know, the cause for calling her to be “among” or “above” is the Hebrew preposition “min”. It can indeed have some meaning of being better. It could also be Deborah saying she is blessed among all the tent women, however, as the poetic repetiton goes.


#4

Oh yes, I did not intend to overlook the fact that Jael was a murderess! Which should be an OBVIOUS difference between her and the Blessed Mother from the beginning.

Jael’s actions are very duplicitous. In Deborah’s canticle, we see Jael being praised for her hospitality (the obedient work of an attendant in her position). It is in this sense ONLY that we should draw similarities between Jael and the Blessed Mother’s virtue. I did not mean to be vague here.

However, while the sacred author does not give us a value judgement on the murder of Sisera, it is clear from the context that he was an enemy of Israel. With this enemy status in mind, then, we can come to see how Jael’s murder of him, from an Old Testament perspective, is an erradication of evil. It is in this sense that one may see a parallel between Jael and the woman of Genesis. Jael “crushed his head” just as the offspring of the woman is prophesied as doing to the offspring of the evil one.

It is interesting to note, too, that at the very end of Deborah’s canticle that she prays to God: “May all your enemies perish, thus O Lord! but your friends be as the sun rising in its might!” (Judges 5:31). So, in the story of Jael we see how she may be an instrument of God’s justice. By her actions, an enemy of Israel perishes. Again, it harkens back to the instrumental role of the woman (Mary) in the coming of the Christ who by his death and rising has ensured the rising of the “friends” and “sons” of God!

This was much more food for thought than I think piscotikus’ brother may have intended, eh?


#5

I am not certain if this helps but what struck me first is that Jael is praised by a human, Deborah, while Mary is praised by an angel sent by God. I would think being praised by an angel would have the greater weight as to your holiness. The bible isn’t clear if Jael was holy or if this was only Deborah’s opinion.


#6

Judith and Jael are both types of Mary in the Old Testament. Like Jael, Judith killed Holofernes, the head of the enemy of Israel, this time with a spear through his body while he lay concealed in a rug!!!

This triggered an astonishing victory of the invading army and everyone praised Judith for her role in this smashing defeat of their enemies. The episode climaxed with the city magistrate Uzziah exclaiming to Judith, "O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth" (Jud. 13:18).

Judith and Jael, both used weapons to destroy the head of the enemy and were “blessed among women”. Just as Mary used a weapon, Jesus, to strike at the head of the enemy, Satan, and is considered blessed among women!!!

Notworthy


#7

Biblical typology is kind of like sign posts or shadows pointing the way forward, telling us what to look for. We see this many times where the messiah is foreshadowed in types and shadows in the OT. For example Joseph in Genesis in may ways is a type of Christ, prefiguring one who would unjustly suffer at the hands of evil men for the good plan of God, who would raise him up one day from the dead and feed the entire known famished world with a gigantic storehouse of grain. You would never call the eucharist Josephs body and blood, because he was just a type pointing the way to Jesus. Jael similarly prefigures Mary and she (Jael) points us ahead to the more fully blessed one, of whom the living call Mother. Mary is the one whos seed would crush the head of Satan, not with a tent peg like Jael, but with a cross of wood, plunged into a placed called golgotha (the skull). Its a neat image comparison. You wouldn't revert back to the shadow of Jael when you have the substance fulfilled in Mary and her seed. I hope that helps.


#8

[quote="NotWorthy, post:6, topic:40005"]
Judith and Jael, both used weapons to destroy the head of the enemy and were "blessed among women". Just as Mary used a weapon, Jesus, to strike at the head of the enemy, Satan, and is considered blessed among women!!!

[/quote]

Shameless plug:

How can Mary crush the serpent's head? A look at Gen 3:15. :o


#9

[quote="piscotikus, post:1, topic:40005"]
Judges 5:24 says (in KJV) Blessed be Jael above women.

My brother who left the Church questions that Jael is closer to God than Mary because Mary is only amoung women not above. He asked why we don't pray to her.

I immediately thought of Mary being humble and not wanting herslef exulted. Then I thought that something may be lost in translating Hebrew and Greek, and sure enough some versions say Blessed be Jael amoung women.

Any thoughts?

[/quote]

That Jael is a Biblical type of Mary is true. However, if your friend wants to insist the term "above" must apply to Jael, then he has to admit Mary is even higher, if he knows anything about typology. NT types are always superior to their OT antetypes. Jesus is superior to his type, Adam. The New Testament bread of life is superior to the OT manna (John 6). Huge parts of the book of Hebrews are explanations of how the OT types were mere shadows of the superior NT types to come.

For what it's worth, the Hebrew language text of Judges 5:24 may not have the term "above" in it. If you look at a concordance (for example, go to BlueLetterBible and click the square blue "C" next to verse 5:24). If you then the term corresponding to the phrase "above women," you only see the term women there, so maybe the term "above" is just implicit in the translation?


#10

[quote="MarcoPolo, post:9, topic:40005"]
That Jael is a Biblical type of Mary is true. However, if your friend wants to insist the term "above" must apply to Jael, then he has to admit Mary is even higher, if he knows anything about typology. NT types are always superior to their OT antetypes. Jesus is superior to his type, Adam. The New Testament bread of life is superior to the OT manna (John 6). Huge parts of the book of Hebrews are explanations of how the OT types were mere shadows of the superior NT types to come.

For what it's worth, the Hebrew language text of Judges 5:24 may not have the term "above" in it. If you look at a concordance (for example, go to BlueLetterBible and click the square blue "C" next to verse 5:24). If you then the term corresponding to the phrase "above women," you only see the term women there, so maybe the term "above" is just implicit in the translation?

[/quote]

What you say in the bolded statement is true, but you have your terminology reversed, as you showed in the next sentence. The "shadow" in the OT is the type; the fulfillment in the NT is the antitype (not antetype).

Antitype, n. [Gr. ° of corresponding form; ° against + ° type, figure. See Type .] That of which the type is the pattern or representation; that which is represented by the type or symbol.
(from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)


#11

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