Judaism comes with a set of beautiful morals, including everything from making the world a better place to giving and donating. Another value I recently learned is very Jewish is female empowerment.
Many tales of the Bible embody and exemplify the values implicit in the empowerment of women. These stories in particular do not represent women as weak “damsels in distress” or limit them in any way. They are the heroines and the saviors.
The story of Deborah and Yael teaches us that women make smart, strong leaders. Together, both women save Israel.
Deborah is unique in that she holds a coveted leadership position—she is a judge over the Israelites.
While Deborah is serving as a judge, there is an army of enemies, the Canaanites, headed towards her to attack the Israelites. They are being led by a man named Sisera. As directed by God, it is the mission of Deborah and Yael to defeat and kill that man.
The plan is to first have Deborah drive Sisera to Yael, using an army of her own, then to have Yael kill Sisera. Both women are empowered to take charge and save an entire nation.
Using her leadership abilities, Deborah calls upon her commander, Barak, to assemble an army of thousands of men to herd Sisera toward Yael’s tent. Barak is successful.
Yael takes Sisera into her tent. She pampers Sisera—she offers him milk when he just asks for water and even allows him to rest. She gains his trust. Then, once she has gotten him to sleep, she drives a stake through his head and kills him.
Yael and Deborah’s story is a praiseworthy example of a female-empowering Bible tale because it not only offers the two women as characters of great power but also as characters of wisdom and brains.
Yael and Deborah are not alone in their Biblical heroism. There are also the stories of Sarah, Miriam, Abigail, and many more.
In their tales, they are powerful and smart. The stories of the Bible show how women are beyond capable. Many of these women are granted unique leadership positions and end up proving their great worth.
It is important that the Bible includes the stories of the empowered heroines.
If young girls studying the Bible at Hebrew School learn these empowering stories, they will learn that they can make a difference and they deserve every opportunity that any other gender may be granted because women are equal members of society. No matter who you are or what your background is, there is something to learn from women.
This is the first part of an ongoing series which will explore women as represented in Judaism with the hope that Jewish Feminism and female empowerment take the stage as core Jewish.