Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 11: Yael

Day 11: Netzach in Gevurah, Victory in Bravery
"Most blessed of women be Yael,
Wife of Heber the Kenite,
Most blessed of women in tents.
He asked for water, she offered milk;
In a princely bowl she brought him curds. 
Her [left] hand reached for the tent pin,
Her right for the workmen's hammer.
She struck Sisera, crushed his head,
Smashed and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank, lay outstretched,
At her feet he sank, lay still;
Where he sank, there he lay - destroyed." (Judges 5:24-7)
Jael and Sisera by Jacopo Amigoni, 1739
Yael is a badass; that's one of the reasons I chose Yael as my Hebrew name. According to the Tanakh, she defeated Sisera, the Canaanite army commander, by driving a tent spike through his head with such force that she drove it into the ground beneath him.

Sisera fled battle and ran to her tent to hide, because her husband was a Canaanite sympathizer and he believed that he would be safe with her. However, Yael had a mind of her own. Her brave actions defied expectations and definitively claimed victory over the Canaanite army.

Yael's actions also had consequences that we will explore when we talk about Sisera's mother on Day 24. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 10: Jezebel

Day 10: Tiferet in Gevurah, Beauty in Power
Futurama's Bender sings a folk song about a beautiful, unfaithful woman named Jezebel

The name Jezebel is largely regarded as shorthand for a beautiful, seductive, dangerous/evil woman. In the Tanakh, Jezebel, a Phoenician princess and the wife of King Ahab, was notorious for leading the Israelites into idolatry, specifically worshiping Baal (1 Kings 16:31) and killing God's prophets (1 Kings 18:4). It is noted that Ahab was worse than all the kings of Israel before him (1 Kings 16:33), a fact that is credited to Jezebel's bad influence. She is pretty much the worst.

What do we learn from Jezebel? We learn that beauty can wield a lot of power, but, like Potiphar's wife yesterday, it is a power that must be used responsibly.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 9: Potiphar's Wife

Day 9: Gevurah in Gevurah, Power in Power
You know the story from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, if not from Genesis 39. Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, ended up in Egypt, the slave of a man named Potiphar. Potiphar's wife, who is not named, wanted to sleep with Joseph, even trying to do so by force, but when he refused her, she accused him of trying to rape her and had him sent to prison.

Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Potiphar's wife is a reminder that, in the immortal words of Uncle Ben, "With great power comes great responsibility." Part of having power is using it for good.