What’s Up with the Right Hand?

Uh-oh, she thought, as the lone, distant shape she was watching from her tent’s door advanced close enough for her to recognize him as King Jabin’s formidable army general. Ha! Hunched over, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other, the slice-and-dice commandant was now looking  like something the cat dragged in.

Um, this could mean only one thing. The battle hadn’t  gone his way. But what to do? Her husband was nowhere to be found. She must think fast.

Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket (Judges 4:18 NIV).

When the bedraggled warrior requested water, Jael brought him curdled goat’s milk instead and waited expectedly for her next move.

While he was sleeping from exhaustion, Heber’s wife Jael took a tent peg, grabbed a hammer, and went silently to Sisera. She hammered the peg into his temple and drove it into the ground, and he died (Judges 4:21 HCSB).Jael

After the ultimate decimation of Sisera’s army, Jael was praised that “she reached for a tent peg, her right hand, for a workman’s mallet” (Judges 5:26 HCSB). It is striking that “right hand” is used in the victory song but not in the narrative. Why? Because when the event was preserved in poetry, there was more meaning at stake than the mere mention of a specific side of the body.

Have you ever heard such phrases as “right hand of fellowship,” right hand of the Lord,” “right hand of power, and “right hand of righteousness”? All of these are grounded in the Bible but do not refer to human anatomy.

When it’s robed in symbolism, “right hand” represents strength and honor. David said as much in one of his songs: “I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 HCSB).


4 thoughts on “What’s Up with the Right Hand?

  1. I do enjoy these nuggets of wisdom and details from Scriptures you bring.

    I have always been fascinated by this account. Men fight in wars, but our hands I always envision them as rocking our babies, caressing our loved ones. But it’s clear that her actions were sanctioned by our Lord. She must have relied on Him to muster all that courage.


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