Problem: Sisera was or wasn't killed in his sleep
Verses: Judges 4:21, Judges 5:26-27; Status: Weak

Judges 4:21 describes the death of Sisera:

But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. (ESV)

On the other hand, this is Judges 5:26-27:

She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen's mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell - dead. (ESV)

So there's a tension between the verse where he's asleep, and the verse where he "sank" and "fell". However, this doesn't appear to be a real problem, because these words are part of a song being sung by Deborah and Barak. There's no obvious reason to think such a song would be particularly accurate.

On the other hand, the quoted song is very long. It might seem reasonable that, since the Bible so extensively quotes this song, it therefore endorses the contents of the song as accurate. It might also seem that the Holy Spirit is speaking through the singers.

Perhaps a better solution is that talk of "falling" is simply a metaphor for death.

Updated: Summer 2008

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