…Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s mom told her in the hit t.v. series. But, as we discover with her over the course of the show, being a slayer of vampires is her true calling, her true identity, and as she accepts it, she learns how to become strong in it, though there are many bumps along the way.
Why is it that true identity is so threatening? Take Jael, for example, the slayer from the Old Testament, (narrated in Judges 5) the one who saved the world by slaying the commander of King Jabin’s army, Sisera, in her private tent; luring him and convincing him that she was on his side. Giving him warm milk and a nap, taking a tent stake and a hammer to his temple while he slept, so Buffy-like.
The Buffyverse would have us believing that the plot of the female heroine/slayer was a thing of modern invention. However, it’s as old as campfire tales before the written word. Jael may have been the original Buffy. She is celebrated in Hebrew literature as the foreign, exotic, nomadic woman who tricked this leader into her tent with her charm, wit and beauty. There, she steadied her prey, making him feel wanted, relaxed and safe before she went in for the kill.
The text says, “he sank, he fell, he lay at her feet.” A poem uttered by another female heroine, the prophetess/warrior Deborah, who narrated the whole thing. “Blessed is Jael,” she said, she slays the dragon, she is fearless and victorious, she is a slayer of the dark.
What I find so amazing about these not-so-hidden stories of the text is that the narrators left them in, these fearless, courageous women leaders; judges, prophets, slayers. There are plenty of situations where women are oppressed and abused in our Biblical text, and I have written about them as well, but here is a situation where women are the heroes and I celebrate that.
The point is, as much as we have tried to domesticate our Bible, it remains utterly wild and free of our projections, particularly its women. Maybe we should take a second look at what we think we know and then toss it out the window. The same window that frames the face of the mother of that slain leader of the army, waiting for him to come home full of plunder and rape and charm, waiting to praise him for his heroism like so many times before. The window that would seal us in can also set us free.
Here’s a song from my project, “Sunland” – written from Jael’s persepctive, it’s called “Steady My Prey” Enjoy!