Heber the Kenite

Heber the Kenite (Hebrew: חבר הקיני) was, according to the Book of Judges in the Bible, a descendant of Reuel the Midianite, the father-in-law of Moses. He had separated himself and his wife Yael from the other Kenites and pitched their tent in the plain of Zaanaim, which is near Kedesh in the tribal territory of Naphtali.[1] Heber lived approximately during the 12th century BC in the Hula Valley (anciently known as Zaanaim) of northern Israel during the time of the Israelite judges.

Heber and his household were at peace with Jabin, the king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.[2] Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, knew this and, after having been defeated by Israelite forces, he fled towards Heber's tent where he was greeted by Heber's wife Yael.[3] Yael, however, sympathized with the Israelites because of the twenty-year period of harsh oppression inflicted on them by Jabin, his commander Sisera, and his nine hundred iron chariots. After Sisera had drunk milk from a bottle which Yael had opened, he fell asleep in exhausted stupor and Yael covered him with a mantle.[4] She then drove a tent peg through his temples which nailed him to the ground, and then he died.[5]

After this heroic act, Yael was blessed by Deborah and Barak as they chanted: "Blessed above women shall Jael (Yael) the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent".[6]


  1. Judges 4:11
  2. Judges 4:17
  3. Judges 4:18
  4. Judges 4:19
  5. Judges 4:21
  6. Judges 5:24

Further reading

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