The wise woman of Abel intervened into a volatile situation and saved her city from further bloodshed and destruction by courageously speaking up and reasoning with Joab. Read on to see the lessons we can glean from her story!
Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri. One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites, who gathered together and followed him. All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
“Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 20:10-22
The Wise Woman of Abel was Courageous
Scripture states that a man named Sheba was a troublemaker that stirred up disloyalty against King David. Because of what happened with Absalom, David was concerned that Sheba would cause even greater harm to Israel and so he sent Joab and his troops to pursue Sheba to take care of it.
Joab’s army was a dominating force and would surely bring destruction to the city Abel Beth Maakah. In order to avoid any further damage and loss of life, the wise woman of the city called out to Joab to reason with him.
The Wise Woman of Abel boldly reminded Joab of who they were in God’s Eyes
Covenant is important to Israel. The wise woman of Abel boldly reminded Joab that it was their city where the people of Israel would seek out answers and she declares that it is Abel Beth Maakah people who are the peaceful and faithful ones in Israel. She earnestly asks Joab why he is seeking to destroy a city that is considered a mother in Israel and part of the Lord’s Inheritance.
We can learn from her that we can stand firm in our identity in God’s Kingdom, that our position means something by the covenant that God made to us as His People.
This prompts a strong defensive answer from Joab who declares that he is only after the troublemaker, Sheba. I believe the reminder from the wise woman jarred Joab to consider what he was about to do and to consider how he was going about executing justice over just one man. He offers her a chance to hand over the man so that the city will not suffer.
The wise woman of Abel was just and had no qualms about expelling evil from her city
She promptly accepts his offer. The wise woman knew that if their city harbored evil doers, it would surely spell trouble for them and their people. She not only agrees, but promises to throw Sheba’s head from the city wall so that Joab and his troops will withdraw from the city and peace can resume.
She does as she promises, goes to the people of the city, they cut off Sheba’s head and throw it over the city wall to Joab. Joab’s army withdraws, justice is served and peace restored for the people of Abel Beth Maakah.
We can learn from the wise woman of Abel that in order to have peace, we must not tolerate evil in our midst. Sheba rose up against Israel’s king, God’s anointed. There was no way that this would end well and the wise woman knew this.
It’s important to consider the effect of any sin within our lives, our homes and the spheres of life in which we operate and live. While we cannot remove all sin from around us and we cannot control how others live their own lives, we can do our best to live righteously and to not harbor sin within our spheres of influence. In all of this, we need the leading of the Holy Spirit. May we please the Lord in all that we do.