The Woman Who Ruined Her Son

By on February 1, 2015

By Carole Towriss –

Arishot sat by the window, her foot bouncing rapidly. The battle should have been over for hours. Her son would be coming home any time now. Arriving to the glory, accolades, honor he always received—and deserved.

“You, servant!” She grabbed a helpless girl as she slunk by. “Do we have enough wine? Enough food? Lamb? Bread? Cheese? Dried dates?”

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“Y-yes, mistress. Everything is prepared.”

Arishot’s heart swelled with pride as she thought of the reward the king would give Sisera for yet another glorious battle won. More plunder to decorate their luxurious home. More fame for her magnificent son, the general.

Her gaze returned to the window. “He should be here by now. What do you suppose could be keeping him? He left yesterday before dawn.” She wrung her hands, careful to keep the gesture hidden from the servants. “Surely with a thousand iron chariots they conquered those miserable Israelites in a day. It’s only a few hours’ journey back here.”

“Perhaps they are dividing up the spoils of war.” The servant girl offered a suggestion, then backed away, cowering as she awaited the mistress’s response.

“Of course!” Arishot’s heart filled with hope. “That would take quite a lot of time. There are all the weapons to gather. They’ll need to acquire the best of the robes from the captives. My son deserves the best; he is the commander of the finest army of the greatest king.” She gasped, clasping her hands at her chest. “Oh! Perhaps he will bring me some of those embroidered garments I’ve heard of.”

The girl nodded. “Yes! They are supposed to be beautiful! From Egypt, maybe.”

Another servant nodded vigorously. “Yes, yes. All this does take time. He will be here before you know it.”

Arishot grinned wickedly. “And then, of course, there are the girls …”

The servants winced, horrible memories obviously surfacing. Some of them had been prizes of war.

Arishot took pleasure in their discomfort. “Every man will get one or maybe two girls. My son will get his pick—maybe he’ll have to sample several before he chooses.”

A loud rap sounded on the door.

“Servant, answer.” She jabbed a pointy finger at the door.

A messenger waited on the other side. He entered uncertainly then bowed before her.

“Well, speak!”

He rose. “Mistress Arishot, I bring news from the battle.” He hesitated, visibly shaken. “The battle was lost.”

Lost? Her face heated. “How can the battle be lost? We have iron chariots. They didn’t even have horses!”

“There was a great rainstorm and our chariots became stuck in the mud. They were useless. All the men are dead. Your son…”

Her eyes narrowed. “My son what?” The man had better watch his tongue.

“Your son fled when the battle was obviously lost.”

She lunged at the man, but her bodyguards restrained her. “You lie!” Her breath came fast and hot.

He retreated a step. “Barak, of the armies of Israel, awaits at the gate to the city of Hazor. As conqueror. He brings his army, my lady. And he brings something else as well.”

“Yes?” Her chest constricted.

“The body of your son, with a tent peg through his skull.”

She crumpled to the floor, barely hearing the rest of the man’s story. “According to Barak, Sisera fled the battle when it became clear it was lost. He ran to the Kenite village in search of sanctuary, but he tried to hide in the tent of a woman, and while he slept, she killed him.”

An eerie sound entered the room. What was that? Couldn’t someone make it go away?

It took several moments before Arishot realized the sound…was her. Sobbing.

Screeching. Shrieking.

And she could not stop.


Judges 4-5 tell the story of three very different women whose lives are intertwined. Most of us know the story of Deborah, a mother and prophet, Israel’s only female judge. She led Israel to battle against Hazor, a city that had terrorized Israel for years. Fewer know of Jael, the simple Kenite woman who killed Hazor’s general and Deborah’s nemesis, Sisera.

Fewer still know of Sisera’s mother. Scripture tells us little about her, not even her name. I have given her a Canaanite name for our story here.

We know Sisera abandoned his men, fled the battlefield, tried to hide in the tent of a woman—a completely inappropriate act—and asked her to lie to her absent husband. It’s a good bet he didn’t tell her why he was really there.

We know his mother explained his delay in returning by telling herself he was only dividing up the spoils—including the conquered women—and bringing her gifts as well. It appears that as the lauded general’s mother she enjoyed a good deal of respect and wealth.

What we can assume from Sisera’s actions is that she indulged him at every turn of his life, never asking or allowing him to take responsibility for his mistakes or choices, always telling him he was above everyone else. We can assume she didn’t teach him to value people, since he doesn’t seem to value women or his men. We can assume she didn’t hold the truth in high regard.

So when he was faced with defeat, instead of standing up for his men, he fled.

Instead of facing the king and being accountable for his actions in battle, he hid.

Instead of being honest, he lied and asked others to lie.

And now, her actions have had their final effect—on not only herself, but her son, and the entire army of Hazor. Arishot has lost everything. Her son, her reputation, her honor, her pride, and most likely her home, possessions and servants. And Sisera has paid with his life.

Whoever does not discipline his son hates him, but whoever loves him is diligent to correct him. ~Proverbs 13:24 (ISV)

About Carole Towriss

Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find out more about her Biblical fiction novels at

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The Woman Who Ruined Her Son