I happen to be reading Judges today (haftorah for parshat Beshallach), about how “In the days of Yael the highways collapsed and travellers took to the backroads…” (Judges 5:6, a post-apocalyptic scenario that has a certain ring to it) when I came across this little story (Judges 4:18-22) which I decided needed a proper Hollywood screenplay translation. This modern rendering is true to the original, but when when stripped of Olde English forms and rendered in a more plain English fully realizes its raw brutality. No larger meanings or religious homilies are offered or intended.

I also decided to re-edit it so that it is entirely in the present tense, while the original is largely in the past tense (with some exceptions.) I see this as a TexMex Western. Yael is perhaps a mestizo woman living alone, Sisera a mighty cattle rustler, Barak the righteous arm of the law. I leave the details to others.


….Yael goes out to meet Sisera, and says to him: ‘Come this way, sir! Come toward me. Don’t be afraid.”

So he follows her into the tent, and she hides him under a rug.


And he says to her: ‘Please give me a little water to drink – I am thirsty.’

She opens a container of milk and serves him.

Then she covers him again.


He says to her: ‘Stand in the doorway of the tent, and if anyone should come and ask “Is someone inside?” just say “no.”


Then Yael, Heber’s wife, takes a tent-stake and a hammer in her hand, and creeps softly toward him, and pounds the tent-stake through his head.

It strikes all the way through to the ground, for he is exhausted and deeply asleep.

He is dead.


Now here comes Barak chasing Sisera!

Yael goes out to meet him and says to him “Come, I will show you the man you are looking for.”

He approaches her and… look at that!

Sisera is down and dead, with a tent-stake right through his head.


You can see what an improvement this is on the Olde English version here:

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