In Shoftim chapters 4 and 5 we learn of a woman named יָעֵל אֵשֶּׁת חֶבֶר הַקֵּינִי, Yael the wife of Chever the Kenite, who kills Sisra. In the song of Devorah, the Midrash (Ruth Rabba 1:8) and Gemara (Horiyot 10b) all seem to imply that she was Jewish, one reading has her as being a Shofeteth of the Jews (I'm not aware of anyone who claims any of the Shoftim were non-Jews), another expounds a moral lesson of the value of sinning for the sake of God (which she did by sleeping with Sisra).

I would like to know if there is an explicit source which states that Yael, the wife of Chever the Kenite was in fact Jewish.

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    – Loewian
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:23
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    also, wouldn't the kenites, as descendants of Jethro, have had the status of proselytes?
    – Loewian
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:26
  • @Loewian I would assume that Sisra did not think she was Jewish, otherwise why would he enter her tent peacefully instead of killing her? Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:47
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    Conversely, I suspect that her being midrashically listed amongst the shoftim, may just mean that she "judged" between Israel and its enemies, i.e. when she executed Sisra.
    – Loewian
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:53
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    meirtv.com/en/qa-was-yael-jewish-070716--13345l -- see a rundown of the different opinions there
    – Menachem
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


I found the following source which says that Yael was a righteous convert

ילקוט שמעוני יהושע - פרק א - רמז ט . יש נשים חסידות גיורות הגר אסנת צפרה שפרה פועה בת פרעה רחב רות ויעל אשת חבר הקיני:

There are pious converts... Yael the wife of Chever the Kenite - Yalkut Shimoni: Joshua 1:9

In this lecture, at 22 minutes, Rabbi Zahtz states that Rav Yaakov Emden states that Yael was not Jewish

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