The unnamed woman of Abel stepped up and took action when her city was under seige.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation where all those around you were in a panic? How did you respond? Did you have the courage to take action when no one else would?

When Abel was under siege and no one knew what to do, the courageous woman of Abel stepped up and took charge.

Who Was the The Woman of Abel?

The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel are not always easy reading. They’re filled with war, violence, and corruption. Keeping up with the politics of allies and enemies can make your head spin. And it’s hard for us with our modern sensibilities to understand godly men and women engaging in morbid violence. 

Yet times of war are different than times of peace. War requires actions that would be unacceptable during peace times. Today’s story is one of those times. In order to understand it, we have to view it through the eyes of war.

The wise woman of Abel is found in 2 Samuel chapter 20. The chapter opens with the rebellion of Sheba. Sheba was a Benjamanite who convinced the men of Israel to desert David as their king. So David gathered his army to go after Sheba before he could find safety in a fortified city. 

The army pursued Sheba to the city of Abel. Since he was safe within the city’s walls, they set up a siege mound, a type of ramp used by soldiers, and the troops battered the wall in order to tear it down.

As you can image, the folks inside the city were terrified with no idea why the king’s army would be attacking them. Fortunately, one woman had a plan. 

While most of us would have huddled in the center of the city, this brave woman went towards the wall and yelled out that she wanted to speak to Joab. 

When he came to the other side of the wall, she told him to listen to what she had to say. She pointed out the history of Abel, reminding him that in ancient times it was where Israelites went to seek guidance and settle disputes. It was a peaceful and faithful city. She asked why he would destroy this city and kill men and women of God. 

He explained that he didn’t want to destroy innocent lives. He was only after Sheba because he’d led a revolt against King David. If they handed over Sheba, the troops would depart from their city. 

She told him to watch for Sheba’s head to be thrown over the wall.

She then proceeded to go to the people of the city and explain the situation. They promptly found Sheba, killed him, chopped off his head, and threw it over the wall. 

Joab responded by blowing a trumpet, signaling his men to withdraw from the city and return to their tents. 

It’s hard for us to imagine a world where women offer a man’s head thrown over a wall, but this was a time of war. And by killing this one traitor, the city saved thousands of innocent lives. 

In a time when her city was under siege, the wise woman of Abel calmly assessed the situation and took control.

She knew that Joab was in charge of the attack, so she went directly to him and asked him why he was attacking her city.

She listened to what he had to say. And she offered a solution to his problem. Obviously, this woman was well respected in the city of Abel because they listened to her as well and did what she suggested. 

What Can We Learn From the Wise Woman of Abel?

We’ll likely never be in a situation quite like this particular one, but we’ve all experienced times of danger where it seemed everyone around us was running around scared with no plan of action. 

How do you act in such times? Do you make things worse, panicking, playing the drama queen, running around screaming you’re all going to die?

Do you seek out others to join you in your panic party? 

Do you huddle in a corner, trying to hide and hoping it will all just go away? 

Or do you go to the one in charge and ask him, what you should do in the situation? 

So often, we do all of the above and only seek out God as a last resort. We are blessed to know who’s always in charge, and we have twenty four hour direct access to Him to find out how to handle the situation.  

We don’t have to be a drama queen. We don’t have to run around in confusion. We don’t need to join panic parties. We don’t have to huddle in fear. 

All we need do is go directly to Him and ask Him what to do. And then, we have to do what He instructs. His guidance may not always make sense to us, but we have to trust that He knows the full situation.

Fortunately, God is not going to ask us to chop off anyone’s head. He may, though, ask us to do other things that are confusing or don’t make sense to us. But when He does, He will give us a peace that assures us that we’re doing the right thing. 


Lord God, we come to you today thankful that You are always with us and that we can come to You at any time. Thank You for your gentle reminders that we’re not alone. Thank You for Your wisdom and Your guidance in difficult situations.

Forgive us those times we lose sight of you and panic. Thank you for your mercy and grace as You take care of us even when we don’t deserve it. Be with us in the days ahead. Give us strength during the difficult times. Give us courage to do the right thing. Give us a peace when all around us is chaos. We love you. In Christ’s name. Amen. 

Did you enjoy today’s story? I hope that it encourages you to pull out your Bible and read more about this woman and many more. That is my desire with the All God’s Women podcast. 

As always I appreciate when you pass along the word to your friends and family so that they, too, can learn more about these fascinating women of the Bible.

Wise Woman of Abel: A Take Charge Woman

Wise Woman of Abel Bible Study

Scripture Background

2 Samuel 20

Bible Study Review

  1. What was going on with the city of Abel?
  2. Who was in charge of the attack?
  3. How did one woman save her city?

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. What was everyone else doing when the woman took charge?
  2. Why did she speak to Joab?
  3. Why was she successful at getting people to listen to her?

Personal Reflection

  1. How do you react in times of chaos?
  2. Do other people listen when you talk?
  3. Are you willing to do unpleasant things if you know it’s the right thing to do?

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