During a time in which Israel was led by a woman prophetess (GASP!), whose name was Deborah, Israel was being oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan. Jabin's army was commanded by Sisera, the dude in the painting. Deborah recruited Barak to kick Jabin's army's butt, along with 10,000 men. She told him that even though the Lord would give them the victory, the full honor wouldn't be his "for the Lord [would] deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman" (Judges 4:9). After Barak and the 10,000 men succeeded in their endeavor, Sisera escaped and sought refuge in the house of Heber and Jael, the woman in the painting. He did this because Heber's family had an alliance with King Jabin. Little did Sisera know that he was barking up the wrong tree...
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
“I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
“Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”
But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. (Judges 4-18-22 NIV)
Most blessed of women be Jael [...]
Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead.
(Judges 5: 24a; 26-27 NIV)