Yes, he was fast asleep.
“But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.”
Judges 4:21 NASB

No, he was awake and standing up.
26 “… Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head;
And she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he laid;
Between her feet he bowed, he fell;
Where he bowed, there he fell, dead.”

Judges 5:26-27 NASB


SAB Contradiction 402


How did general Sisera die?
Did Sisera die by the hand of Jael while he was asleep peacefully? This is what we read in Judges 4. However in Judges 5 we read that he bowed down at the feet of Jael and that he then fell dead or so. This description seems to give a different picture of the story.


In the time of the judges a certain Jabin living in the north of Canaan and claimed to be the “King of Canaan”. His general Sisera had oppressed Israel for 20 years. Sisera had an army with many iron chariots. A small Israel army (10,000 men) was mobilized by Deborah and had taken position on mount Tabor, also in the north. When it came to blows a heavy rainfall changed the battlefield in one great field of mud and marsh making the chariots of Sisera useless. The soldiers left their wagons and fled to all sights. Sisera also fled and being exhausted he arrived at the tent of Jael. She offered him hiding and a place to sleep. As soon as he was asleep she took a tent peg and used it as a weapon to kill Sisera.


Judges 5:27
This passage has been translated too weak. With some imagination one may explain that Sisera bowed down before her feet, but then it becomes strange: he fell and laid dead or so. And one may defend that at the place where Sisera bowed down to sleep, there he fell (was killed) and laid (dead). But the interpretation of the critic–that Sisera was hurt in standing position and by that fall to the ground and died–seems better fitting the text. 

However the verb to bow is too weak. That should be shrank (together), crouch etc. Example:
Isaiah 10:4  "Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives, …"

According to German and Dutch translations:
“At her feet he shrank together, fell and laid down;
At her feet he shrank together, he fell;
Where he shrank, there he fell, dead.”


On the place where he shrank together (when Sisera was killed), there he fell back to the ground, overpowerd (Judges 5). That is completely in accordance with the message of Judges 4 where is said that Sisera was slain by Jael in his sleep.


No Bible Contradiction

(Update 18 – 3 – 2015)