"Sisera was a cruel Canaanite leader who ruled the Israelites for twenty years. Barak defeated his nine hundred charioteers by a surprise Israelite attack. Sisera escaped and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. She gave the terrified Canaanite sanctuary. When he fell asleep, she drove a tent peg into his brain. The act fulfilled the prediction of Debora, prophetess and Israelite leader, who foresaw that a woman would slay Sisera." (www.artemisia-gentileschi.com)
There are two alternative traditions of depicting the courageous ladies of the Bible: either as true heroes who risk everything to save their tribe, or as a more generalized allegorical portrayal of women's wicked powers over men (and what letting women to exercise such powers leads to).
Consider these two examples:
A. Lucas Van Leyden, Dutch, c.1520
Don't you just love her gracious pose? One could easily think Maurice Bejart was responsible for the composition
B. Artemisia Gentileschi, Italian, c.1620
interestingly enough, these two images could be interpreted through both perspectives outlined above.