Deborah the 4th Judge of Israel, Judges 4:1-24 & 5:1-31

Deborah was the only woman Judge or Ruler of Israel. She ruled about 1237BC—1198BC, she was also a prophetess.

She was the wife of Lapidoth and held court under the palm tree of Deborah. Deborah seemed to hold her court under the palm tree of Deborah for a number of years, this may have been for more than thirty years. She could have lived till she was over seventy years old.

She must have been some woman as people came to her as she did not go to them.

The palm tree of Deborah was between Ramah and Bethel in hill country of Ephraim.

Deborah in Hebrews means: bee, wasp.

Background Reading:

Deborah, Israel’s Fourth Judge

4:1 After Ehud died, while the LORD was watching, the Israelis made the evil they had been practicing even worse, 2 so the LORD turned them over to domination by Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commanding officer of his army, lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 The Israelis cried out to the LORD, because of his 900 iron chariots. Jabin oppressed the Israelis forcefully for twenty years.

4 Deborah, a woman, prophet, and wife of Lappidoth, was herself judging Israel during that time. 5 She regularly took her seat under the Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountainous region of Ephraim, where the Israelis would approach her for decisions. 6 She sent word to Abinoam’s son Barak from Kedesh-naphtali, summoning him. She asked him, “The LORD God of Israel has commanded you, hasn’t he? He told you, ‘Go out, march to Mount Tabor, and take 10,000 men with you from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. 7 I will draw out Sisera, the commanding officer of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and troops, to the Kishon River, where I will drop him right into your hands.’”

8 “If you’ll go with me, I’ll go,” Barak replied. “But if you won’t go with me, then I’m not going.”

9 She responded, “I will surely go with you, but the road that you’re about to take will not lead to honor for you. The LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak toward Kedesh. 10 Barak called out the army of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali to march on Kedesh, and 10,000 men went out to war with him, along with Deborah.

11 Meanwhile, Heber the Kenite had been separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Moses’ father-in-law Hobab. He had pitched his tents far away, near the Elon-bezaanannim. 12 Furthermore, Sisera had been informed that Abinoam’s son Barak had marched on Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered his iron chariots together from Harosheth-haggoyim —all 900 of them, along with all the people who were assigned to them—and they assembled at the Kishon River.

14 “Get going!” Deborah told Barak. “Because today’s the day when the LORD has dropped Sisera into your hands! Look! The LORD has already gone out ahead of you!” So Barak left Mount Tabor, followed by 10,000 men, 15 and the LORD threw Sisera, all the chariots, and his entire army into a panic right in front of Barak. Then Sisera abandoned his chariot and escaped on foot 16 while Barak chased the chariots and army as far as Harosheth-haggoyim. Sisera’s entire army died in the battle—not even one soldier remained.

Heber’s Wife Jael Kills Sisera

17 Meanwhile, Sisera had escaped on foot to a tent belonging to Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, since there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the household of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to greet Sisera. “Turn aside, sir!” she told him. “Turn aside to me! Don’t be afraid.” So he turned aside to her and entered her tent, where she concealed him behind a curtain.

19 He asked her, “Please give me some water to drink, because I’m thirsty.” Instead, she opened a leather container of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up. 20 He told her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and if anyone comes and asks ‘Is anybody here?’ say ‘No’.”

21 But Heber’s wife Jael grabbed a tent peg in one hand and a hammer in the other, crept up to him quietly, and drove the tent peg right through his temple into the ground below after he had fallen sound asleep from exhaustion. That’s how he died.

22 Meanwhile, as Barak continued chasing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. “Come with me,” she told him, “and I’ll show you the man you’re looking for!” So he went with her, and there was Sisera, lying dead with the tent peg still embedded in his temple! 23 That’s how God subdued Jabin, king of Canaan right in front of the Israelis that day. 24 And the Israelis gained greater control over King Jabin of Canaan until they had eliminated him.
Judges 4:1–24

Deborah and Barak Celebrate in Song

6:1 Later that day, Deborah and Abinoam’s son Barak celebrated by singing this song:

2 “When hair grows long in Israel,

when the people give themselves willingly,

bless the LORD!

3 Listen, you kings!

Turn your ears to me, you rulers!

As for me, to the LORD I will sing!

I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

4 LORD, when you left Seir,

when you marched out

from the grain field of Edom,

the earth quaked

and the heavens poured out rain;

indeed, the clouds poured out water.

5 Mountains tremble at the presence of the LORD —

even Sinai!—at the presence of the LORD God of Israel.

6 During the lifetime of Anath’s son Shamgar

and during the lifetime of Jael

highways remained deserted,

while travelers kept to back roads.

7 Rural populations plummeted in Israel;

until I, Deborah, arose;

until I—an Israeli mother—arose.

8 New gods were chosen,

then war came to the city gates,

but there wasn’t a shield or spear to be seen

among 40,000 soldiers of Israel.

9 My heart is for the commanders of Israel,

to those who work willingly among the people.

Bless the LORD!

10 “Speak up, you who ride white donkeys,

sitting on cloth saddles

while you travel on your way!

11 From the sound of those who divide their work loads

at the watering troughs,

there they will retell the righteous deeds of the LORD,

the righteous victories for his rural people in Israel.”

Then the people of the LORD went down to the gates.

12 “Wake up! Wake up, Deborah!

Wake up! Wake up, Deborah!

Get up, Barak, and dispose of your captives,

you son of Abinoam!

13 Then the survivors approached the nobles;

the people of the LORD approached me in battle array.

14 Some came from Ephraim

who had been harassed by Amalek,

followed by Benjamin with your people.

Some commanders came from Machir,

along with some from Zebulun

who carry a badge of office.

15 The officials of Issachar were with Deborah,

as was the tribe of Issachar and Barak.

They rushed out into the valley at his heels

along with divisions from Reuben’s army.

Great was their resolve of heart!

16 Why did you sit down among the sheepfolds?

To hear the bleating of the flocks?

Among the divisions of the army of Reuben

there was great searching of heart.

17 The tribe of Gilead remained

on the other side of the Jordan River.

As for the tribe of Dan,

why did they stay on board their ships?

The tribe of Asher sat by the seashore

and remained near its harbors.

18 The tribe of Zebulun did not worry about their lives

at the price of death;

neither did the tribe of Naphtali also

on high places of the field.

19 “Kings came to fight,

then battled the kings of Canaan

at Taanach near the waters of Megiddo.

They took no silver

as the spoils of war.

20 The stars fought from heaven;

they fought against Sisera from their orbits.

21 The current of the Kishon River swept them downstream,

that ancient current, the Kishon’s current!

March on strongly, my soul!

22 Then loud was the beat of the horses’ hooves—

from the galloping, galloping war steeds!

23 “‘Meroz is cursed!’ declared the angel of the LORD.

‘Utterly and totally cursed are its inhabitants,

because they never came to the aid of the LORD,

to the aid of the LORD against the valiant warriors!’”

24 “Blessed above all women is Jael,

wife of Heber the Kenite;

most blessed is she among women who live in tents!

25 Sisera asked for water—

she gave him milk.

In a magnificent bowl she brought him yogurt!

26 She reached out one hand for the tent peg,

and her other for the workman’s mallet.

Then she struck Sisera,

smashing his head,

shattering and piercing his temple.

27 He crumpled to the ground between her feet,

where he fell down and collapsed.

Between her feet he crumpled,

Fallen dead!

28 “Back at home, out the window Sisera’s mother peered,

lamenting through the lattice.

‘Why is his chariot delayed in returning?

‘Why do the hoof beats of his chariots wait?’

29 Her wise attendants find an answer for her;

in fact, she tells the same words to herself:

30 ‘They’re busy finding and dividing the war booty, aren’t they?

A girl or two for each valiant warrior,

and some dyed materials for Sisera—

perhaps dyed, embroidered war booty—

or some detailed embroidery for my neck

as the booty of war!

31 “May all of your enemies perish like this, LORD!

But may those who love him be

like the ascending sun in its strength!”

Then the land enjoyed quiet for 40 years.
Judges 5:1-31

More Information:

Deborah ruled for forty years and after the death of Deborah the Israelites again did evil in the eyes of God. This time of seven years were God gave them into the hands of the Midianites was one of about seven cycles were the Israelites again did evil in the eyes of God.

Other modules in this unit: