14 day plan

Women of the Bible You Need to Meet

Day 5 of 14

Judges 4:4-5

4Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to settle disputes.

Reflection:  Deborah

For further reading see Judges 4-5

Before the kings, the judges led Israel. Deborah is the only female judge in the Bible. But while many judges are shown to be bad leaders, Deborah is given as a prominent example of a good leader. She is a woman of many talents: prophet, judge, and military leader.  She is called a mother in Israel – a counterpart to the patriarchs. No passive margarine ad mum, her motherhood is tied here to her military leadership. While Barak, the man under her command, sometimes hesitates, Deborah is decisive. She is the answer to the desperate prayers for rescue by an oppressed people. After her victory there is peace for 40 years – twice the time of the previous oppression. There is no suggestion that a man should have been judge. Rather, in Deborah we are shown one of the finest leaders in the Bible. Deborah confounds our ideas of womanhood and leadership.

Question:  Think of the women you know. Is there a woman who needs to be encouraged in her leadership, for the glory of God?

Prayer:  God, your word often opens up new understandings. Help me in your Spirit to understand what Deborah has to say to us about your work today. Amen.

Judges 4:1-24

Deborah and Barak

1The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud had died. 2So the Lord sold them to King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth of the Nations. 3Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, because Jabin had nine hundred iron chariots, and he harshly oppressed them twenty years.

4Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to settle disputes.

6She summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? 7Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s army, his chariots, and his infantry at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.’”

8Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”

9“I will gladly go with you,” she said, “but you will receive no honor on the road you are about to take, because the Lord will sell Sisera to a woman.” So Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.

11Now Heber the Kenite had moved away from the Kenites, the sons of Hobab, Moses’s father-in-law, and pitched his tent beside the oak tree of Zaanannim, which was near Kedesh.

12It was reported to Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up Mount Tabor. 13Sisera summoned all his nine hundred iron chariots and all the troops who were with him from Harosheth of the Nations to the Wadi Kishon. 14Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has handed Sisera over to you. Hasn’t the Lord gone before you?” So Barak came down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.

15The Lord threw Sisera, all his charioteers, and all his army into a panic before Barak’s assault. Sisera left his chariot and fled on foot. 16Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth of the Nations, and the whole army of Sisera fell by the sword; not a single man was left.

17Meanwhile, Sisera had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18Jael went out to greet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord. Come in with me. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink for I am thirsty.” She opened a container of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him again. 20Then he said to her, “Stand at the entrance to the tent. If a man comes and asks you, ‘Is there a man here? ’ say, ‘No.’” 21While he was sleeping from exhaustion, Heber’s wife, Jael, took a tent peg, grabbed a hammer, and went silently to Sisera. She hammered the peg into his temple and drove it into the ground, and he died.

22When Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to greet him and said to him, “Come and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he went in with her, and there was Sisera lying dead with a tent peg through his temple!

23That day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites. 24The power of the Israelites continued to increase against King Jabin of Canaan until they destroyed him.