Deborah


Days were sad and dark for the children of Israel because the wicked King Jabin of Canaan sent his captain, Sisera, to conquer them. Captain Sisera with all his men came riding in nine hundred iron chariots drawn by galloping horses. And for twenty years they oppressed the children of Israel.

At that time Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lapidoth, judged Israel. Deborah lived in Mount Ephraim in a house shaded by palm trees. She had not forgotten God, and the Israelites came to her for judgment.

Deborah wanted to help her people. One day she sent for Barak, a strong young man, and said, “Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?

“And to the river Kishon I will draw unto thee Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.”

And Barak said to Deborah, “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.”

“I will surely go with thee,” Deborah answered, “notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

Barak organized his large army of brave young Israelites, and they marched against the captain of wicked King Jabin. And Deborah went with the army.

As the army marched across the plain, they met Heber the Kenite, who had pitched his tent there on the plain. Heber told Barak that the wicked Captain Sisera had gone up to Mount Tabor.

When Sisera found that Barak was marching with ten thousand men, he gathered his nine hundred chariots of iron and all his soldiers and led them in battle, marching against the children of Israel.

And Deborah said unto Barak, “Up, for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand. Is not the Lord gone out before thee?”

The Lord helped Barak and the children of Israel. The king’s soldiers tried to escape, but they all were slain. However, Sisera ran away on the plain until he came to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite.

Jael went out to meet Sisera and said, “Turn in, my lord, turn in and fear not.” And when he had turned into her tent, she covered him with a mantle.

Sisera asked Jael for a little water to drink, for he was thirsty. And Jael opened a bottle of milk and poured some for him to drink.

Sisera then asked Jael to stand in the door of the tent. He instructed her that if any man came to inquire of his whereabouts, she was to say that he was not there.

Soon Sisera was fast asleep. Jael took a nail of the tent and a hammer and smote Sisera so that he died in his sleep.

As Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came to meet him and called out, “Come and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest.” When Barak came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead.

So that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered and prevailed against King Jabin until they had destroyed him.

Then sang Deborah and Barak:

“Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

“Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Judy Capener