Scriptural Giants: Deborah the Prophetess


(See Judg. 4.)

The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and fell into the hands of Jabin, the king of Canaan, who oppressed them sorely for twenty years.

At that time Deborah, a prophetess, judged the children of Israel, and she was distressed over the plight of her people. She “called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, 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?”

Barak was afraid to do as the Lord commanded. His tribesmen were hill people, who fought mostly on foot. Their enemies, who were used to fighting on the level plain of Esdraelon, had nine hundred thundering, iron chariots to clear their way.

Deborah was steadfast in her faith and said further to Barak, “I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him unto thine hand.

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

Deborah knew of Barak’s vainglorious nature, so she replied, “I will surely go with thee; notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall [deliver] Sisera into the hand of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

After Barak had assembled his men on a flat place atop Mount Tabor and Sisera had formed his army and chariots on the plain near the Kishon River, Deborah alerted 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?”

Barak and his ten thousand warriors descended from Mount Tabor, and the Lord strengthened them. They fought so fiercely that Sisera was forced to flee for his life on foot, his chariots were destroyed, and all of his men were slain.

When the battle was over, Barak went in search of Sisera and discovered that he was already dead. He lay on the ground inside the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, and he was covered with a mantle. Sisera had sought safety inside Jael’s tent, but, as Deborah had prophesied, he had been delivered “into the hand of a woman.” Jael had slain him for the good of all Israel.

Because of Deborah’s valor and her ability to inspire confidence in Barak to do his duty as God had commanded, “the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.”

[illustration] Painting courtesy Providence Lithograph Company