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Commentary On The Book of Judges 2.

By Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD

Chapter 4. Barak and Deborah.

This chapter demonstrates how Israel again sinned and were consequently delivered into the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan, by whom they were oppressed for twenty years. Excavations at Hazor have produced evidence of a Jabin who was king there, although not necessarily this particular one as Jabin appears to have been a throne name. The chapter then goes on to show that Deborah and Barak consulted together about delivering Israel (their section of Israel), and that Barak, encouraged by Deborah, gathered some forces from the tribal confederacy and fought Sisera the captain of Jabin's army, and his forces, whom he met in battle, and over whom he obtained victory. Sisera then fled on foot and came to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber, where he sought refuge. He was received into it by her, and slain by her while asleep in it. The consequence of all this was the complete deliverance of the children of Israel.

God’s Third Lesson : The Canaanite Invasion; Barak and Deborah (4.1-24).

4.1 ‘And the children of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, when Ehud was dead.’

Ehud ruled wisely and well. He encouraged the people in their worship of Yahweh, maintained the tribal links with the central sanctuary, and ensured obedience to the covenant and all involved with it; the offering of the necessary sacrifices to Yahweh; the keeping of His commandments and the justice that went along with them. All this is implicit in the fact that the people did not do grave evil in Yahweh’s sight while he lived. They sinned, as all men will, but they offered the appropriate sacrifices and offerings and generally did what was right. But when he died they slipped back into their old ways.

4.2 ‘And Yahweh sold them, into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Nations.’

Hazor was an important city state in northern Canaan which had great influence over its neighbours (Joshua 11.1-2, 10). Archaeology tells us that it had been there since the third millennium BC and in the second millennium was extended by the building of a lower city. At this stage it would have about forty thousand inhabitants, in those days a large city indeed. The lower city contained a Canaanite temple and a small shrine. It was referred to regularly throughout the centuries, by Egypt, Mari and Babylon, as an important political centre, and its ruler was given the title ‘Great King’ (sarrum), a status above that usually conferred on rulers of city states.

A previous king Jabin had ruled over this area in the time of Joshua, and had led a confederacy against Joshua and had been defeated and slain (Joshua 11.1-15). (This Jabin was probably his grandson or great-grandson). That was the first occasion when Israel had won a great victory over chariots. And Hazor was then burned and what remained of its inhabitants put to the sword. The lower city was destroyed by Joshua and not later rebuilt. But many of the warriors had inevitably escaped, and it is probable that some refugees had fled from Hazor before he arrived there and they would return and repopulate the city. ‘Smote them until none remained’ and ‘utterly destroyed them’ refer to what Israel did with those they caught, in obedience to Yahweh’s commandments.

As Joshua was not in a position to occupy it, which is why he burned it as a major Canaanite threat, upper Hazor (but not lower Hazor) was rebuilt. Good sites, with good water supplies, were too valuable not to be re-used. So at this time it had been re-established and was now under another Jabin. This may have been a throne name or simply a family name re-used. No doubt Hazor was still ‘the head of the kingdoms’ (Joshua 11.10), the centre of a confederation of cities.

‘The captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Nations.’ Jabin maintained a standing army and again ruled, not only over Hazor, but probably as overlord over a number of other cities in a confederacy. His general was named Sisera. Sisera’s name is possibly Illyrian and it would seem he was a petty king of Harosheth of the Nations, whose site is unknown. Its name may have arisen from its cosmopolitan population or from the fact that it was populated with foreign mercenaries. Sisera himself may have been a foreign mercenary.

‘Yahweh sold them into the hand of Jabin.’ Jabin had grown powerful and was seeking to extend his empire. In this way northern parts of the tribal confederacy west of Jordan became subject to him, and became his ‘servants’. They were ‘sold’ into his hand by Yahweh, handed over as slaves. This would involve heavy tribute and probably heavy taskwork (‘he mightily oppressed’ - verse 3).

4.3 ‘And the children of Israel cried to Yahweh, for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and he mightily oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years.’

Aware of the strength of his chariot force they once again recognised that Yahweh alone could help them in a situation like this and began to turn from their idols and to seek Him once again, paying more attention to the tribal covenant, becoming more faithful to the central sanctuary, and reinstating the law of God. The old ways had never been completely forgotten, but had fallen into partial disuse. Now they were restored.

‘For he had nine hundred chariots of iron.’ Gathering together the strength of his confederate cities Jabin possessed nine military units (‘hundreds’) of chariots. No wonder they cried to Yahweh. Who else could deal with a menace like this? The nine may represent a threefold three, thus signifying something totally complete in itself.

‘And he mightily oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years.’ This was longer than both Cushan-rishathaim and the Moabites, although the latter oppressed them in a totally different area and the oppression was possibly concurrent. ‘Mightily oppressed’ suggests that this was something worse than they had previously experienced anywhere among the tribes. This was possibly partly as an act of revenge because of the ruin that Israel under Joshua had previously brought on Hazor, and Israel’s behaviour then. They had not been too kind either, and it had not been forgotten. The tribes in mind here would include Naphtali, Issachar, and Zebulun and possibly parts of Manasseh. They were thus impoverished and ill-used and probably required to provide forced labour.

Eight (3.8), eighteen (3.14), twenty (4.3) years of oppression might not seem to us a progression mathematically, but it would be different to his readers. For eight progressed to eight plus ten and then to doubled ten. They were increasing in intensity.

4.4 ‘Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time.’

Deborah is one of three prophetesses mentioned in the Old Testament, two of whom were powerful figures. The others were Miriam (Exodus 15.20) and Huldah (2 Kings 22.14). Deborah means ‘a bee’ and was a relatively common name. The fact that she was a prophetess indicated that she had the Spirit of Yahweh. Her influence was so powerful that she was made a judge of Israel. All recognised an aura about her. It is significant that while prophetesses were officially allowed as religious functionaries, priestesses were not. Women could serve at the door of the Tabernacle but they could not enter it (Exodus 38.8). This may have been partly because of the function that priestesses served in other religions with their sexual rites. The Tabernacle was an asexual reserve.

4.5 ‘And she stationed herself under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel, in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.’

When local justice failed, or cases were too complicated, or were inter-tribal, or needed special discernment, the people would come to her. She was seen as having wisdom from God. She stationed herself under a palm tree (which would provide shade) which was ever afterwards called ‘the palm tree of Deborah’. (There is little reason for identifying it as the oak under which Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, was buried). Sitting under a prominent tree would appear to have been a regular place for giving judgments, and it made the judge accessible.

‘Between Ramah and Bethel.’ This would be in Benjaminite territory, and central for the tribes. It would be near Mizpah where the tribes at this stage met for judgment (20.1).

‘And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.’ One of the responsibilities of the judges was administration and justice. But all who were called judges were seen as having Yahweh with them in one way or another. Such a position required the Spirit of Yahweh.

4.6 ‘And she sent and called Barak, the son of Abinoam, out of Kedesh-naphtali. And said to him, “Has not Yahweh, the God of Israel commanded? Go, and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with you ten eleph men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulun.” ’

The Spirit of Yahweh was at work for Deborah had foreseen short term coming events. She was thus completely in charge. We must assume that Barak was a recognised battle leader whose influence was such that she knew men would follow him. The power of her influence is seen in that he came. His name means ‘lightning’, a worthy opponent for Baal, the god of lightning who was worshipped in Hazor. He was to be Yahweh’s lightning. He lived in Naphtali territory, of which Hazor was one of the cities allotted to them. Perhaps both aspects were in her mind when she chose him.

‘And said to him, “Has not Yahweh, the God of Israel commanded?”’ Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel, was in charge of operations here. He was their commander (compare Joshua 5.14). And He was doing it through Deborah.

“Go, and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with you ten eleph men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulun.” Mount Tabor was a mountain rising from the plain of Jezreel to a height of 588 metres (1900 feet). It was steep-sloped and on the Zebulun-Issachar border. There they would be safe from chariots, which could not operate on such slopes. This would encourage the Israelite fighting men. ‘Go and draw’ refers to the plan to draw Sisera’s chariots towards Mount Tabor. He was to take ten largish units of men. Military units were split into ‘elephs’, ‘hundreds’ and ‘tens’ (20.10), but as often with military units the number was theoretical. The actual group would be far smaller.

4.7 “And I will draw to you, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his large body of fighting men, and I will deliver him into your hand.”

These were the words of their battle general, Yahweh. Once Sisera heard of their gathering on Mount Tabor, in what was clearly an attempt at rebellion, he would take his chariots and men over to the mount in accordance with Yahweh’s plan. Then Yahweh would arrange for them to be delivered into the hands of Barak’s small army.

But the song of Deborah makes clear that Barak had reserves to call on from the tribal confederacy. Some came from Ephraim, others from Benjamin, and more from Machir (Manasseh) (5.14).

4.8 ‘And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.’

Barak was a warleader, not a prophet. He considered the ten units he would have with him on Mount Tabor and he considered the nine units of chariots, and the further large army of fighting men, a standing army trained for war, and he did not like the odds. So, yes, he was willing to trust Yahweh’s plan, but only if Deborah confirmed her faith in it by going with him. Furthermore he felt that this would aid the fulfilment of the plan, for he had every confidence that Yahweh would fight for Deborah. And the men of Naphtali (with Issachar) and Zebulun would be far more likely to come if she was among them, so great was the common belief that Yahweh was with her. He had faith but he also wanted some kind of confirmation and guarantee.

4.9a. ‘And she said, “I will surely go with you. Except that now the journey you take will not be for your honour, for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

Deborah’s confidence in Yahweh was total and she unhesitatingly agreed. But as a result of his unwillingness to trust God on his own Barak was now warned that the greatest honour of victory, the slaying of Sisera, would not be his. Instead it would be by a woman’s hand, although it would still be Yahweh’s doing. Barak was content. He probably thought she meant herself.

Like much prophecy her prophecy had a twofold fulfilment, a conscious one and an unconscious one. Possibly even Deborah did not know the unconscious one. Yahweh gave her the words but the details of the fulfilment must await events. Firstly it would be because as judge of Israel she would now be commander-in-chief and when the battle was won the glory would go primarily to her. Barak had forfeited his chief place. But secondly it was because Yahweh had other plans for Sisera. Instead of a glorious death he would be humiliated.

‘Yahweh will sell Sisera.’ This indicates Yahweh’s complete control over Sisera. He had the right to ‘sell’ him. He would do to Sisera what He had previously done to the children of Israel (4.2), and what Sisera had done to so many others. He would be ‘sold off’, handed over like a bondservant who could not do anything about it.

4.9b ‘And Deborah rose and went with Barak to Kedesh.’

In accordance with her promise Deborah went with Barak to his home town (verse 6). Meanwhile, as the song of Deborah makes clear, the call went out to the tribes of the confederacy to come to the aid of their brothers. (The non-mention here demonstrates how careful we must be in interpreting the silences of Scripture. Writers were not giving an inclusive history but an outline of events that, while true, conveyed their spiritual message). Nevertheless it would take some time for them to be gathered, and to reach northern israel. Meanwhile Barak had to act with what he had.

4.10 ‘And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh. And there went up ten eleph of men at his feet, and Deborah went up with him.’

Zebulun and Naphtali responded to his call and sent him the ten units of fighting men that he asked for. All knew what this meant. The die was cast. They would be seen as rebels.

And he led them up Mount Tabor. And Deborah, as she had promised, went with them. ‘At his feet’ indicates that they followed him up the ascent. It was probably a great comfort to that hardy group of men to see among them the one whom they believed had the Spirit of Yahweh within her.

4.11 ‘Now Heber, the Kenite, had separated himself from the Kenites, even from the children of Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far as the oak in Zaanannim, which is by Kedesh.’

The purpose of this verse is to explain why Heber was where he was when the later events occurred. For some reason Heber had left the group of Kenites who had gathered to Hobab (1.16). He had not wanted to be a part of Judah. His presence here was providential. As semi-nomads, Kenites lived in tents and kept themselves to themselves, and that is how he wanted it. They probably survived by doing metalwork. They were thus useful to farmers and to fighting men alike. The oak in Zaanannim was a famous landmark (compare Joshua 19.33) and would have cultic connections among the Canaanites (the Hebrew used always has such in mind). To them it was a sacred place. This probably later gave Sisera more of a sense of security.

4.12. ‘And they told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.’

‘They’ is general. There were many Canaanites who would not look happily on an Israelite rebellion. It would suit them for Sisera to learn of it immediately. ‘Barak is out to cause trouble and has gathered some fighting men on Mount Tabor’, they would tell Sisera.

Sisera would know that the force could not be too large from the fact that they were on Mount Tabor. He probably never dreamed that they actually expected to fight his chariot force, but appreciated that when Israelites banded together it was Canaanites who would suffer. And he did not want armed bands on his territory. It is possible, however, that he also received information that the call had gone out to other tribes. Thus he would then know that the threat might soon be a major one, and had to be dealt with at once. The expectation of others joining them would explain why they were waiting in a place where his chariots could not touch them. The only thing to do was stamp out the rebellion immediately. The last thing he considered was that they were there as a provocation to him.

4.13 ‘And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him from Harosheth of the Nations, to the river Kishon.’

Sisera was taking no chances, and this was to be a massive show of strength to prevent such incidents happening again. He called together his chariot force of nine units of chariots, and his soldiers and mercenaries who dwelt in Harosheth of the Nations, probably a garrison town. These were the forces immediately available. Then he amassed them in the plain beside the river Kishon. This was within easy reach of Mount Tabor.

4.14 ‘And Deborah said to Barak, “Up, for this is the day in which Yahweh has delivered Sisera into your hand. Is not Yahweh gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten eleph men after him.’

The Canaanite army were gathered at the river Kishon, not expecting an attack. After all it was they who were the hunters. The last thing they expected was for the Israelites to come down to meet them, and they would be taken totally by surprise. It was probably the last thing that the Israelites had expected either. But at Deborah’s words, communicated to them by Barak, they responded. Was the Spirit of Yahweh not with her? And now she had promised that He would be with them.

‘So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten eleph men after him.’ At Deborah’s command the Israelite forces swept down the mountain - had she not promised that Yahweh had gone in front of them? - and attacked the Canaanite force, taking them by surprise.

‘Is not Yahweh gone out before you?’ In chapter 4 there is not a word to explain the significance of this, except as a general theological promise. Nothing is said about the rainstorm. But their victory proved it was true. Yahweh was there fighting for them. Had we not, however, had the song of Deborah we would not have had the full explanation which was that while the troops and chariots of Sisera waited by the banks of the river, heavy rains fell on the surrounding mountains causing flash floods and further heavy rains which swept down and flooded the plain (5.21), which was already possibly soggy. As a result the chariot wheels were bemired in the mud. Clad in their iron weaponry and accoutrements the footsoldiers too would find the going heavy. The song puts it in terms reminiscent of the delivery from the soldiers of Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds.

Thus when the army of Barak, fervent and more lightly clad, and therefore more capable of dealing with the mud, suddenly and unexpectedly swept down on them they were thrown into even more confusion. Their chariots were useless, their leadership caught up in them, and the unexpected attack caught them unprepared.

4.15a ‘And Yahweh discomfited Sisera and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak.’

It was a total rout. Without iron accoutrements to hinder them, and more lightly armed, and fired by the belief that Yahweh had done this, the Israelites could cope with the conditions much better. And the Canaanites were already in disarray. So while there would undoubtedly be some resistance, they were totally unprepared. And not knowing how many of these dreadful barbarians were coming against them, and being without their main officers, who were caught up in their chariots, to rally them, they panicked and eventually turned and fled. And a fleeing army is easily beaten, especially by the more lightly clad.

4.15b ‘And Sisera lighted down from his chariot, and fled away on his feet.’

This is the only indication we have in chapter 4 of the flooding of the plain. Sisera must have left his chariot because it was unusable. Only flooding could have done that, and caused him to panic in this way. Possibly his officers were the ones who told him to save himself while they fought a rearguard action, or perhaps he got away in the confusion, but it emphasises the panic that had seized hold of the Canaanite army, and Sisera as well. They had heard about the activities of Yahweh, God of Israel, and now they were seeing Him in action. They did not like the odds.

4.16 ‘But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, as far as Harosheth of the Nations. And all the host of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword and there was not a man left.’

Some of the chariots were able to get themselves clear of the mud and escape, which was the only thing now on their minds, while the footsoldiers also fled, hindering the chariots. That proud and powerful army, with its mighty chariots, that had swept so triumphantly and confidently on to the plain by Kishon, now fled, a bedraggled, mud-bespattered, broken and totally spent force, prey to the flashing blades of the men of Naphtali and Zebulun who followed with blazing eyes and triumphant cries.

‘There was not a man left.’ That is, that they could find to slaughter. They killed all that they could find. But there was at least one who had escaped their flashing blades, who fled for his life, seeking refuge.

4.17 ‘However, Sisera fled away on his feet, to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. For there was peace between Jabin, the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber the Kenite.’

Before going into detail the writer summarised what was to happen, and humiliates Sisera. ‘He fled away on his feet’. That mighty charioteer of Canaan, running for his life, his chariot deserted. ‘To the tent of Jael.’ The very thought would startle the listener. They would freeze at the thought. That was unforgivable. His ally’s wife’s tent, a place he should never ever have considered entering, even in his last extremity. And yet it offered safety, for no one would imagine him entering such a place.

‘For there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.’ Not a peace between equals but a peace because Heber and his encampment were useful as metalworkers. They had received permission from Jabin to camp there because their activities were useful, and they presented no threat. But under such a treaty Sisera should have been concerned to protect his ally’s wife.

4.18a ‘And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, ‘Turn in, my lord, turn in to me. Do not be afraid.’

Jael went out to meet him. She would see the hunted look of the fugitive and realise what had happened. She would also know how important a man he was for the wellbeing of the Canaanites. It may be that she knew that he was making for Hazor and determined to prevent him reaching there by a ruse. But it may be that she had some private reason for revenge. There is much about the narrative, including its silences, to suggest so. But the writer is not interested in her private revenge, only in the fulfilment of Deborah’s prophecy. And he is enjoying what happened.

So she offered him refuge, but in a forbidden place, in a woman’s tent, the tent of his ally’s wife, alone. This was a breach of etiquette of the highest level, especially between men who had some kind of covenant between them. A nobler and less terrified man would have refused. He must have known what her husband’s view would be. What the view of all good men would be. And it would be disastrous for her reputation for him to be alone with her. The truth is that ‘Turn in to me’ was possibly seen by him as an invitation to enjoy more than just food and drink, otherwise he would surely have protested, which makes his behaviour even more despicable. What protection did he deserve when he behaved like this? But he was used to being welcomed by women. He would make use of her in two ways at the same time. He may well have made the attempt before.

‘My lord.’ A polite address to an important man. But she would call her husband ‘my lord’ as well.

4.18b ‘And he turned in to her into the tent; and she covered him with a covering.’

This was possibly in order to hide him, but more likely it was because he stripped some of his ‘armour’ off. It was heavy and uncomfortable and he was very hot, very tired, and felt safe. The covering or rug (some kind of covering - the word occurs only here and its specific meaning is not known) was to preserve some level of propriety. But how could that be in a married woman’s tent? It accentuates the position.

4.19a ‘And he said to her, “Give me, I pray you, a little water to drink, for I am parched.”

It should be noted that up to this stage she had not offered hospitality. Perhaps he should have taken a hint from that. To hide a male fugitive in your tent might be one thing, to feed him there another. So he has committed another breach of etiquette.

Much is made here by commentators of the question of hospitality, but it is questionable whether that was always seen as fully applying to women. There was no hospitality shown to the woman when the old man offered the Levite’s concubine to the sodomites gathered outside his house (19.24), even though she had eaten at his table. It was the preservation of the men that was seen as important. That may suggest that in hospitality matters it was often in fact the menfolk who were seen as the ones who counted. Perhaps the women were in many cases merely sheltered because of their menfolk. Thus Jael may not have felt that similar laws applied to her. And the laws of hospitality did not provide for a married woman having a man alone with her in her tent. That was a flagrant breach of hospitality.

4.19b ‘And she opened a leather skin of milk, and gave him drink and covered him.’

It may be she had no water, or perhaps she was trying to reassure him of her friendly intent. The covering was probably so that he could sleep.

4.20 ‘And he said to her, “Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man shall come and enquire of you, and say, ‘Is there any man here?’ That you will say, ‘no’.”

If Jael is to be criticised for dishonesty, what about Sisera? He wanted her not only to lie for him, but also to do so in a way that would put her in danger. If they forced their way into her tent at least she would have some excuse, but to blatantly lie to hide him would put not only her, but the whole encampment, at risk. He thought only of himself. Thus he forfeited any right he had to hospitality. The whole incident covers him in dishonour. If she had had any qualms about what she was about to do before, from a hospitality point of view, they would surely have disappeared by now.

4.21 ‘Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent-pin, and took a mallet in her hand, and went quietly to him, and smote the pin into his temples, and it pierced through into the ground. For he was in a deep sleep. So he swooned and died.’

It was because he had gone to sleep that she was able to do this. Using a tent-pin and mallet was second nature to such a woman who in an encampment would use them regularly. It was seen as a job for women. That is why they were in her tent. Thus she would be very adept with them. The weapon was more effective than a knife for this purpose. The bones would not deflect it. They also meant that if he suddenly woke up while she was crossing over to him it would not look so suspicious.

Thus did she ensure that this enemy of Israel did not escape. That it was her deliberate purpose to kill him from the start we cannot doubt. That she breached etiquette in doing so is, as we have seen, doubtful. Everything about his actions was wrong. He himself breached every rule of etiquette with regard to a man’s wife, and he was willing to take advantage of her and put her at risk into the bargain. He had forfeited any right to consideration. And what other method could a woman have used to kill such a powerful enemy?

It is possible that she did it because her sympathies lay with Israel, and Israel’s God, although Heber may have left the family of Hobab because he was not prepared to enter into covenant with Yahweh. But there is no mention of Yahweh or of any such motive. In fact there is a remarkable and studied silence about it. Why no exultation? Why no praise to Yahweh? Why no reference to Him having delivered Sisera into her hand? We might be embarrassed about her deed but it is doubtful if anyone in her time would have had anything but admiration for it. Yet she must have had some special reason for her act, for hating him so.

Perhaps he had previously shamed her in some way. Perhaps he had previously made lewd advances towards her during visits to the camp, or used his position to force his attentions on her. Like many men he would persuade himself that really she would enjoy it, (that is, even if he thought about it). He was a Canaanite to whom sexual misbehaviour was second nature, with the power and authority to do almost what he wanted. And she was a semi-nomad, with little power. But as such she had the stricter moral ideas of her type. We cannot know all that lay behind it and should therefore hesitate to judge. But let us make no mistake about it. She took her revenge on a man who revealed what he was by being where he was. No woman of her type would have doubted the rightness of what she did.

His death at the hand of a woman would lead to mockery by fellow soldiers. His breaching of her tent would cause shock among tent dwellers. His death brought rejoicing throughout Israel. And he died a coward for the way he deserted his men. And the ribald laughter at the way he had been deceived would echo everywhere. He died without honour anywhere.

4.22 ‘And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man who you are looking for.” And he came to her, and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent-pin was in his temples.’

Barak, probably accompanied by some of his men, was on Sisera’s track. He would not want him to escape. And Jael went out to meet him. She was presumably expecting pursuit.

‘And said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man who you are looking for”.’ Her quiet approach, with no sense of exhilaration, but rather with a sense of grim satisfaction, would seem to confirm that she had had a private reason for what she did. She was not celebrating Yahweh’s victory but quietly enjoying her own revenge.

‘And he came to her, and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent-pin was in his temples.’ He found the man he was hunting down, lying in the tent with the tent-pin through his temples. She wanted it known what she had done. She had taken a woman’s vengeance.

Note that the word ‘come’ used by Jael is the same as the word ‘go’ used by Deborah (verse 6). Because of his unwillingness to act alone his victory was dependent on two women.

4.23 ‘So God subdued on that day Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the children, of Israel.’

Jabin’s efforts through his standing army had been thwarted, and instead it was he who had been subdued. His general was dead, his army decimated. It was something from which he would never recover. Note the use of ‘God’ instead of Yahweh. What had happened in Jael’s tent was not seen as a direct act of Yahweh. She had been inspired by other motives.

4.24 ‘And the hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin, the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, the king of Canaan.’

Having commenced successfully Barak did not let up. Gradually with his men he broke Jabin’s power base and eventually destroyed the king himself. Hazor and its confederates would no longer be a threat to them. Thus there was peace in that area for a generation while Israel re-established themselves, and they would be able to move around reasonably freely and settle in the plain of Esdraelon (Hebrew - Jezreel - 5.31). But there is no mention of driving out the Canaanites. Obedience was only partial and they would still be a thorn in the side of Israel.

Chapter 5. Deborah’s Song.

This chapter contains a song of praise by Deborah and Barak over the victories gained over Jabin and his kingdom. In the song:

  • An exhortation to praise is offered, and kings are stirred to listen to it (1-3).
  • After this the majestic appearance of God at Seir and on Sinai is described, and it is described in awe-inspiring terms (4-5)..
  • This is then followed by a description of the miserable state and condition that Israel was in before these victories, until Deborah arose to deliver them and the call went out to the tribes to respond in accordance with the covenant (6-12).
  • Descriptions follow of those who responded and those who failed to respond. The latter are reproved, and even cursed (13-18).
  • The battle is then described and blessing offered for Jael who as a foreigner dealt with the enemy general (19-27).
  • It finishes with the sad picture of Sisera’s wife waiting hopelessly for her man to return, and a final plea that Yahweh’s enemies will all likewise perish and those who love Him be as the sun in its brilliance (28-31).

Introduction (5.1-3).

5.1 ‘Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam, in that day, saying.’

That the song of Deborah was contemporary with the victory itself is recognised by most scholars. The song would appear to have been composed by Deborah herself (verse 7), but it was a public song of victory in which all partook. It is an interesting example of Hebrew parallelism whereby each line is repeated in a different way.

5.2

‘In that the leaders took the lead in Israel,
In that the people offered themselves willingly.
Bless you Yahweh.’

That leaders and people had responded to Yahweh’s command through Deborah was an occasion for ‘blessing’ (that is giving praise and worship to) Yahweh. Without their willing response the victory would not have been achieved. We will learn later about those who did not respond.

The first phrase is difficult and the translation doubtful. It could be translated more literally ‘in that the loose (hair) hung loose in Israel’. This would refer to the making of vows and the growing of the hair long, compare Samson (13.5), Samuel (1 Samuel 1.11) and the Nazirites (Numbers 6.5). Thus we could translate ‘in that those who made vows (to Yahweh) avowed themselves in Israel’. Compare the use of para‘ (loose) in Leviticus 10.6; Numbers 5.18. And along with them ‘the people offered themselves willingly’. There was no holding back by any.

5. 3

‘Hear, O you kings,
Give ear, O you princes,
I even I will sing to Yahweh,
I will sing praise to Yahweh, the God of Israel.’

The call now goes out for all princes and kings around, all who can hear, to hear her song, and to learn what Yahweh, the God of Israel, has done, and why she sings His praises. And sing His praises she will because of what He has done.

The Greatness of Yahweh (5.4-6).

5.4-5

‘Yahweh, when you went out of Seir,
When you marched out of the field of Edom,
The earth quaked, the heavens also dropped,
Yes, the clouds dropped water.
The mountains flooded down at the presence of Yahweh,
Even yon Sinai, at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel.’

The greatness of Yahweh was now described in terms of natural phenomenon. The connection of Seir with Sinai suggests that we have here a picture of Yahweh marching with His people out of the wilderness to capture the land of Canaan for Himself. ‘Seir, the field of Edom’, was connected with the old Edom (Genesis 32.3) and that stretched right back into the wilderness.

The quaking earth was a reminder of God’s revelation of Himself at Sinai (Exodus 19.18), while the waters flooding down were particularly appropriate in view of the way in which He destroyed the Canaanites at the Kishon. The thought is of a mighty storm which she may reasonably have connected with the phenomena at Sinai (Exodus 19.16), while linking Sinai with what he had done at Kishon. For this is poetry. Compare Psalm 68.7-9 which clearly has the song of Deborah in view. Thus the God of the covenant fulfilled His part in the covenant at Kishon. The floods of water from the skies flowed down ‘from Mount Sinai’.

She may also have had in mind the blessing of Moses. There Moses had said, ‘Yahweh came from Sinai, And rose from Mount Seir to them, He shone forth from Paran, and He came from ten thousands of holy ones’ (Deuteronomy 33.2 compare Psalm 68.17). It is clear reference to the fact that their mighty covenant God, with Whom they had dealt at Sinai, had come with them. He was not a far off God in a holy mountain, He was One Who was with them, the ‘I am’.

The Condition of Israel and The Rise of Deborah (5.6-8).

5.6

‘In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite,
The highways were unoccupied,
And the travellers walked through byways.’

In the days, that is, before they acted (3.31; 4.17). Israel in those days dared not be found in the plains where the caravans made their way between Mesopotamia and Egypt. They had had to trade secretly and keep to secret paths to avoid the enemy. For the Philistines were threatening from one angle and Hazor from another. Thus the actions of Shamgar and Jael are possibly seen as contemporary. Israel were a people who lived in terror until, along with Deborah, Shamgar and Jael arrived.

5.7a ‘Those in open country ceased in Israel, they ceased.’

It was at this time not safe for Israelites to live in the open country for otherwise they would suffer raids and have had all they possessed taken away from them, while they themselves would have been left as dead. While we are dealing with poetic exaggeration, this all suggests the cruel way in which Jabin was dealing with them.

5.7b ‘Until that I, Deborah, arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.’

It was the rise of Deborah, the Spirit-filled prophetess, that made the difference. She points to herself because she is the instrument of Yahweh. ‘Mother in Israel.’ There may be here a deliberate contrast with the mother in verse 28 who waited in vain. Deborah had known what it was like to be such a mother, watching hopelessly, like the other mothers in Israel, while their sons were brutally treated and slain. But more probably it refers to her status as a prophetess. Compare the other wise woman, ‘the mother in Israel’, who waited to be destroyed along with her city, and saved it by her wisdom (2 Samuel 20.19). By her wisdom and guidance and judgments Deborah had been a true ‘mother in Israel’, and she would especially be so when she delivered her people.

Notice the repetition of ‘ceased’ and the repetition of ‘arose’, placed in parallel for contrast, and doubled for emphasis. The cessation had taken place some time before. Now had come the arising.

5.8

‘They chose new gods, then was war in the gates.
Was there a shield or spear seen among forty eleph in Israel?’

The parlous state of Israel is now described. Instead of seeking to Yahweh, they had sought new gods, they had turned to the Baalim and the Ashtaroth. And the result for them was war, a war in which they could not defend themselves for they were without shield or spear. They were unarmed. Those who dominated them would not allow them to carry weapons.

‘Forty eleph.’ This is a general figure. It illustrates well the general use of numbers in ancient days. The forty represents trial and waiting, the ‘military units’ or ‘thousands’ represent a full number. It thus summarises the whole of Israel’s available fighting men without counting them, waiting and under trial.

Some would see it as referring to the forty thousand (one tenth of four hundred thousand - 20.2 with 10) who went against Benjamin in battle in the revenge for Gibeah (19-21). The passage would then refer to the new gods which led to the disgraceful behaviour of the men of Gibeah and the resulting war. The question about arms would then be answered ‘yes’.

‘In the gates.’ The gates of a fortified city were always its weak point which is why when kings were strong their gates were huge and complicated, like a heavily fortified tower. That was where an attacker would concentrate his attacks and the main fighting would take place.

Deborah Praises Those Who Responded to the Call to Arms (5.9-11).

5.9

‘My heart is towards the governors of Israel,
Who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless you Yahweh.’

Deborah expresses her gratitude to those leaders who willingly offered themselves to fight for Yahweh, for whom Yahweh should be praised. Some see this as referring to those who in the times of trouble were willing to act as leaders and guides to the people, for it was a dangerous position to be in. The leaders were always the scapegoats when anything went wrong. But the end of verse 11 would point to the first interpretation.

5.10

‘Tell of it,
You who ride on white asses,
You who sit on rich carpets,
And you who walk by the way.’

To ride on an ass was a position of prestige (Judges 10.4), and a white ass was seen as even more prestigious, the ride of princes. But they rode on asses when riding in peace. Thus those who ride on white asses are those who are important and distinguished, yet live in peace. They know nothing of war. The carpet was used for sitting on, and rich carpets were lush and comfortable. Thus those who sit on rich carpets are those who are wealthy and loll around at ease.

‘You who walk by the way.’ These are the ordinary people, the wayfarers, who can use the ordinary paths openly, unlike the previous furtiveness of captive Israel (verse 6). They should be grateful for their freedom.

The idea of all three descriptions is that Deborah is declaring that those who are at ease, far away and untroubled by war, will see what Yahweh will do for Israel, miserable in its captivity, revealing His rule over them, and it will be the talking point among them. All the world is called on to notice what God is doing.

5.11

‘Far from the noise of archers,
In the place of drawing water,
There will they rehearse the righteous acts of Yahweh.
Even the righteous acts towards those who live in the open places in Israel.
Then the people of Yahweh went down to the gates.’

Those who gather at the wells and springs, well away from war and the twang of the deadly bow (‘archers’ - literally ‘those who divide’ - some refer this to ‘those who divide the strings on stringed instruments’), will speak with awe of what Yahweh has done for Israel. The wells were the places where news was passed on and discussed, where the latest gossip could be gathered as everyone came to draw water. That is why in the Bible people so often go to a well when they want to make contact with the people of the land.

‘There will they rehearse the righteous acts of Yahweh, even the righteous acts towards those who live in the open places in Israel.’ All will talk of what Yahweh has done as they draw their water and discuss the latest news, all will recognise the rightness of His actions which have resulted once more in the people of Israel being able to live again in the open places. (The word translated ‘those who live in the open places’ is found only here and in verse 7 and nowhere else).

‘Then the people of Yahweh went down to the gates.’ The gates are the gates where there is war (verse 8). Having described how all the world will know of what Yahweh has done, the crunch time has come. Yahweh’s people went down to the gates of war. They were ready to face the enemy.

The Call To Action and the Response (5.12-15).

5.12

‘Awake, awake, Deborah.
Awake, awake, utter a song.
Arise Barak, and lead your captivity captive,
You son of Abinoam.’

Accordingly there now comes the call to the leaders to do their duty. Deborah, the prophetess, is to ‘utter a song’, in other words to prophesy. We can compare with this how the king of Moab called on Balaam to prophesy against Israel (Numbers 22.5-6). The words of such a prophet or prophetess were seen as mighty weapons of war. Barak is to remove captivity from Israel by making their captivity itself captive. Or alternately by capturing those who held them captive and leading them as a host of captives. Note again the comparative repetitions. Deborah is twice exhorted to stir her prophetic gift into action, and ‘captivity’ is repeated twice in the exhortation to Barak.

5.13-15a.

‘Then came down a remnant of the nobles.
The people of Yahweh came down for me against the mighty.
Out of Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek.
“After you, Benjamin,” among your peoples.
Out of Machir came down governors,
And out of Zebulun those who handle the marshal’s staff.
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah,
As was Issachar so was Barak,
Into the valley they rushed forth at his feet.’

Deborah describes the response of the tribes to the call to arms. The nobles may have been seen as a remnant because the remainder had been executed by the king of Hazor, but more probably because others (their tribes described later) did not respond. But the people of Yahweh did nobly respond (or at least some of them). Ephraim and Benjamin, Machir and Zebulun, and Issachar. Naphtali had, of course, made the call and would therefore be counted among them.

‘Ephraim whose root is in Amalek.’ Compare 12.15. Ephraim appears to have taken over territory previously occupied by Amalekites, or possibly had Amalekites living among them. It may however refer to former Amalekites who had become Ephraimites by accepting the covenant with Yahweh. None are more zealous than the convert.

‘After you (or ‘following you’) , Benjamin!’ Hosea 5.8 implies that this may have been their famous battlecry. Machir, this may have been the part of Manasseh west of Jordan (Machir is a son of Manasseh), but Joshua 17.1 places Machir in Gilead and Bashan. They had leaders who did respond. In Zebulun ‘those who handle the marshal’s staff,’ (or ‘scribal staff’), were possibly those who ensured and controlled supplies to the army, or it may be glorying in the fact that even their scribes responded to the call. But the parallel is what suggests ‘marshal’s’, leaders of the people.

Issachar’s princes were also there giving their support to Deborah, and so was Barak. He was the one they all followed as they rushed into the valley, the plain by the Kishon. Once he was committed, as a consequence of Deborah accompanying him, he led nobly as the great warrior he was.

The Roll of Dishonour - The List of Those Who Failed to Respond (5.15b-17).

5.15b-17.

‘By the watercourses of Reuben,
There were great resolves of heart.
Why did you sit among the sheepfolds,
To hear the pipings for the flocks?
At the watercourses of Reuben,
there were great searchings of heart.
Gilead abode beyond Jordan,
And Dan, why did he remain in boats?
Asher sat still at the haven of the sea,
And abode by his creeks.’

The call had gone out to the tribes, but some had failed to respond. As in Genesis 49.4, Reuben was as usual two-minded, unable to decide what to do. Great resolve was followed by great heartsearching. Although to be fair to them, with Moab waiting on their borders they had much to think about. So in the end, rather than listening to the call of Yahweh, they sat among the sheepfolds listening to the shepherd boys calling their flocks by piping on their flutes. (This can still be heard today in the Near East). The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. They listened at ease, enjoying the irrelevancies of life, rather than responding to Yahweh.

Gilead just refused to come. They stayed where they were. This represented Gad (Joshua 13.24) and parts of Manasseh (Joshua 17.1). (But see on Machir above). Dan too were not interested, they were too busy fishing (although another rendering of ‘in boats’ might be ‘at ease’, based on findings at Ugarit. But ‘in boats’ is a good parallel for ‘by his creeks’). They were a long way from the action. Asher stayed by the sea to the west. They were the more guilty because they were fairly close to the action. Perhaps they did not want to bring the wrath of Hazor on themselves.

The Victory of Yahweh (5.18-22).

5.18

‘Zebulun were a people who jeopardised their lives unto death,
And Naphtali on the high places of the field.’

These (including Issachar with Naphtali) formed the main bulk of the units which climbed Mount Tabor, ‘the high places of the earth’, from which they could swoop down on their foes. They were the ones prepared to take the main bulk of the fighting.

‘The high places of the field’ may have been poetic licence as the singer looked at the hills among which was Tabor. Or it may even be that the battle did take them into the hills, seeking the fleeing enemy. Alternately it may poetically signify the hottest part of the fighting.

5.19

‘The kings came and fought,
Then fought the kings of Canaan,
In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo.
They took no gain of wealth.’

Jabin’s confederacy, led by the kings of Canaan under Sisera, came to the fight, their hearts filled with the thought of booty. They fought in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, that is, by the Kishon (4.7). This mention of Taanach indicates that Megiddo was not standing at the time, suggesting a date around 1125 BC, Taanach, the largest city there, identifying the area.

‘They took no gain of wealth.’ Their expectations of booty from a glorious victory (compare verse 30) turned to dust, they left the field with empty hands. Their hopes were totally dashed. Nor did they receive any reward of any kind for their activity, for they abysmally failed.

5.20-21a.

‘They fought from heaven,
The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
The river Kishon swept them away,
That ancient river, the river Kishon.’

Earth and heaven combined to destroy their armies. Compare Joshua 10.13. The river Kishon was a river bed that wended its way through the Valley of Esdraelon. But when the rains pelted down in the hills around, and on the plain, it could quickly become a swollen river, overflowing its banks and flooding the plain. Some who have seen it have described the traces of where waters from the hills would make their way into the river in times of heavy rains. It was where Elijah destroyed the worshippers of Baal (1 Kings 18.40).

‘The stars in their courses (highways).’ Deborah may have had in mind the ‘ten thousands of holy ones’ who accompanied Yahweh in Deuteronomy 33.2. Or simply that nature was on their side. The stars are usually seen as affecting events by ceasing to shine (Isaiah 13.10; Ezekiel 32.7; Joel 2.10; 3.15). Thus the idea might be that the skies became so blackened with rainclouds that although it was ‘night’ the stars could not shine. Clearly then they were ‘responsible’ for what happened. The darkness would aid the swift footsoldiers of Israel who knew exactly what they were doing, and who was who. And ‘the ancient river’ may possibly suggest that the river was deified in Canaanite eyes (similar to the Nile to Egyptians). That also fought against them, impeding them and sweeping away any caught up in it.

5.21b ‘Oh my soul, march on with strength.’

For these occasional added comments see 5.2, 9. Exulted by what she visualises, Deborah encourages her soul to continued strength. If Yahweh has done this, what can He not do?

5.22

‘Then did the horse hoofs stamp by reason of their prancings,
The prancings of their strong ones.’

As the horses sought to gallop the waters hindered them, causing them to stamp impatiently, and even rear up. And this too would affect the ‘men of strength’ who rode them and tried to drive them on. But they were stamping in defeat. However, if we compare Jeremiah 8.16 the ‘strong ones’ may be the horses themselves. Thus it may mean that the behaviour of the horses affected each other.

The Cursed and the Blessed (5.23-27).

5.23

‘Curse you Meroz, said the angel of Yahweh,
Curse you bitterly (literally ‘curse cursing’) its inhabitants,
Because they came not to the help of Yahweh,
To the help of Yahweh against the mighty.’

Meroz is cursed because it was of the tribe of Naphtali. Meroz alone of Naphtali refused to contribute to the action, probably because they feared reprisals from Hazor. But thereby they brought a curse on their own heads, and probably vengeance as well.

Meroz was probably a town a few miles (kilometres) north of Kedesh-naphtali from which Barak came. Note the mention of the angel of Yahweh to demonstrate how closely Yahweh was involved in the action (and how the angel of Yahweh appears distinguished from Yahweh). The expression also indicates Deborah’s source of inspiration.

5.24

‘Blessed above women shall Jael be,
The wife of Heber the Kenite.
Blessed shall she be,
Above women in the tent.’

In stark contrast to Meroz, the native born Israelites who refused help to Israel, was Jael the Kenite, who gave that help. Indeed she will be blessed above all women who live in tents, that is, semi-nomadic women. Or it may mean that in a tent of women she will be exalted because of what she did.

5.25

‘He asked water, and she gave him milk,
She brought him yoghurt in a lordly dish.’

This may just be describing how she treated him right royally, but it may be metaphorical for what follows. That was milk indeed! ‘A lordly dish’ - a dish fit for a lord.

5.26-27.

‘She put her hand to the nail,
And her right hand to the workmen's hammer,
And with the hammer she smote Sisera,
She smote through his head.
Yes she pierced and struck through his temples.
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay.
At her feet he bowed, he fell.
Where he bowed, there he fell down spoiled (become a spoil).’

The picture is triumphant. The nail in the left hand, the hammer in the right, she smote it through his head, yes, she pierced and struck through his temples. And like a beaten foe he fell at her feet (perhaps metaphorically - although it is possible that in his death throes he staggered up and then collapsed). Note the stress ‘she smote -- she smote’, ‘he bowed -- he bowed’. She had taken her spoil. No woman of her time would have doubted that this man, who had violated her tent, deserved what he received, for all would read the implications behind it. There was no law of hospitality that catered for a situation like this.

Possibly significant are the verbs used. To ‘bow’ over a woman was to have intercourse with her (Job 31.10) and ‘to lay’ was used of rape (Deuteronomy 22.23, 25, 28). Perhaps there is here the suggestion of vengeance for previous rape, what he had done to her being connected with his fall. Note how rape is also prominent in verse 30.

The Mother of Sisera, A Stark Contrast To Jael (5.28-30).

Looking back through the ages we rightly feel pity for this poor woman waiting for her son. But then they were not our daughters whom her husband would have raped and enslaved, decked in stolen finery (verse 30-31). She had had no pity for them then, only delight in his doings. Her heart had been pitiless towards those less fortunate, and less pampered, than herself.

5.28

‘Through the window she looked out and lamented,
The mother of Sisera cried out through the lattice.
Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why linger the forward movements (‘steps’) of his chariots?’

The mother of Sisera looked out impatiently for her son’s return. His return with the spoils of war, and with all his chariots, in triumph. Why did he have to be so long? She had no thought for his victims, only for the rewards she would receive as a result of his activities.

‘The lattice.’ The window would have no glass, but be covered by a lattice.

5.29

‘Her wise ladies answered her,
Yes, she returned answer to herself.’

There was no doubt among her ladies, only certainty. He had after all gone out with superior force against a rag tag of rebellious serfs. What could possibly have happened?

‘Her wise women.’ This is deliberately ironic, how wise they proved to be! Their wisdom was confounded by Yahweh. But she was just as confident as they. And what a contrast here between the lonely woman in her tent, who had possibly previously been ravaged, and this woman surrounded by protectors. No one would be able to enter her boudoir. No one could think of despoiling her. She was not just someone who was there to be used.

5.30

‘Have they not found,
Have they not divided the spoil?
A damsel, two damsels to every man.
To Sisera a spoil of divers colours,
A spoil of divers colours of embroidery,
Of divers colours of embroidery,
On both sides on the necks of the spoil?’

She was well aware that part of the reason for the delay would be the time taken in dividing the spoil. And they would no doubt want to satisfy themselves, each taking one or two tasty virgins. She knew of it, for she had experienced it all before. She gave no thought to the poor damsels.

‘A damsel’. Literally ‘a womb’. The word was used on the Moabite Stone of temple slave girls. Someone to be used, and to produce unrecognised bastards, and bring them up in undesirable circumstances. Women available for their lusts. A correct translation would possibly be too crude for Christian readers. There was no compassion in her heart for them. They were ‘spoils’ of war. No wonder that Deborah, who had seen such behaviour among the Canaanites, rejoiced for the sake of such women in the action of Jael.

And not only women but multicoloured finery. And what was worse, finery which had bedecked the beautiful virgins (‘on both sides on the necks of the spoil’) before they were savagely raped, and their finery wrenched off them. While we are right to be sympathetic, we also recognise that she does not really deserve it. All she thought of was herself at great cost to others. And Deborah had in mind what had been done to virgins of Israel in the past, and what this woman’s husband had intended to do with them after the battle. What Yahweh’s action had saved them from.

The Cry of Triumph (5.31).

5.31a

‘So let all your enemies perish, Oh Yahweh.
But let those who love him be as the sun when he goes out in his might.’

Deborah finishes with a cry to Yahweh, that all His enemies will also be dealt with in the same way, that all might so perish. For only then can Israel be free. But for those who love Him she desires that they shine like the sun as it comes up in its strength, a picture of splendour and glory.

5.31b ‘And the land had rest forty years.’

A comment added at the end of the song. The result of the victory of Yahweh was a generation of peace. But a period also of waiting and testing for the next episode in the story.

It is significant in the song that there is no mention of Judah and Simeon. They were clearly either not called on or not expected to respond to the call. This may have been because it was recognised that they could not because they were facing their own problems, the keeping at bay of the Philistine threat. Shamgar may have been connected with Judah (Joshua 15.59 - there was a Beth Anoth in the territory of Judah). This partial separation from the other tribes (although they assisted against Cushan-rishathaim (3.9) and in the Gibeah incident (20.18)) would come to fruition later on in the establishing of Israel and Judah as separate nations.

It is interesting to note the use of ‘Gilead’ to represent tribes across the Jordan, possibly a sign that territorial position was beginning partially to replace tribal designation, unless the reference is to the sub-tribe of Gilead (Numbers 26.29).

The Book of Judges: Contents

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THE PENTATEUCH --- GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS --- NUMBERS --- DEUTERONOMY --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- THE BOOK OF RUTH --- SAMUEL --- KINGS --- EZRA---NEHEMIAH--- ESTHER--- PSALMS 1-58--- PROVERBS---ECCLESIASTES--- SONG OF SOLOMON --- ISAIAH --- JEREMIAH --- LAMENTATIONS --- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL --- --- HOSEA --- --- JOEL ------ AMOS --- --- OBADIAH --- --- JONAH --- --- MICAH --- --- NAHUM --- --- HABAKKUK--- --- ZEPHANIAH --- --- HAGGAI --- ZECHARIAH --- --- MALACHI --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- READINGS IN ROMANS --- 1 CORINTHIANS --- 2 CORINTHIANS ---GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS--- PHILIPPIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --- 2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- PHILEMON --- HEBREWS --- JAMES --- 1 & 2 PETER --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- JUDE --- REVELATION --- THE GOSPELS & ACTS

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