Judges 4

Chapter 4

Judges Deborah and Barak. 1 After Ehud died the Israelites once again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 The Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, the king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 The Israelites cried out to the Lord, for he had nine hundred iron chariots. He oppressed the Israelites terribly for twenty years.

4 Now Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, a prophetess, was then a judge in Israel.[a] 5 She used to sit underneath the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites would come up to her for judgment there. 6 She summoned Barak, the son of Ahinoam, from Kadesh of Naphtali, and she said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Go, take ten thousand men from Naphtali and Zebulun with yourself and march toward Mount Tabor.[b] 7 I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and his forces, to the Kishon River, and I will deliver him up into your hands.’ ” 8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, then I will go, but if you do not go with me, then I will not go.” 9 She said, “Fine, I will go with you. But because of how you are doing this, it will not work out to your glory. The Lord will hand Sisera over into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah rose up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak had summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. Ten thousand men were under his command, and Deborah went up with him.

11 Now Heber, the Kenite, had moved away from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses. He pitched his tent by the terebinth of Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12 They reported to Sisera that Barak, the son of Abinoam, had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all of the men who were with him, and he traveled from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Wadi Kishon. 14 Deborah said to Barak, “Rise up, for this is the day that the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hands. Has the Lord not gone out before you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by his men.

15 The Lord routed Sisera before Barak at the edge of the sword along with all his chariots and all his troops. Sisera climbed down from his chariot and fled on foot. 16 Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-haggoyim. All of the troops of Sisera fell to the sword; there was not a survivor left among them.

17 Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin, the king of Hazor, and Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to greet Sisera. She said to him, “Come in, my lord, come right in. Do not be afraid.” He came into the tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink for I am thirsty.” She opened up a skin of milk, gave him some to drink, and covered him again. 20 He told her, “Stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes by and asks, ‘Is there anyone here,’ tell that person, ‘No.’ ” 21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, got a tent peg, she took a hammer in her hands, and she snuck up to him when he was in a deep sleep. She drove it through his temple into the ground, and he died.[c]

22 Barak passed by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael came out to him and said to him, “Come in, I will show you the man you are looking for.” He found Sisera dead, the peg through his temple. 23 On that day the Lord brought Jabin, the king of Canaan, into subjection to the Israelites. 24 The hand of the Israelites constantly grew stronger against Jabin, the king of Canaan, until they had crushed Jabin, the king of Canaan.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 4:4 Deborah is distinct among the judges as the only female and as one who could foretell the future. She apparently was held in high esteem and trust by the people she served.
  2. Judges 4:6 Tabor: the point where the territories of Naphtali, Zebulon, and Issachar met. It would be the mountain on which Jesus was transfigured.
  3. Judges 4:21 By killing Sisera, Jael disregarded the rules of hospitality that were normally extended to someone who entered another’s tent and guaranteed their safety.

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