Judges 5

Chapter 5[a]

The Song of Deborah. 1 On that day Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, sang,

2 “Israel’s leaders led bravely,
the people followed gladly,
praise the Lord.
3 Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes,
for I, myself, will sing about the Lord;
I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4 Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched out of the fields in Edom,
the earth trembled, and the heavens poured,
the clouds poured down water.[b]
5 The mountains quaked before the Lord,
he who was on Sinai,
before the Lord, the God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath,
in the days of Jael,
the highways were deserted,
travelers took winding paths.
7 Village life ceased in Israel,
it ceased until I, Deborah,
until I rose up as mother in Israel.[c]
8 When they chose new gods,
war showed up at the gates.
Not a shield nor a spear was to be found
among the forty thousand in Israel.
9 My heart was with the leaders of Israel;
they offered themselves willingly with the people.
Bless the Lord.
10 Speak, you who ride on white donkeys,
who sit in judgment,
who walk along the ways.
11 Far from the noise of archers,
in the places where there is water,
there they shall recount the righteous deeds of the Lord,
his righteous deeds toward his villagers in Israel.
Then the people of the Lord will go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah.
Awake, awake, sing a song.
Arise, O Barak,
and lead your captives away,
O son of Abinoam.
13 Then the remnant of the nobles marched,
the people of the Lord came to me with the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim,
whose roots were in Amalek;
Benjamin was with your people who followed you.
From Machir[d] officers came down,
from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah,
Issachar was with Barak;
he sent them into the valley under his command.
In the districts of Reuben
there were serious doubts.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep folds
to hear the bleating of the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
there were serious doubts.
17 Gilead remained beyond the Jordan.
Dan, why did he remain by the ships?
Asher remained by the seashore
and stayed in his coves.[e]
18 The people of Zebulun risked their lives,
as did Naphtali on the heights of the field.
19 Kings came and fought;
the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo,
but they took no plunder, no silver.
20 From the heavens the stars fought on;[f]
they fought against Sisera in their courses.
21 The Wadi Kishon swept them away;
the ancient wadi,
the Wadi Kishon.
March on, O my soul, be strong.
22 Then the horses’ hoof beats thundered,
galloping, galloping, go the mighty steeds.
23 ‘Curse Meroz,’[g] said the angel,
‘bitterly curse those who live there.
They did not come to help the Lord,
to help the Lord against the mighty.’
24 You will be blessed above other women,
O Jael, wife of Heber, the Kenite;
you are blessed above other women who live in tents.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk.
In a dish fit for royalty, she brought him cream.
26 Her hand reached for a tent peg,
her right hand for a workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera; she crushed his head,
she pierced and bored through his temple.
27 He sank down to her feet,
fell down and lay there.
At her feet he sank and fell down;
where he sank, there he fell, dead!
28 Sisera’s mother looked out through a window,
she cried from behind the lattice,
‘Why is his chariot taking so long?
Why is the clatter of chariots so late in coming?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answers her,
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they having trouble finding and dividing the spoils?
A woman or two to each man,
colorful garments as plunder to Sisera,
the plunder of garments with colorful needlework,
colorful needlework for around the plunderer’s neck?’
31 So may all of your enemies perish, O Lord,
may those who love him come forth like the mighty sun.”

There was then peace in the land for forty years.


  1. Judges 5:1 This song, composed in the enthusiasm of victory, testifies to the wonder roused in Israel by the feats of deliverance and by the Lord’s intervention. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of ancient literature and of great historical value as well, since it gives a vivid portrayal of the varying reactions of the tribes to the undertaking.
  2. Judges 5:4 The point of the imagery is that God came to the aid of his people with extraordinary assistance; his “coming” is concretized by mentioning areas of southern Palestine.
  3. Judges 5:7 As mother in Israel: an endearment for Deborah, who judges her people with a woman’s intuition, wisdom, and compassion.
  4. Judges 5:14 Machir: the elder son of Manasseh; here he stands for the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan, as opposed to the eastern half in Gilead.
  5. Judges 5:17 After receiving a territory west of Jerusalem, Dan pushed northward to the region of the sources of the Jordan (see chs. 17–18).
  6. Judges 5:20 The stars fought on: God’s army battled the enemy.
  7. Judges 5:23 Meroz: the residents of this area were apparently expected to take part in the battle and are condemned for not helping “the Lord against the mighty.”

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