Jael greeted Sisera, feigning hospitality (vv. Nothing is easier than to over-estimate opposition of this sort. 7 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968). Deborah responds in verse 9, saying, “I will surely go with you: nevertheless, the journey that you take shall not be for your honor; for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”. For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”. Some say it showed him as cowardly, afraid, and distrusting of God. And she was willing to lay her life on the line regarding this message from God. This is a story of teamwork. Today, more than half of the students in Protestant seminaries are women. 3. WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR INFLUENCE. How in our school-days our hearts have become knit "as with hooks of steel" to companions whom we have loved as Jonathan loved David, with a "love passing the love of women." This verse alerts us to Deborah’s double role. By the time of Joel it becomes clear that God treats people by their skills, abilities and faith and not by their gender. All Rights Reserved | © 1997-2020 Richard Niell Donovan. What if the journey he took was not to be for his own honour? She rejoined yet again, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Hazor was located ten miles (15 km) north of the Sea of Galilee. Just as Jael asked Barak to look at the dead body of Sisera, Spurgeon said we should look at sin slain by the work of Jesus, knowing He has already won the battle. Shall that thought deter him? It is power; the power of one will over another. Our passage begins with a recounting of the theme of the book of Judges. The book of Judges makes no mention of her violation of hospitality norms. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. Learn: 1. We are led to believe that Sisera will fall at the hand of Deborah, but the story has a surprise ending waiting for us. I picture her as the civilian commander-in-chief overseeing the great victory over Sisera. In the former capacity she is simply to be viewed as one of those instances in which God chooses to show forth His power through the weak things of this world, and to bring about great national crises through the instrumentality of the weaker sex. They are not passive, demure, timid and submissive, but active, bold, fearless and assertive. And it reminds us of the importance of our life together in Christ. Sisera had nine hundred chariots of iron—an overwhelming force in any contest between Sisera’s army and an army fighting only with foot soldiers. “She lived under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim“ (v. 5a). The Israelites then proceeded to kill the ten thousand Moabites and to bring an end to Moab’s oppressive rule. Just as the book of Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34) and the book of Joshua begins with the commissioning of Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9), so also the book of Joshua ends with the death of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-31; see also Judges 2:6-10) and the book of Judges begins with Yahweh appointing Judah to go up against the Canaanites (Judges 1:2). This is evident from the very nature of influence. 2. No. They were Yahweh’s answer to Israel’s need for leadership during this critical part of Israel’s history. 2) The Lord hands the Israelites over to oppressing nations. "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). Presbyterian professor Donna Strom lamented that historically women have done little to join men in ruling the earth. The judges sometimes decided issues brought in judicial proceedings, but they were primarily rulers and military leaders—deliverers. I. Second, the story lifts up the value and role of women in ancient Hebrew life, and our own. Naphtali and Zebulun are two of the far northern tribes of Israel. She writes of the Biblical story of Deborah, “What Deborah’s example obviously teaches is that women should not be excluded from any levels of decision-making, religious or political.” But she asks, “Where are the Deborah’s?” I am sure we could now respond that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are modern day Deborah’s, and there are many more. While it sounds as if Deborah believes that she will receive the glory that would have belonged to Barak, we will see later that the woman who gets credit for killing Sisera is Jael, not Deborah (vv. Deborah knew that if the battle was lost she would most likely lose her life, but she had no doubts in God and quickly agreed to go with him. It is filled with sin, violence and the judgment of God. Her authority is recognised, for "the children of Israel came up to her for judgment." This sounds as if he is a coward who would like to hide behind a woman’s skirts, but that might not be the case. In measure like this it is the possession of the few. It was an important city, because it was located at a strategic crossroads—controlling access to Israel from Syria. That is where the decisive battle will take place, and Yahweh promises Barak that Yahweh will deliver Sisera and his army into Barak’s hand. If … God never entirely deserts even his unfaithful ones. This force powerfully affected their imagination, and rendered them all but helpless. Frequently, we have seen that the women who did not have the positions of power were still able to have the most powerful influence in the direction of the stories. Christ is in the business of making us all one. This verse portrays the unevenness of the two armies—Sisera’s army and Israel’s army. It is seemingly paradoxical, but no less true, that women should have the power of meeting imminent danger with a calmness and perseverance often denied to man. 4. As at other times of national misfortune a judge is raised up, "Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time." "The journey which thou takest shall not be for thine honour." The hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan” (vv. Click here for more information. 4) The Lord rescues them through a judge who delivers them for a period of time. Sometimes a grand, noble parent serves his generation and blesses it, and then sends down the crystal purity of his honour and the odour of his sanctity to children's children. “and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel“ (v. 3c). Some are left from whom the new era may take a beginning. 3. “for he had nine hundred chariots of iron” (v. 3b). Some of the greatest preachers of our time are women like Barbara Brown Taylor. “I wish him well!” We’ve almost seen the fulfillment of that prophecy. Resources to inspire you — and your congregation! The excitement of victory might draw forth the impassioned cry even from one of the male sex, even from one of God's utterers, "Blessed above women"; but that cry has never found even an echo in evangelical hearts; that cry has given trouble and pain to champions of revelation. The final point I want us to learn from this story is that Deborah did not act alone to ensure the victory for the Israelites. II. He asked her to stand guard at the entrance of the tent (v. 20). Scripture: Judges 3, Acts 4:29-31. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc. However, Yahweh gave their armies into the hands of the Israelites, who soundly defeated them and destroyed the city of Hazor (Joshua 11:1-15). “The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh….” There is a pattern repeated over and over in Judges: 1) The Israelites turn away from following the way of the Lord. Sisera did indeed fall at the hand of a woman, but it was Jael, not Deborah, and certainly not Barak, who killed the enemy general. Several years ago, former First Lady Barbara Bush delivered a commencement address at Wellesley College. Paul goes on to say, “(That Christ) might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. Message 4 in our exposition of Judges focusing on Ehud's exploits. It isn’t very tall—only 1843 feet (562 meters)—but it rises from a low plain, so it is quite prominent. I think the same is true in many situations in our lives. One last thought occurs, and it might seem at first hearing to conflict with the foregoing; but it is not so. For Barak, Deborah represents the presence of Yahweh, and his request reflects his desire that Yahweh be fully present with him and his army as he prepares for battle with Sisera and his iron chariots. The passage tells us that Sisera escaped the battle and made his way to the tent of a woman whom Sisera assumed was a friend. 29.) Therefore he chose young David, who faced a giant with his slingshot—and Gideon, who faced a mighty army with a small band of 300 soldiers. It “quickly fills in times of heavy rain, making the soft soil of the plain on either side marshy and miry. When Ehud was alone with Eglon, he moved closer, supposedly to give Eglon the message secretly—but then he pulled out his knife and stuck it into Eglon’s fat belly so that the fat of Eglon’s belly closed around the hilt and hid the knife. Since there are few palm trees in the area, the location of “Deborah’s Palm” would have been easy to find. Another consideration is that Barak doesn’t show any sign of weakness when dealing with Sisera’s army. Whether we are at home, at school or at work, we need to learn to work with others. Biblical Commentary Judges 4:1-7 EXEGESIS: THE CONTEXT: Just as the book of Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34) and the book of Joshua begins with the commissioning of Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9), so also the book of Joshua ends with the death of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-31; see also Judges 2:6-10) and the book of Judges begins with Yahweh appointing Judah to go up against … Although "the memory of the just smells sweet, and blossoms in the dust," it is present influence with most of us that is most vividly impressive and practically effective. God cannot die. “I have much work ahead of me to become a good homilist … but, it is a wonderful experience to have people tell me that they have been touched by a word that I may have shared. But there are limits and imperfections in this. But I believe it shows a recognition that Deborah was God’s representative. The last political election was especially significant for women because Hillary Clinton almost became the Democratic nominee for President and Sarah Palin was the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. The trench through which the Kishon runs is about 20 feet (6 meters) deep. God is almighty in power. What seems odd is that Yahweh doesn’t involve some of the other tribes in that region, such as Dan, Asher, and Issachar. At the end of the battle, we find another strong, independent and courageous woman – Jael.