15 May. Judges 4:1-24,5:31

15 May. Deborah and Barak defeat Sisera

“After Ehud died, the Israelites again did what the LORD said was wrong. So he let Jabin, a king of Canaan who ruled in the city of Hazor, defeat Israel.”

“Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of Jabin’s army. Because he had 900 iron chariots and was very cruel to the people of Israel for 20 years, they cried to the LORD for help.”

“A prophetess named Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was judge of Israel at that time. Deborah would sit under the Palm Tree of Deborah, which was between the cities of Ramah and Bethel, in the mountains of Ephraim. And the people of Israel would come to her to settle their arguments.”

“Deborah sent a message to Barak son of Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, ‘The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: “Go and gather 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them to Mount Tabor. I will make Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, and his chariots, and his army meet you at the Kishon River. I will hand Sisera over to you.”’”

“Then Barak said to Deborah, ‘I will go if you will go with me, but if you won’t go with me, I won’t go.’ ‘Of course I will go with you,’ Deborah answered, ‘but you will not get credit for the victory. The LORD will let a woman defeat Sisera.’”

“So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. At Kedesh, Barak called the people of Zebulun and Naphtali together. From them, he gathered 10,000 men to follow him, and Deborah went with him also...”

“When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone to Mount Tabor, Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.”

“Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Get up! Today is the day the LORD will hand over Sisera. The LORD has already cleared the way for you.’ So Barak led 10,000 men down Mount Tabor.”

“As Barak approached, the LORD confused Sisera and his army and chariots. The LORD defeated them with the sword, but Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot.”

“Barak and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army to Haroseth Haggoyim. With their swords they killed all of Sisera’s men; not one of them was left alive. But Sisera himself ran away to the tent where Jael lived. She was the wife of Heber, one of the Kenite family groups. Heber’s family was at peace with Jabin king of Hazor.”

“Jael went out to Sisera to meet him and said to him, ‘Come into my tent, master! Come in. Don’t be afraid.’ So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a rug. Sisera said to Jael, ‘I am thirsty. Please give me some water to drink.’ So she opened a leather bag of milk and gave him a drink. Then she covered him up.”

“He said to her, ‘Go and stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes and asks you, “Is anyone here?” say, “No.”’ But Jael, the wife of Heber, took a tent peg and a hammer and quietly went to Sisera. Since he was very tired, he was in a deep sleep. She hammered the tent peg through the side of Sisera’s head and into the ground. And so Sisera died.”

“At that very moment Barak came by Jael’s tent, chasing Sisera. Jael went out to meet him and said, ‘Come. I will show you the man you are looking for.’ So Barak entered her tent, and there Sisera lay dead, with the tent peg in his head.”

“On that day God defeated Jabin king of Canaan in the sight of Israel. Israel became stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan until finally they destroyed him… Then there was peace in the land for 40 years.”

          (Judges 4:1-24 & 5:31)



After Ehud died, the Canaanite King Jabin of Hazor defeated Israel with his nine hundred iron chariots and ruled for twenty years (see 4 on the map on 10 May).

Jabin’s commander, Sisera, lived at Harosheth Haggoyim ('Harosheth of the nations' or 'Harosheth of the gentiles').

Deborah – a prophetess and leader of the Israelites - dispensed justice and wisdom under a palm tree between Ramah (‘a high place’) and Bethel (‘house of God’) in the hill country of Ephraim (see the map). In c.1250BC, she sent for Barak, from Kadesh in Naphtali, and told him to take ten thousand men to Mt Tabor and defeat Sisera at the River Kishon (see 4 on the map).

Deborah and Barak assembled the Israelite troops at Kadesh and lined them up on the lower slopes of Mt Tabor. Sisera attacked the Israelites, but his 900 iron chariots were bogged down when heavy rain fell on the low-lying land beneath the steep slopes, and the chariots were swept away by the swollen River Kishon.

The defeated soldiers were pursued to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera took refuge in the tent of Heber the Kenite, but was killed by Heber's wife Jael, who hammered a tent peg through his head as he slept.

So Deborah’s prophesy came true: “The LORD will let a woman defeat Sisera.” Deborah and Barak rejoiced at the victory (see Deborah’s hymn of praise in Judges 5:1-31) and Israel was at peace for almost forty years.

The photo (by Eliot) shows Mount Tabor rising above the Kishon Valley.

You can read more interesting information about Mount Tabor @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/deborah-and-barak-defeat-sisera/

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