Holy Mothers (and One Unholy Grandmother) –

Deborah, Judge over Israel


Judges 4, Deborah and Barak
Judges 5, The Song of Deborah

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Judges 4, Deborah and Barak (6/25/2008)

You know from reading Ruth that Ruth lived "during the time of the judges."  This was a period of about 400 years after the death of Joshua and before the anointing of Saul as king over Israel.  There was no central government during the time of the judges; instead, each tribe was ruled by its own elders.  This was fine as long as the tribe or tribes obeyed God and worshipped him, but periodically one or more tribes would fall away, worship other gods, and be oppressed by other nations.  Eventually they would figure out the connection between apostasy and oppression, and then they would repent and cry to God for rescue.  God would call up a Judge for them - a charismatic leader who typically would raise an army, throw off the oppressors, and then continue to judge the tribe or tribes for the rest of his or her life.  We know about thirteen judges, six of whom we have histories for. 
 
Deborah was a judge prior to taking military action.  (She was also a prophet.)  In this particular case, the Israelites already had a military leader, Barak.  He knew that he should go out and fight the oppressor's army; however, he wasn't willing to go anywhere unless the Judge, Deborah, would come along.  It's never been clear to me whether the death of the opposing general, Sisera, at the hands of a woman, Jael, resulted from Barak's refusal to act on his own or just worked out that way.
 
Judges 5, The Song of Deborah (6/26/2008)

Do you remember Jimmy Horton's hit song, "The Battle of New Orleans"? (In 1814, we took a little trip/ Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip ...)  It's a lively, upbeat, boasting, exaggerating, sneering victory song.  Today's reading is the same song, different battle.  (In the Hebrew Bible, it's written out as poetry, just like lyrics should be, but it's usually impossible for us to see this in translation.)  Many scholars, even most, believe that the Song of Deborah is the oldest written piece of scripture that we have. 


Other Mothers
Sarah
Rebecca
Rachel and Leah
Miriam
Ruth
Esther
Athaliah
The Four Most Important Women Who Never Lived
Women Who Expected Miracles
Mary and Elizabeth
UMW in Bible Times

Copyright 2008, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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