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.
Rachel and Leah
The Four Most Important Women Who Never Lived
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Mary and Elizabeth
UMW in Bible Times
Copyright 2008, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
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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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