Holy Mothers (and One Unholy Grandmother) –

Deborah, Judge over Israel

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

Other Mothers

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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. 

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Mary and Elizabeth
UMW in Bible Times

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