Judges Chapter 4

The Israelites were living under the leadership of judges, whom the Lord had raised up to deliver His people. Ehud had delivered the people from the oppression of the Moabites when he killed their king, Eglon. This was possible because, while under oppression, the people had remembered the Lord. The cycle of rebellion against God, continues in this chapter, with the following:

1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

Once Ehud, judge of Israel, had died, the Israelites returned to their ways of wickedness. The Lord allowed them to fall into the hands of king Jabin of Canaan. They were oppressed for twenty years and the Israelites remembered the Lord and prayed for deliverance. Each time the Israelites turned to worshipping false gods and doing evil, the Lord withdrew his blessing of protection from their enemies. In their weakness, the Israelites were oppressed by the nations surrounding them. They never seemed strong enough on their own, but needed the Lord on their side in order to prosper in the land.

4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.
8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
9 And she said, 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. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

A prophetess named Deborah, judged Israel. The Israelites went to her for leadership. She talked to a man named Barak, about leading ten thousand men of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, to go up against their enemies. The Lord had promised to deliver Sisera, the captain of the Canaanites, and his army into their hands. Barak would only go if Deborah would go with him. She agreed and told him this would not be for his honor, but that Sisera would be sold into the hands of a woman by the Lord.

We are not always expected to do the things that we want to do. Sometimes it is easier to do hard things, when we have the support of others with us. In this case, Barak wanted the support of Deborah. I think that he trusted that with Deborah there, they could have the Lord’s strength and would win the fight.

10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.
12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.
13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
15 And the Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

They gathered their men and went towards their enemy. Deborah told Barak when he was to go, according to when the Lord had delivered Sisera into their hands. Sisera was delivered into their hands by the Lord. Sisera, himself, ran away, while his men were destroyed by the Israelites. Sisera took refuge with Jael the Kenite, who’s family was aligned with king Jabin of Canaan. She was the woman, who Deborah had foretold of taking Sisera.

18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Jael met Sisera and asked him to come unto her in her tent. He did and then asked for water to drink. She gave him milk, which I think caused him to fall asleep. He told her to stand watch and if anyone asked if a man had come to her, she was to say no. Then she snuck up to him while he slept and killed him with a nail from her tent, which she drove into the ground. When Barak arrived at her tent, looking for Sisera, she showed him what she had done. Jabin and the Canaanites, had been subdued by the Lord and the Isrealites were able to destroy them and prosper again.

This chapter focuses on the ability for women to be able to deliver the people, which was not common among the scriptures. These women were heroes for the Israelites. Jael had great courage to do what she did to Sisera. Deborah was indeed a prophetess of the Lord, because the things which she foretold came to pass. She was blessed with the ability to deliver the Isrealites and show them that the Lord was their God. Women can be great leaders of courage and faith today, as these were in ancient times. In order for us to stay strong, the world we live in now needs women to be more courageous, faithful, and righteous. I may not be required to lead an army to battle, but I am raising children who need a righteous and faithful mother in their home.

The Lord was the strength of Israel. Even when facing their enemy with chariots, which they could not fight alone as men, they were victorious. The Lord can be there for us in our battles, if we will heed the words of our modern prophets and leaders. If we will keep the commandments, He will strengthen us and help us to overcome the world.

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