The Story Of Deborah And Jael

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The story of Deborah and Jael begins in Judges 4, in which Deborah the prophetess grants military wisdom to the Israelites in how best to handle their plight at the hands of King Jabin of Canaan. Deborah sends for the military leader Barak, son of Abinoam, and when he arrives she advises him in the name of Yahweh to take 10,000 men to Mount Tabor. While they wait, she would draw out Sisera, the leader of the Canaanite army under King Jabin, and guide him into the crosshairs of Barak and his men. Barak hesitantly agrees and together, he and Deborah leave to gather men and for Deborah to lure Sisera to the battle (The Harper Collins Study Bible, Judges 4:1-10). When Sisera hears about Barak and his army, he gathers his chariots and men and…show more content…
‘Judge,’ however, can also mean a military leader, presumably someone who makes tactical military decisions during wartime and also a general-type leader who fights alongside his or her soldiers. It seems possible that this role could also be designated to Deborah, since she travelled with Barak to gather soldiers for the Battle of Mount Tabor and subsequently convinced Sisera to engage in battle. Also, as Tikva Frymer-Kensky explains in Readings in the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories, “the ‘judges’…usually acquired their political authority after they saved Israel through battle” (46). This directly connects to the possibility that Deborah engaged in war as a leader. Finally, it is important to note Barak’s hesitance in leaving for battle without the aid of Deborah: Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh (Judges 4:8-9). This passage suggests that Barak regarded her as a well-respected authority figure; one whose military acumen he trusted implicitly and found her presence on the field of battle to be imperative to success. It could also mean that he thought he would need her wisdom at some point during the journey and battle.
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