About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 5

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The Song Of Deborah (ch. 5:1 - 31)           


If you read the Bible, you will soon notice that there are many different writing styles.  There are narratives.  There are historical records, like the listing of names.  There is poetry, and in this case, there are songs.  When it comes to poetry and songs, because of their nature and writing style, the emphasis is on conveying a mood, a feeling, a rhyme.  Biblical poetry and song are accurate in their account of history, but it's not the main reason for why they were written, so some things are left out.  For this reason, and for other reasons of writing styles within poetry and song, translating can be difficult at times.   


Verse 1 simply tells us that both Deborah and Barak penned a song which we'll now look at.


Verse 2 says, "when the princes of Israel take the lead".  This phrase is one example of what I said at the beginning of this chapter concerning translation problems.  The Hebrew actually says, "when men let grow their hair in Israel".  You might ask, "how do you get our English translation from that"?  Our English translations are not always a word for word translation.  The NIV's translation here is more of a mixture of a translation and an interpretation.  They don't really know what hair has to do with this, but hair might have been relevant in the locality and time when the song was written that we know nothing about.  This might, and I say might, have something to do with the Israeli leaders who were courageous.  Their leadership and intensity was that of one who took a Nazirite vow.            


One of Israel's failures was in their national leadership.  They not only forsook the Lord, but the leaders were weak.  Weak leaders plague many of the western world today.  It's a blight on our societies.  Every so often the judges of Israel rose up to lead Israel and when they did, good things happened.


Verse 2 goes on.  "When the people willingly offer themselves".  The important word here is "willingly".  Whatever we do in the service of the Lord is most affective when we do it willingly.  Sometimes we have to do what is necessary even if we aren't willing, but if we do what we need to do, in all honesty before the Lord, I believe the willingness will come.


Verse 2 and verse 9 ends with "praise the Lord".  You can tell that this song is a song of praise, of thanksgiving, of victory, and of praise to the Lord.  Deborah and Barak are very happy and very thankfull.     


Verse 3 is directed to the kings, but not kings of Israel because Israel did not have kings.  The song in this verse is simply telling the kings of the Gentiles that Israel will sing praises to her God, not to these Gentile kings.


Mount Seir is in Edom, the land of Jacob's brother Esau.


We see Israel 's acknowledgement of the power of their God in verses 4 and 5.  When the Lord fights on behalf of Israel, miraculous things take place.  God's power is seen in such things as earthquakes. These two verses remind me of the end of this age when Jesus returns to earth.  The miraculous things mentioned in this verse will be evident then. The Lord will fight on behalf of His people when His people obey and trust Him.  That is true with both God's Old and New Testament people.


Verse 6 describes a bad situation in Israel before the battle being sung about here.  Shamgar predated Deborah by a few years.  We saw him in chapter 3:31.  You can see my notes there.


The suggestion here is that Israelis could not travel on the main roads.  They were in fear of the Canaanites.  They had to take the back roads.  This was the case until Deborah came along, who became known as "the mother of Israel".  Some suggest that no man would stand up and lead Israel, so a woman had to, which in those times wasn't normal.  That being said, we should understand that the Lord uses women in all aspects of ministry.  


We see in verse 8 that Israel chose other gods, the gods of their oppressors.  They gave into their oppressors so they would be protected from being clobbered by their enemies. 


In verse 9 we see the praise given to Israel's leaders, the leaders we saw in verse 2, the good leaders, not the bad leaders, of which were many. 


Verse 10 talks about 3 different types of people.  Those who ride on white donkeys represent royalty.  When Jesus road into Jerusalem on the donkey, he was telling everyone that He was Israel's king.  Those ridding on soften blankets here represent rich people, while those walking, represent poor people. This message is for all.


One point concerning donkeys is that Israel was not permitted to have horses.  They could have donkeys.  Horses were a symbol of Gentile pagan strength.  This is why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and not on a horse.    


Verse 11 is an encouragement to the above 3 groups of people, or really, all of Israel, to listen to the voices of the singers at the water holes.  The word "singers" here is an obscure Hebrew word than many translate as "archer", or one of those with long hair who fought the battle in verse 2.  When the battles were all over, they sat around the water hole, told their stories of victory, and gave thanks to their God.  Everyone should hear their war stories.  Everyone should hear them give credit to their God so they could do the same.


Verse 12 says "wake up, wake up".  The problem is that six and a half of the twelve tribes of Israel did not fight the battle as seen in verses 13 through 22.  They had all sorts of excuses. 


In verse 20 we see mention of "the stars and the heavens".  This suggests to me that God was involved in battle with those who did participate in the battle.


Verse 23 states that the angel of the Lord says, "curse Meroz".  Meroz was probably a city or town.  The angel of the Lord, as I see it, and as many others see it, is pre-incarnate Jesus.  It is not Deborah or Barak.  Most scholars believe the angel of the Lord as seen in the Old Testament is pre-incarnate Jesus.  This city should have fought but didn't, and for that reason, the Lord was going to curse the city.


In verse 24 Jael is being blessed, and many people believe it is Deborah who is doing the  blessing here.  Jael was a Gentile who acted in support of Israel.  She went against her own husband to help the people of God. This had to have been divine intervention in the life of Jael.  The blessings she received here has everything to do with the Abrahamic Covenant.  That is to say, "he that blesses Israel will be bless and he that curses Israel will be cursed".  The song up to verse 28 tells the story of how she killed Sisera, as seen in Judges 4. 


The story related here in the song is very gory.  We have to realize that people back in these days are not as cultured as we are today.  When it comes to war, the end result is the same.  People are killed, but we don't often actually see the killing because we don't often use hand to hand combat any more.  We use bombs and missiles. 


In verse 28  to the end of the chapter Deborah mocks king Sisera's mother.  You might not think this is very nice of Deborah.  This mother had just lost her son in battle, but again, this is a different time, a different culture than ours today.  That being said, people haven't changed.  We still mock the mother's of dead men in battle.


Verse 28 to 30 show the heart felt love of a mother.  She stands at the window and wonders where her son is.  It's a sad portrayal of this mother.  One of her servant girls tries to help her by saying he has been delayed because he is collecting his spoil of war. 


Note in verse 30 the phrase "a girl or two for each man".  The Hebrew actually says, "a womb or two for each man".  Women were seen as spoils of war.  They became sex slaves for the victors.  Again, we see the horrific culture people lived in back then.


Verse 31 ends this song. "May all your enemies perish ..."   The lord does have enemies.  His enemies are our enemies.  At some future date, all the enemies of God will perish, but until then, we need to rid ourselves of the enemies in our lives  If we don't, they will overtake us. 



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