The Period Of The Judges

  Chapter 17
Song of Deborah and Barak      [Judges 5:1–31]


Scripture

1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.
 7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. 16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.
18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,
30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.


Commentary

Deborah and Barak cooperated in fighting the battle and also in praising the Lord [1](Ps. 149:6 ). Their song reveals some truths about our spiritual warfare in this world.

Be willing to fight (2, 9). Leaders cannot lead unless soldiers are willing to obey. Are you a willing soldier?
Know that the Lord goes before you (4–5, 31). The God of history can help you do exploits for Him today if you will trust Him and do His will. He is able!
Do not let others discourage you (13–18, 23). Not all the tribes responded with faith and courage; in fact, some refused to get involved in the battle. Some sacrificed their lives while others stayed home.
Victors turn darkness into light (31). Israel was in despair and darkness before Deborah took over (vv. 6–8), but she brought the dawning of a new day. Are you the kind of soldier who makes a difference in this world?

1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

Then sang Deborah, and Barak. The majority of those who study God’s word say that this song of triumph was evidently the composition of Deborah herself.

There are many difficulties with this very moving song; and scholarly men have worked hard to remove them. All who can critically examine the original manuscripts must acknowledge that there are several glaring mistakes in our version. Dr. Kennicott has written his version of this song, in which he has divided it into parts, assigned to Deborah and Barak alternately. But his division is by far too artificial. Dr. Hales has also given us a version of it which, perhaps, comes nearer to the simplicity of the original; but it also leaves several difficulties behind. Since these are the two best versions I have come across, I will lay them both in parallel columns before the reader at the conclusion of the chapter, after we have had the opportunity to rightly divide the thirty-one original verses of this song.

The song of Deborah and Barak is a classic of inspired literature. After opening with praise to the LORD, Deborah recalled the Lord’s triumphant march when the Israelites left the borders of Edom to move toward the Promised Land. All opposition melted before the majesty of the LORD God of Israel.

Then sang Deborah and Barak a song of victory, similar to many that are preserved in Scripture to commemorate the intervention of God on behalf of His people. The song is one of praise unto the Lord for His deliverance and tells of the oppression under the Canaanites, the mustering of the tribes, the Battle of Kishon, and the death of Sisera. In essence the song of chapter 5 repeats in poetic form the narrative of chapter 4. Nearly all commentators agree that this ode of triumph is contemporary with the events it describes. Even in its translated form it retains a spirit of excitement and gives the reader the experience of being an eyewitness to its events. By connecting this verse to the last verse of the preceding chapter, we get the sense that they sang this song on the heels of  victory: “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. 1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam ‘on that day’, saying.” The key phrase is ‘on that day’; it was sung on that day, not the very day that the fight was won, but as soon as a thanksgiving day could conveniently be appointed. When we have received mercy from God, we ought to be speedy with our returns of praise, and thank Him while the impressions of the mercy are fresh.

The former chapter let us know about the great things God had done for Israel; and in return, there is the thankful prayers and offerings they made to God, so that all ages of the church might discover that work of heaven, which is to praise God for.
1. God is praised by a song, which is:
1. A very natural expression of rejoicing. Is anyone merry? Let him sing; and holy joy is the very soul and root of praise and thanksgiving. God is pleased to think of himself glorified by our joy in him, and in his wondrous works. His servants’ joy is his delight, and their sons are melody to him.
2. A very proper expedient for spreading the knowledge and perpetuating the remembrance of great events. Neighbours would learn this song from one another and children from their parents; and by that means those who did not have books, or could not read, yet would be made acquainted with these works of God; and one generation would thus praise God’s works to another, and declare his mighty acts [2](Ps. 145:4 ).
2. Deborah herself penned this song, as appears from verse 7:
“The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” The people were obliged to live together in fortified places; or in great numbers, to protect each other against the incursions of bands of spoilers.

The song proceeds in these verses to describe the sad condition of the country, the oppression of the people, and the origin of all the national distress in the people's apostasy from God. Idolatry was the cause of foreign invasion and internal inability to resist it.

Till I Deborah arose. And the first words should be rendered, Then she sang, even Deborah.
1. She used her gifts as a prophetess in composing the song and the strain throughout is very fine and lofty, the images are lively, and the expressions are elegant, and there is an admirable mixture in it of sweetness and majesty. No poetry is comparable to the sacred poetry. And,
2.  We may suppose she used her power as a princess, in obliging the conquering army of Israel to learn and sing this song. But she expects more than that; they should join with her in celebrating God’s praises and magnifying him. She had been the first wheel in the action, and now she is the first to give thanksgiving.

2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

She begins with a general Hallelujah: Praise (or bless) you the Lord. The aim of the song is to give glory to God; therefore, this thought is put first, to explain and direct all that follows, like the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Hallowed be thy name.

Two things God is praised for:
1. The vengeance he took on Israel’s enemies; for avenging Israel upon their proud and cruel oppressors, taking revenge on them for all the injuries they had done to his people. The Lord is known as a righteous God, and didn’t He say, “Vengeance is mine.” It is because of who He is that He can rightfully punish Israel’s enemies.
Two things that I am sure of: God is good and he will always do what is right.
2. The grace he gave to Israel’s friends, when the people willingly offered themselves to serve in this war. God is to have the glory for all the good services that are at any time done for us; and the more willingly they are done the more is to be observed of that grace which gives both to will and to do. His grace is sufficient for anyone and any circumstance.

3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

For these two things Deborah resolves that this song will stand as the record of Israel’s victory over her enemies:
1. The song honors the everlasting God: I, even I, will sing unto the Lord, Jehovah, that God of incontestable sovereignty and irresistible power, even to the Lord God of Israel, who governs all for the good of the church.
2. She calls to the great world leaders that sit at the upper end of its table, to listen to her song, and take notice of its subject: Hear, O you kings! give ear, O you princes!
      a. She would have them know that as great and as high as they were there was one above them with       whom it is foolishness to challenge, and to whom it was in their interest to submit, that horses and chariots are vain things for safety.
      b. She would have them to join with her in praising the God of Israel, and no longer to praise their counterfeit deities, as Belshazzar did. (see[3](Dan. 5:4 ), He praised the gods of gold and silver.  Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. He made a great feast, using the sacred gold and silver vessels which ... Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple ... in Jerusalem for an idolatrous carnival. The king and his entourage drank themselves drunk on wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Now she speaks with them as the psalmist [4](Ps. 2:10, 11 ), Be wise now therefore, O you kings! serve the Lord with fear. The voice of the Holy Spirit is heard here. In a moving evangelistic appeal, He urges kings and rulers to love and serve the LORD. To refuse Him means destruction, whereas to trust Him brings safety and true happiness.
      c. She would have them take warning from Sisera’s fate, and not dare to offer any injury to the people of God, whose cause, sooner or later, God will take up with jealousy.

4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.

Here is a reference to the giving of the law and the manifestation of God's power and glory at that time; and as this was the most remarkable display of his majesty and mercy in behalf of their forefathers, Deborah very properly begins her song with a commemoration of this transaction. She looks back upon God’s former appearances, and compares this with them; one of many events that magnify the glorious author of this great salvation. What God is doing should bring to our mind what he has done; for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir. This may be understood either:
1. Of the appearances of God’s power and justice against the enemies of Israel to subdue and conquer them; and so [5]Hab. 3:3, 4 , etc., is parallel to it, where the destruction of the church’s enemies is described in this way. When God had led his people Israel from the country of Edom he brought down under their feet Sihom and Og, striking them and their armies with such terror and amazement that they seemed apprehensive that heaven and earth was coming together. Their hearts melted, as if the entire world had been melting round about them. Or it notes the glorious displays of the divine majesty; and the surprising effects of the divine power, enough to make the earth tremble, the heavens drop like snow before the sun, and the mountains to melt. Compare [6]Ps. 18:7 . God’s counsels are so far from being hindered by any creature that, when the time of their accomplishment comes, that which seemed to stand in their way will not only yield before them, but be made to serve them. See [7]Isa. 64:1, 2 . Or,
2. It is meant of the appearances of God’s glory and majesty to Israel, when he gave them his law at Mount Sinai. It was then literally true, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, etc. Compare [8]Deu. 33:2 ; [9]Ps. 68:7, 8 .

Let all the kings and princes know that this is the God whom Deborah praises, and not such shabby and impotent deities as they paid their homage to. The Chaldee paraphrase applies it to the giving of the law, but puts a strange twist on those words, the mountains melted. Tabor, Hermon, and Carmel, contended among themselves: one said, Let the divine majesty dwell upon me; the other said, Let it dwell upon me; but God made it to dwell upon Mount Sinai, the poorest and least of all the mountains. I suppose it means the least valuable, because it is barren and rocky.

Seir . . . the field of Edom -- represent the mountain range and plain extending along the south from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf.
 
6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

The poem begins by acknowledging the power of Jehovah as He marches from Mount Seir in Edom leading His people from Sinai to the Promised Land. Then the song bewails the condition of foreign domination of the land, which caused the highways to be unoccupied in the days of Shamgar and Jael. The reference to both of them together should not seem as unusual as is often remarked by commentators. They were both relatively unknown and probably non-Israelite deliverers who aided Israel at a time when she was virtually unable to help herself. The statement that the highways were unoccupied implies that at that time the major trade routes were controlled by the Philistines and the Canaanites, and that the Israelites were forced to travel the byways (travel in roundabout ways). The land was full of anarchy and confusion, because it was infested with bandits almost everywhere. No public road was safe; and in going from place to place, the people were obliged to use unfrequented paths. The villagers dared not venture far from their homes—that is, until ... Deborah arose.
Deborah describes, in this passage, the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin. The Holy Spirit knows that it is important for people down through the ages to realize that Israel was in deep trouble due to foreign domination, trouble that produced great suffering.  The point being made is that the greatness of their trouble might make their salvation appear more illustrious and the more gracious.

From the days of Shamgar, who did something towards the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines, to the days of Jael, the present day, in which Jael will unknowingly be one of those that the Lord will use to deliver Israel, along with Deborah and Barak, but prior to that the country has been in a manner made desolate.

1. No trade. There are no soldiers to protect business men as they travel from the incursions of the enemy, and there is a lack of magistrates to restrain and punish thieves and robbers (broken and desperate man, that, having no employment, undertake the work of a highwayman), so eventually all commerce ceased, and the highways were unoccupied; no caravans of merchants, as was formerly the case.
2. No travelling. While in times when there was some order and government the travelers might have been safe on the open roads, and the robbers forced to lurk in the by-ways, no, on the contrary, the robbers stalked the open roads without being checked, and the honest travelers were obliged to sculk and walk through by-ways, in continual danger.
3. No tillage. The fields became a wasteland and the farmhouses were unoccupied when the inhabitants of the villages, the country farmers, stopped caring for their crops and animals, abandon their houses which were continually threatened and plundered by the bandits, and were made to take shelter for themselves and their families in walled and fenced cities.
4. No administration of justice. There was war in the gates where their courts were held, v. 8. The Israelites lacked both the weapons and the spirit with which to help themselves. There was not a shield or spear seen among forty thousand, v. 8. Either they were disarmed by their oppressors, or they themselves neglected the art of war; so that, though they had spears and shields, they were nowhere to be seen, but were either thrown away or hidden and allowed to rust, they having neither skill nor will to use them.

7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

Deborah takes notice of God’s great goodness to Israel in raising up individuals to deal with the peoples grievances. She speaks of herself first—Till that I Deborah arose, to restrain and punish those who disturbed the public peace, and protect men in their business, and then the face of things was changed for the better quickly; those bandits that hunted along the highways quit their work and left the area, and man went forth again to his work and labour, [10]Ps. 104:22, 23 . Thus she became a mother in Israel, a nursing mother; such was the affection she bore from her people, and such the care and pains she took for the public welfare.

The villages ceased—the people were obliged to live together in fortified places; or in great numbers, to protect each other against the incursions of bands of raiders.

The phrase, the inhabitants of the villages, has been variously translated as “peasantry” (NASB), “village life” (NIV), and “champions” (NEB). The latter is to be preferred, for it makes the context clearer: “Champions there were none, none left in Israel, until I Deborah arose.”

8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?

It was their idolatry that provoked God to give them up into the hands of their enemies. The Lord their God was one Lord, but this would not content them: they must have more, many more, still more. Their God was the Ancient of days, still the same, and therefore they grew weary of him, and must have new gods, which they were as fond of as children of new clothes, names newly invented, heroes newly canonized. Their fathers, when put to their choice, chose the Lord for their God [11](Jos. 24:21 ), but they would not abide by that choice, they must have gods of their own choosing.

They chose new gods—This was the cause of all their misfortune and tragedy; they forsook Jehovah, and served other gods, an act of rebellion against the Lord; and then there was war in their gates—they were hemmed in, in every place, and besieged in all their fortified cities; and they were defenseless, they had no means of resisting their adversaries; for even among forty thousand men, there was neither spear nor shield to be seen. The rhetorical question: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? implies the answer, “No.” Thus, Deborah and Barak were all the more thrilled that the people had so willingly volunteered themselves for such a dangerous mission. This may seem difficult for some to comprehend, but the same statement is repeated in [12]I Samuel 13:22 , where even in the days of Saul they were still virtually unarmed. Hence, the statement that they needed to teach them war (3:2 ).

A new type of war would be waged by the God of Israel: Nova bella elegit Dominus, et portas hostium ipse subvertit; "The Lord chose a new species of war, and himself weakened the gates of the enemy." Now, what was this new species of war? A woman spells out her orders to Barak; he takes 10,000 unarmed men, and retires to Mount Tabor, where they are immediately besieged by a powerful and well-appointed army. All of  a sudden Barak and his men rush upon them, terror and dismay are spread through the whole Cannanitish army, and the rout is instantaneous and complete. The Israelites immediately arm themselves with the arms of their enemies, and slay all before them; they run, and are pursued in all directions. Sisera, their general, is no longer safe in his chariot; either his horses fail, or the unevenness of the road obliges him to desert it, and fly away on foot; in the end, the whole army is destroyed, and the leader disgracefully slain. This was a new species of war, and was unmistakably the Lord's doings. Whatever may be said of the Vulgate, (and the Syriac and Arabic are something like it), the above are all facts, and show the wondrous working of the Lord.

9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.

Here, she expresses gratitude to the respective leaders of the tribes which participated in the battle; but, above all, to God, who inspired both the patriotic disposition and the strength.

Under Deborah there were other governors of Israel—There were men from Ephraim, men from Benjamin, men from Machir (the tribe of Manasseh), and men from Zebulun and Issachar.), who, like her, had done their part as governors to reform the people, and then, like her, offered themselves willingly to serve in the war, not insisting upon the exemption which their dignity and office entitled them to, when they had such a great opportunity of appearing in their country’s cause; and no doubt the example of the governors influenced the people to act in a similar way; willingly to offer themselves. Of these governors she says, My heart is towards them, that is, "I truly love and honour them; they have won my heart for ever; I shall never forget them.” Note, those are worthy of a double honour that are willing to sacrifice their own honor in order to serve God and his church.

10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.

Speak -- that is, join in this song of praise.
Ye that ride on white asses—should be rendered sleek or well-fed asses; rendered shining asses, by the Vulgate. Or. White asses are those which are pure white, and therefore highly prized, and since they are costly, they are possessed only by the wealthy and great.
Ye that sit in judgment—‏some have rendered this, “ye who dwell in Middin.” This was a place in the tribe of Judah, and is mentioned in [13]Joshua 15:61. Or It has also been rendered, "ye that repose on tapestries."
And walk by the way—Persons who go from place to place for the purposes of traffic.
Deborah calls upon those who had a particular share in the advantages of this great salvation to offer up thanks to God for it. Let every man speak of the goodness of God that he found in this happy change in the public affairs of Israel.

1. You that ride on white asses, that is, the nobility and rich. Horses were used very little in that county; they had, it is probable, a much better breed of asses than we have; but persons of quality, it seems, were distinguished by the color of the asses they rode on; the white ones being more rare were therefore more valuable. Notice is taken of Abdon’s sons and grandsons riding on ass-colts, as indicating them to be men of distinction [14](Jg. 12:14 ). Let all those who have been restored by this salvation, not only to liberty as other Israelites, but to their dignity, speak God’s praises.
2. Let those that sit in judgment be mindful of it, and thankful for it, for it is only by the pure mercy of God, that they may sit safely there, and that the sword of justice is not struck out of their hand by the sword of war.
3. Let those that walk by the way, and meet with no one there to make them afraid, speak to themselves in pious meditations from Scripture, and tell their fellow-travelers what God has done; how he rid the roads of those bandits that had for so long infested them.
4. Let those that draw water in peace, and do not have their wells taken from them, or stopped up, or are in danger of being caught by the enemy when they go forth to draw; where they find themselves so much more safe than they have been. Let them rehearse the acts of the Lord, not Deborah’s acts, or Barak’s, but the Lord’s, taking notice of his hand making peace in their borders, and creating a strong defense. This is the Lord’s doing. Consider these acts of his:
      a. Justice executed on his daring enemies. They are the righteous acts of the Lord. See him pleading a righteous cause, and sitting on the throne judging rightly, and give him glory as the Judge of all the earth.
      b.  Kindness shown to his trembling people, the inhabitants of the villages, who lay most open to the enemy, had suffered most, and were in the most danger, [15]Eze. 38:11 . It is the glory of God to protect those that are the most exposed, and to help the weakest. Let us all take notice of the part we have in establishing public peace and tranquility, and then, praise God for it.

In the places of drawing water—As wells were very scarce in every part of the East, and travelers in such hot countries must have water, robbers and bandits generally took their stations near tanks, pools, and springs, in order to suddenly fall upon those who came to drink; and when the country was badly governed, attacks of this kind were very frequent. The victory gained now by the Israelites put the whole country under their own government, and the land was cleansed from such marauders. Deborah implies that they may sit down at the place of drawing water, and there speak of the righteous acts of the Lord; the land throughout Israel currently enjoying peace, order and good government being restored.

Go down to the gates—they may go down to the gates to receive judgment and justice as usual. It is well known that the gate was the place of judgment in the East.

The wells which are at a little distance from towns in the East, are, in unsettled times, places of danger. But in peace they are scenes of pleasant and joyous camaraderie. The poetess anticipates that this song may be sung, and the righteous acts of the Lord spoken about at these now tranquil "places of drawing water."

Deborah now incites herself to describe, in terms suitable to the occasion, the preparation and the contest, and calls for Barak to parade his prisoners in triumphal procession. Then follows a listing of the tribes which raised the commanded levy, or volunteered their services -- the soldiers of Ephraim who dwelt near the mount of the Amalekites, the small quota of Benjamin; "the governors," valiant leaders "out of Machir," the western Manasseh; out of Zebulun.

12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

Lead thy captivity captive—Make those captives, who have previously captured our nation.

Here, Deborah incites herself and Barak to celebrate this victory in the most solemn manner, to the glory of God and the honour of Israel, for the encouragement of their friends and the greater confusion of their enemies.

1. Deborah, as a prophetess, must do it with a song, which she inspires herself to compose and sing: Awake, awake, and again, awake, awake, which hints at the sense she had of the excellence and difficulty of the work. It needed and well deserved the utmost energy and vitality of soul in the recital of it; all the powers and faculties of the soul in their peak intensity and application ought to be employed in it. In this manner she expresses the sense she had of her own frailty and aptness to wilt and slacken in her zeal in this work. Note, Praising God is work that we should awake to, and awake ourselves to, [16]Ps. 108:2 .
2. Barak, as a general, must do it by a triumph: Lead thy captivity captive. Though the army of Sisera was cut off in the field, and no quarter given, yet we may suppose in the prosecution of the victory, when the war pressed forward into the enemy’s country, many without arms were seized and made prisoners of war.

These captives she wanted Barak to place in chains and lead them through the streets, when he made his public entry into his own city, to grace his triumphs; not as if it should be any pleasure to him to trample upon his fellow-creatures, but in this way he would give glory to God, and serve that great purpose of his leadership which is to look upon those that are proud and to abase them.

13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.

Make him that remaineth—this appears to be spoken of Barak, who is represented as being only a remnant of the people.

She gives good reason for this praise and triumph. This glorious victory had made the remnant of Israel, and Deborah in particular, look very great, a circumstance which they owed entirely to God.
1. The Israelites had become few and insignificant, and yet to them God gave dominion over nobles. Many of them were cut off by the enemy, many died of grief, and perhaps some had removed their families and effects into foreign countries; yet those few that remained, by divine assistance, with one brave and generous effort, not only shook off the yoke of oppression from their own neck, but got power over their oppressors. As long as any of God’s Israel remains (and a remnant will exist in the worst of times) there is hope, even if it is a very small remnant, for God can make him that remains, even if it should be just one single person, triumph over the most proud and powerful.
2. Deborah was one of the weaker sex, and the sex that from the fall had been sentenced to subjection, and yet the Lord that is higher than the highest authorized her to rule over the mighty men of Israel, who willingly submitted to her leadership, and enabled her to triumph over the mighty men of Canaan, who fell before the army she commanded; so wonderfully did He advance the low estate of his handmaid. "The Lord made me, a woman, to have dominion over mighty men.” A despised stone is made head of the corner. This is indeed the Lord’s doing, and marvellous in our eyes.

14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

Out of Ephraima root of them—Deborah probably means that out of Ephraim and Benjamin came eminent warriors. Joshua, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, routed the Amalekites a short time after the Israelites came out of Egypt, [17]Exodus 17:10 . Ehud, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, slew Eglon, and defeated the Moabites, the friends and allies of the Ammonites and Amalekites. Machir, in the land of Gilead (the tribe of Gad), produced eminent warriors; and Zebulun produced eminent statesmen, and men of literature. Probably Deborah speaks here of the past wars, and not of any thing that was done on this occasion; for we know that no persons from Gilead were present in the war between Jabin and Israel. See [18]Judges 5:17 . Gilead abode beyond Jordan.

Deborah makes specific remarks about the several parties involved in this great battle, taking notice who fought against them, who fought for them, and who stood neutral.
1. Who fought against them. The power of the enemy must be taken notice of, that the victory may appear the more glorious. Jabin and Sisera had been mentioned in the history, but here it appears further, (1.) That Amalek was in league with Jabin, and sent him assistance, or endeavoured to do it. Ephraim is here said to act against Amalek (v. 14), probably intercepting and cutting off some forces of the Amalekites that were upon their march to join Sisera. Amalek had helped Moab to oppress Israel [19](ch. 3:13 ) and now had helped Jabin; they were habitual enemies to God’s people—their hand had always been against the throne of the Lord [20](Ex. 17:16 ); and therefore they were more dangerous. (2.) That other kings of Canaan, who had somewhat recovered since their defeat by Joshua, joined with Jabin, and strengthened his army with their forces, having the same cold-hearted hated of Israel that he had, and those kingdoms, when they had regained their strength, had been subject to Hazor [21](Jos. 11:10 ). These kings came and fought, v. 19. Israel had no king; their enemies had many, whose power and influence, especially acting in confederacy, made them very formidable; and yet Israel, having the Lord for their King, was too hard for them all. It is said of these kings that they accepted no money, they were not mercenary troops hired into the service of Jabin (such often fail when facing danger), but they were volunteers and enthusiastic in the cause against Israel: they did not desire riches, but only the satisfaction of helping to ruin Israel. Acting upon this principle, they were more formidable, and would be crueler.
2. Who fought for them. The several tribes that assisted in this great exploit are here spoken of with honour; for, though God is chiefly to be glorified, instruments must have their due praise, for the encouragement of others: but, after all, it was heaven that turned the scale.
3. In this great contest she observes who stood neutral, and did not side with Israel as might have been expected. It is strange to find how many, even of those who were called Israelites, deserted this glorious cause and declined to appear. No mention is made of Judah nor Simeon among the tribes concerned, because they are situated so very remote from the scene of action, and therefore had no opportunity to appear, and therefore it was not expected from them; but for those that lay near, and yet would not venture, indelible marks of disgrace are here put upon them, as they deserved.

Ephraim and Benjamin, those tribes that Deborah lived with, motivated themselves, and fought bravely, owing to her influence upon them; for her palm-tree was in the tribe of Ephraim,: Out of Ephraim was there a root, and life in the root, against Amalek. There was in Ephraim a mountain called the mount of Amalek, mentioned, [22]ch. 12:15 , which, some think, is the one mentioned here, and they read it this way, there was a root in Amalek, that is, in that mountain, a strong resolution in the minds of that people to make headway against the oppressors, which was the root of the matter. In this, Benjamin had set his people a good example. "Ephraim moved after thee, Benjamin;” though Benjamin was the junior tribe, and much inferior, especially at this time, to Ephraim, both in number and wealth, yet when they led Ephraim followed, for they shared in the common cause. If we are not bold enough to lead, we must not be so proud and brooding that we would not follow even our inferiors in a good work. Ephraim had a great distance to travel to reach the place where the battle took place, and therefore could not send many of its boughs (solders) to the contest; but Deborah, who was one of them, knew there was a root of them, that they were enthusiastic well-wishers to the cause. Dr. Lightfoot gives quite another sense of this. Joshua, of Ephraim, had been a root of such victories against Amalek (Ex. 17), and Ehud of Benjamin lately against Amalek and Moab.

The ice was broken by Ephraim and Benjamin, Machir (the half-tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan) and Zebulun, who sent in men that were very useful to this great contest. When an army is to be raised, especially under such disadvantages as Barak now experienced from the long disuse of arms and the apprehensive spirit of the people, it is extremely important to be furnished:
1. With men of courage for officers, and the family of Machir furnished them with that. The children of Machir were particularly famous for their valor in Moses’ time [23](Num. 32:39 ), and it seems that it continued in their family more than before, because they lived in the frontiers.
2. With men of learning and ingenuity for secretaries of war, and with such they were supplied out of Zebulun: men that could handle the pen of the writer, clerks that issued out orders, wrote circular letters, drew commissions, mustered their men, and kept their accounts. Every man, according as he has received the gift, should minister the same, for the public good [24](1 Pt. 4:10 ); the eyes see, and the ears hear, for the whole body. I know that the boldness generally understood of the scholars, who studied the law and expounded it, to take up arms in this cause, though they were better skilled in books than in the art of war. So Sir Richard Blackmore paraphrases it:—The scribes of Zebulun and learned men, To wield the sword, laid down the pen.

15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.

The princes of Issachar—they lived close by and came willingly to this important war, after Deborah made her appeal.

Barak—was sent on foot—I have no doubt that ‏he was accompanied by his footmen or infantry. That is how the Alexandrian Septuagint understood it, rendering the clause thus: Οὑτω Βαρακ εξαπεστειλεν πεζους αυτου εις την κοιλαδα, "Barak also sent forth his footmen into the valley." Luther has perfectly hit the meaning, Barak mit seinen fussvoleke, "Barak with his footmen."

Issachar served Israel well; however, before Deborah’s call to join the war, they were so content to rest in pleasant pastoral surroundings that they had no will to fight for independence and so became subject to the enemy’s yoke. They gave-in to pressure from their Canaanite masters to pay tribute money. This was the character of that tribe [25](Gen. 49:15 ), yet they despised having to bear the yoke of Jabin’s tribute, and now preferred the generous toils of war to a servile rest. Though it should seem that there were not many common soldiers enlisted out of that tribe, yet the princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak , probably, as a great council of war to advise with regard to emergencies. And, it seems that these princes of Issachar did accompany Barak into the field of battle. Did he go on foot? They footed it with him, not considering that they could lose their honor or even their lives. Did he go into the valley, the place of most danger? They exposed themselves with him,

For the divisions of Reuben—Either the Reubenites were divided into groups, which prevented their co-operation with their brethren, or they were divided in their judgment concerning the tactics to be followed, which prevented them from joining with the other tribes till the business was entirely settled.

The thoughts of heart, and searching of hearts, might refer to the doubts and uneasiness felt by the other tribes, when they found the Reubenites did not join them; for they might have assumed that they were either unconcerned about their liberty, or were considering a coalition with the Canaanites.

For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart -- They felt the patriotic impulse and determined, at first, to join the ranks of their western brethren, but backed away from the purpose, preferring their peaceful shepherd songs to the trumpet sound of war.

Reuben basically declined the invitation to join their brothers in making war. Long ago he had been deprived of the privileges of the birth-right, and that was justice served. He still has his dying father’s gloom-and-doom prediction hanging over him: unstable as water, he shall not excel. Two things hindered them from joining their brothers:
1. Their divisions. Deborah twice strikes at their shame: For the divisions of Reuben (or in these divisions) there were great thoughts, impressions, and searching of heart. It was not only that their country was divided from Canaan by the Jordan River, which never would have hindered them had they been enthusiastic for the cause, for Gilead abode beyond Jordan, and yet from Machir of Gilead came down governors; but it means either that they were divided among themselves, could not agree who should go or who should lead, each striving to gain the posts of honor and shun those of danger. Some unhappy contests within their tribe may have kept them from uniting together, with their brethren, for the common good, or that they were divided in their opinion of this war from the rest of the tribes. There were those that thought the attempted revolt was either not justifiable or not practical, and therefore blamed those that engaged in it and declined it themselves. This occasioned great searching of heart among the rest, especially when they had reason to suspect that, whatever Reuben pretended, his lack of action proceeded from a cooling of his affections for his brethren and an alienation of his mind from them, which gave rise to them having many sad thoughts. It grieves us to see our mother’s children angry with us for doing our duty and looking at us in a strange way when what we need most is their friendship and assistance.
2. Their business in the world: Reuben abode among the sheepfolds, a warmer and safer place than the camp, pretending they could not conveniently leave the sheep they tended. He loved to hear the bleatings of the flocks, or, as some read it, the whistlings of the flocks, the music which the shepherds made with their oaten reeds or pipes, and the pastorals (a piece of music with a pastoral theme) which they sung; Reuben’s preferred these before the warlike drum and trumpet. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of comfort, and an excessive affection for their worldly business and benefits. Narrow selfish spirits do not care what becomes of the interests of God’s church, so all they love is to get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, [26]Phil. 2:21.

16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches
18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

Here, Deborah remembered those who did not come to help.

Reuben had great searchings of heart but stayed among the sheepfolds. Gilead (Gad) did not cross the Jordan to join in the battle. Dan remained in ships, and Asher sat idly at the seashore. These two tribes bordered on the sea-coast, and, [1.] Dan pretended he could not leave his ships but they would be exposed. Those of that tribe perhaps pleaded that their sea-trade made them unfit for land-service and diverted them from it; but Zebulun also was a haven for ships, a sea-faring tribe, and yet was forward and active in this expedition. There is no excuse we can make to shift our duty off us and in some cases put it on others, that will stop those, whose courage and resolution will rise up against us and shame us. [2.] Asher pretended he must stay at home to repair the ruptures which the sea had made upon his land, and to fortify his defensive works against the attacks that may come from enemies, or they had to stay in their creeks, or small harbors, where his trading vessels rested. A little thing is all that some need for an excuse, if they want to stay at home to avoid most necessary services, because there is inconvenience and danger in them.

Scripture notes carefully those who fought in the battle and those who stood passively by, unwilling to risk their safety in Jehovah’s cause. And so it is today: The Lord knows who is actively confronting the world and the devil and who is sitting back and simply watching. There is a time of reward coming, but it is also a time of loss [27](1 Cor. 3:10–15 ).

These verses praise the tribes who came to aid Deborah and Barak and taunt those who did not. Gilead (Gad) abode beyond Jordan refers to the two and one-half tribes which settled east of the Jordan and were not involved in this battle. Dan, Asher, and Reuben are also chided for their nonparticipation. The reference to Dan remaining in ships has raised some questions as to its meaning. Evidently, this incident took place before the Danite migration northward as described in chapter 18. Therefore, at this time they were undoubtedly under a great deal of pressure from the Canaanites and the Philistines (Sea Peoples), by whom they were eventually defeated and driven from their tribal territory. The reference seems to indicate the unsettled nature of their situation at that time. The far-fetched explanation that they migrated by sea to Europe, as proposed by Anglo-Israelites, is certainly contradictory to the explanation of their migration to the northernmost part of Israel itself.

Gilead abode beyond Jordan—That is, the Gadites and the eastern half of the tribe of Manasseh who had their lot in those parts, chose to dwell at ease in their Havoth-jair, or "villages of tents," and could not come to the aid of their brethren at such a short summons. But the words of Deborah imply a criminal neglect on the part of the Danites; they were intent upon their trade with other nations, and trusted in their ships. Joppa was one of their sea-ports.

Zebulun and Naphtali—jeoparded their lives— In contrast to the indifference of many of the tribes, Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeopardized their lives. The original is very emphatic, ‏חרף נפשו למות‎  chereph naphsho lamuth, they desolated their lives to death—they were determined to conquer or die, and therefore plunged into the thickest of the battle. Zebulun and Naphtali were outstanding; risking their lives for Jehovah without pay (they took no spoils of silver). They were in the thick of the battle against the kings of Canaan. The forces of nature were on their side because they were on the Lord’s side.

Zebulun and Naphtali were the most bold and active of all the tribes, not only out of a particular affection to Barak their countryman, but because, their lot was nearest to Jabin, therefore, the yoke of oppression lay heavier on their necks than on those of any other tribe. It is better to die in honor than live in bondage; and therefore, in a pious zeal for God and their country, they jeopardized their lives unto the death in the high places of the field. It was with heroic bravery that they charged and pushed upon the chariots of iron, choosing to ignore the danger and death itself in so good a cause!

19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.

Verses 19-22 describe the scene of battle. It would seem that Jabin was reinforced by the troops of other Canaanite princes. The battlefield was near Taanach (now Ta'annuk), on a mound in the level plain of Megiddo (now Leijun), on its southwestern extremity, by the left bank of the Kishon.

The poem concludes with the song of victory and the lament of Sisera’s mother (v. 28), which is intended to interject the reverse of the expected outcome of the battle. In other words, instead of Israelite women weeping for their sons and husbands, the Canaanite women, who undoubtedly expected victory, would now be shocked by the results of the battle.

Taanach by the waters of Megiddo refers to Taanach, five miles southeast of Megiddo, commanding one of the main passes to the Plain of Esdraelon. The waters of Megiddo are the Kishon River and its tributaries. The intervention of heaven is poetically phrased as the stars in their courses which fought against Sisera. Jehovah is viewed here as controlling the process of nature itself, a common Israelite belief throughout the Old Testament era. The key statement in the entire song is found in verse 21, where it is said that the river of Kishon swept them away. This explains the nature of the defeat of the Canaanites, described in the previous chapter, where they fled from their chariots on foot and were virtually annihilated by the Israelites.

The kings came and fought—It is conjectured that Jabin and his confederates had invaded Manasseh, as both Taanach and Megiddo were in that tribe: and that they were overcome by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali at Taanach and Megiddo; while Barak defeated Sisera at Mount Tabor.

They took no gain of money—they expected much booty in the total rout of the Israelites; but they were defeated, and got no loot; or, if applied to the Israelites, They fought for liberty, not for plunder.

the stars in their courses fought—A fearful tempest burst upon them and threw them into disorder.

the river of Kishon swept them away—The enemy was defeated near "the waters of Megiddo"—the sources and side streams of the Kishon: they that fled had to cross the deep and marshy bed of the torrent, but the Lord had sent a heavy rain—the waters suddenly rose—the warriors fell into the quicksand, and sinking deep into them, were drowned or washed into the sea. Ordinarily, it was just a shallow river, and, being in their own country, we may suppose they knew very well its fords and safest passages, and yet now, probably as a result of the great rain that fell, it was so swollen, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass it were drowned, being feeble and faint from battle, and held down by their heavy armor and unable to make their way through it.

Then were the horse hoofs broken by the means of the prancing—anciently, as in many parts of the East still, horses were not shod. The breaking of the hoofs denotes the hot haste and heavy irregular movements of the routed foe. Sisera had iron chariots when his hosts were routed; the horses that drew these, being strongly urged on by those who drove them, had their hoofs broken by the roughness of the roads; in consequence of which they became lame, and could not carry off their riders. This is marked as one cause of their disaster.

Deborah’s own soul fought against them; she speaks of it with a holy exultation O, my soul, thou hast trodden down strength. She did it by exciting others to fight, and assisting them, which she did with all her heart. Also by her prayers; as Moses conquered Amalek by lifting up his hand, so Deborah vanquished Sisera by lifting up her heart. And when the soul is employed in holy exercises and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down and will fall before us.

They fought from heaven—The angels of God came to the assistance of Israel: and the stars in their orbits fought against Sisera; probably some thunder storm, or great inundation from the river Kishon, took place at that time, which in poetic language was attributed to the stars. So our poet sung relative to the storms which dispersed the Spanish armada in 1588:—

"Both winds and waves at once conspire
To aid old England—frustrate Spain's desire."

Perhaps it means no more than this: the time which was measured and ruled by the heavenly bodies seemed only to exist for the destruction of the Canaanites. There may be also a reference to the sun and moon standing still in the days of Joshua.

Heavenly assistance might have been even greater than we have supposed so far: stars from heaven appeared, or acted at least, on Israel’s side. The stars in their courses, according to the order and direction of Him who is the great Lord of their hosts, fought against Sisera with their compelling influences, or by causing the storms of hail and thunder which contributed so much to the rout of Sisera’s army. The Chaldee reads it, “from heaven, from the place where the stars go forth, war was waged against Sisera, that is, the power of the God of heaven was engaged against him, making use of the assistance of the angels of heaven. Some way or other, the heavenly bodies (not arrested, as when the sun stood still at Joshua’s word, but going on in their courses) fought against Sisera. Those that are the enemies of God are an enemy to the whole creation and are at war with it. Perhaps the flashes of lightning by which the stars fought was that which frightened the horses, so that they pranced till their very hoofs were broken, and probably overturned the chariots of iron which they drew or turned them back upon their owners.

23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

Curse ye Meroz— Meroz was singled out for a curse for failing to help Jehovah. The men of this city remained neutral when help was needed against the foe. But Jael, living in a tent, was blessed for her bravery and cunning in destroying Sisera. Our Lord’s mother is the only other woman who is specifically called blessed among women [28](Luke 1:42 ).

It is not known where Meroz was located; some suppose it was the same as Merom, which was close to Dotham. The Syriac and Arabic have Merod; but where this was is equally uncertain. It was certainly some city or district, the inhabitants of which would not assist in this war. It probably was located within the territory of Issachar or Naphtali, which lay in the path of the fugitives, but the inhabitants declined to aid in their destruction.

Curse ye bitterly—‏ארו ארור‎  oru aror, curse with cursing—use the most awful swear words.

Said the angel of the Lord—That is, Barak, who was Jehovah's angel or messenger in this war; the person sent by God to deliver his people.

To the help of the Lord—That is, to help the people of the Lord.

Against the mighty—‏בגבורים‎  baggibborim, "with the heroes;" that is, Barak and his men, together with Zebulun and Naphtali: these were the mighty men, or heroes, with whom the inhabitants of Meroz would not join.

But above all Meroz is condemned, and a curse pronounced upon the inhabitants of it, Because they came not to the help of the Lord. This was some city that lay near the scene of action, and therefore the inhabitants had a fair opportunity of showing their obedience to God and their concern for Israel, and of doing a good service to the common cause; but they chose instead to decline to help; out of fear of Jabin’s iron chariots. The Lord did not need their help; he made it to appear he could do his work without them; but no thanks to them: for all they knew, the attempt might have failed for want of their hand, and therefore they are cursed for not coming to the help of the Lord, when it was in effect proclaimed, Who is on the Lord’s side? The cause between God and the mighty (the principalities and powers of the kingdom of darkness) will not admit to neutrality. God looks upon those that are against as not being with him. This curse is pronounced by the angel of the Lord, our Lord Jesus, the captain of the Lord’s host (and those whom he curses are cursed indeed), and unless we have authority from him we may not curse anyone. He that will richly reward all his good soldiers will certainly and severely punish all cowards and deserters. This city of Meroz seems to have been at this time a considerable place, since something great was expected from it; but probably, after the angel of the Lord had pronounced this curse upon it, it dwindled, and, like the fig-tree which Christ cursed, withered away, so that we never read of it after this in scripture.

24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

Verses 24-27 is a most graphic picture of the treatment of Sisera in the tent of Jael.

Here Deborah concludes this triumphant song, with praises for Jael, her sister-heroine, whose valiant act had completed and crowned the victory. She had mentioned her before (v. 6) as one that would have served her country well, if it had been in her power; now she applauds her as one that did serve it admirably when it was in her power. Her poetry is the finest and most colorful here in the latter part of the song. How honorably she speaks of Jael, who preferred her peace with the God of Israel before her peace with the king of Canaan, and though not a native of Israel yet she heartily supported the cause of Israel at this critical conjuncture, jeopardedzed her life as truly as if she had been in the high places of the field, and bravely fought for those whom she saw God fought for!

Then, in typical Near Eastern style, a blessing and a curse are contrasted. Bruce assumes that Meroz received the curse because of failing some previous obligation. He identifies it with Khirbet Marus, about seven and one-half miles south of Kedesh-naphtali. The beatitude Blessed above women shall Jael … be (vs. 24) recognizes the true heroine of the story. The poem makes it clear that she deliberately deceived Sisera into thinking he was in a place of safety, when in reality he had fallen into the hands of his real enemy. The NASB translates verse 25: “He asked for water and she gave him milk; in a magnificent bowl she brought him curds.” This is followed by the description of her deliberately nailing him to the floor, with the explanation in verse 27 that “Between her feet he bowed, he fell; he lay; between her feet, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell dead.” The statement that she smote off his head should be translated “crushed his head.”

Sisera found a fatal enemy where he expected a firm and faithful friend.
1. Jael showed him the kindness of a friend, and perhaps at that time she intended to show him nothing other than kindness, until God, by an immediate impulse upon her mind directed her to do otherwise, v. 25. He asked only for water to quench his thirst, but she, not only to show her housewifery and good housekeeping, but to express her respect to him, gave him milk and butter, that is (say some interpreters), milk which had the butter taken from it; we call it butter-milk. No (others say), it was milk that had the butter still in it; we call it cream. Whatsoever it was, it was probably the best her house afforded; and, to set it off, she brought it in a lordly dish, such as she called the finest she had, and better than she ordinarily used at her own table. This confirmed Sisera’s opinion of her friendship, and made him sleep the faster and the more secure.
2. She proved his mortal enemy, gave him his death’s stroke:
      a. How great does Jael look, hammering Sisera, mauling that proud man who had been the terror of the mighty for so long, and sending him down slain to the pit with his iniquities upon his bones! [29](Eze. 32:27 ). She seems to have gone about it with no more terror or concern than if she had been going to nail one of the boards or bars of her tent, so confident was she of divine aid and protection. We read it she smote off his head, probably with his own sword, which, now that his head was nailed through, she does take from his side, but not before, for fear of waking him. But because there was no reason for cutting off his head, nor was it mentioned in history, many think it should be read, she struck through his head. That head which had been proudly lifted up against God and Israel, and in which had been forged bloody designs for the destruction of God’s people, Jael finds a soft place in it and into that she hammers her nail.
     b. How wretched does Sisera look, fallen at Jael’s feet! At the feet of this female executioner he bowed, he fell; all his struggles for life were useless; she follow her blow with another and another, until he fell down dead. There lies the deserted carcass of that proud man, not on the bed of honour, not in the high places of the field, not having any glorious wound to show from a glittering sword, or a bow of steel, but in the corner of a tent, at the feet of a woman, with a disgraceful wound by a sorry nail pounded through his head. Thus is shame the fate of proud men. And this is a very lively representation of the ruin of those sinners whose prosperity slays them; it flatters and caresses them with milk and butter in a lordly dish, as if it would make them comfortable and happy, but it nails their heads and hearts to the ground in earthly-mindedness, and pierces them through with many sorrows; its flatteries are fatal, and sink them at last into destruction and perdition, [30](1 Tim. 6:9, 10 ).

Blessed above women shall Jael—be—She shall be highly celebrated as a most heroic woman; all the Israelitish women shall glory in her. The word bless, both in Hebrew and Greek, often signifies to praise, to speak well of, to celebrate. This is most probably its sense here.

Blessed shall she be above women in the tent. Note, Those whose lot is cast in the tent, in a very low and narrow sphere of activity, if they serve God according to their capacity, shall in no wise lose their reward. Jael in the tent wins as rich a blessing as Barak in the field.

She brought forth butter—As the word ‏חמאה‎  chemah, here translated butter, signifies disturbed, agitated, etc., it is probable that buttermilk is intended. The Arabs form their buttermilk by agitating the milk in a leathery bag, and the buttermilk is highly esteemed because of its refreshing and cooling quality; but there is no reason why we may not suppose that Jael gave him cream: Sisera was not only thirsty, but was also exhausted with fatigue; and nothing could be better calculated to quench his thirst, and restore his exhausted strength, than a bowl of cream. It is evident that Deborah wishes to convey the idea that Jael was more liberal and kind than Sisera had requested. He asked for water, and she brought him cream; and she brought it to him, not in an ordinary pitcher, but in the most superb dish or bowl which she possessed.

She smote off his head—The original does not warrant this translation; nor is it supported by fact. She smote his head, and transfixed him through the temples. It was his head that received the death wound, and the place where this wound was inflicted was the temples. The manner in which Jael dispatched Sisera seems to have been this:
1.  Observing him to be in a profound sleep she took a workman's hammer, probably a joiner's mallet, and with one blow on the head deprived him of all sense.
2.  She then took a tent nail and drove it through his temples, and thus pinned him to the earth; which she could not have done had she not previously stunned him with the
blow on the head. Thus she first smote his head, and secondly pierced his temples.

At her feet he bowed—‏בין רגליה‎  bein ragleyha, "between her feet." After having stunned him she probably sat down, for the greater convenience of driving the nail through his temples.

He bowed—he fell—He probably made some struggles after he received the blow on the head, but could not recover his feet.

28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,
30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

In these verses a sudden transition is made to the mother of the Canaanite general, and a striking picture is drawn of a mind agitated between hope and fear—impatient because of the delay, yet anticipating the news of victory and the rewards of rich booty.


"The mother of Sisera looked out at a window;
She cried through the lattice,
'Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the wheels of his chariot?'

Sisera’s mother, in the meantime, was [30]looking out  the window, waiting for her son to return with the spoils of victory. She could not understand his delay. She asks, “Why is his chariot so long in coming?”—Literally, Why is his chariot ashamed to come? Dr. Lowth has very justly observed, that this is a striking image of maternal concern, and of a mind divided between hope and fear.

There were two reasons for her continually scanning the horizon for a sign that her son has returned:
1. Her fond desire to see her son come back in triumph: Why is his chariot so long in coming? She says this, not so much out of a concern for his safety, or any jealousy of his having been defeated (she had no fear of that, she was just that confident of his success), but out of a longing for his glory, which she was passionately impatient to see, berating the lingering chariot, and complaining about its delay. Little did she know that her unhappy son had been, before this, forced to abandon that chariot which they were so proud of, and which she now thought traveled so slowly. The chariots of his glory had now become the shame of his house, [32]Isa. 22:18 .
2. Her foolish hope and confidence that he would come at last in so much the greater pomp. Her wise ladies answered her, and thought they gave a very good reason for the delay; but, she (in her wisdom,) tauntingly answered herself, "Have they not sped? No doubt they have, and that which delays them is that they are dividing the prey, which is so much that it is a work of time to make a distribution of it.” She wished that the spoils for every man would include a damsel [or] two; for Sisera she added a prize of divers colors, a prize of divers colors of needlework, of divers colors of needlework on both sides, suitable for the neck of the chief of the army.

She cried through the lattice—this is a very common feature in the houses in warm countries: in the women's apartments in the East the windows are latticed, to prevent them from sending or receiving letters, and for the circulation of air. The latticing is the result of the jealousy which universally prevails in those countries. It is not clear if she cried because she was worried about her son or if there was another reason.
The next thing we notice is that Immediately, she becomes impatient with the delay, but her mind is elated, and she bursts forth into female levity, and she is drunk with her good fortune,

"Her wise ladies earnestly answered her;
Yea, she immediately returned answer to herself;
'Have they not sped? have they not divided the spoil?'

Her wisest ladies (maids of honor) assured her that he must be dividing the booty with his men. But Sisera would never return. And let his fate be the same for all ... enemies of Jehovah. Her wise ladies answered her, yea; she returned answer to herself (That is, she comforted herself).

We see how much every idea, and every word is in agreement. She does not dwell upon the slaughter of the enemies, the number of the captives, the valor and great exploits of the victor, but, burning with the female love of spoils, on those things rather which captivate the mind of the vainest woman; gold and garments. Nor does she dwell upon them only; but she repeats, she accumulates, she augments every thing. She seems, as if she is already able to personally handle the spoils as she dwells on every particular. She had a special wish for the victorious army of Canaan, “to every man a damsel or two”--Young maidens always formed a valued part of Oriental conquerors' war-spoils. But Sisera's mother wished other booty for him; namely, the gold-threaded, richly embroidered, and scarlet-colored cloaks which were held in such high esteem.

'Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey?
A damsel, yea, two damsels to every man:
To Sisera, a prey of divers colors;
A prey of divers colors of needlework,
Finely coloured of needlework on both sides,
A spoil for adorning the neck.'
'So let all thine enemies perish, O JEHOVAH!'

The song ends with a soliloquy (talking to herself) by Sisera’s mother wondering why he has not returned from battle. Then, the poem of victory suddenly breaks off with the statement, “So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD,” and is reminiscent of the imprecatory  psalms, where blessing is prayed down on the followers of Jehovah and judgment is desired upon His enemies. The chapter ends with the statement that, following this decisive victory over the Canaanites, the land had rest for forty years.

At some point, Sisera’s mother had the tidings brought her of her son’s fall and ruin when she was big with expectation of his glorious and triumphant return.

Though our enemies are to be prayed for, God’s enemies, as such, are to be prayed against; and, when we see some of God’s enemies remarkably humbled and brought down, this is an encouragement to us to pray for the downfall of all the rest.

Below is Article 5.1, where we have copied Dr. Kennicott's  version of this song; he has divided it into parts, assigned to Deborah and Barak alternately. Immediately followig, Dr. Hales has also given us his version of it. Since these are the two best versions I have come across, I have placed them Article 5.1 to help the reader compare them with each other and hopefully with the King James Version.

Two Versions of Judges Chapter 5 

Article 5.1:DR. KENNICOTT'S VERSION OF THE SONG
1.  Then sang Deborah, and Barak the son of Abinoam, saying:—
2.  Deb. For the leaders who took the   lead in Israel,
Bar. For the people who offered themselves willingly,
Both. BLESS YE JEHOVAH!
3.  Deb. Hear, O ye kings!
Bar. Give ear, O ye princes!

Deb. I unto JEHOVAH will sing.

Bar. I will answer in song to JEHOVAH;
Both. THE GOD OF ISRAEL!
4.  Deb. O JEHOVAH, at thy going forth from Seir
At thy marching from the field of Edom,
Bar. The earth trembled, even the heavens poured down.
The thick clouds poured down the waters
5.  Deb. The mountains melted at JEHOVAH'S presence.
Bar. Sinai itself, at the presence of JEHOVAH
Both. THE GOD OF ISRAEL!

6.  Deb. In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted.
Bar. For they who had gone by straight paths,
Passed by ways that were very crooked.
7.  Deserted were the villages in Israel.
Deb. They were deserted till I, Deborah, arose
Till I arose a mother in Israel.

8.  They chose new gods!
Bar. Then, when war was at the gates,
Was there a shield seen, or a spear,
Among forty thousand in Israel?
9.  Deb. My heart is towards the rulers of Israel;
Bar. Ye who offered yourselves willingly among the people.
Both. BLESS YE JEHOVAH!
10.  Deb. Ye who ride upon white asses;
Ye who sit upon the seat of judgment.

11.  Bar. And ye who travel upon the roads,
Talk of Him with the voice of praise.
Deb. Let them who meet armed at the watering places
There show the righteous acts of JEHOVAH,
Bar. And the righteousness of the villages of Israel:
Then shall they go down to the gates;
Both. THE PEOPLE OF JEHOVAH!

12.  Bar. Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, lead on the song.
Deb. Arise, Barak! and lead thy captivity captive,
Barak, thou son of Abinoam.

13.  Bar. Then, when the remainder descended after their chiefs,
Jehovah's people descended after me,
Against the mighty.
14.  Deb. Out of Ephraim was their beginning at Mount Amalek;
And after thee was Benjamin, against the nations.
Bar. From Machir, came masters in the art of war;
And from Zebulun, those who threw the dart.
15.  Deb. The princes in Issachar were numbered
Together with Deborah and Barak.
Bar. And Issachar was the guard of Barak,
Into the valley sent close at his feet.
Deb. At the divisions of Reuben,
Great were the impressions of heart.
16.  Bar. Why sattest thou among the rivulet?
What! to hear the bleatings of the flocks?
Deb. For the divisions of Reuben,
Great were the searchings of heart.
17.  Bar. Gad dwelt quietly beyond Jordan;
And Dan, why abode he in ships?
Deb. Asher continued in the harbour of the seas,
And remained among his craggy places.
18.  Bar. Zebulun were the people, and Naphtali,
Deb. Who exposed their lives unto the death,
Both. ON THE HEIGHTS OF THE FIELD.
19.  Deb. The kings came, they fought;
Then fought the kings of Canaan;
Bar. At Taanac, above the waters of Megiddo:
The plunder of riches they did not receive.

20.  Deb. From heaven did they fight;
The stars, from their lofty stations,
Fought against Sisera.
21.  Bar. The river Kishon swept them away,
The river intercepted them; the river Kishon:
It was there my soul trod down strength.

22.  Deb. It was then the hoofs of the cavalry were battered.
By the scamperings, the scamperings of its strong steeds.
23.  Bar. Curse ye the land of Meroz,
Said the messenger of JEHOVAH:
Deb. Curse ye heavily its inhabitants,
Because they came not for help.
Both. JEHOVAH WAS FOR HELP! JEHOVAH AGAINST THE MIGHTY!
24.  Deb. Praised among women will be Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Among women in the tent will she be praised.
25.  Bar. He asked water, she gave him milk;
In a princely bowl she brought it.
26.  Deb. Her left hand she put forth to the nail;
And her right hand to the workman's hammer.
Bar. She struck Sisera, she smote his head;
Then she struck through, and pierced his temples.
27.  Deb. At her feet he bowed, he fell!
Bar. At her feet he bowed, he fell!
Both. WHERE HE BOWED. THERE HE FELL DEAD.
28.  Deb. Through the window she looked out and called,
Even the mother of Sisera, through the lattice;
Bar. 'Why is his chariot ashamed to return?
Why so slow are the steps of his chariot?'
29.  Deb. Her wise ladies answered her;
Nay, she returned answer to herself:
30.  Bar. 'Have they not found, divided the spoil;
Embroidery, double embroidery for the captains' heads!
A prize of divers colors for Sisera!'
Deb. 'A prize of divers colors of embroidery;
A colored piece of double embroidery for MY NECK, a prize!'
Chorus, by Deborah and Barak.

31.  So perish all thine enemies, O Jehovah!
Grand Chorus, by the whole procession.
AND LET THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
BE AS THE SUN GOING FORTH IN HIS MIGHT.


  DR. HALES'S VERSION OF THE SONG
1.  Then sang Deborah, and Barak son of Abinoam on (the victory of) that day, on the avenging of wrongs in Israel:
2.  On the volunteering of the people; Saying, BLESS YE THE LORD!

3.  Hearken, O kings, (of Canaan),
Give ear, O princes, (of the land):
I, even I, will sing unto the Lord;
I will shout to the Lord, the God of Israel.

4.  O Lord, on thy going forth from Seir,
On thy marching from the land of Edom,
The earth quaked, the heavens dropped
The clouds, I say, dropped water.

5.  The mountains melted away
From the presence of the Lord;
Even Sinai himself, from the presence
OF THE LORD THE GOD OF ISRAEL.

6.  From the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
To the days of Jael, (through fear of the enemy),
The highways were unfrequented,
And travellars walked through by-paths.
7.  The villages were deserted:
They were deserted till I, Deborah, arose,
Till I arose (to be) a mother in Israel.

8.  (The Israelites) had chosen new gods,
Therefore was war in their gates:
Was there a shield or a spear to be seen
Among forty thousand in Israel?
9.  My heart it attached to the senators of Israel,
Who volunteered among the people.

10.  BLESS YE THE LORD!
Ye that ride upon white asses
Ye that sit in (the gates of) judgment,
Extol (him) ye travelers.

11.  (Now freed) from the noise of archers
At the watering places,
Here shall they rehearse the righteousness OF THE LORD; his righteousness
Towards the villages of Israel:
Now shall the people of THE LORD
Go down to the gates of judgment in safety

12.  Awake, awake, Deborah;
Awake, awake, utter a song (of praise).
Arise now, Barak; lead thy captivity captive,
Thou son of Abinoam.

13.  For (God) made a remnant of the people
Triumph over the nobles of the enemy;
The Lord made me triumph over the mighty.

14.  From Ephraim unto Amalek was their root:
Next to thee (Ephraim) was Benjamin among thy people:
From Machir (Manasseh) came down the senators.
And from Zebulun, they that write with the pen of the scribe.

15.  The princes in Issachar (were) with Deborah,
Even Issachar, as well as Barak, (Naphtali),
He was sent on foot into the valley;
For the divisions of Reuben (I feel) great griefs of heart.

16.  Why abidest thou among the sheepfolds
To hear the bleatings of the flocks?
For the divisions of Reuben (I feel) great griefs of heart.

17.  (Why) abode Gilead (Gad) beyond Jordan;
And Dan remained in his ships?
(Why did) Asher sit in his seaports,
And continue in his creeks?
18.  (While) the people of Zebulun hazarded their lives unto death,
And of Naphtali, in the heights of the field;

19.  The kings came, they fought;
The kings of Canaan fought in Taanah,
Near the waters of Megiddo;
But they gained no lucre (thereby).

20.  The stars of heaven fought in their courses;
They fought against Sisera.

21.  The torrents of Kison swept them away;
The torrent of Kedummim,
The torrent of Kison. O my soul,
Thou hast trodden down strength!
22.  Then were the horsehoofs broken by the gallopings,
The gallopings of their great men.

23.  Curse ye Meroz, saith the angel of THE LORD;
Bitterly curse her inhabitants,
Because they came not to the aid of THE LORD;
To the aid of THE LORD among the mighty.

24.  Blessed above women be Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Blessed be she above women in the tent.
25.  He asked water, and she gave him milk;
She brought forth butter in a lordly bowl.
26.  She put her hand to the nail,
And her right hand to the workman's hammer;
And she smote Sisera: She pierced his head, she penetrated,
And she perforated his temples.
27.  Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay
Between her feet; he bowed, he fell;
Where he bowed, there he fell down slain.

28.  The mother of Sisera looked through the window,
And exclaimed through the lattice,
'Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why linger the steps of his steeds?'
29.  Her wise ladies answered their mistress
Yea, she returned answer to herself:
30.  'Have they not found,
Have they not divided the spoil?
To each a damsel or two apiece,
To Sisera himself a spoil of divers colors,
A spoil of divers colors embroidered;
Of divers colors embroidered on both sides.
A spoil for (adorning) his neck.'

31.  So perish all thine enemies, O LORD!
But let thy friends (rejoice),
As the sun going forth in his strength.

 ________________________________________________________________________________

[1] (Ps. 149:6) Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;”

Let the high praises of GodLet them sing songs the most sublime, with the loudest noise consistent with harmony.

And a two-edged sword in their handPerhaps there is an allusion here to the manner in which the Jews were obliged to labor in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem: "Every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon," Nehemiah 4:17.

 

[2] (Ps. 145:4) One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”

shall declare -- literally, "they shall declare," that is all generations.

One generationThy creating and redeeming acts are recorded in thy word; but thy wondrous providential dealings with mankind must be handed down by tradition, from generation to generation; for they are in continual occurrence, and consequently innumerable.

[3] (Dan. 5:4) LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.” Here is an allusion to the giving of the law, and the manifestation of God's power and glory at that time; and as this was the most signal display of his majesty and mercy in behalf of their forefathers, Deborah very properly begins her song with a commemoration of this transaction.

[4] (Ps. 2.10, 11) Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Be wise—O ye kingsAn exhortation of the Gospel to the rulers of all kingdoms, nations, and states, to whom it may be sent. All these should listen to its maxims, be governed by its precepts, and rule their subjects according to its dictates. Be instructed, ye judgesRather, Be ye reformed—cast away all your idolatrous maxims; and receive the Gospel as the law, or the basis of the law, of the land .Serve the Lord with fearA general direction to all men. Fear God with that reverence which is due to his supreme majesty. Serve him as subjects should their sovereign, and as servants should their master. Rejoice with tremblingIf ye serve God aright, ye cannot but be happy; but let a continual filial fear moderate all your joys. Ye must all stand at last before the judgment-seat of God; watch, pray, believe, work, and keep humble.

[5] (Hab. 3:3, 4) “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.”  God -- singular in the Hebrew, "Eloah," instead of "Elohim," plural, usually employed. The singular is not found in any other of the minor prophets, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel; but it is in Isaiah, Daniel, Job, and Deuteronomy. from Teman -- the country south of Judea and near Edom, in which latter country Mount Paran was situated [HENDERSON]. "Paran" is the desert region, extending from the south of Judah to Sinai. Seir, Sinai, and Paran are adjacent to one another, and are hence associated together, in respect to God's giving of the law (De 33:2). Teman is so identified with Seir or Edom, as here to be substituted for it. Habakkuk appeals to God's glorious manifestations to His people at Sinai, as the ground for praying that God will "revive His work" (Hab 3:2) now. For He is the same God now as ever. Selah -- a musical sign, put at the close of sections and strophes, always at the end of a verse, except thrice; namely, here, and Hab 3:9, and Ps 55:19 Ps 57:3, where, however, it closes the hemistich. It implies a change of the modulation. It comes from a root to "rest" or "pause" [GESENIUS]; implying a cessation of the chant, during an instrumental interlude. The solemn pause here prepares the mind for contemplating the glorious description of Jehovah's manifestation which follows. earth . . . full of his praise -- that is, of His glories which were calculated to call forth universal praise; the parallelism to "glory" proves this to be the sense. as the light -- namely, of the sun (Job 37:21 Pr 4:18). horns -- the emblem of power wielded by "His hand" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU]. "Rays" emanating from "His hand," compared by the Arabs to the horns of the gazelle (compare "hind of the morning," Ps 22:1, title, Margin). The Hebrew verb for to "emit rays," is from the root meaning "horns" (Ex 34:29, 30, 35) [GROTIUS]. The rays are His lightnings (Ps 18:8), [MAURER]. there -- in that "brightness." In it, notwithstanding its brilliancy, there was but the veil "(the hiding) of His power." Even "light," God's "garment," covers, instead of revealing fully, His surpassing glory (Ps 104:2) [HENDERSON]. Or, on Mount Sinai [DRUSIUS]. (Compare Ex 24:17). The Septuagint and Syriac versions read for "there," He made a hiding, &c.; He hid Himself with clouds. English Version is better, which CALVIN explains, there is said to be "a hiding of God's power," because God did not reveal it indiscriminately to all, but specially to His people (Ps 31:20). The contrast seems to me to be between the "horns" or emanations out of His power ("hand"), and that "power" itself. The latter was hidden, whereas the "horns" or emanations alone were manifested. If the mere scintillations were so awfully overwhelming, how much more so the hidden power itself! This was especially true of His manifestation at Sinai (Ps 18:11; compare Isa 45:15, 17).

 

[6] (Ps. 18:7) Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.”

 

[7] (Isa. 64:1, 2) Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!”

 

[8] (Deu. 33:2) And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”

 

[9] (Ps. 68:7, 8) O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah: 8The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

 

[10] (Ps 104.22-23) The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” How beautifully God has arranged His creation. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor until the evening. Then man must rest from his labors; and when he does, the predatory animals arise from their daylight rest to prowl the jungles at night. God coordinates nature by the coordinated alternation of the sun and moon.

 

[11] (Jos. 24:21)  And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.” And the people saidNay; but we will serve, etc.—So they understood the words of Joshua to imply no moral impossibility on their side: and had they earnestly sought the gracious assistance of God, they would have continued steady in his covenant.

 

[12] (1 Sam. 13.22) “So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.” In the day of battle—these was neither sword nor spear—But if the Israelites enjoyed such profound peace and undisturbed dominion under Samuel, how is it that they were totally destitute of arms, a state which argues the lowest circumstances of oppression and vassalage? In answer to this we may observe, that the bow and the sling were the principal arms of the Israelites; for these they needed no smith: the most barbarous nations, who have never seen iron, have nevertheless bows and arrows; the arrow heads generally made of flint. Arrows of this kind are found among the inhabitants of the South Sea islands; and even axes, and different implements of war, all made of stone, cut and polished by stone, are frequent among them. The arms of the aboriginal Irish have been of this kind. I have frequently seen heads of axes and arrows of stone, which have been dug up out of the ground, formed with considerable taste and elegance. The former the common people term thunderbolts; the latter, elf-stones. Several of these from Ireland, from Zetland, and from the South Sea islands, are now before me.

Now it is possible that the Israelites had still bows and arrows: these they could have without the smith; and it is as likely that they had slings, and for these they needed none. But then these were missiles; if they came into close fight, they would avail them nothing: for attacks of this kind they would require swords and spears; of these none were found but with Saul and Jonathan.

 

[13] (Joshua 15:61) In the wilderness, Betharabah, Middin, and Secacah,”

 

[14] (Jg. 12:14) “ And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.”

 

[15] (Eze. 38:11) And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” dwell safely -- that is, securely, without fear of danger.

 

[16] (Ps. 108:2) Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.”

 

[17] (Exodus 17:10) “O Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.”

 

[18] (Judges 5:17) Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.” The middle of the song praises the tribes who came to aid Deborah and Barak and taunts those who did not. Gilead abode beyond Jordan refers to the two and one-half tribes which settled east of the Jordan and were not involved in this battle. Dan, Asher, and Reuben are also chided for their nonparticipation. The reference to Dan remaining in ships has raised some questions as to its meaning. Evidently, this incident took place before the Danite migration northward as described in chapter 18. Therefore, at this time they were undoubtedly under a great deal of pressure from the Canaanites and the Philistines (Sea Peoples), by whom they were eventually defeated and driven from their tribal territory. The reference seems to indicate the unsettled nature of their situation at that time.

 

[19](Jg. 3:13) And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.” 

 

 

[20](Ex. 17:16) “ For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

 

[21](Jos. 11:10). “And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.” Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor. Having pursued the enemy all the way to the sea, Joshua now returned to destroy the capital of the confederacy. So complete was the destruction of Hazor that nothing that breathed was left. Joshua burned the city, something he did not do to the cities that stood still in their strength. This implies cities that were “heaped up,” or built high mounds for defense and strength, like the castles along the Rhine.

 

[22](Jg. 12:15) “And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.”

 

[23] (Num. 32:39) “And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.”

 

[24] (1 Pt. 4:10) “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” As every man hath received the gift (Gr charisma) does not refer to talents, nor does the word have the article in the original. Not “the gift,” but “any gift” (meaning something one gets for nothing) is to be given in the same way that it is received, without grudging. This is the thing that makes us good stewards of God’s grace. Minister the same one to another in this context means being hospitable to one another. In the early church, apostles and preachers were constantly travelling from one town to another spreading the gospel. In this type of ministry, they needed someone to minister to them in return by providing the physical necessities of life. The gospel came as a free gift, so should the support of the gospel preachers. In this passage, both the preaching of the message of the gospel, and ministering to the physical needs of the preachers through genuine Christian hospitality, is to be done to glorify God in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

[25] (Ge. 49.15) Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.” Issachar is likened to a strong donkey, so content to rest in pleasant pastoral surroundings that it had no will to fight for independence and so became subject to the enemy’s yoke.

 

[26](Phil. 2.21) "For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus."

 

[27] (1 Cor. 3:10–15) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

 

[28] (Luke 1.42) And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

 

[29] (Eze. 32.27) And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.” they shall not lie with the mighty -- that is, they shall not have separate tombs such as mighty conquerors have: but shall all be heaped together in one pit, as is the case with the vanquished [GROTIUS]. HAVERNICK reads it interrogatively, "Shall they not lie with the mighty that are fallen?" But the English Version is supported by the parallel (Isa 14:18, 19), to which Ezekiel refers, and which represents them as not lying as mighty kings lie in a grave, but cast out of one, as a carcass trodden under foot. Gone down to hell with their weapons of warAre buried in their armor and with their weapons lying by their sides. It was a very ancient practice, in different nations, to bury a warrior's weapons in the same grave with himself.

 

[30] (1 Tim. 6.9, 10) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

 

[31] Looked out - Expecting to see him returning: for she concluded, that he went forth not so much to fight, as to take the spoil.

 

[32] (Isa. 22:18) He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.”

 

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