Meet Deborah, judge, jury, and prophetess…
8 Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’
9 ‘Certainly I will go with you,’ said Deborah. ‘But because of the course you are taking, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the River Kishon all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?’ So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lordrouted Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.
Today’s complex character is Deborah; prophet, leader, warrior, woman! The biblical narrative tells us that Deborah was a prophet but goes on to say that she was the wife of Lappidoth, yet all we know of Lappidoth is that he was the husband of Deborah. However Deborah was the one who was leading Israel at that time and who engineered the revolt against King Jabin of Canaan under whose rule the Israelites had been oppressed for 20 years. Led by the Lord she commanded Barak to muster 10,000 troops to march against Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army. Barak refused to go unless Deborah went with him. She prophesied that therefore the victory would be given to a woman. And so she went with the army and the Lord delivered the army of Sisera into her hands; it was completely destroyed. Sisera escaped and fled to the tent of Jael. He begged her to hide him and she led him into her tent and covered him with a blanket. While he slept, utterly exhausted, Jael drove a tent peg through his temple, killing him. Thus the military victory was achieved by two women and there was peace in Israel for 40 years.
Of no account am I,
a woman in a land of men.
I may be Prophet,
but still I am a woman
known by the name of the man
to whom I am wed.
Yet God has given me the victory
and into my hands he delivered the enemy.
Into my hands
and the hands of my sister Jael,
and together we triumphed!
God spoke to me!
He put his words in my mouth,
and brought them forth with power
to set his people free.
In God’s sight
I am Prophet
In God’s plan
I am Leader
In God’s gift
I am Warrior
I am Woman
I am Deborah
I am Judge.
They shall sing my song through the ages,
and the age of Deborah
is the age of peace.