Judges Chapter 04



as a result of the faithful ministrations of Ehud and the courage of Shamgar, Israel enjoyed 80 years of peace.  This period of 80 years was the longest period of peace which Israel enjoyed during the history of the Judges.  However, instead of consolidating their inheritance and their worship, the people degenerated to such an extent that in this peaceful era, "They chose new gods" (Judges 5:8).  Peaceful periods are not always conducive to spiritual development.  In times of prosperity God is generally overlooked and the people became self-satis fied and confident in their own strength.  Israel invariably failed in times of tranquility and plenty (Deut. 32:15-18). On the other hand, war and oppression very often produced a corr ect attitude of mind by which their dependence upon Yahweh was understood and solicited in prayer (Ex.2:23-25).

v.l "The Children of Israel again did evil... when Ehud was dead."

The 80 years of peace and the removal of a righteous influence, left Israel in a state of apostasy; they had not appreciated the deliverance which Yahweh had effected through His servants.

v.2 "Yahweh sold them".

The word implies "to sell into slavery." Israel became slaves to the "King of Canaan".  The Canaanites were a people steeped in idolatry, superstition, and immorality.  They were pre-emin ently men of the flesh and it is to this class that Israel were sold into bondage. Human nature is the same in all races of humanity; left unbridled, it will run riot in all manner of evil thinking and corrupt practice.  The Apostle Paul under stood this when in Romans 7:18, he said, "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing." Realising the bias towards evil which was hereditary in his nature, the Apos tle said, "I am carnal, sold unto sin" (Romans 7:14). Here is a powerful enemy that has us all in bondage - the power of sin. If we allow it, it can enslave us to the extent that we become absolutely subject to the whims and to the passions of unbrid led lust.  Jesus has delivered us from this powerful enemy (Heb. 2:14), and in this respect, has "led captivity captive" (Judges 5:12).  Notice how this phrase taken from Judges 5:12 is applied to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in Ephesians 4:8, and becomes the key in understanding the work of Deborah and Barak.  The fact that it is quoted in respect of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, shows that the story before us in the 4th and 5th chapters of Judges, is highly typical of that work.

"Jabin, King of Canaan."

Jabin's name means "intelligent", "wise".  In his own estimat ion he was the wise one.  This Jabin, is Jabin the second; the first man of that name being mentioned in Joshua 11:1.  The title here applied shows the proud spirit of these Gentiles of Canaan.


This was a region of the northern extremities of the land of Israel between the sea-coast and the Lake of Galilee. Hence, Jabin the wise, was a king out of the north quarters who comes to oppress Israel.  In this he is a type of the latter-day Gogue.


He was the general of Jabin's army, a man who was noted for his prowess in warfare, particularly of his ability to marshall and manoeuvre his 900 chariots of iron.  Even his name implies his ability; it means "Warlike array".

"Harosheth of the Gentiles".

Harosheth means "mechanical work", in the sense of the artifi cer.  The word has the meaning of cutting and carving, and signifies the use of tools, hence the pride of his army, the 900 chariots of iron, (v.3).  The first artificer in brass and iron, was Tubal-cain (Genesis 4:22) who was in the accursed line of Cain, and was a son of Lamech, who in the record of Genesis 4, is noted for his arrogance and boastfulness (Genesis 4:23-24 - see Companion Bible). Mechanical work has long been a source of great pride and achievement amongst the Gentiles, and it seems fitting in the context of Judges that the Canaanite should be so skilled in this regard, whereas Israel were mainly agricultural in their way of life.  We have therefore, pitted against one another, the mechanical genius of men, and faith in the power of an invisible God who rules in the king dom of men.

V.3. "Israel cried unto Yahweh".

"To shriek"'3 "to cry out together in the assembly ".sin brought suffering, supplication was to bring deliverance.  It is characteristic of human nature to call upon God only when in trouble (Isa. 26:16).

"Nine-hundred chariots of Iron".

One of the uses of iron is expressed as "to break in pieces and bruise" (Daniel 2:40).  In opposition to these chariots, Israel found they had no weapons (Judges 5:8).  Truly, if they had known it, "the weapons of their warfare were not carnal" (2 Cor. 10:4).  Yahweh is more powerful than the chariots of the Gentiles (Psalm 76:6), but previously Israel had failed to realise this and the sight of the chariots had shown a gross lack of faith (Joshua 17:16-18, Judges 1:19).  Chariots induce pride (Isa. 37:24), and trust in fleshly power (Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 31: 1) - A realisation that Yahweh rides the "Chariots of the Spirit" for protection of His saints, imbues us with a confidence to face all difficulties. There are many references in Scripture to Yahweh Sabaoth, and to His Spiritual Chariots, that is the organisation of the Elohim through whom He is able to bring the might of Gentilism to nought (2 Kings 6:17, 13:14 Psalm 68:17, Isaiah 66:15).

"Mightily oppressed the Children of Israel".

For twenty years Jabin and Sisera had oppressed the Children of Israel.  The results of this oppression were to be seen through out the land.  The highways, the main arteries that connected the townships, were unoccupied; people feared to travel on these roads because of the ever-present danger of violence (Judges 5:6).  Instead, travellers between the cities, kept to the byways, the tortuous tracks which circumvented the danger spots, although placing the traveller at great inconvenience, and adding time and anxiety to his journey (Judges 5:6). Throughout Israel, people were deserting the outlying villages and farmlands, to seek the refuge of fortified cities (Judges 5:7). The economy of the country thus suffered, people were being uprooted from their homelands, and from surroundings in which they had grown up and had become familiar; farmlands were left untended, which in the long run could only mean the scarc ity of food, and the cities receiving this overflow of populat ion found it difficult to provide for the increased inhabitants.

v.4. In this verse we have our first introduction to Deborah, the heroine of this story, a woman of_ outstanding faith who refused to accept what others believed to be an inevitable fate of oppression to the sinful powers of Gentilism.  She was "a mother in Israel" (5:7), and as such grew anxious for the welfare of her children.  The continued oppression worried her and became a challenge which she was prepared to answer; her confid ence was in Yahweh, and because of that she feared not to face a well-armed and well-equipped enemy.


Her name means "a bee" and the word implies "orderly motion", such as the bee exhibits.  In this compare her to Sisera; he was skilful in his "warlike array", in marshalling his chariots of iron. His was the genius of the flesh.  Deborah was like the skilful bee whose "orderly motion" is seen in its natural characteristics, in the development of the honeycomb and the extraction of the honey.  Hers was the genuis of nature; "orderly motion", the power inherent in an All-wise, Skilful Creator.  The bee is noted in Scripture as an insect which attacks ferociously any who would upset its domestic circle. It goes forth in swarms as a united group (Deut.l:44, Ps.118:12 Isa.7:18). In the Proverbs, the diligent habits of the ant are outlined, and in the Septuagint version of Proverbs 6, the characteristics of the bee are also added.  According to the Septuagint version of Proverbs 6:8, we learn "Or go to the bee and learn how diligent she is, and how busily she is engaged in her work, whose labours kings and private men use for health and she is desired and respected by all. Though weak in body, she is advanced by honouring wisdom." How applicable are these words to the character of Deborah.


"To shine as lightning".

"Dwelt under the Palm Tree of Deborah".

The idea expressed in the original word for "palm tree", is "upright", and "beautiful" (See Jer.10:4 and 5, 6. 7:7). The palm tree is used as a symbolic' figure of the glorified saints (Psalm 92:12). This tree has a tremendous determination to grow "upwards, and to spread its foliage up towards the heav en.  It has been found to grow upright with great vigour even when loaded down with weights.  Its foliage is peculiar in so much as it is restricted to the top or the height of the tree; in other words, next to the heavens and furtherest from the earth.  As such it is a fit symbol for those who are "upright in heart", and for those who set their affection upon things that are above (Col. 3:1). It is used as a symbol of peace and triumph (John 12:13, Rev. 7:9), and during the feast of Tabernacles, which was typical of the glorious atmosphere that will pervade the Kingdom of God, palm trees were used in the construction of the booths (Lev. 23:40).

"Palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel"

It is interesting to note that there are two Deborahs mentioned in Scripture.  The first woman mentioned under this name was

Rebekeka's nurse who went with her mistress when she left Padan-aram to go and become the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24:59). In the subsequent history of Isaac's family, we find her still the nurse in the household of Jacob, and as such she would be instrumental in nursing and caring for his twelve sons during their growth from childhood to maturity.  Seeing that the twelve boys were the sons of Israel, she was in a very real sense a "mother in Israel". So loved and respected did she become in Jacob's household, that when she died, she was buried in great dignity in a place near Bethel by an oak which was named in accordance with this sad occasion, Allon-Bachuth (The oak of Weeping, Gen. 35:8).  It was in this same vicinity that we find Deborah the second, dwelling under the palm tree, judging Israel, and tending them as a nurse would her house-hold.

"Israel came up to her for judgment"

What must have been the state of Israel during this period, that Yahweh should provide a woman to judge them?  Paul exhorts the women to take lower place in the ecclesia of God, and to be in silence (1 Tim. 2:11-12), and of course, he is here drawing upon a custom which was as much a part of the Old Testament as that of the New, for the Apostle Paul cites the case of Adam and Eve as the precedent.  Why then should Yahweh call upon this woman to lead a nation of men against the enemy? Was it not because in this ecclesia there was a lack of men imbued with faith to deal with the problem before them.

v.6 "She sent and called Barak".

Barak means "glittering". He was one of the few in Israel with sufficient courage to face the situation, but even he needed the encouragement of this faithful woman.  His father was Abinoam, whose name means "Father of graciousness".


Kedesh is one of the cities of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and it means "a sanctuary". However, being in the north of Israel in the tribe of Naphtali, the circumstances made it anything but a sanctuary to Barak and his family, for it was situated in the very path of Jabin and Sisera as they would make their way down into the Land of Israel. Any wonder that Barak should be foremost in the work of resisting the power of these Gentile forces.

"Come draw towards Mount Tabor €

Tabor is a mountain which has outstanding features. It arises abruptly at the north-eastern end of the Plain of Esdraelon and commands a beautiful view of the surrounding districts. It is cone shaped, and its peak is 1,000 feet above the level of the plain. It has no surrounding hills which complement its height, and so it stands a peculiar cone shaped eminence at the end of a broad fertile valley, giving it a peculiarity all of its own, and making it at once one of the most outstanding landmarks in this part of Israel. There was a very good reas on why Barak should firstly assemble his forces in this place, and this is revealed in subsequent history which is related to this 4th chapter of Judges.

"The children of Naphtali and the children of Zebulon"

These are the tribes immediately affected by Jabin's oppress ion, and we note that they were foremost amongst the rest of Israel in the time of great crisis that came upon them (Judges 5:18).

V.7 "I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera"

Yahweh used this stream to effect a great victory, and the incident is recorded in Psalm 83:9.  It was here also that Elijah slew the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40).  Kishon arises from the foothills of Gilboa, flows the length of the Plain of Esdraelon, and issues into the sea just north of Mount Carmel.  It is known as one of the most treacherous rivers in Palestine, because of its quicksands and flashfloods. A similar catastrophe to the one which overtook Sisera also was the cause of the defeat of the Turkish army in 1799, when as a result of a flashflood in the River of Kishon, many of them were drowned in battle.

V.8 "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go € .

Note Barak's supreme confidence in Deborah.  She was an inspir ation to him.  His faith and courage were bolstered by her presence, and the manifested confidence which she had in Yahweh.  How remarkable is it that in Hebrews 11:32, Barak is mentioned in the catalogue of the faithful and yet Deborah is not. What a powerful influence she must have been upon this man.  Here were partners in the truth, paired to help each other in the cause of Israel, and the woman in this case being the stronger vessel, encouraging, exhorting and offering prac tical assistance to the man who was to become the leader of this revival.  Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, exhorts the women to be helpers and not hinderers, to war a good warfare in the cause of truth (Romans 16:1-2, Phil. 4:3, see also 1 Peter 3:1-2).

V.9 "Shall not be for thine honour".

Something was lacking in Barak.  Yet, he is mentioned as a man of faith by Paul.  Evidently, he overcame many weaknesses in performing the task which was set before him.  However, because of the reliance which he felt constrained to place in a woman, Yahweh was to teach a salutory lesson by selling Sisera into the hand of a woman.

"Yahweh shall sell Sisera"

In verse 2 we notice that "Yahweh sold Israel into the hand of Sisera". Now their fortunes were to be reversed. Here is cap tivity taken captive.  The power of sin overcome, Israel once more free from the tyrant.

"Into the hand of a woman"

The conquest of the man of the flesh was not by the prowess of man. Sisera stands as a type of the evil propensities which rule human nature; propensities which the Lord Jesus Christ alone was able to control, nullify, condemn and finally morti fy in his death.  By the power of the spirit Word which rested in him, he was able to conquer that which in turn had enslaved every other human being.  In the words of the Apostle Paul quoting from this story, "he led captivity captive" (Eph.4:8). In all this transaction, Yahweh was the victor; no flesh can glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:30-31), even Christ himself needed and received the power of the Father to overcome in the manner in which he did.  In the beginning, it was the "seed of the woman" (Gen.3:15) who was to overcome the serpent power of sin, and in providing this seed, a virgin conceived to produce a child who was born, "not of man, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God" (John 1:13). Also we note with interest that the seed of the serpent was to be bruised in the head, and in effecting the death of Sisera, Jael smote him in the head (v.21).  Apart from the typical significance involved, death by a woman was a shameful thing (Judges 9:53-54), and Yet a fitting end for this man whose practice it was to use women captives for impure purposes (5:11,30).  The honour of complete victory was to be ascribed to Yahweh who was able to save by few or many (2 Chron. 14:11; 1 Samuel 14:6).

v.10 "And Barak called Zebulun and naphtali"

Barak sends out his call of faith, and the first to receive his call were the men from the region of Galilee. The tribes of Israel were expected to fight each other's battles (Joshua 1:12-15, and yet few of the others responded to this call which Barak now issued (Judges 5:14-18). Zebulun and Naphtali were tribes whose inheritance lay in the region of Galilee. This was a despised district commonly styled "Galilee of the nations" (Isa. 9:1).  It was so called because of its close proximity to centres of Gentilism.  It lay in the direct route from Egypt to Asia and beyond, and through its cities many nationalities passed.  So affected did its inhabitants become through the influences of the various nations, that even the accent of the Galileans became a characteristic by which they were recognised (Mark 14:70, Luke 22:59).  Hiram the Tyrian king who assisted Solomon in constructing his temple received cities in the Galilean district as a gift from Solomon which he subsequently called Cabul, meaning "dirty" (1 Kings 9:10-13). The reaction of this monarch to the gift of Solomon is a revealing testimony of the general attitude to this district. Out of this area was to arise the greatest of all men, Jesus Christ himself, and of him it was said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth" (John 1:46).  Like Barak, he also issues his call of faith, and it is interesting to note that the men who first responded to that call were (with one exception), Galileans, the exception was Judas Iscariot, the betrayer.

"At his feet"

In the sense of following him as a leader (Ex. 11:8).

V.11 "Heber the Kenite"

Hebers name means "A community", but he was a man who belied his name, for he had severed himself from his brethren, and had betrayed the cause of Israel to which he had become espous ed (Judges 4:11).  This man's ancestral history is extremely interesting and informative.  We note from this verse that he was a descendant of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses.  The Revised Version in this place has "brother-in-law", which of course, is the correct translation.  Let us now trace the ancestry of Heber, and note the close affinity which should haVe existed between him and the people of Israel.

Hobab was the son of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Num. 10:29).  Moses had sought refuge at the house of Jethro (Ex. 2:18), and had tended his flocks for a period of 40 years (Ex. 3:1-2), during which time he married Zipporah, one of his seven daughters (Ex. 2:21). In due course Moses sought leave from the household of Jethro to renew the work of Yahweh in Egypt (Ex. 4:18).  After the deliverance of Israel from Egypt they travelled to Sinai where Moses meets again with Jethro his father-in-law, who had cared for Zipporah and her two sons after Moses had sent them back to continue the journey to Egypt alone (Ex.18).  By an examination of the context of Exodus 18, we see how that Jethro had enthusiastically embraced the Hope of Israel.  He rejoiced at the news of Israel's deliv erance (v.9). He shows his own dedication to Yahweh by the offering of a burnt offering (v.12), and in this verse also, we see him participating in a meal of fellowship with the elders of Israel. Upon seeing the stupendous task of administration that Moses took upon himself, he offered sound advice to which Moses heeds. (v.24-26).

Hobab, his son, journeys a little way with Israel towards the promised Land, and is exhorted by Moses to continue with them, and to partake of the inheritance which Yahweh had promised to His people (Num. 10:29).  Moses preached the gospel of "The Hope of Israel" to a Gentile, the son of his father-in-law, but in the record of Numbers, we are not told whether he accepted or rejected the offer.  However, in subsequent revelation, we are led to conclude that he did accept, and indeed journeyed with the people of God into the Promised Land.

The next mention we have of the descendants of Jethro is in Judges 1:16, where we note with interest that they were there with the "Children of Judah...and they went and dwelled among the people".  We again encounter them in this fourth chapter of Judges under consideration, and in this place we have one who is to betray the alliance which he had with the Children of Israel, but whose wife was to cling steadfastly to it.

Our next connection with these people is in the days of Saul the first king of Israel, who spared them because of their affinity with Israel (1 Sam. 15:6).  Note their implicit obed ience to his request on this occasion.  Even in the decline of Israel of later history, the descendants of Hobab still present a remarkable example of Godliness (1 Chron. 2:55).  By this time they are now known as the Rechabites, descendants of Rechab, who was also a descendant of Hobab.  When Jehu was going forth to execute Divine vengeance against Ahab the King of Israel for promoting Baal worship, it was to Jehonodab the son of Rechab that he looked for support (11 Kings 10:15-17). Two-hundred years later during the period just prior to the Babylonian captivity of Israel, the Rechabites are an outstanding example of righteous living midst the corruption that pervaded the Children of Israel.  They were a noble people who maintain ed their father's command to be pilgrim dwellers in the land, and to abstain from strong drink (Jer. 35:8-10). For their steadfastness of purpose in an atmosphere of apostasy and corruption, they are highly commended by Yahweh, the God of Israel, who promises the faithful among them an inheritance in the Kingdom of God (vs. 18-19). Such were the descendants of Hobab, of whom Heber was a treacherous member.

"The Plain of Zaanaim."

"The oak of unloading of tents", connecting the nomadic habits and pilgrim dwelling atmosphere of the Kenites.

V.12 "Barak...was gone up to Mount Tabor"

In this verse we see the reason why Barak was to gather at Mount Tabor.  It was to constitute a tremendous challenge to his faith, and to the faith of those gathered with him. Why was an army of ten thousand footmen taken to the top of this peculiar cone-shaped eminence? The reason is seen in the activities of Sisera.  News was brought to him that Barak and his hosts were gathered on the top of Carmel.  He knew the vista which must have been present to their view from this height.  The Plain of Esdraelon lay directly beneath their feet, and Sisera chose this opportune time and geographical position to demonstrate his skill in marshalling his chariots with the purpose of striking terror into the hearts of Israel.

V.13 "Sisera gathered together all his chariots".

Note the word "gathered" in the margin is given as to gather by cry or proclamation.  The word means to "assemble", see 11 Samuel 20:4-5.  True to his name, Sisera, full of pride and arrogance was to make an impressive warlike array with his nine hundred chariots of iron.  What a challenge to the faith of the ten thousand seemingly defenceless men of Israel, who, having climbed the height of Tabor to witness this awe-inspir ing display, were now called upon to face this wall of iron, on foot.

Notice also the use of the term "all":"All his chariots," "All his people". Here was a deliberate attempt to overthrow the confidence of Barak's force by a display of power and might.

"Unto the River of Kishon"

This river was only ten miles distance diagonally opposite to Mount Tabor.

v.14 "Yahweh hath delivered Sisera into thine hand".

Note the past tense in this sentence. Here was the confidence of Deborah expressed (v.4), and as a "prophetess" she was here prophesying of the overthrow of this Gentile host.

"Is not Yahweh gone out before thee?"

Yahweh promises His assistance to those who are prepared to fight by the power of faith.  He made this promise to Israel prior to their entering into the Promised Land; "The Lord thy God is Be that goeth over before thee" (Deut. 9:3). The same assurance is given to those who are prepared to separate themselves from the contaminating influences of the world. In this respect Yahweh promises to position Himself both before them as a leader, and behind them as a protector against the world which they have left behind (Isa. 52:12).  Barak and his faithful ten thousand needed to concentrate upon the fact of Yahweh1s existence, for although this promise was now made to them, yet Yahweh would be there as an invisible presence seen only by the eye of faith.  David experienced similar help when the Divine presence went before him in battle.  In his case he was given the added assurance by the visible and audible evid ence of "the going in the top of the mulberry trees" (2 Sam. 5:24).

"Ten thousand men".

In the future manifestation of the power of Yahweh in Christ and his followers, we read in Psalm 68:17, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels". Here in this Psalm, we have the anti-type of Barak and his host, the glorified community of the Israel of God in its campaigns ag ainst the anti-typical Canaanites. We note with interest that here is twice ten thousand, a number to indicate an innumberable company who will go forth with Christ in the greatest conflict of all. How interesting does this Psalm become when we note that in the next verse, verse 18, the Psalmist draws upon the typical history of Barak's victory by quoting Judges 5:12, "Thou has led captivity captive"!

V. 15 "Yahweh discomforted Sisera".

In chapter 5:20-22, we are informed how He did this. By man ipulating the elements which He has under His supreme control, Yahweh brought about the downfall of this proud champion of the Gentiles, in this verse there is a play upon words: the word for "discomfort" means "a commotion", or "put out of order". Now Siser'a name means "warlike array", and true to his name, he had marshalled his nine hundred chariots of iron in a dis play of power and military genius; but Yahweh was more than a match for the strategy of Sisera, and He threw his "Warlike array" into complete motion".

Whilst we are mentioning this matter concerning Sisera, we note also a play on words in respect of the overthrow of Siseras commander and king, Jabin, the king of Canaan. In verse 23, we read, € So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan". Now in this verse the word "subdued" and the word "Canaan" come from the same root. Jabin was the king of Canaan, and "Canaan" means" to bend the knee", "to humiliate oneself". This they were prepared to do in order to subvert Israel, and to gain a footing in the land.  However, the final victory was to Yahweh. He "humiliated" their king and brought him to his knees against his will.

"Sisera lighted down off his chariot".

The word means "to descend", "to go downward"', "to bring down", (see Isaiah 26:5, and 1 Samuel 25:23).

"Fled away on his feet".

Note the phrase "on his feet" twice repeated (compare v.17). Sisera was a renown charioteer (chapter 5:28).  He was a man who travelled always in his chariot and the verse quoted infers that he was well known for this practice.  By the power of faith Barak "was sent on foot into the valley" (Judges 5:15). Now Yahweh had brought Sisera down to the same level, no longer could he trust in his chariot of iron, and he now found him self in a position of great embarrassment and discomfort.  The mighty Gentile warrior was now helpless and afraid, fleeing on foot from the powers of Israel.

V.16 "Barak pursued.. unto Harosheth of the Gentiles."

Barak's victory was complete. His forces after having over thrown Sisera in the Plain of Esdraelon, had now driven him right back to the stronghold of Gentilism from whence he eman ated.

"There was not a man left."

Here was total extermination and this was what was required of Israel when they first entered into the land (Deut.20:16-17).

V.17 "Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael."

Divine providence was now working against Sisera to bring about the final overthrow of this arrogant Gentile.  Yahweh had prev iously promised that He would deliver this one into the hand of a woman (v.9).  The woman He had chosen to execute the Div ine vengeance, was Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, and in the recorded fact that she was the wife of the traitorous Heber, we have an index to her character.  Whilst her husband had severed himself from the hope of Israel and had joined the forces with the Gentiles, she had remained faithful.  As the story of Judges proceeds, no language seems to be too high to describe the outstanding faith of this wonderful woman whom Yahweh had chosen as a Divine vessel to execute the vengeance written.

Her name means "a wild goat", and in the sense of "climbing" or "ascending". As her name implies she was a woman used to hardships and isolation.  The wild goat was a sure-footed animal who lived in the heights and the rocky places. Sisera had descended from his chariot; had been brought downwards. He had now come to the tent of one who was climbing and ascen ding. We notice that according to the custom of the time, Jael had her own tent.  This custom is referred to in the case of Sarah (Genesis 24:67), also Leah and Rachel (Gen. 31:33). As previously noted, the Kenites were a tent-dwelling people. They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Jer. 35:7).

"Peace between Jabin the king of Razor, and the house of Eeber the Kenite."

The Hebrew for peace is "Shalom", and the word used by the Jews is indicative of being in fellowship (Psalm 55:20). Heber had joined in fellowship with the Gentiles, having left the hope of Israel. In verse 11, we read "he had severed himself"; he had severed himself from the Kenites who were companions of Israel, and in that verse we noted that the word "severed" means "to separate", "to break through", "put out of joint".

v.18 "Jael went out to meet Sisera".

This indicates Jael's attitude to the enemy of Israel. The fact that she went out to meet him shows a deliberate action to accomplish her purpose, a purpose which she had premeditat ed, and which was not the result of being intimidated by Sis era. Such an attitude of mind would only have been induced by a love for the people of God and for the hope of Israel which she had so obviously embraced.

"My lord"

"My Adon", or "ruler".

"Covered him with a mantle".

A rug or blanket; the only occurrence of this Hebrew word.

v. 19 "A bottle of milk".

A bottle here was actually a skin of an animal.  The custom was to smoke them dry to avoid cracking them in use (Psalm 119:83).

"A nail of the tent"

From a root meaning to "pin through" or "fasten", "a peg", Paddle", "pin € , € stake".  It is the same word which is rendered "nail" in Ezra 9:8, Isa. 22:23-25, Zech. 10:4.  In these quotations however, it is used as a symbol of permanence as a peg which has been carefully and firmly fixed into a wall by plastering it in.

"Into his temples".

The word actually means "that which is lean" or "thin", i.e. the sides of the head.  The word is used here and in v.22, 5:6, S. of S. 4:3, 6:7.  It is five times rendered "temples" in the Song of Solomon, and is likened to a piece of pomegran ate.

Thus closes the historical record of the overthrow of Sisera according to Yahweh's word.  He wrought deliverance by the hand of a woman.  Faith was triumphant and the victory had been won.  God was glorified, man humiliated, and Israel were now free from the oppressor who had harassed them for twenty years.

In this historical record we have the facts of this wonderful epoch of history.  In the Song of Deborah which is to follow, we have the history as viewed from the Divine standpoint, and of the reaction of the faithful as well as the unfaithful to this challenge which Sisera had presented to them.

Barak, inspired by the faith of Deborah, had led his relative ly small force to a grand victory, but not all Israel could rejoice in this victory because they had excluded themselves from its fruits by their lack of co-operation.

As we come to analyse the song which Deborah now sings to the glory of Yahweh, we see also in it much of the attitudes and reactions of the various tribes of Israel which were not re vealed in the historical account of this victory of faith.


Swahili Title
Waamuzi sura ya 4
English files
Swahili Word file
Literature type
English only
D7 Node Id