AFTER EHUD DIED: It is a tribute to his character that
declension came in again only after his death: Jdg 2:18,19.
SOLD: Impl slavery (Rom 6:17; 7:14). Sold, as if they
were "unprofitable servants"!
HAZOR: The city of Hazor lay almost nine miles north of
the Sea of Galilee. During the time of Joshua, it was a Canaanite stronghold in
northern Palestine. During the conquest of Canaan, as Joshua marched his army
northward, he was confronted by a coalition of forces under the leadership of
Jabin, king of Hazor. The biblical record declares that the Israelite army
resoundingly defeated this confederation and burned Hazor to the ground (Josh
11:1-14). In excavations at Hazor in 1955-1958, and in 1968, Yigael Yadin
discovered evidence that this city had been destroyed in the 13th century BC. He
identified the ruins with Joshua's conquest.
Yadin's discoveries actually revealed that there were two
destructions of Hazor: one in the 13th century BC, and another in the 15th
century BC (Avi-Yonah 481,482). This is precisely the picture presented in the
OT. In addition to the conquest of Hazor during the time of Joshua in the
mid-15th century BC, two hundred years later, in the period of Israel's judges,
the Hebrews again engaged the king of Hazor in battle. In the days of Deborah
and Barak (c 1258 BC), the armies of Hazor, under Sisera, were decisively
defeated by the Israelites (Jdg 4:2...), and, undoubtedly Hazor was destroyed
SISERA... HAROSHETH: It is distinctly remarkable, and
mysterious, that these names come together in Ezra 2:52,53.
HAROSHETH: A city near Hazor. Sig "mechanical work".
Gentile artificers, makers of chariots (v 3?).
NINE HUNDRED: "This seems to be a very big number, but
in an inscription about a victory at Megiddo (BC 1468) over an Asiatic
coalition, Thothmes III claims to have taken 924 chariots as part of the
CHARIOTS: Impl pride (Isa 37:24), trust in flesh (Psa
20:7; Isa 31:1). Israel feared them (Jdg 1:19), but foolishly, for "our weapons
are not carnal" (2Co 10:4), and God is greater than the chariots of Gentiles
(Psa 71:6). Ref to God's chariots in Psa 68:17; Isa 66:15.
DEBORAH: (1) Sig "bee", industrious, orderly motion.
Domestic, natural, in ct to mechanical Sisera. Travel in swarms, united (Deu
1:44; Psa 118:12; Isa 7:18; Pro 6:8). Deb was a "mother in Israel" (Jdg
(2) "This name means: 'the woman of the Word'. The mistaken
meaning 'bee' derives from the idea of an insect which talks as it goes"
PALM: Rt "upright", "beautiful" (Jer 10:4; Song 7:7).
Sym glorified saints (Psa 92:12). Grows straight upward, and spreads leaves to
heaven. "Set mind on things above" (Col 3:1). Sym peace, victory (Joh 12:13; Rev
7:9). Used in feast of tabernacles (Lev 23:40).
DEBORAH: As the first Deborah, Rebekah's faithful nurse
(Gen 24:59), still nurse to 12 sons of Jacob. Thus also a mother in Israel (Jdg
5:7), whose burial was near Bethel (Gen 35:8).
KEDESH: "Sanctuary" (Jos 20:7), but in the path of
Sisera as they came from Hazor.
MOUNT TABOR: A notable, cone-shaped mountain standing
alone (Psa 89:12).
KISHON RIVER: See Psa 83:9. Here, Elijah slew prophets
of Baal ((1Ki 18:40).
Notice his supreme confidence in Deborah. Barak is mentioned
in Heb 11, but Deb is not. She is a helper in background, to strengthen and
encourage (Rom 16:1; Phi 4:3; 1Pe 3:1,2).
Barak's reaction on being thus commissioned throws an
interesting light on his character... Here is good and sufficient reason for
Barak's inclusion in the list of heroes in Hebrews 11 who wrought "by faith". By
these, his only recorded words (in Jdg 5:1 the verb is feminine singular; so the
song was Deborah's in the first instance), he demonstrates his possession of the
first of all necessary characteristics of the child of God -- utter lack of
confidence in himself, but implicit confidence in the leader appointed by God,
however ill-judged such a leader might be by the world.
Perhaps if his faith had been stronger he would have led the
rebellion without the help of Deborah, secure in the knowledge that since the
inspired prophetess had blessed his mission it was bound to prosper.
THE HONOR WILL NOT BE YOURS: So that man cannot boast
himself. God delivers by many or few, as He chooses (2Ch 14:4; 1Sa
TO A WOMAN: In all this, God is victor. No flesh shall
glory (1Co 1:30,31). The woman typ Christ, seed of woman (Gen 3:15), born not of
man (Joh 1:31), who smote Sisera (serpent, sin) in the forehead (v 21). Death at
the hand of a woman was a shameful thing (Jdg 9:53,54).
KEDESH: "If this is the Kedesh usually marked on the
maps as Kedesh-naphtali, several difficulties arise. For it means that Barak
chose as his rallying place a spot only four miles from Jabin's capital and
quite 40 miles from Mount Tabor, the centre appointed him by Deborah. The
attempt to organise thousands of fighting men so close to the enemy and so far
from the centre of action would have been both impossible, and sheer idiocy, if
it had been possible.
"To all this there is a simple solution. The name Kedesh (=
holy place) is one of the commonest in Palestine. At least four others of the
same name are known, one of these also being in Naphtali, as the narrative
requires (4:6). It is situated on high ground immediately to the southwest of
the sea of Galilee, and thus answers also far more appropriately to the name
'Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali' (Josh 20:7) than the other which is fully
20 miles from Galilee. The identification is due to Conder who in his day
probably knew the topography of ancient Palestine in greater detail than any of
modern times. The maps are almost all of them wrong in making Kedesh-naphtali
away to the north; and thereby many a student has been misled. Yet the only
reason for the more commonly accepted identification is a heap of ruins in a
valley, with the Arabic name Kades. On the other hand, the site proposed by
Conder is within a few miles of Mount Tabor and would be eminently suitable as a
rendezvous for the northern tribes" (WJR).
WHERE HE SUMMONED ZEBULUN AND NAPHTALI: Barak's call of
faith: only a few from other tribes responded (Jdg 5:14-18). The region of Zeb
& Naph was a despised (Isa 9:1), dirty region (1Ki 9:10-13), with a
different accent (Mat 26:73; Luk 22:59), out of which came no good thing (Joh
1:46). A type of Christ, a Galilean, who called 11 apostles out of Galilee
(Judas Iscariot was only apostle not from Galilee.)
TEN THOUSAND: Ten thousand in the northern army, and
30,000 in the southern army (Jdg 5:8).
HEBER THE KENITE: An unfaithful member of a righteous
family. The family of Jethro, Moses' father-in-law (Exo 18), and the Rechabites
THE GREAT TREE: "Elon". Root "strength" or "oak". The
Heb is consistently translated "tree(s)" in NIV, but "plain" in Gen 12:6; 13:18;
14:13; 18:1; Deu 11:30. Cp also Jdg 4:11; 9:6,37; 1 Sa 10:3.
HAS NOT THE LORD GONE AHEAD OF YOU?: "This last phrase
might mean 'Do not I know that the Lord has gone out before thee?' but far more
likely it signifies: 'Canst thou not see that the Lord has gone out before
thee?', as though appealing to some visible sign that there was no
"What the sign was can be inferred from the details in
Deborah's song. 'Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchest out of
the field of Edom, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water' (Jdg
5:4); ie, the crossing of Jordan had been marked by earthquake and storm. The
presence of the Lord, then, had been signified by these phenomena of nature.
There could be little point in alluding to the fact, except to draw attention to
similar happenings during Barak's triumph. Such theophany through storm and
tempest is not infrequent in Scripture. It was the same at the Red Sea (Exo
15:8,10 and Psa 77:15-20, especially v 18) and in the conquest of Canaan (Deu
9:3); it was the same more than once in David's experience (2Sa 5:20; Psa
18:6-15); it was the same also when the angel of the Lord went forth and smote
Sennacherib's army (Isa 30:30-33); and it will be the same yet again when the
Lord for the last time brings deliverance to Zion (Zec 14:3; Psa 83:13-15; Mat
"Consequently Deborah's words would, in effect, mean this:
'See the black storm clouds gathering over the plain. Now is your opportunity.
Here is a clear sign that the angel of the Lord is delivering the enemy into
your hand.' 'They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against
Sisera' (Jdg 5:20)" (WJR).
It is a good guess that the resultant downpour (Jdg 5:4)
created conditions in the valley that rendered the heavy iron chariots of the
Canaanites useless, and even a burden.
TEN THOUSAND MEN: Typ of Psa 68:17 (the chariots of the
LORD are 20,000).
Cp Jdg 5:22: blindness, lunacy.
ABANDONED... CHARIOT... FLED ON FOOT: Notice repetition
(v 17). Sisera was a renowned charioteer (Jdg 5:28) who trusted greatly in his
chariot of iron. But now he has been brought down to level of those he had
oppressed -- helpless, alone, in a hostile land.
AS FAR AS HAROSHETH HAGGOYIM: A complete victory, first
in Plain of Esdraelon, and then all the way back to the stronghold of the
NOT A MAN WAS LEFT: Total extermination, as commanded
SISERA, HOWEVER, FLED ON FOOT TO THE TENT OF JAEL, THE WIFE
OF HEBER: So he knew where it was, although lately moved from Zaanaim (v
TENT OF JAEL: By eastern custom, each wife had her own
tent: Gen 24:67; 31:33.
JAEL: "Wild goat" -- from rt "ascend", on the
mountains, impl a woman used to hardship and isolation. A faithful wife of a
traitorous man, Heber. (Or is the meaning "yah/el" -- ref to names of
FRIENDLY RELATIONS: "Shalom" = peace. Sig unity,
fellowship (Psa 55:20). Heber had associated (sig of name) as closely as
possible with the Gentiles around him.
"But there is another figure, separate and distinct from all
the rest, near that excited gathering in Kedesh. The Kenites from the time of
Moses had been in close alliance with Israel. They were a race of wanderers,
rarely settling anywhere for long. Very probably they were the tool and weapon
makers of their time, for the name Kenite means 'smith', and is to be linked
with Tubal-cain (Gen 4:22,24)...
"Heber the Kenite had travelled far afield beyond the terrain
usually frequented by his tribe, either because of or with a view to alliance
with Jabin and his henchmen. The narrative is emphatic that not only was their
peace between Jabin and Heber (4:17), but also an intimate friendship existed
with Sisera. The details of Sisera's flight require such a conclusion, for
Sisera fled... to the tent of Jael', as though he sought sanctuary there of set
purpose and not be accident. Further, Jael recognised him immediately and spoke
as one not unknown by him... The strange rapprochement between this Kenite and
Israel's hated oppressor calls for explanation. It may be that he was being
employed by Sisera in the manufacture of weapons and of armour for his chariots.
But the juxtaposition of two verses suggests something further. Immediately
after the mention of Heber come the words: 'And they told Sisera that Barak the
son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.' It seems to hint that the news of
Barak's uprising came to Sisera from Heber. In other words, Heber may have been
acting as spy and fifth columnist for Sisera whilst outwardly maintaining the
traditional friendship with Israel" (WJR).
TENT PEG: Sig permanence in God's tabernacle. Cp Isa
22:23-25: a nail in a sure place. Cp Zec 10:4: a nail in God's holy
A tent pin of iron, says Josephus. His correct inference, no
doubt, from Heber being a Kenite smith.
QUIETLY: "The Hebrew text has an asterisk against the
word, implying that there is something strange about it. A change of one letter
(which does not alter the pronunciation) turns it into: 'on fire' or in a
frenzy' " (WJR).
FAST ASLEEP, EXHAUSTED: "This is a translation dictated
by the translator's mental concept of what actually happened. Instead: 'he was
cast into a deep sleep' (sw Dan 8:18; 10:9; Psa 76:6), and he fainted (sw Jdg
8:15; Isa 40:28-31; LXX: 'was darkened', ie, knocked unconscious), and he died.
This reading now fits all the other details" (WJR).