In the inspired epic, the holy book of the Judges of Israel, there existed an elite and undaunted generation of God’s servants. Among these highly advanced spiritual warlords were men like Samson the strong, Ehud the assassin, and Shamgar the beast. The exploits of what these men were empowered by God to do, are stories of their own. To take you to topic, I’d like to talk about a certain woman Judge who became a Judge because there was no righteous man among the people of Israel; no one would rise and serve.
Context: the Children of Israel have disobeyed God, (go figure), and rather than purge the land of Canaanite tribes, they let their enemies live amongst them as tributaries. For this, God has declared that these Canaanites shall become thorns in the sides of the Israelites. Now, these same Canaanites God has used to prove a point to his children by placing Israel in bondage for the peoples’ sin of idolatry.
Setup: the Children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and he sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan. The Children of Israel cried out, for the King and his general Sisera had 900 iron chariot and ruled the people for 20 years. So, God raised up Deborah, the prophetess to deliver his words to the people. Deborah spoke the word of the Lord to Barak the Benjamite and told him to assemble an army of 10,000 men to attack Sisera.
And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee?
So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No. Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
Those are the historical accounts of the story. However, if I had done the writing of these events, they may have looked more like this.
Sisera stood on the plains of Harosheth, admiring his mighty army. 900 iron chariots were the ultimate unstoppable force. He smiled, Heber the Kenite had informed him of Barak’s plans to wage war in the plains, an army of 10,000 men would come rolling over the hill at any moment. Sisera nearly laughed at the thought, these untrained, Israelite footmen against his chariots in the plains, they were at a total disadvantage.
“Form ranks!” Sisera ordered, the order was relayed along the lines of his mounted charioteers by his sub generals at multiple points along the lines. A cloud of dust rolled in from behind him, as the mighty Arabian steeds of his own chariot came around the side of the lines of his warriors. The chariot came to a halt beside him, Sisera stepped onto the platform, a sense of power and pride came into his countenance.
The general rode to the front of the battle lines and shouted to his army.
“For 20 years these cowardly Israelites have been happily serving our king, Jabin.” Cheers from the army proclaiming Jabin immortal, rippled through the lines. “But, now, they rally themselves behind a woman and suddenly, they become foolish enough to challenge us. Never trust the word of a woman.” Many laughs echoed back. “Let’s crush them all!”
From the height of mount Tabor, Barak looked down upon the army of Sisera and exhaled the tension and fear in himself. He tried to stand tall and sure, but felt so helplessly overwhelmed.
“God of Abraham, I put my trust in you. Quiet my soul.” Barak closed his eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath. A hand came to rest on his shoulder, he turned his gaze and saw the reassuring face of Deborah.
“Are you okay?” She asked. Her voice was firm, but still feminine, simply because she was a prophetess of God didn’t mean she was inhuman.
“I will be. I have faith.” He said with more reassurance than he felt.
“Look,” she came alongside of him and motioned to the army of Sisera. “The host of Jabin the Canaanite. The battle has already been fought and won, the Lord your God has given victory into your hand; He goes before you. Rise up, lead you men.” She declared, or ordered, Balak never could distinguish between the two.
Balak took twelve paces down the mount and stood firm, before the host of the Israelites.
“The battle is the Lord’s. For Israel!” He yelled, every voice in the camp joined in the cry. Balak drew his sword and charged over the mount into the valley of Harosheth. As the chariots drew nearer, Balak thought he felt something fall on him. It was cold and wet; rain.
“Charge!” Sisera yelled, but the chariots were stuck fast in the ground which was now mud. Sisera panicked, as did his men.
Abandoning their security, their advantage, the Canaanite army fled from before the Israelites. Sisera broke from the rest and fled to the tent of Heber. As Sisera fled, not a man of his army escaped the blade of the Israelites.
Now, you may notice that I left out the second half of this passage. Well, the truth be told, it is another story for another time. I simply wanted to focus on this battle and the prophetess Deborah.
Firstly, why was she chosen to be God’s messenger? The first three Judges were men, why did God choose a woman? Like I said at the beginning of this post, Deborah was chosen to be a Judge because there was no righteous man to take up the task. Even Deborah realized, however, that a woman is not meant to be responsible to God for Israel. So, she sought out Barak to lead the men in battle.
A testament to the weakness of the men in those days is Barak’s declaration when he was told to lead God’s people into battle against the Canaanites. He told Deborah: If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
Barak trusted in Deborah’s righteousness and close relationship with God over his own. He believed that he could not win the battle if she was not there with him. For his unbelief, his lack of faith, he was told that he would receive no honor in the battle, for the death of Sisera would not only not be by his hand, but would come by the hand of a woman.
Because Barak did not take up his God-given responsibility to lead, God used others, weaker vessels that he should have been protecting, to do great things for him.
It’s about time we layer off the apathy, and took on the call of God for our lives, lest He give it to another and we lose our reward.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist