Saturday, December 17, 2016


Women of Israel's Heroic Age

Deborah: "Is not the Lord gone out before thee?"

Key Scripture: Judges 4:1-24 & 5:1-31

Her Name Means: "Honey Bee"

Her Character: Wise, courageous, strong-minded and unique. Sweetness of temper to her friends, and sharpness to her enemies.

Her Strengths: Prophetess, ruler, warrior, poetess, judge and she had extraordinary knowledge, wisdom, and piety.

Her Sorrow: That her people had sunk in despair because of their idolatry, forgetting God's promises and the faith of their ancestors.

Her Joy: That God turned the enemy's strength on it's head, bestowing power to the weak and blessing the land with peace for forty years.

Pre Story: Deborah was a prophetess; instructed in Divine knowledge by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. She judged Israel as God's mouth to them; correcting abuses, and redressing grievances. She was the fourth of Israel's Judges of the rulers of the Israelites prior to the monarchy period that began with Saul. She was the only woman Judge or Ruler of Israel. She judged during the Canaanite oppression of Israel. She ruled about 1237BC-1198BC (39 yrs.) This was about a century or so after the Hebrews entered Canaan. The people of Israel did evil against the Lord, and God sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan. Through the commander of his army, Sisera, Jabin oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Her Story: Deborah was a prophet of the God of the Israelites. She was knowledgeable both in civil and religious affairs. She was the wife of Lapidoth, who appears to have had no hand in the government. She lived in the Mountains of Ephraim, between Ramah and Beth-El. In the midst of the sin and idolatry, Deborah remained true to God. She was wise and God fearing, and the people flocked to her for advice and help. Deborah held court beneath a palm-tree, in the open air. She warned the Jewish people and urged them to leave their evil ways and return to God. The entire Jewish nation respected this great prophetess.

Deborah and her fellow Hebrews were in an area controlled by King Jabin of Hazor. The situation seemed hopeless, as Jabin’s army, with 900 chariots of iron was too strong for the feeble army of Israel. With all hope of freeing themselves from the iron thumb of Jabin, the Israelites repented and called out to God for help. When God revealed His plan for overcoming the army of Jabin, Deborah summoned an Israelite warrior named Barak. the commander of Israel’s army, She told him to take 10,000 troops up to Mount Tabor to confront Jabin's general, Sisera. Barak said: "If you will go with me, I will go; if not I will not go" (Judges 4:8). In the next verse, Deborah agrees to go into battle with the troops, but tells him: "However, there will be no glory for you in the course you are taking, for then the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman" (Judges 4:9).

Sisera, hearing that Barak was mounting an attack against him at Mt. Tabor, called out his entire army to face the Israelites. With his 900 chariots of iron and the strength of his fearless army, this would be an easy victory. Sisera, however, did not know that he was really fighting against God. Deborah looked at Barak and said, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” Barak, with 10,000 men charged against the mighty army of Jabin. As He promised, the Lord fought for Israel and gave victory to the army of Barak. Barak continued to pursue the chariots of Jabin’s army and all of the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. Seeing the hopelessness of the situation he was in, Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

Judges Chapter 5 is known as the "Song of Deborah," a text that exults in the victory over the Canaanites. Deborah's courage and wisdom in calling up an army to break Hazor's control gave the Israelites 40 years of peace. Except for the words in Judges chapters 4 and 5 we read nothing more about Deborah in the Bible.

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: Though women in the ancient world did not usually become political leaders, Deborah was just the leader Israel needed. She was a Prophetess who heard God and believed Him, whos courage aroused the people, enabling them to throw off foreign oppression.

Her Challenges Along the Way: The Challenge of War being lead by a woman.

Her Victories: Deborah ranks among the most famous women of the Hebrew Bible. Not only known for her wisdom, Deborah was also known for her courage. She is the only woman of the Hebrew Bible who gained renown on her own merit, not because of her relationship to a man.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: That is God’s message to us. We do not have to first become strong to work for God. Just as God gave a great victory for the Israelites through the hands of Deborah, He will give that same victory to us in the battles we face each day. It is never by our strength that we overcome the hurdles of life, but only God’s strength as He works through us. "For when I am weak, then I am strong." Are you called to lead? Then do it, trusting in God to work through your weakness in a way that makes you strong.

Born: 1200 BC
Died: 1124 BC - Buried beneath an oak under Bethel.
Hometown: Bethel and Ramah
Spouse: Lapidoth
Parents: Deborah's father was from the Tribe of Ephraim

Deborah is perhaps the Bible's greatest woman figure. Stands exclusively on her own merits. (Impressive!)

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