Deborah, female warrior, judge and prophetess, lived in Israel at the time of the Judges. Out of thirteen Judges named, Deborah was the only female. She went to war with a sword in her hand, against a powerful enemy who had Israel distressed and defeated.
The name Deborah means ‘bee’. Science agrees with the ancient belief that the bee ranks among the most intelligent. Like a wise bee, Deborah had a fatal sting for her enemy.
Deborah Warrior And Wife
The only thing we are told about Deborah’s husband is that his name was Lapidoth. Do you have empathy for Lapidoth, or admiration for Deborah, as she juggled her various roles? God raised a woman who was a wife, judge, ruler, warrior, prophetess, agitator, writer and poet. Lapidoth had a difficult role to play.
Turning to current events, we find a great example of a strong man standing behind a strong woman. Prince Philip walked behind his powerful wife, Queen Elizabeth II, for 73 years. He was the longest recorded royal consort. Philip was no wimp. He yielded his life to serve his wife, Queen Elizabeth. She admits he was “Her strength and stay”.
Lapidoth was proud of his powerful and fearless wife. A woman that all Israel held in high esteem. Like Philip and Elizabeth, their life would have its up and downs, but a fearless woman needs a fearless man to stand beside, or behind her.
Rare Tree And Rare Woman Judge
Five is the number of grace. Deborah was fifth in the line of judges to rule Israel. She ruled with grace and dignity.
Israel was a loose confederation, dominated by its male-leaders. ‘Every man did what was right in his own eyes’. Israel was still trying to establish itself in Canaan. There was an endless cycle of Israel serving the Lord, Israel falling into sin and apostacy, Israel enslaved, Israel crying out to the Lord, God raising up a Judge, Israel delivered, Israel serving the Lord again.
Deborah lived beneath, or near, a palm tree, and all Israel came to her for judgements. ‘The Palm Of Deborah’ was a well-known landmark. In Canaan, date trees were rare, so it’s no wonder the date palm stood out. A rare tree and an even rarer woman.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a modern Deborah. These women fought with the sword of words and were both brilliant strategists.
Deborah Prophetess And Agitator
Under the Canaanite rule, Israel became debauched and ruined. The yoke of oppression stripped Israel of its liberty. Instead of being the mighty conquerors, they were the conquered. The people lived in fear, their spirits broken. All hope of deliverance was a memory.
Deborah stirred the nation to wake up and free itself from wretched bondage and degradation. She called the people to return to God and do away with their idolatry and sinful ways. They needed to shake themselves out of their lethargy and despair. The nation’s freedom needed to be regained. If they got up and did something, they could free themselves from the heel of the heathen foe.
Deborah’s voice rang out clear and concise across the valley. More and more people came to hear her. The breath of revival began as a whisper until it became a gale and then a hurricane.
Deborah Female Warrior And Prophetess
The men of Israel made the trek to the lone palm tree, in the hill country of Ephraim, to hear the words of the woman, with the dark, penetrating eyes of a prophetess. There are few prophetesses in the Bible, yet Deborah stands head and shoulders above them.
A prophet/ess has the gift of discerning the mind and purposes of God and declares it to others. Deborah did not operate in the realm of cold reasoning, but inspired wisdom. Instructions poured out to those who came to her for counsel.
Deborah revealed the whole counsel of God to the people. A certain person was looking for inspiration from the Bible. They opened a page, and read, ‘Judas went out and hanged himself.’ Turning to another page, it read, ‘Go out and do likewise.’ It’s not enough to operate on bits of unrelated text. We need to seek the entire counsel of God.
If Pilate had taken his wife’s intuitive advice, he would never have condemned Jesus Christ to the cross and crucified the King of Kings.
Deborah’s role as a ruler was remarkable in a male-dominated world. God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. What could seem more foolish than to raise a woman to be a leader in a nation that was depressed and defeated? Does God have a wonderful sense of the absurd?
A judge was both a military and civil leader. Deborah was a strategist for military, political, and civil matters. She dispensed righteousness, mercy, and justice, which are attributes of God.
This was no brief burst of glory, for Deborah went on and ruled the nation in peace and liberty for a marathon of 40 years. Like Queen Elizabeth, she held her God-appointed job for the rest of her life. Both women were a brand and a national treasure.
Deborah Female Warrior
Deborah, female warrior, fought not only with words, but with deeds and action. She sent for Barak and told him it was time to lead an army, which she would provide. It was time to deliver the nation from the oppressor’s boot.
The man hesitated. The Canaanite king, Jabin, had an army of 100,000 men and 900 iron chariots. Israel’s 10,000 men were without arms, compared to Jabin’s army. Barak said he would only go into battle if the brave-hearted and fearless ruler, Deborah, went with him.
Deborah picked up her sword and went into battle. A fierce hailstorm pelted the land and the mighty iron chariots became mired in mud. Deborah’s army routed Jabin’s army. Only the army captain, Sisera, escaped.
There are many great female warriors in history, including Joan of Arc.
Two Fearless Women
Deborah prophesied God would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. Those who heard the prophecy must have thought Deborah had lost her mind. It was too much to contemplate, let alone think it possible.
Defeated, Sisera found his way to a tent in the desert. The woman who honored the unwritten law of hospitality was not even an Israeli, but a Bedouin’s wife. Jael offered Sisera refreshment and made him comfortable. She took her courage with both hands and plunged a tent peg into the head of the sleeping Sisera. Jael was aware of the gamble she was taking.
Deborah gained undying fame for rescuing her people from their cruel Canaanite enemy. Jael and Deborah were two fearless women. They were not afraid to face death, or the consequences of their actions. If their mission had failed, Israel would condemn them without a trial.
Write And Composer Of Songs
Deborah prophesied, roused the people, ruled with a wise and firm hand, and wielded both the sword and the pen. The pen is mightier than the sword, but combine both, and you have a formidable source of power and influence.
Like Julius Caesar, Deborah wrote with the same ability as wielding the sword. Her victory song is the finest example of ancient Hebrew poetry. It is superior to the song Moses’ sister, Miriam, sang after crossing the Red Sea.
Deborah praised God, recognizing that all victory comes from Him. She commended Jael for her courageous act in killing Sisera. It was an act few men would have the courage for. Deborah also gave a short cameo of the grieving mother of Sisera. We should always give grieving mothers a voice.
A Mother Of Israel
Motherhood is about nurturing. Deborah is called ‘a mother in Israel’. There is no record of whether she had her own children, but the nation was her much-loved child. Her piety set her apart, in a time when Israel kept being lured back into heathen idolatry.
Under her rule, she cleansed Israel of her idolatry, rescued Israel from her arch enemy and delivered the nation into a period of rest and prosperity.
Her greatest achievement was her trust in the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac. Any person whose faith in God sets them apart is of inestimable value in any society.
Deborah was a daring and dynamic leader of her nation, unlike Miriam, who failed. She stands out in bold relief, in a time when the nation was trying to establish itself, into what God had commanded it to be. A nation who would hold the name of God up as a witness to the entire world. A task that is as yet remains unfulfilled, for Israel will take her appointed place in the coming millennium age.
Woman’s Unique Voice
Each woman has an orb of influence. Like Deborah, wield that influence with wisdom and your voice for good.
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