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Deborah, the Judge and Mother in Israel

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Deborah, the Judge and Mother in Israel

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Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to have been the children or grandchildren of Deborah? She was placed in the highest position of power, with the consent of the people. She was one of very few women in history to have ever attained such public dignity and supreme authority. Deborah was a woman of great courage and tremendous faith in God. She lived during the time of the Judges, and God chose her to be a prophetess and judge of the nation of Israel. Since Deborah was chosen and not her husband, Lapidoth, some assume that he was either ill or very old. The Scriptures do not tell us. Some historians believe that Deborah was a keeper of the tabernacle lamps. If this is true, what a wonderful start for this woman who became so great in Israel! Because of the strength of her faith, she would eventually become the keeper of a spiritual vision that would be a light to all Israel. Deborah’s roles that God ordained for her were that of being a counselor to her people, a judge of their disputes and a deliverer in their time of war. Deborah is also defined as a mother in Israel. Because of her faith and trust in God, she was able to inspire others to have that same trust and faith. Which is why God brought her to great leadership. Judges: Cycle of Captivity and Deliverance Each time a judge died, the nation of Israel would go back to their old way of worship, which included idolatry and rebellion against God and His Commandments. Then God would allow a gentile kingdom to subdue them and take them into captivity. After a long time of oppression by the captors, the children of Israel would cry out to God to deliver them. In God’s mercy, He raised up judges to deliver them. This is what the book of Judges is all about. Those who were the judges during that time in the history of Israel were more than what we think of as judges in today’s meaning of the term. They were also heroes and chieftains, and their influence was usually felt mainly during the time of war. After Ehud the judge died, the children of Israel again rebelled against God, and He gave them into the hand of Jabin who was king of Canaan. The captain of his army was Sisera. For 20 years he oppressed the children of Israel. He destroyed their vineyards and gardens, dishonored their women and murdered their children. Many had turned to idol worship. Before Deborah became the leader, she was a homemaker living in a house on the road between Ramah and Bethel, which is in the hill country of Ephraim. Olive and palm trees flourished there. Deborah would sit under one of these palm trees. This is where the children of Israel came to her for counsel and judgment. Barak’s Fear; Deborah’s Faith Then God came to her with a mission, and that mission was to instruct Barak, of Kadesh in Naphtali, that God commanded him to lead His people out of the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan. God said that with 10,000 men He would deliver Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, into Barak’s hand. But the people were very afraid of their enemy because he had 900 chariots of iron and they had none. Barak told Deborah: “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:8 Judges 4:8And Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go: but if you will not go with me, then I will not go.
American King James Version×
). Because of his lack of faith and courage, Deborah said that she would go, but that God would sell the captain of King Jabin’s army, Sisera, into the hand of a woman instead of him. He would not get that honor! When Sisera gathered all of his chariots of iron together and all of his warriors, and Deborah and Barak and the 10,000-man Israelite army had gone up to Mount Tabor, then Deborah told Barak to go up and fight because God had gone before them. So Barak obeyed with his men. Barak and his men killed all of the army, but Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran away. He ran to the tent of Jael, who was the wife of Heber the Kenite. Sisera thought he would be safe there, as there was peace between his nation and the Kenites. Jael ran out to meet Sisera and led him into her tent. She then offered him milk and covered him with a blanket so he could rest. As he was sleeping, she took a nail from the tent and hammered it into his skull, fulfilling the prophecy of Deborah. Barak learned a mighty lesson from Deborah’s example of faith and courage. He and Deborah composed and sang a song of praise to God for the victory that He had given them over their enemies the Canaanites. The Israelites lived in peace and rest from war for the next 40 years while Deborah was their judge, counselor, prophetess and “mother.” Can you imagine the pride her family took in her? Can we be inspired by Deborah’s faith and courage in our lives? UN

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