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Judges Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Judges 4:1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.

Judges 4:2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.

Jabin. Jabin was evidently a title of the kings of Hazor. An earlier Jabin had been defeated and slain by Joshua (Joshua 11:1, 10) more than a century before. Archaeological evidence has been unearthed in Hazor apparently confirming both the earlier destruction under Joshua and the later defeat under Barak.

Jabin king of Canaan. The new “Jabin” of Hazor had apparently rebuilt this capital city of northern Canaan after Joshua's earlier victory there (Joshua 11:1, 10) and had gained control of much of northern Canaan. The name “Jabin” has actually been found in an inscription from Mari, near the Euphrates River.

Hazor. Hazor had been rebuilt and reoccupied after its destruction by Joshua about a hundred years earlier (Joshua 11:10, 11). In fact, Hazor has been confirmed archaeologically to have been an important city in Canaanite times.

Judges 4:3 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

chariots of iron. The notion that the “Iron Age” began only about 1000 b.c. is wrong. The Israelites did possess iron implements in the time of Moses (e.g., Numbers 35:16). In fact, iron was used even before the Noahic Flood (Genesis 4:22). Iron swords are frequently mentioned in Genesis.

Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

Deborah, a prophetess. Deborah was clearly a most remarkable woman, to be accepted as judge of Israel at this low ebb in their history. No other woman was ever so honored. Furthermore, she was a true “prophetess,” a position accorded to only four other women named in the Bible, in contrast to the great number of men recognized therein as prophets. The other four were Miriam (Exodus 15:20); Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), the wife of Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 8:3), and Anna (Luke 2:36). However, just as there were many false prophets, so two false prophetesses are mentioned, Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), and the Thyatiran Jezebel (Revelation 2:20).

Judges 4:5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Judges 4:6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?

children of Naphtali. In addition to Barak's tribe of Naphtali, five other tribes contributed soldiers to Barak's army—Zebulun, Issachar, Benjamin, Ephraim, and western Manasseh (Machir). See Judges 5:14, 15.

Judges 4:7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.

Judges 4:8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.

Judges 4:9 And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

Judges 4:10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.

Judges 4:11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.

Judges 4:12 And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.

Judges 4:13 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.

Judges 4:14 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.

Judges 4:15 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.

Lord discomfited Sisera. The providential means by which the hosts of Sisera, with their nine hundred iron chariots, were destroyed by Barak's ten thousand men, is indicated in the song of Deborah and Barak (Judges 5:21): “The river of Kishon swept them away.” The chariots were inundated by the floodwaters and the remaining soldiers “fell upon the edge of the sword” (Judges 4:16).

Judges 4:16 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.

Judges 4:17 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.

Judges 4:18 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.

Judges 4:19 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.

Judges 4:20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.

Judges 4:21 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.

Judges 4:22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.

Judges 4:23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

Judges 4:24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

children of Israel prospered. The so-called “Mernepta Stela,” found in Egypt and referring to the campaigns of Pharaoh Mernepta in Canaan, is believed to date from about the time of Deborah and Barak. While Merneptah's boasts of victory are somewhat hollow, the stela does indicate Israel as the strongest nation in Canaan at that time. It is believed to be the oldest archaeological monument containing the actual name of Israel.