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Deborah and Barak

After Ehud died, the people of Israel sinned in the eyes of the Lord again. So the Lord let them be taken by Jabin king of Canaan, who ruled in Hazor. The head of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The people of Israel cried to the Lord, for Jabin had 900 iron war-wagons. He made it very hard for the people of Israel for twenty years.

Now Lappidoth’s wife Deborah, a woman who spoke for God, was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. And the people of Israel came to her to find out what was right or wrong. She sent for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedeshnaphtali, and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Go to Mount Tabor. Take with you 10,000 men from the sons of Naphtali and Zebulun. I will have Sisera, the head of Jabin’s army, meet you at the river Kishon. He will have his war-wagons and his many soldiers with him. But I will give him into your hand.’” Then Barak said to her, “I will go if you go with me. But if you do not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “For sure I will go with you. But the honor will not be yours as you go on your way. For the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to come to Kedesh. He went up with 10,000 men. And Deborah went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had gone away from the Kenites, from the sons of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses. He had put up his tent as far away as the big tree in Zaanannim, near Kedesh.

12 They told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 Sisera gathered together all his 900 iron war-wagons. He gathered together all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 Deborah said to Barak, “Get up! For this is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. See, the Lord has gone out before you.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and 10,000 men followed him. 15 The Lord brought trouble upon Sisera and all his war-wagons and all his army in front of Barak with the sword. Sisera got down from his war-wagon and ran away on foot. 16 But Barak went after the war-wagons and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim. All of Sisera’s army fell by the sword. Not one was left.

17 Sisera ran away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite. For there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera, saying, “Come in, my lord. Come in to me. Do not be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she put a cover over him. 19 He said to her, “Give me a little water to drink. For I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin bag of milk and gave him a drink. Then she covered him. 20 He said to her, “Stand in the door of the tent. If anyone comes and asks you, ‘Is there anyone here?’ you say, ‘No.’” 21 But Heber’s wife Jael took a big tent nail in her hand and a tool to hit it with. Because Sisera was very tired, he went into a deep sleep. She went to him in secret and hit the big nail into the side of his head. It went through and into the ground. So he died. 22 As Barak came after Sisera, Jael came out to meet him. She said to him, “Come. I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak went in with her, and he saw Sisera lying dead with the big tent nail in his head.

23 God put Jabin the king of Canaan under the power of the people of Israel on that day. 24 The people of Israel made it harder and harder for Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed him.


Again the Israelites did evil(A) in the eyes of the Lord,(B) now that Ehud(C) was dead. So the Lord sold them(D) into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.(E) Sisera,(F) the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron(G) and had cruelly oppressed(H) the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.

Now Deborah,(I) a prophet,(J) the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. She held court(K) under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah(L) and Bethel(M) in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam(N) from Kedesh(O) in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali(P) and Zebulun(Q) and lead them up to Mount Tabor.(R) I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s(S) army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River(T) and give him into your hands.(U)’”

Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.(V) 10 There Barak summoned(W) Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites,(X) the descendants of Hobab,(Y) Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree(Z) in Zaanannim(AA) near Kedesh.

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,(AB) 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River(AC) all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.(AD)

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands.(AE) Has not the Lord gone ahead(AF) of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed(AG) Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left.(AH) 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael,(AI) the wife of Heber the Kenite,(AJ) because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor(AK) and the family of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael(AL) went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk,(AM) gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

21 But Jael,(AN) Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep,(AO) exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.(AP)

22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael(AQ) went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.(AR)

23 On that day God subdued(AS) Jabin(AT) king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.(AU)


  1. Judges 4:4 Traditionally judging
  2. Judges 4:11 Or father-in-law