New Living Translation
Deborah Becomes Israel’s Judge
4 After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. 2 So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.
4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. 5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. 6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”
8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law[a] Hobab, had moved away from the other members of his tribe and pitched his tent by the oak of Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 he called for all 900 of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. 15 When Barak attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot. 16 Then Barak chased the chariots and the enemy army all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive.
17 Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.
20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”
21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
22 When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
23 So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king. 24 And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.
The Song of Deborah
5 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2 “Israel’s leaders took charge,
and the people gladly followed.
Praise the Lord!
3 “Listen, you kings!
Pay attention, you mighty rulers!
For I will sing to the Lord.
I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4 “Lord, when you set out from Seir
and marched across the fields of Edom,
the earth trembled,
and the cloudy skies poured down rain.
5 The mountains quaked in the presence of the Lord,
the God of Mount Sinai—
in the presence of the Lord,
the God of Israel.
6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
and in the days of Jael,
people avoided the main roads,
and travelers stayed on winding pathways.
7 There were few people left in the villages of Israel[b]—
until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.
8 When Israel chose new gods,
war erupted at the city gates.
Yet not a shield or spear could be seen
among forty thousand warriors in Israel!
9 My heart is with the commanders of Israel,
with those who volunteered for war.
Praise the Lord!
10 “Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys,
you who sit on fancy saddle blankets,
and you who walk along the road.
11 Listen to the village musicians[c]
gathered at the watering holes.
They recount the righteous victories of the Lord
and the victories of his villagers in Israel.
Then the people of the Lord
marched down to the city gates.
12 “Wake up, Deborah, wake up!
Wake up, wake up, and sing a song!
Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!
13 “Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles.
The people of the Lord marched down against mighty warriors.
14 They came down from Ephraim—
a land that once belonged to the Amalekites;
they followed you, Benjamin, with your troops.
From Makir the commanders marched down;
from Zebulun came those who carry a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak.
They followed Barak, rushing into the valley.
But in the tribe of Reuben
there was great indecision.[d]
16 Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds—
to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks?
Yes, in the tribe of Reuben
there was great indecision.
17 Gilead remained east of the Jordan.
And why did Dan stay home?
Asher sat unmoved at the seashore,
remaining in his harbors.
18 But Zebulun risked his life,
as did Naphtali, on the heights of the battlefield.
19 “The kings of Canaan came and fought,
at Taanach near Megiddo’s springs,
but they carried off no silver treasures.
20 The stars fought from heaven.
The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.
21 The Kishon River swept them away—
that ancient torrent, the Kishon.
March on with courage, my soul!
22 Then the horses’ hooves hammered the ground,
the galloping, galloping of Sisera’s mighty steeds.
23 ‘Let the people of Meroz be cursed,’ said the angel of the Lord.
‘Let them be utterly cursed,
because they did not come to help the Lord—
to help the Lord against the mighty warriors.’
24 “Most blessed among women is Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite.
May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.
25 Sisera asked for water,
and she gave him milk.
In a bowl fit for nobles,
she brought him yogurt.
26 Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg,
and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head.
With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples.
27 He sank, he fell,
he lay still at her feet.
And where he sank,
there he died.
28 “From the window Sisera’s mother looked out.
Through the window she watched for his return, saying,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why don’t we hear the sound of chariot wheels?’
29 “Her wise women answer,
and she repeats these words to herself:
30 ‘They must be dividing the captured plunder—
with a woman or two for every man.
There will be colorful robes for Sisera,
and colorful, embroidered robes for me.
Yes, the plunder will include
colorful robes embroidered on both sides.’
31 “Lord, may all your enemies die like Sisera!
But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!”
Then there was peace in the land for forty years.