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Judges 4-6 Luke 4:31-44 (Easy-to-Read Version)

Judges 4-6

Deborah, the Judge

After Ehud died, the people again did what the Lord said was wrong. So the Lord allowed King Jabin of Canaan to defeat the Israelites. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor. A man named Sisera was the commander of King Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in a town called Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he was very cruel to the Israelites for 20 years. So they cried to the Lord for help.

There was a woman prophet named Deborah. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. One day Deborah was sitting under the Palm Tree of Deborah, and the Israelites came up to her to ask what to do about Sisera. (The Palm Tree of Deborah is between the cities of Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim.) Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak and asked him to come meet with her. Barak was the son of a man named Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead them to Mount Tabor. I will make Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, come to you. I will make Sisera, his chariots, and his army come to the Kishon River.[a] I will help you defeat Sisera there.’”

Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go and do this if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”

“Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But because of your attitude, you will not be honored when Sisera is defeated. The Lord will allow a woman to defeat Sisera.”

So Deborah went with Barak to the city of Kedesh. 10 At the city of Kedesh, Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali together. He gathered 10,000 men to follow him from these tribes, and Deborah also went with him.

11 There was a man named Heber who was from the Kenites. The Kenites were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law,[b] Hobab. Heber had left the other Kenites and had made his home by the oak tree in Zaanannim, near the city of Kedesh.

12 Someone told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam was at Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, and they marched from the city of Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Today the Lord will help you defeat Sisera. Surely you know that the Lord has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led the 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15 Barak and his men attacked Sisera. During the battle, the Lord confused Sisera and his army and chariots. They did not know what to do. Barak and his men defeated Sisera’s army, but Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16 Barak continued fighting Sisera’s army. He and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. They used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of Sisera’s men was left alive.

17 But Sisera ran away to the tent where a woman named Jael lived. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. His family was at peace with King Jabin of Hazor. That is why Sisera ran to Jael’s tent. 18 Jael saw him coming, so she went out to meet him and said, “Sir, come into my tent. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 But first, Sisera asked Jael for a drink of water. Jael had some milk in a bottle made from animal skin. So she gave him a drink of the milk and then covered him up.

20 Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say, ‘No.’”

21 But Jael found a tent peg and a hammer. She quietly went to Sisera. Sisera was very tired, so he was sleeping. She put the tent peg to the side of Sisera’s head and hit it with a hammer. The tent peg went through the side of his head and into the ground. Sisera died.

22 Just then Barak came by Jael’s tent, looking for Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, “Come in here, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered the tent with Jael. There Barak found Sisera lying dead on the ground, with the tent peg through the side of his head.

23 On that day God defeated King Jabin of Canaan for the Israelites. 24 So the Israelites became stronger and stronger until they defeated King Jabin of Canaan. The Israelites finally destroyed him.

The Song of Deborah

[c] On the day that the Israelites defeated Sisera, Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

“The men of Israel prepared for battle.[d]
    They volunteered to go to war.
Praise the Lord!

“Listen, kings.
    Pay attention, rulers.
I will sing.
    I myself will sing to the Lord.
I will make music to the Lord,
    to the God of the Israelites.

Lord, in the past you came from Seir.[e]
    You marched from the land of Edom.
You marched and the earth shook.
    The skies rained.
    The clouds dropped water.
The mountains shook before the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel!

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,[f]
    and in the days of Jael, the main roads were empty.
    Caravans and travelers traveled on the back roads.

“There were no soldiers in Israel
    until you came, Deborah,
    until you came to be a mother to Israel.[g]

“God chose new leaders
    to fight at the city gates.[h]
No one could find a shield or a spear
    among the 40,000 soldiers of Israel.

“My heart is with the commanders of Israel.
    They volunteered to go to war.
Praise the Lord!

10 “Pay attention you people riding on white donkeys,
    sitting on saddle blankets,[i]
    and walking along the road.
11 At the watering holes for the animals,
    we hear the music of cymbals.
People sing about the victories of the Lord,
    the victories of his soldiers in Israel
when the Lord’s people
    fought at the city gates and won!

12 “Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
    Wake up, wake up, sing the song!
Get up, Barak!
    Go capture your enemies, son of Abinoam!

13 “Now, survivors, go to the leaders.
    People of the Lord, come with me and the soldiers.

14 “The men of Ephraim came from the hill country of Amalek.[j]
    Benjamin, those men followed you and your people.
And there were commanders from the family of Makir.[k]
    Leaders from the tribe of Zebulun came with their bronze clubs.
15 The leaders of Issachar were with Deborah.
    The family of Issachar was true to Barak.
    Those men marched to the valley on foot.

“Reuben, there are many brave soldiers in your army groups.
16     So why did you sit there against the walls of your sheep pens?[l]
The brave soldiers of Reuben thought hard about war.
    But they stayed home listening to the music they played for their sheep.
17 The people of Gilead[m] stayed in their camps on the other side of the Jordan River.
    As for you, people of Dan, why did you stay by your ships?
The people of Asher remained by the sea,
    camped near their safe harbors.

18 “But the men of Zebulun and Naphtali risked their lives
    fighting on those hills.
19 The kings of Canaan came to fight,
    but they didn’t carry any treasures home.
They fought at the city of Taanach,
    by the waters of Megiddo.
20 The stars fought them from heaven.
    From their paths across the sky, they fought against Sisera.
21 The Kishon River, that ancient river,
    swept Sisera’s men away.
My soul, march on with strength![n]
22 The horses’ hooves hammered the ground.
    Sisera’s mighty horses ran and ran.

23 “The angel of the Lord said, ‘Curse the city of Meroz.
    Curse its people!
They did not come to help the Lord fight.’
    They did not help the Lord against his powerful enemies.
24 Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite.
    She will be blessed above all women.
25 Sisera asked for water.
    Jael gave him milk.
In a bowl fit for a ruler,
    she brought him cream.
26 Then Jael reached out and took a tent peg.
    Her right hand reached for a workman’s hammer.
She put the peg against the side of Sisera’s head
    and hit it with the hammer.
27 He sank down between Jael’s feet.
    He fell, and there he lay.
He sank down between her feet.
    He fell there.
Where Sisera sank, he fell,
    and there he lay, dead!

28 “There is Sisera’s mother, looking out the window,
    looking through the curtains and crying.
‘Why is Sisera’s chariot so late?
    Why can’t I hear his wagons?’

29 “Her wisest servant girl answers her.
    Yes, the servant gives her an answer:
30 ‘I’m sure they won the war,
    and they are now taking things from the people they defeated.
They are dividing those things among themselves.
    Each soldier is taking a girl or two.
Maybe Sisera found a piece of dyed cloth.
    That’s it! Sisera found a piece of fancy cloth,
    or maybe two, to wear around his neck in victory.’

31 “May all your enemies die like this, Lord!
    But may all those who love you be as strong as the rising sun!”

And there was peace in the land for 40 years.

The Midianites Fight Israel

Again the Israelites did what the Lord said was wrong. So for seven years the Lord allowed the Midianites to defeat the Israelites.

The Midianites were very powerful and were cruel to the Israelites. So the Israelites made many hiding places in the mountains. They hid their food in caves and places that were hard to find. They did that because the Midianites and Amalekites from the east always came and destroyed their crops. They camped in the land and destroyed the crops that the Israelites had planted. They ruined the crops of the Israelites as far as the land near the city of Gaza. They did not leave anything for the Israelites to eat. They did not even leave them any sheep, cattle, or donkeys. The Midianites came with their families, animals, and tents. They were like a swarm of locusts! They and their camels were too many to count. They came into the land and ruined it. The Israelites became very poor because of the Midianites. So the Israelites cried to the Lord for help.

[o] The Midianites did all these bad things, so the Israelites cried to the Lord for help. The Lord sent a prophet to them. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘You were slaves in the land of Egypt. I made you free and brought you out of that land. I saved you from the powerful Egyptians. Then the Canaanites hurt you, so I saved you again. I made them leave their land. And I gave their land to you.’ 10 Then I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You will live in the land of the Amorites, but you must not worship their false gods.’ But you did not obey me.”

The Angel of the Lord Visits Gideon

11-12 One time the angel of the Lord came to a place called Ophrah and sat under an oak tree. This oak tree belonged to a man named Joash from the Abiezer family. His son Gideon was beating some wheat[p] in a winepress. He was hiding so that the Midianites could not see the wheat. The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord be with you, brave soldier.”

13 Then Gideon said, “Pardon me, sir, but if the Lord is with us, why are we having so many troubles? We heard that he did wonderful things for our ancestors. They tell us that the Lord took them out of Egypt. But now it seems the Lord has left us and is letting the Midianites defeat us.”

14 The Lord turned toward Gideon and said, “Then use your great power and go save the Israelites from the Midianites. I am sending you to save them.”

15 But Gideon answered and said, “Pardon me, sir.[q] How can I save Israel? My family group is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the youngest one in my family.”

16 The Lord answered Gideon and said, “I will be with you, so you can defeat the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man.”

17 Then Gideon said to him, “If you would, please give me some proof that you really are the Lord. 18 Please wait here. Don’t go away until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it down in front of you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you come back.”

19 So Gideon went in and cooked a young goat in boiling water. He also took about 20 pounds[r] of flour and made bread without yeast. Then he put the meat into a basket and the broth from the meat into a pot. He brought out the meat, the broth, and the bread without yeast and gave them to the Lord under the oak tree.

20 The angel of God said to Gideon, “Put the meat and the bread on that rock over there. Then pour the broth on it.” Gideon did as he was told.

21 The angel of the Lord had a walking stick in his hand. He touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick, and fire jumped up out of the rock and burned up the meat and the bread. Then the angel of the Lord disappeared.

22 Then Gideon realized that he had been talking to the angel of the Lord. So he shouted, “Oh, Lord God! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to Gideon, “Calm down![s] Don’t be afraid! You will not die!”[t]

24 So Gideon built an altar there to worship the Lord and named it “The Lord is Peace.” It still stands in the city of Ophrah, where the Abiezer family lives.

Gideon Tears Down the Altar of Baal

25 That same night the Lord said to Gideon, “Choose your father’s best bull, the one that is seven years old.[u] First, use it to pull down the altar your father built to worship Baal. Also, cut down the Asherah pole beside the altar. 26 Then build the right kind of altar for the Lord your God. Build it on this high ground. Then kill and burn the bull on this altar. Use the wood from the Asherah pole to burn your offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the Lord had told him to do. But Gideon was afraid that his family and the men of the city might see what he was doing, so he did it all at night, not in the daytime.

28 The men of the city got up the next morning and saw that the altar for Baal had been destroyed! They also saw that the Asherah pole had been cut down. It had been sitting next to the altar for Baal. They also saw the altar that Gideon had built. And they saw the bull that had been sacrificed on that altar.

29 The men of the city looked at each other and asked, “Who pulled down our altar? Who cut down our Asherah pole? Who sacrificed this bull on this new altar?” They asked many questions and tried to learn who did this.

Someone told them, “Gideon son of Joash did this.”

30 So the men of the city came to Joash and said, “You must bring your son out. He pulled down the altar for Baal, and he cut down the Asherah pole that was beside it. So your son must die.”

31 Then Joash spoke to the crowd that was standing around him. Joash said, “Are you going to take Baal’s side? Are you going to rescue Baal? If anyone takes Baal’s side, let him be put to death by morning. If Baal really is a god, let him defend himself when someone pulls down his altar.” 32 Joash said, “If Gideon pulled Baal’s altar down, let Baal argue with him.” On that day Joash gave Gideon a new name. He called him Jerub-Baal.[v]

Gideon Defeats the Midianites

33 The Midianites, Amalekites, and other people from the east joined together to fight against the Israelites. They went across the Jordan River and camped in the Jezreel Valley. 34 The Spirit of the Lord filled Gideon. So Gideon blew a trumpet to call the family of Abiezer to follow him. 35 He sent messengers to all the people of the tribe of Manasseh and told them to get their weapons and prepare for battle. Gideon also sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. The messengers took the same message to them. So they also went up to meet Gideon and his men.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “You said that you would help me save the Israelites. Give me proof. 37 I will put a sheepskin on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the sheepskin, while all the ground is dry, I will know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.”

38 And that is exactly what happened. Gideon got up early the next morning and squeezed the sheepskin. He was able to drain a bowl full of water from it.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be angry with me. Let me ask just one more thing. Let me test you one more time with the sheepskin. This time let the sheepskin be dry, while the ground around it gets wet with dew.”

40 That night God did that very thing. Just the sheepskin was dry, but the ground around it was wet with dew.


  1. Judges 4:7 Kishon River A river about ten miles from Mount Tabor.
  2. Judges 4:11 father-in-law Or possibly, “son-in-law.”
  3. Judges 5:1 Chapter 5 This is a very old song, and many of the lines are hard to understand in the Hebrew text.
  4. Judges 5:2 The men … battle This might also mean “When leaders led in Israel” or “When men wore long hair in Israel.” Soldiers often dedicated their hair as a special gift to God.
  5. Judges 5:4 Seir Another name for the land of Edom.
  6. Judges 5:6 Shamgar son of Anath A judge of Israel. See Judges 3:31.
  7. Judges 5:7 until you … to Israel Or “until I came, Deborah, until I came, mother of Israel.” Or “until I established you, Deborah, until I established you, mother of Israel.”
  8. Judges 5:8 God chose … gates Or “They chose to follow new gods. So they had to fight at their city gates.” The Hebrew text here is hard to understand.
  9. Judges 5:10 saddle blankets The meaning of this Hebrew word is uncertain.
  10. Judges 5:14 hill country of Amalek The area settled by the tribe of Ephraim. See Judges 12:15.
  11. Judges 5:14 Makir This family was part of the tribe of Manasseh that settled in the area east of the Jordan River.
  12. Judges 5:16 walls of your sheep pens Or “campfires” or “saddlebags.”
  13. Judges 5:17 Gilead This area was east of the Jordan River.
  14. Judges 5:21 My soul … strength Or with some changes it could be, “His mighty charging horses marched forward.”
  15. Judges 6:7 These verses do not appear in the oldest Hebrew copy of the book of Judges, the Dead Sea Scroll fragment, 4QJudgesA.
  16. Judges 6:11 beating some wheat That is, separating the grains of wheat from the hulls. Usually this is done near the top of a hill.
  17. Judges 6:15 sir Or “Lord,” a title for God.
  18. Judges 6:19 20 pounds Literally, “1 ephah” (22 l).
  19. Judges 6:23 Calm down Literally, “Peace.”
  20. Judges 6:23 You will not die Gideon thought he would die because he had seen the Lord face to face.
  21. Judges 6:25 Choose … seven years old This translation follows one ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Take the bull of the bull[s], the second bull, the seven-year-old one.” Adding different vowels to the Hebrew text gives a meaning similar to that in the translation above.
  22. Judges 6:32 Jerub-Baal This is like the Hebrew words meaning “Let Baal argue.” The same verb is translated “take one’s side” and “defend” in verse 31.
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Luke 4:31-44

Jesus Frees a Man From an Evil Spirit

31 Jesus went to Capernaum, a city in Galilee. On the Sabbath day he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching because he spoke with authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man who had an evil spirit from the devil inside him. The man shouted loudly, 34 “Jesus of Nazareth! What do you want with us? Did you come here to destroy us? I know who you are—God’s Holy One!” 35 But Jesus warned the evil spirit to stop. He said, “Be quiet! Come out of the man!” The evil spirit threw the man down on the ground in front of everyone. Then the evil spirit left the man and did not hurt him.

36 The people were amazed. They said to each other, “What does this mean? With authority and power he commands evil spirits and they come out.” 37 And so the news about Jesus spread to every place in the whole area.

Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to Simon’s[a] house. Simon’s mother-in-law was very sick. She had a high fever. They asked Jesus to do something to help her. 39 He stood very close to her and ordered the sickness to go away. The sickness left her, and she got up and began serving them.

Jesus Heals Many Others

40 When the sun went down, the people brought their sick friends to Jesus. They had many different kinds of sicknesses. Jesus laid his hands on each sick person and healed them all. 41 Demons came out of many people. The demons shouted, “You are the Son of God.” But Jesus gave a strong command for the demons not to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

Jesus Goes to Other Towns

42 The next day Jesus went to a place to be alone. The people looked for him. When they found him, they tried to stop him from leaving. 43 But he said to them, “I must tell the Good News about God’s kingdom to other towns too. This is why I was sent.”

44 Then Jesus told the Good News in the synagogues in Judea.


  1. Luke 4:38 Simon Simon’s other name was Peter. Also in 5:3, 4, 5, 10.
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Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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