Women Who Saved A Nation

Later Sisera, who had nine hundred iron chariots, cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the prophetess Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, delivered Israel. She used to sit under the palm-tree of Deborah between Ramah and bethel in the highlands of Ephraim; and the Israelites went to her to have her decide their disputes.

She sent and called Barak, the son of Abinoam, from Kadesh Naphtali and said to him, "Does not the LORD the God of Israel command you: 'Go, march to Mount Tabor and take with you ten thousand of the Naphtalites and of the Zebulunites? Then I will draw out to you at the brook Kishon Sisera with his chariots and his troops, and I will deliver him into your hands.'" Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go." She replied, "I will certainly go with you, only you will not have the glory in this expedition on which you are going, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman."

So Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kadesh. Barak called the Zebulunites and the Naphtalites together at Kadesh and ten thousand men followed him; and Deborah also went up with him.

Now Heber the Kenite had left the Kenites, the children of Jethro the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak which is near Kadesh.

When it was reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all his people from the heathen city Harosheth to the brook Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, "To the attack! for to-day the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone out before you?"

So Barak went down from Mount Tabor followed by ten thousand men; and at the attack of Barak's swordsmen the LORD put to flight Sisera and his chariots and all his forces, and Sisera got down from his war-chariot and fled on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the forces to Harosheth; and all the army of Sisera was destroyed by the sword; not a single man was left.

On that day Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, sang this song:

"O the LORD, when thou wentest from Seir,
Marching from the region of Edom,
Earth trembled, the heavens swayed,
The clouds also dripped water;
The hills quaked before the LORD,
Yon Sinai, before Israel's God.

"In the days of Anath's son, Shamgar,
In Jael's days the roads were unused,
And travellers walked through byways.
Leaders disappeared in Israel,
Until you, O Deborah, rose,
Till you rose as a mother in Israel.

"My heart is with the commanders of Israel,
Who volunteered among the people. Bless the LORD!
You who ride on tawny asses,
Who sit upon rich saddle-cloths;
You who walk by the way, tell of it.
Far from sounds of dividing the spoil,
In the places where water is drawn,
Let them tell of the LORD's righteous acts,
And the righteous deeds of his leaders!

"Then the people of the LORD
Went down to the gates, crying:
'Awake, awake, O Deborah,
Awake, awake, sing a battle-song!
Rise up, rise up, O Barak,
Take your captives, O son of Abinoam!'

"So they went down against the powerful,
The Lord's people against the mighty.
From Machir, commanders went down,
From Zebulun, standard-bearers,
Issachar's princes with Deborah,
And with Barak, the men of Naphtali;
Into the valley they streamed after him.

"Zebulun risked its life,
Naphtali on the heights of the field.
Rulers came, they fought,
The rulers of canaan fought
At Taanach by the waters of Megiddo.

"They took no booty of silver,
For from heaven the very stars fought,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
The brook Kishon swept them away,
That ancient brook, the brook Kishon.
O my soul, march on with strength!
Then did their horse hoofs pound
With the gallop, gallop of steeds.

"Blessed above women shall Jael be,
That wife of Heber, the Kenite,
More blessed than all nomad women!
Water he asked, milk she gave,
Curdled milk she brought him
In a bowl well fitted for lords!
She put her hand to the tent-pin,
Her right hand to the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, crushing his head,
She shattered, she pierced his temples.
At her feet he sank down and lay still,
At her feet he sank, he fell;
There he fell, a victim slain!

"Through the window she peered and cried,
Through the lattice, the mother of Sisera:
'Why so long his chariot in coming?
Why tarry the hoof-beats of steeds?'
Then the wisest of her ladies replied,
She herself also answered her question,
'Are they not dividing the spoil?
A woman or two for each warrior,
For Sisera a spoil of dyed stuffs,
A spoil of dyed stuffs embroidered,
Some pieces of lace for his neck?'

"So perish thy foes, O the LORD!
But may those who love him be as the sun,
Rising up in invincible splendor!"

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Christian Literature

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