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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 4

 

 

Verses 1-24


Deborah and Barak

This deliverance is described a second time in the early poem in Judges 5 (see on Judges 5:1). No other narrative describes more clearly the religious gathering of the clans, and the prowess of the hardy mountaineers when united. The plain of Esdraelon (see Intro. § 5) is one of the famous battle-fields of history. It drives like a wedge from the coast within 10m. of the Jordan; but it is dominated by hills on all sides, and is almost closed by them at its western end. In Judges 5 all the tribes are mentioned either as uniting or refusing to appear, save Judah and Simeon. Subsequently we hear no more of such united efforts.

1-3. Oppression by Jabin.

2. Jabin] In Joshua 11:1-3; Jabin is defeated by Joshua at the waters of Merom, near the head of the Jordan valley, and Hazor is burned. In Judges 5 Jabin is not mentioned, and Sisera is apparently regarded as king. Hazor] from Joshua 19:36, probably near Kadesh-naphtali. Harosheth of the Gentiles] or 'foreigners' is thus distinguished from Hebrew Harosheth. Site doubtful; probably not far from Megiddo, or at the W. end of the plain.

3. Chariots] They would be well-nigh irresistible on the plain. The Israelites, living in the hills, had none until Solomon's time.

4-24. Defeat and Death of Sisera.

4. Judged] not in the technical sense used in this book, but of the deciding of disputes (Judges 4:5).

5. Mount Ephraim] see on Judges 3:27. Deborah's own tribe would seem to have been Issachar (Judges 5:15). Dwelt] RV 'sat,' as judge, to decide cases. Deborah] 'bee.'

6. Barak] 'lightning': cp. the Carthaginian name Hamilcar Barca. Kedesh-naphtali] i.e. Kadesh (i.e. the shrine) of Naphtali; now Kades, 4 m. from the upper end of the waters of Merom. Mount Tabor] 1,843 ft. high: it commands the plain of Esdraelon from the NE. Ten thousand men] cp. Judges 3:10, Judges 3:14, Judges 3:29; Judges 5:8, etc. In this chapter only the two tribes Naphtali and Zebulun are mentioned: in Judges 5 as many as six gather to Barak's standard. Naphtali and Zebulun, bordering on the plain, are the most concerned.

9. Sell] cp. Judges 2:14; Judges 3:8; Judges 4:2. A woman] i.e. Jael.

10. Went up] to Tabor. The flat summit of this conical hill made an excellent position from which the Israelites could charge down to the plain.

11. The Kenites] cp. Judges 1:16. Father in law] is correct, not (as RV) 'brother in law.' The modern traveller Porter noticed the black tents of nomads near Kedesh. Plain] RV'oak'; evidently a prominent tree on the N. of the edge of the plain of Esdraelon.

13. Kishon] This river rises in the high ground to the SE. of the plain, and flows right through it in a northwesterly direction. From Tabor on the NE. the Israelites would dash down and drive the Canaanites back upon its banks: in rainy weather the whole plain would be further intersected by the Kishon's tributaries. In 1799, after the battle of Mt. Tabor, numbers of fugitive Turks were swept away by the torrent and drowned.

15. Fled away] northward to Kedesh, while Barak's host hurries westwards.

18. Mantle] RV 'rug,' or perhaps 'tent-curtain.'

19. Bottle of milk] i.e. a lamb- or goat-skin. chapter Judges 5:25 adds 'butter.' Judges 5:26 seems (though not certainly) to imply that Sisera is killed as he stands drinking.

21. The nail or tent-pin was of wood: to drive it into the ground when camping was the women's work. On the morality of the act see on Judges 5:24.

22. If Barak came up immediately, he must have left the main body of the pursuers almost as they left the battle-field.

24. The Israelites now proceed to do on a small soale what, after the victories of Joshua, they had refused to do on a large one.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 4:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/judges-4.html. 1909.

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