Judges 5

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1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

2 For that the leaders took the lead in Israel, For that the people offered themselves willingly, Bless ye Jehovah.

3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, [even] I, will sing unto Jehovah; I will sing praise to Jehovah, the God of Israel.

4 Jehovah, when thou wentest forth out of Seir, When thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, The earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, Yea, the clouds dropped water.

5 The mountains quaked at the presence of Jehovah, Even yon Sinai at the presence of Jehovah, the God of Israel.

6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, And the travellers walked through byways.

7 The rulers ceased in Israel, they ceased, Until that I Deborah arose, That I arose a mother in Israel.

8 They chose new gods; Then was war in the gates: Was there a shield or spear seen Among forty thousand in Israel?

9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, That offered themselves willingly among the people: Bless ye Jehovah.

10 Tell [of it], ye that ride on white asses, Ye that sit on rich carpets, And ye that walk by the way.

11 Far from the noise of archers, in the places of drawing water, There shall they rehearse the righteous acts of Jehovah, [Even] the righteous acts of his rule in Israel. Then the people of Jehovah went down to the gates.

12 Awake, Awake, Deborah; Awake, Awake, utter a song: Arise, Barak, and lead away thy captives, thou son of Abinoam.

13 Then came down a remnant of the nobles [and] the people; Jehovah came down for me against the mighty.

14 Out of Ephraim [came down] they whose root is in Amalek; After thee, Benjamin, among thy peoples; Out of Machir came down governors, And out of Zebulun they that handle the marshal's staff.

15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As was Issachar, so was Barak; Into the valley they rushed forth at his feet. By the watercourses of Reuben There were great resolves of heart.

16 Why sattest thou among the sheepfolds, To hear the pipings for the flocks? At the watercourses of Reuben There were great searchings of heart.

17 Gilead abode beyond the Jordan: And Dan, why did he remain in ships? Asher sat still at the haven of the sea, And abode by his creeks.

18 Zebulun was a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death, And Naphtali, upon the high places of the field.

19 The kings came and fought; Then fought the kings of Canaan. In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo: They took no gain of money.

20 From heaven fought the stars, From their courses they fought against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon swept them away, That ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, march on with strength.

22 Then did the horsehoofs stamp By reason of the prancings, the prancings of their strong ones.

23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of Jehovah. Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, Because they came not to the help of Jehovah, To the help of Jehovah against the mighty.

24 Blessed above women shall Jael be, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

25 He asked water, [and] she gave him milk; She brought him butter in a lordly dish.

26 She put her hand to the tent-pin, And her right hand to the workmen's hammer; And with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote through his head; Yea, she pierced and struck through his temples.

27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay; At her feet he bowed, he fell; Where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

28 Through the window she looked forth, and cried, The mother of Sisera [cried] through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?

29 Her wise ladies answered her, Yea, she returned answer to herself,

30 Have they not found, have they not divided the spoil? A damsel, two damsels to every man; To Sisera a spoil of dyed garments, A spoil of dyed garments embroidered, Of dyed garments embroidered on both sides, on the necks of the spoil?

31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Jehovah: But let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 5      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 5: The Song of Deborah.

This chapter is a song of victory, describing the events of Judges 4 in poetic and exuberant language. Throughout, there is a sense of exhorting the people to turn to the Lord and praise Him for the victory. Singing this kind of song was a customary way for Israel to rejoice after a major victory.

The spiritual meaning of singing has to do with our overall joy and affection for spiritual things: joy for what is true, for the Word, and for everything about the Lord. Affection is not merely knowing spiritual truths; it is our heart’s response to them, which goes far beyond words.

This is why the lyrics of sacred songs such as Judges Chapter 5 are very eloquent and passionate. They are not simply an account of what took place, but more an outburst of praise and gratitude in recounting the story. We experience the same inner ‘music’ when our heart feels a deep spiritual affection, and is stirred up with praise to the Lord. Just as Deborah and Barak sang after a battle, our songs of gratitude will generally be felt after the Lord delivers us from a period of temptation during regeneration (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 8265).

The song itself frequently acknowledges the Lord’s part in Israel’s victory:

In verse 4: “Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the field of Edom.”

In verse 11: “There they shall recount the righteous acts of the Lord for his villagers in Israel.”

And in verse 13: “Then the Lord came down for me against the mighty.”

These references serve to remind us that everything is the Lord’s doing. We must do what is good as though our actions make the difference, but we are to affirm that the Lord brings about all that is good. This acknowledgement allows us to act from free will, while still understanding the spiritual truth that all goodness comes from the Lord (Arcana Caelestia 9193).

This is emphasized through the song whenever Deborah praises her own actions, as well as those of Barak and Jael. For example:

In verse 7: “Village life ceased in Israel until I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel.”

In verse 12: “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away, O son of Abinoam!”

And in verses 24-27, when Jael receives full praise for her actions.

Another theme in the song is a lament over those tribes which did not come to the aid of Israel, although only Issachar and Zebulun were called to battle. A town called Meroz is roundly cursed for failing to help. The name ‘Meroz’ comes from a verb meaning “to withdraw” or “to hide” (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 18). This lament reminds us that our intentions to serve the Lord and to fight our spiritual battles can be hindered by our own divided wills.

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