Judges 5

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1 At that time Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, made this song, saying:

2 Because of the flowing hair of the fighters in Israel, because the people gave themselves freely, give praise to the Lord.

3 Give attention, O kings; give ear, O rulers; I, even I, will make a song to the Lord; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.

4 Lord, when you went out from Seir, moving like an army from the field of Edom, the earth was shaking and the heavens were troubled, and the clouds were dropping water.

5 The mountains were shaking before the Lord, before the Lord, the God of Israel.

6 In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were not used, and travellers went by side roads.

7 Country towns were no more in Israel, *** were no more, till you, Deborah, came up, till you came up as a mother in Israel.

8 They had no one to make arms, there were no more armed men in the towns; was there a body-cover or a spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?

9 Come, you rulers of Israel, you who gave yourselves freely among the people: give praise to the Lord.

10 Let them give thought to it, who go on white asses, and those who are walking on the road.

11 Give ear to the women laughing by the water-springs; there they will give again the story of the upright acts of the Lord, all the upright acts of his arm in Israel.

12 Awake! Awake! Deborah: Awake! Awake! give a song: Up! Barak, and take prisoner those who took you prisoner, O son of Abinoam.

13 Then the chiefs went down to the doors; the Lord's people went down among the strong ones.

14 Out of Ephraim they came down into the valley; after you, Benjamin, among your tribesmen; from Machir came down the captains, and from Zebulun those in whose hand is the ruler's rod.

15 Your chiefs, Issachar, were with Deborah; and Naphtali was true to Barak; into the valley they went rushing out at his feet. In Reuben there were divisions, and great searchings of heart.

16 Why did you keep quiet among the sheep, hearing nothing but the watchers piping to the flocks?

17 Gilead was living over Jordan; and Dan was waiting in his ships; Asher kept in his place by the sea's edge, living by his inlets.

18 It was the people of Zebulun who put their lives in danger, even to death, with Naphtali on the high places of the field.

19 The kings came on to the fight, the kings of Canaan were warring; in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo: they took no profit in money.

20 The stars from heaven were fighting; from their highways they were fighting against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon took them violently away, stopping their flight, the river Kishon. Give praise, O my soul, to the strength of the Lord!

22 Then loudly the feet of the horses were sounding with the stamping, the stamping of their war-horses.

23 A curse, a curse on Meroz! said the angel of the Lord. A bitter curse on her townspeople! Because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord among the strong ones.

24 Blessings be on Jael, more than on all women! Blessings greater than on any in the tents!

25 His request was for water, she gave him milk; she put butter before him on a fair plate.

26 She put out her hand to the tent-pin, and her right hand to the workman's hammer; and she gave Sisera a blow, crushing his head, wounding and driving through his brow.

27 Bent at her feet he went down, he was stretched out; bent at her feet he went down; where he was bent down, there he went down in death.

28 Looking out from the window she gave a cry, the mother of Sisera was crying out through the window, Why is his carriage so long in coming? When will the noise of his wheels be sounding?

29 Her wise women gave answer to her, yes, she made answer again to herself,

30 Are they not getting, are they not parting the goods among them: a young girl or two to every man; and to Sisera robes of coloured needlework, worked in fair colours on this side and on that, for the neck of the queen?

31 So may destruction come on all your haters, O Lord; but let your lovers be like the sun going out in his strength. And for forty years the land had peace.

  

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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