士師記 4

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1 以笏後,以色列人又行耶和華眼中看為惡的事,

2 耶和華就把他們付與在夏瑣作迦南耶賓中;他的將軍是西西拉,外邦人的夏羅設。

3 耶賓王有輛。他大大欺壓以色列人二十年,以色列人就呼求耶和華

4 有一位女先知名叫底波拉,是拉比多的妻,當時作以色列的士師。

5 以法蓮拉瑪伯特利中間,在底波拉的棕樹以色列人都上他那裡去聽判斷

6 他打發從拿弗他利的基低斯將亞比挪菴的兒子巴拉召了來,對他耶和華以色列的吩咐你:你率領一萬拿弗他利和西布倫上他泊去。

7 我必使耶賓的將軍西西拉率領他的車輛和全軍往基順,到你那裡去;我必將他交在你中。

8 巴拉:你若同我去,我就去;你若不同我去,我就不去。

9 底波拉:我必與你同去,只是你在所行的上得不著榮耀,因為耶和華要將西西拉交在一個婦人裡。於是底波拉起來,與巴拉一同往基低斯去了。

10 巴拉就招聚西布倫和拿弗他利到基低斯,跟他上去的有一萬。底波拉也同他上去。

11 摩西岳父(或譯:內兄)何巴的後裔,基尼人希百曾離開基尼族,到靠近基低斯撒拿音的橡樹旁支搭帳棚。

12 有人告訴西西拉說:亞比挪菴的兒子巴拉已經上他泊了。

13 西西拉就聚集所有的輛,和跟隨他的全軍,從外邦人的夏羅設出來,到了基順

14 底波拉對巴拉:你起來,今日就是耶和華將西西拉交在你的日子。耶和華豈不在你前頭行麼?於是巴拉了他泊跟隨他有一萬

15 耶和華使西西拉和他一切車輛全軍潰亂,在巴拉面前被刀殺敗;西西拉車步行逃跑

16 巴拉追趕車輛、軍隊,直到外邦人的夏羅設。西西拉的全軍都倒在刀下,沒有留下人。

17 只有西西拉步行逃跑,到了基尼人希百之妻雅億的帳棚,因為夏瑣耶賓與基尼人希百家和好。

18 雅億出來迎接西西拉,對他:請我進來,不要懼怕;西西拉就進了他的帳棚。雅憶用被將他遮蓋。

19 西西拉對雅億:我渴了,求你給我一點喝。雅億就打開皮袋,給他奶子喝,仍舊把他遮蓋。

20 西西拉又對雅億:請你站在帳棚口,若有問你:有在這裡沒有?你就:沒有。

21 西西拉疲乏沉睡。希百的妻雅億取了帳棚的橛子,裡拿著錘子,輕悄悄地到他旁邊,將橛子從他鬢邊進去,入地裡。西西拉就死了

22 巴拉追趕西西拉的時候,雅億出迎接他罷,我將你所尋找給你。他就進入帳棚,見西西拉已經死了,倒在地上,橛子還在他鬢中。

23 這樣,使迦南耶賓被以色列人制伏了。

24 從此以色列人越發有力,勝了迦南耶賓,直到將他滅絕了。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士師記 4      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 4: Deborah

Yet again, the children of Israel had disobeyed the Lord. At this point in time, they had been under the yoke of Jabin, a Canaanite king, for twenty years. He had nine hundred chariots of iron, and was apparently very powerful.

The Lord raised up Deborah, a prophetess, to free the Israelites from oppression under Jabin. The text says that she would pass judgements for the children of Israel while she sat under the palm tree of Deborah.

Deborah summoned Barak, an army officer, and told him to go with ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun to fight King Jabin’s armies. Barak said he would only go if Deborah went as well, so she agreed to join him. Deborah then prophesied that Sisera, the enemy commander, would be defeated by a woman.

The two armies clashed at by the River Kishon, and all of Sisera’s men were killed. Sisera then fled to the tent of Heber, an Israelite who was on peaceful terms with King Jabin. Jael, Heber’s wife, invited Sisera to come in with the comforting words, “fear not”. She covered him with a blanket, gave him milk to drink, and let him sleep there.

Then Jael quietly took a tent peg and drove it into Sisera’s temple using a hammer, so that the peg stuck in the earth. When Barak came to the tent, pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to tell him, “come, and I will show you the man you seek.” And she showed him Sisera, dead, with a peg through his temple.

So Jabin’s army was defeated that day, and Israel grew stronger until their oppression under Jabin came to an end.

*****

Deborah is an especially significant character in the Bible, because she was the only female judge of Israel. It was very unusual for a woman in those times to rise to power, yet she truly earned the respect of her people. Deborah, as a woman, stands for the nurturing power of the Word to strengthen us during regeneration. Her name means ‘a bee’, but this comes from a word meaning ‘to speak’ – here, to speak the Word. Bees make honey; honey is nutritious; God’s word is our nourishment (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 3424[2]).

The fact that Deborah judged from under a palm tree may seem like a passing detail, but even this contributes to the spiritual meaning of the story. Palm trees stand for the divine truths of the Word, which means that Deborah was judging the people from her understanding of the Lord’s truths.

King Jabin’s nine hundred iron chariots represent the apparent power of false beliefs, thoughts and persuasions over us. The number ‘nine’ stands for something which is complete, and ‘iron’ here stands for either natural truths or falsities. A ‘chariot’, being pulled by a horse, always stands for a set of teachings or doctrine. These three symbols add to the picture of a very powerful enemy: false ideas and views that can weaken and overwhelm us (Arcana Caelestia 4720[2]).

The spiritual meaning of the complex arrangement between Barak and Deborah is that we can only deal with our spiritual conflicts if we take the Word’s power (Deborah) with us. Barak, a man, represents the power of truth, but Deborah says a woman will gain victory over Sisera. The feminine stands for the power of love: our charity, our affection for good, and our wish to be useful. These qualities are always essential in our spiritual life (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Explained 1120[2]).

The story about Jael and Sisera is really about actively resisting the temptations of evil in our lives. Jael, a woman, stands for the power of good to overcome what is false in our mind. Driving the tent peg through Sisera’s head stands for the complete destruction of what is false. Driving it right through and into the ground stands for the power of good in our life and in our regeneration, because the ground represents our actions (Arcana Caelestia 268).

When Barak and Jael meet, it stands for the unity between good (Jael, a woman) and truth (Barak, a man). This unity of good and truth appears again at the start of the next chapter, in which Deborah and Barak sing of Israel’s victory.

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