Judges 5

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1 In that day Debbora and Barac son of Abinoem sung, and said:

2 O you of Israel, that have willingly offered your lives to danger, bless the Lord.

3 Hear, O ye kings, give ear, ye princes: It is I, it is I, that will sing to the Lord, I will sing to the Lord the God of Israel.

4 O Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, and passedst by the regions of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped water.

5 The mountains melted before the face of the Lord, and Sinai before the face of the Lord the God of Israel.

6 In the days of Samgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jahel the paths rested: and they that went by them, walked through by-ways.

7 The valiant men ceased, and rested in Israel: until Debbora arose, a mother arose in Israel.

8 The Lord chose new wars, and he himself overthrew the gates of the enemies: a shield and spear was not seen among forty thousand of Israel.

9 My heart loveth the princes of Israel: O you that of your own good will offered yourselves to danger, bless the Lord.

10 Speak, you that ride upon fair asses, and you that sit in judgment, and walk in the way.

11 Where the chariots were dashed together, and the army of the enemies was choked, there let the justices of the Lord be rehearsed, and his clemency towards the brave men of Israel: then the people of the Lord went down to the gates, and obtained the sovereignty.

12 Arise, Arise, O Debbora, Arise, Arise, and utter a canticle. Arise, Barac, and take hold of thy captives, O son of Abinoem.

13 The remnants of the people are saved, the Lord hath fought among the valiant ones.

14 Out of Ephraim he destroyed them into Amalec, and after him out of Benjamin into thy people, O Amalec: Out of Machir there came down princes, and out of Zabulon they that led the army to fight.

15 The captains of Issachar were with Debbora, and followed the steps of Barac, who exposed himself to danger, as one going headlong, and into a pit. Ruben being divided against himself, there was found a strife of courageous men.

16 Why dwellest thou between two borders, that thou mayest hear the bleatings of the flocks? Ruben being divided against himself, there was found a strife of courageous men.

17 Galaad rested beyond the Jordan, and Dan applied himself to ships: Aser dwelt on the sea shore, and abode in the havens.

18 But Zabulon and Nephtali offered their lives to death in the region of Merome.

19 The kings came and fought, the kings of Chanaan fought in Thanach by the waters of Mageddo, and yet they took no spoils.

20 War from heaven was made against them, the stars remaining in their order and courses fought against Sisara.

21 The torrent of Cison dragged their carcasses, the torrent of Cadumim, the torrent of Cisoii: tread thou, my soul, upon the strong ones.

22 The hoofs of the horses were broken whilst the stoutest of the enemies fled amain, and fell headlong down.

23 Curse ye the land of Meroz, said the angel of the Lord: curse the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to help his most valiant men.

24 Blessed among women be Jahel the wife of Haber the Cinite, and Blessed be she in her tent.

25 He asked her water and she gave him milk, and offered him butter in a dish fit for princes.

26 She put her left hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer, and she struck Sisara, seeking in his head a place for the wound, and strongly piercing through his temples.

27 At her feet he fell: he fainted, and he died: he rolled before her feet, and he lay lifeless and wretched.

28 His mother looked out at a window, and howled: and she spoke from the dining room: Why is his chariot so long in coming back? Why are the feet of his horses so slow?

29 One that was wiser than the rest of his wives, returned this answer to her mother in law:

30 Perhaps he is now dividing the spoils, and the fairest of the women is chosen out for him: garments of divers colours are given to Sisara for his prey, and furniture of different kinds is heaped together to adorn the necks.

31 So let all thy enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love thee shine, as the sun shineth in his rising.

32 And the land rested for 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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