Judges 5

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

2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

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

4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.

6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through by-ways.

7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, 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 towards the governors of Israel that offered themselves willingly among the people: Bless ye the LORD.

10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.

11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.

12 Awake, Awake, Deborah; Awake, Awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.

14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah: even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.

16 Why abodest thou among the sheep-folds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.

17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea-shore, and abode in his breaches.

18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives to death in the high places of the field.

19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Tanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.

22 Then were the horse's hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones.

23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly its inhabitants; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

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

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

26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and struck through his temples.

27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and 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, yes, she returned answer to herself.

30 Have they not found; have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needle-work, of divers colors of needle-work on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?

31 So let all thy enemies perish, O LORD: 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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