Judges 5

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

2 "Because the leaders took the lead in Israel, because the people offered themselves willingly, be blessed, Yahweh!

3 "Hear, you kings! Give ear, you princes! I, [even] I, will sing to Yahweh. I will sing praise to Yahweh, the God of Israel.

4 "Yahweh, when you went forth out of Seir, when you marched out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the sky also dropped. Yes, the clouds dropped water.

5 The mountains quaked at the presence of Yahweh, even Sinai, at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel.

6 "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied. The travelers walked through byways.

7 The rulers ceased in Israel. They ceased until I, Deborah, arose; Until I arose a mother in Israel.

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

9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless Yahweh!

10 "Tell [of it], you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets, and you who walk by the way.

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

12 'Awake, Awake, Deborah! Awake, Awake, utter a song! Arise, Barak, and lead away your captives, you son of Abinoam.'

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

14 Those whose root is in Amalek came out of Ephraim, after you, Benjamin, among your peoples. Governors come down out of Machir. Those who handle the marshal's staff came out of Zebulun.

15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah. As was Issachar, so was Barak. They rushed into the valley at his feet. By the watercourses of Reuben, there were great resolves of heart.

16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the whistling for the flocks? At the watercourses of Reuben There were great searchings of heart.

17 Gilead lived beyond the Jordan. Why did Dan remain in ships? Asher sat still at the haven of the sea, and lived by his creeks.

18 Zebulun was a people that jeopardized their lives to the deaths; Naphtali also, on the high places of the field.

19 "The kings came and fought, then the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo. They took no plunder of silver.

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

21 The river Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. My soul, march on with strength.

22 Then the horse hoofs stamped because of the prancings, the prancings of their strong ones.

23 'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of Yahweh. 'Curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they didn't come to help Yahweh, to help Yahweh against the mighty.'

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

25 He asked for water. She gave him milk. She brought him butter in a lordly dish.

26 She put her hand to the tent peg, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer. With the hammer she struck Sisera. She struck through his head. Yes, 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 out, and cried: Sisera's mother looked through the lattice. 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why do the wheels of his chariots wait?'

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

30 'Have they not found, have they not divided the spoil? A lady, two ladies 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 your enemies perish, Yahweh, but let those who love him be as the sun when it rises forth in its strength." Then 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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