It was an impossible situation, with no man qualified or brave enough to fight the domineering powerful enemy commander. The nation was subject to years of oppression, humility and subordination. In this desperate time, two notable housewives (both mothers and wives) stood up and defeated the enemy. It was incredible and yet it happened: They were Deborah, the prophetess-political leader of the nation, and Jael, a housewife who killed the enemy’s commander.
In the history of the list of Israelite Judges (commanders) and their great exploits, there was a woman prophet-commander named Deborah. She ruled for forty years. Her life was interesting as she was proficient in a number of roles: the nation’s spiritual leader, the nation’s political leader, prophetess, strategist, military commander, national ruler, and also a housewife.
The following passage recorded her history briefly. I summarize below the significant events:
- Deborah knew how to hear God and align with the plan of God. She was courageous and knew her strength. She raised a victorious war against their powerful enemy and destroyed the enemy completely. God took care of the spiritual changes and she merely obeyed. She aligned with God. That was her key success factor.
- She asked/assigned a man to lead the army but he hesitated. When there was no qualified brave man, she rose up and did the job herself. So she led the army with him tagged along behind her.
- She then prophesied that by giving up his spiritual role, the man had handed over the honor of killing the enemy commander to a humble but equally brave and intelligent housewife, Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.
- Deborah’s words came to pass – the mark of a true prophet.
- Not all tribal political (military) leaders listened to her. Some stayed away from the war. They were thus excluded from the historical record of heroes.
- Deborah wrote and sang poems and songs too. She was a knowledgeable and talented woman.
- After the war what did she do? She went home to be with her family and continued to rule and lead the people of Israel for forty years. The nation had peace under her rule.
Judges 5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: 2 “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4 “Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. 5 The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel. 6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. 7 The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose;
I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. 8 When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel? 9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord.
12 “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song!
15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings (hesitations) of heart. 16 Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings. 18 Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.
19 “The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they got no spoils of silver. 20 From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. 21 The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might!
22 “Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23 “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. 26 She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.
And the land had rest for forty years.