Deborah, the Woman Judge
1After Ehud died, the people of Israel again did what the Lord said was wrong. 2So he let Jabin, a king of Canaan, defeat Israel. Jabin ruled in the city of Hazor. Sisera was the commander of Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3He had 900 iron chariots and was very cruel to the people of Israel for 20 years. So they cried to the Lord for help.
4There was a prophetess named Deborah. She was the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. 5Deborah would sit under the Palm Tree of Deborah. This was between the cities of Ramah and Bethel, in the mountains of Ephraim. And the people of Israel would come to her to settle their arguments.
6Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak. He was the son of Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead them to Mount Tabor. 7I will make Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, come to you. Sisera, his chariots and his army will meet you at the Kishon River. I will help you to defeat Sisera there.’”
8Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, I won’t go.”
9“Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But you will not get credit for the victory. The Lord will let a woman defeat Sisera.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10At Kedesh, Barak called the people of Zebulun and Naphtali together. From them, he gathered 10,000 men to follow him. Deborah went with Barak also.
11Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenite people. (The Kenites were descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law.) Heber had put up his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim. This is near Kedesh.
12Then Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13So Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him. They went from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get up! Today is the day the Lord will help you defeat Sisera. You know the Lord has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15He and his men attacked Sisera and his men. During the battle the Lord confused Sisera and his army and chariots. So Barak and his men used their swords to defeat Sisera’s army. But Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16Barak and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army to Harosheth Haggoyim. They used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of them was left alive.
17But Sisera himself ran away. He came to the tent where Jael lived. She was the wife of Heber, one of the Kenite family groups. Heber’s family was at peace with Jabin king of Hazor. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera. She said to him, “Come into my tent, master! Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a rug.
19Sisera said to Jael, “I am thirsty. Please give me some water to drink.” So she opened a leather bag in which she kept milk and gave him a drink. Then she covered him up.
20Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’”
21But Jael, the wife of Heber, took a tent peg and a hammer. She quietly went to Sisera. Since he was very tired, he was sleeping. She hammered the tent peg through the side of Sisera’s head and into the ground! And so Sisera died.
22Then Barak came by Jael’s tent, chasing Sisera. Jael went out to meet him and said, “Come. I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered her tent. There Sisera lay dead, with the tent peg in his head.
23On that day God defeated Jabin king of Canaan in the sight of Israel.
24Israel became stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan. Finally, they destroyed him.