The Song of Deborah
1 # 5:1 Chapter 5 This is a very old song, and many of the lines are hard to understand in the Hebrew text. On the day that the Israelites defeated Sisera, Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2“The men of Israel prepared for battle.#5:2 The men … battle This might also mean “When leaders led in Israel” or “When men wore long hair in Israel.” Soldiers often dedicated their hair as a special gift to God.
They volunteered to go to war.
Praise the Lord!
Pay attention, rulers.
I will sing.
I myself will sing to the Lord.
I will make music to the Lord,
to the God of the Israelites.
4“Lord, in the past you came from Seir.#5:4 Seir Another name for the land of Edom.
You marched from the land of Edom.
You marched and the earth shook.
The skies rained.
The clouds dropped water.
5The mountains shook before the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai,
before the Lord, the God of Israel!
6“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,#5:6 Shamgar son of Anath A judge of Israel. See Judges 3:31.
and in the days of Jael, the main roads were empty.
Caravans and travelers traveled on the back roads.
7“There were no soldiers in Israel
until you came, Deborah,
until you came to be a mother to Israel.#5:7 until you … to Israel Or “until I came, Deborah, until I came, mother of Israel.” Or “until I established you, Deborah, until I established you, mother of Israel.”
8“God chose new leaders
to fight at the city gates.#5:8 God chose … gates Or “They chose to follow new gods. So they had to fight at their city gates.” The Hebrew text here is hard to understand.
No one could find a shield or a spear
among the 40,000 soldiers of Israel.
9“My heart is with the commanders of Israel.
They volunteered to go to war.
Praise the Lord!
10“Pay attention you people riding on white donkeys,
sitting on saddle blankets,#5:10 saddle blankets The meaning of this Hebrew word is uncertain.
and walking along the road.
11At the watering holes for the animals,
we hear the music of cymbals.
People sing about the victories of the Lord,
the victories of his soldiers in Israel
when the Lord’S people
fought at the city gates and won!
12“Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, sing the song!
Get up, Barak!
Go capture your enemies, son of Abinoam!
13“Now, survivors, go to the leaders.
People of the Lord, come with me and the soldiers.
14“The men of Ephraim came from the hill country of Amalek.#5:14 hill country of Amalek The area settled by the tribe of Ephraim. See Judges 12:15.
Benjamin, those men followed you and your people.
And there were commanders from the family of Makir.#5:14 Makir This family was part of the tribe of Manasseh that settled in the area east of the Jordan River.
Leaders from the tribe of Zebulun came with their bronze clubs.
15The leaders of Issachar were with Deborah.
The family of Issachar was true to Barak.
Those men marched to the valley on foot.
“Reuben, there are many brave soldiers in your army groups.
16So why did you sit there against the walls of your sheep pens?#5:16 walls of your sheep pens Or “campfires” or “saddlebags.”
The brave soldiers of Reuben thought hard about war.
But they stayed home listening to the music they played for their sheep.
17The people of Gilead#5:17 Gilead This area was east of the Jordan River. stayed in their camps on the other side of the Jordan River.
As for you, people of Dan, why did you stay by your ships?
The people of Asher remained by the sea,
camped near their safe harbors.
18“But the men of Zebulun and Naphtali risked their lives
fighting on those hills.
19The kings of Canaan came to fight,
but they didn’t carry any treasures home.
They fought at the city of Taanach,
by the waters of Megiddo.
20The stars fought them from heaven.
From their paths across the sky, they fought against Sisera.
21The Kishon River, that ancient river,
swept Sisera’s men away.
My soul, march on with strength!#5:21 My soul … strength Or with some changes it could be, “His mighty charging horses marched forward.”
22The horses’ hooves hammered the ground.
Sisera’s mighty horses ran and ran.
23“The angel of the Lord said, ‘Curse the city of Meroz.
Curse its people!
They did not come to help the Lord fight.’
They did not help the Lord against his powerful enemies.
24Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite.
She will be blessed above all women.
25Sisera asked for water.
Jael gave him milk.
In a bowl fit for a ruler,
she brought him cream.
26Then Jael reached out and took a tent peg.
Her right hand reached for a workman’s hammer.
She put the peg against the side of Sisera’s head
and hit it with the hammer.
27He sank down between Jael’s feet.
He fell, and there he lay.
He sank down between her feet.
He fell there.
Where Sisera sank, he fell,
and there he lay, dead!
28“There is Sisera’s mother, looking out the window,
looking through the curtains and crying.
‘Why is Sisera’s chariot so late?
Why can’t I hear his wagons?’
29“Her wisest servant girl answers her.
Yes, the servant gives her an answer:
30‘I’m sure they won the war,
and they are now taking things from the people they defeated.
They are dividing those things among themselves.
Each soldier is taking a girl or two.
Maybe Sisera found a piece of dyed cloth.
That’s it! Sisera found a piece of fancy cloth,
or maybe two, to wear around his neck in victory.’
31“May all your enemies die like this, Lord!
But may all those who love you be as strong as the rising sun!”
And there was peace in the land for 40 years.