by Wayne Blank
Dated at approximately 1200 B.C., Deborah served as a judge at "the palm tree of Deborah" in southern Ephraim between Ramah and Bethel, thereby possibly making her of the tribe of Ephraim, as was Joshua earlier. She was referred to as the "mother of Israel" because of her leadership in the battle against Canaanite oppression.
Victory Over Sisera
"After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of The Lord. So The Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to The Lord for help."
"Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading [traditionally judging] Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'"
"Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go."
"Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for The Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh, where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him."
"Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh."
"When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River."
"Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day The Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not The Lord gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men. At Barak's advance, The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left." (Judges 4:1-16 NIV)
Fact Finder: How was Sisera killed?