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Monday, September 12 2011

The Palm Tree Of Deborah

The era of the Judges began after the death of Joshua and the generation that knew the LORD with him (see also The First Christian Church).

"2:8 And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 2:9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres [see Joshua's Timnath], in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.

2:10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 2:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 2:12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers [see The LORD And The Two Angels and 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'], which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 2:13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 2:14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 2:15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed." (Judges 2:8-15 KJV)

The Judges weren't all merely strongmen or warlords who naturally emerge during times of anarchy or rebellion. Some of them were "raised up" by the LORD.

"2:16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 2:17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. 2:18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

2:20 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant [see The Way To Salvation: Step 1] which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 2:21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 2:22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. 2:23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua." (Judges 2:16-23 KJV)

"She dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel"

The era of the Judges lasted approximately 250 years, from the end of the time of Joshua to the end of the time of Samuel (see the Fact Finder question below). The actual Hebrew word, pronounced shaw-fat, that is usually translated as "judge," means to govern by decision i.e. they were thinkers, not thugs.

Some of the later judges are well-known, such as Gideon and Samson. Most of the earliest-recorded judges are less famous - such as Ehud who the LORD empowered as a "deliverer." After his death however, the Israelites returned to their childish corruption that again empowered their enemies.

Deborah Beneath the Palm Tree

"3:15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab." (Judges 3:15 KJV)

"4:1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. 4:2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. 4:3 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel." (Judges 4:1-3 KJV)

Deborah was unique in a number of ways. She is described as a prophetess and a judge - a very rare female leader of Israel. Some have also interpreted "the wife of Lapidoth" figuratively as "a woman of a shining spirit" - that "Lapidoth" (from a Hebrew root word which means to shine) was not an actual person i.e. that Deborah was "the wife of Lapidoth" in the same way that she was "a mother in [to] Israel."

"4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 4:5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment." (Judges 4:4-5 KJV)

As with all of the true prophets of the LORD, the question of why a woman had such power in that time is answered by her statement "Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded." At the same time however, the LORD was delivering His Judgment upon the "men" of Israel (and many of the "men" of the present-day world) who had become weak in and by their corruption - they needed a "mother" ("I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel" Judges 5:7 KJV) to tend their adolescent-minded irresponsibility (including her own "husband" Lapidoth). Deborah herself did not see them as men, hence her statement to the army of Israel, "the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman" i.e. a "mother" who was babysitting a nation of little boys who became so when they stopped obeying the LORD.

"4:6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 4:7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.

4:8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. 4:9 And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. 4:10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him." (Judges 4:6-10 KJV)

Another very rare accomplishment: a woman led the men of Israel into battle.

"4:11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.

4:12 And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor. 4:13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.

4:14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. 4:15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet. 4:16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left." (Judges 4:11-16 KJV)

The victory song gave glory to Whom it was due - the LORD: "Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel."

"5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, 5:2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. 5:3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

5:4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. 5:5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. 5:6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways. 5:7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. 5:8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? 5:9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.

5:10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way. 5:11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates. 5:12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam." (Judges 5:1-12 KJV)

Fact Finder: Did the era of the Judges end with the establishment of the Israelite monarchy?
See Hannah's Dedication, The Prophets: Samuel and The Civil War Kings


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This Day In History, September 12

490 BC: The Athenians defeated the second Persian invasion of Greece at Marathon (see Ancient Empires - Persia and Ancient Empires - Greece).

1609: English explorer Henry Hudson, while employed by the Netherlands, discovered a river in eastern North America that would later be named after him - the Hudson River. New York City was originally named New Amsterdam by its Dutch founders.

1683: Austrian and Polish forces took Vienna, Austria, back from the Ottomans after the Battle of Kahlenberg (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1683: Vienna was retaken from the Ottomans.

1722: The Treaty of St. Petersburg ended the Russo-Persian War.

1758: French astronomer Charles Messier began his Messier Catalog of deep-sky objects with the Crab Nebula - the remnants of a supernova explosion that was first observed by Chinese astronomers in 1054.

1848: Switzerland adopted a new constitution under which it became a federal republic.

1878: The obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle, originally cut from the quarries of Aswan in about 1475 B.C., was erected in London (see also Antony and Cleopatra).

1914: The First Battle of the Aisne in France in WW1 began. It lasted 17 days. British and French forces battled the Germans to a stalemate; static trench warfare set in on the Aisne and lasted for the next 18 months (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1962: In a lead-up to the "Cuban Missile Crisis," US President Kennedy held a news conference and announced that the US would not tolerate any Soviet offensive base in the western hemisphere (while at the same time the US itself had dozens of offensive bases in the eastern hemisphere, some right on the Russian border).

1972: Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda, sent a cable to the United Nations Secretary General to announce that since no statue of Hitler had been erected in Germany, he proposed to set one up in Uganda.

1990: Agreements were signed by the US, Britain, France, Russia, and East and West Germany which permitted the re-unification of Germany - a key event in European history, and Bible prophecy (see Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!).





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