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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.
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.
"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.
"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)
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.
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.
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.
This Day In History, September 12
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!).