Judges 5

 

Judges 5:1–31

The Song of Deborah and Barak


Outline of Chapter 5:

 

         vv.     1–3           Introduction/Recipients of Psalm

         vv.     4–5           God’s Power in Israel’s March is Made Manifest at the Battle of Barak and Sisera

         vv.     6–12         Deborah establishes time and place

         vv.    13–18         The tribes which participated in battle and the tribes which did not

The Tribes that Participated

The Tribes that did not Participate

The True Heroes of this Time

         vv.    19–23         The battle between Israel and the Canaanites

         vv.    24–27         Jael kills Sisera

         vv.    28–30         Sisera’s mother anxiously awaits her son

         v.      31a–b         Coda

         v.       31c           The Result of Deborah and Barak’s Victory


Charts, Maps and Short Doctrines:

 

         Introduction         Psalms and Songs Scattered Throughout Scripture

         Introduction         Keil and Delitzsch’s Outline of Judges 5

         Introduction         Matthew Henry’s Outline of Judges 5

         v.       3              God Speaks to Foreign Unbelievers during the Age of Israel

         v.       4              Divine Guidance

         v.       4              A Summary Interpretation of Judges 5:4

         v.       5              The Parallel Passages

         v.       6              Matthew Henry’s List of What Israel’s Oppression Consisted Of

         v.       7              The Poetic Nature of Judges 5:7

         v.       8              Theories as to Why was Israel Unarmed

         v.      10              A Summary of the Doctrine of Sîyach

         v.      11              How is Châtsats Generally Translated?

         v.      12              What it Means When a Person is Told to Wake up or to Rise up

         v.      12              If Sisera’s Army is Destroyed, Who is Led Away Captive?

         v.      12              The Trip from Judges 5:12 to Ephesians 4:8

         v.      12              Who Sings What in Deborah’s Song?

         v.      12              Dr. Kennicott’s Division of Vocals

         v.      13              The Players Named in Judges 5:13

         v.      14              A List of Problems with the First Phrase of Judges 5:14

         V.      14              Various Commentators Explain Judges 5:14a

         v.      14              Douglas MacArthur on Citizen-Soldiers

         v.      14              A Map of Northern Israel

         v.      15              Hebrew Poetry (as Opposed to Prose)

         v.      17              A Summary of the Tribes who Failed

         v.      17              Other Commentators Discuss the Tribes who Did not Help

         v..     19              Israel’s War Against the Canaanites was not Completed in one Battle

         v.      19              A Summary of the Doctrine of Megiddo

         v.      20              The Stars Fight from HeavenVarious Interpretations

         v.      23              Where is Meroz? Various Theories

         v.      24              Why we Know God Blesses Jael

         v.      24              Geisler and Howe’s View of Jael

         v.      25              What Jael Served Sisera

         v.      25              The Circumstances behind Sisera Deserving to be Killed

         v.      27              The Chronology of Sisera’s Death

         v.      31a            God and His Enemies as found in the Psalms

         v.      31b            The Sun as found in Scripture

         v.      31b            Heathen Worship of the Sun as found in Scripture

         v.      31c             Summation of Judges 5 by New Analytical Chronicles

         v.      31c             A Complete Translation of Judges 5


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

The Hebrew Word Sîyach

Megiddo

Days

Angel of the Lord

 

 

 

 



I ntroduction: Judges 5 is a repeat of Judges 4, except from Deborah’s poetic point of view. You will recall that in the last chapter, my educated guess is that Deborah wrote most of it, although it is a tough call whether the final version was a result of exceptional editing on the part of someone like Samuel, or whether she wrote the entire chapter, inserting the standard language at the beginning. You will recall that the transition from the introduction to her experience was pretty much seamless. What we found in the book of Genesis were many generations of men who were examined, some closely, some just by family line. Throughout this book, we found the similar phrasing, And these are the generations of... Whether this was the work of an editor, who pieced this information together at a later date, or whether believers inspired by God the Holy Spirit, wrote these words in order to hold the book together, is a matter of debate (and, of course, there are other opinions).


Similarly, we have a pattern in this book. Israel sins, is placed under outside control; calls out to God, God hears, God sends them a deliverer, the deliverer saves them, the country has rest; and they fall into apostasy again. As we have discussed before, the language is very similar throughout—although not precisely so. We have the two most likely options: either a later editor, e.g., Samuel—pieced all of this together later, and included this language; or, believers, inspired by God the Holy Spirit, wrote these words—even following the pattern of what came before.


This chapter is somewhat of a parenthesis or an interlude to this pattern. However, there are things in this chapter which help to explain God’s view of what happened in the previous chapter. Recall, one of the great debates of the previous chapter is Jael—is she this lying, deceptive bitch who just happened to do God’s will; or is she a woman to be honored throughout history for her deeds?


In this chapter, Deborah and Barak sing, and it is reasonable to suppose that she wrote the song. Barak was fairly good at taking orders and he did have the ability to lead a large group of Israelites (which is no small feat); however, few of them probably realized that it was Deborah who was running the show. The writer of this song is quite clear—in v. 7, we have the use of the first person in reference to Deborah, so Deborah wrote this song.


There are several songs and psalms found within the narrative portions of Scripture listed below:

Psalms and Songs Scattered Throughout Scripture

Scripture

Author

Description

Ex. 15:1–19

Moses

God is victorious over Egypt and drowns the Egyptian army in the sea; the peoples of Canaan become fearful as the Jews draw near to them.

Ex. 15:21

Miriam

Miriam praises God for His destruction of the Egyptian army.

Deut. 32

Moses

God is a great and just God; Israel is unfaithful and God disciplines Israel; God’s compassion for a humbled Israel.

Deut. 33

Moses

Moses blesses the 12 tribes of Israel and then Israel as a whole.

Judges 5

Deborah

The victory of Israel over Canaan is celebrated in this song.

1Sam. 2:1–11

Hannah

Hannah praises God. The occasion is the birth of her son Samuel, when she believed herself to be barren.

2Sam. 22

David

This psalm celebrates God delivering David from his enemies and from Saul. God delivers and God avenges.

2Sam. 23:1–7

David

David’s last song; God’s covenant with Israel and with David.

Luke 1:46–55

Mary

God’s mercy in His provision of a Son through Mary.

Given that all of these psalms and songs express divine viewpoint, I think it would be reasonable to assume that what we find here is not simply a song which Deborah felt like she had to write, but a song which relatesGod’ viewpoint to us as well.


Return to Chapter Outline

Return to Charts, Maps and Short Doctrines


Now, Judges 5 is poetic, making it different all of the rest of the book of the Judges. Because it is poetic, we have to be careful about being too literal, and, at the same time, keep from being too out there. Let me give you a good explanation is to limitations. The analogy of Moses and Joshua and leading the children of Israel into the land and Jesus Christ being able to do what the Law cannot do, is a marvelous analogy. The events of the lives of Moses and Joshua are historical events; however, we have seen in many instances, God’s plan put into motion great historical events which shadowed His salvation which was to come (e.g., Abraham and the sacrificial offering of his son Isaac). However, to take the book of Joshua and start speaking about how the Israelites walking through the Jordan was a kind of baptism foretelling of the water baptism to come—that’s weird. People who celebrate baptism as some great central point of Christian doctrine are confused and often very legalistic, although they don’t realize it (and, many times, not even saved). That an analogy could be drawn? Certainly, I will grant anyone that. That the point of the analogy is the importance of water baptism? No, that misses the point entirely. God did not have Joshua cross over the Jordan so that we would be forever reminded how important water baptism is. He and the people of Israel crossed over dry-shod; they were not immersed. We as believers are all baptized into the body of Christ, and that is a real baptism, not a symbolic baptism, and there is no water involved. If we want to draw some analogies, then what we should compare are things which are important, like being baptized into Christ, rather than things which are divisive, symbolic and non-essential, like water baptism. Although this is not the time nor the place for it, at some time we will need to examine the doctrine of baptisms.


One of the negatives (to some people) about poetry, is that it will require a fully analysis of the original language than simple narrative would. There will be dozens of words which are found in this chapter and this chapter alone. At times, we can find some cognates in order to better determine the meaning; however, there are times we will have to make reasonable guesses (of course, based upon the work of Gesenius and BDB).


Once we have a reasonable translation, then we have to determine just what the heck does Deborah mean by that. Even though this will be tough sledding at times, particularly for those of you who grimace when we get into the Hebrew, let me reassure you that by the time we are done, you will understand almost every detail of this chapter. Furthermore, you will have a full, graphic description of what transpired when Sisera was killed.


There is also the interesting phenomenon of repetition in this chapter. That is, certain phrases will be repeated once or twice; or Deborah will make a slight change here or there, and repeat some words—words found nowhere else but in this chapter of Judges. These various eccentricities of the language here tell us a number of things: the author of the book of Judges did not write this psalm; it is possible that the person who wrote this psalm had a very regionalized language—that is, Deborah spoke in a slightly different fashion than most of the writers of Scripture. Finally, the language of this psalm gives great credence to the idea that this was written by a different author; and it also gives us great insight as to Jewish poetry.


The Bible is a hell of a long book. Sometimes, when reading through in some translation, done by the same handful of men, we don’t really notice a difference in style; however, we have a marked difference in style and vocabulary in this chapter which just jumps out at you in the Hebrew. One of the nice things about the Bible is, we do not find a repetitive style of writing throughout, but there are a variety of styles and approaches, which makes reading Scripture and exegeting it more entertaining. Had one man or a handful of men written the Bible, we would find it to be a very boring book indeed.


One of my own personal weaknesses as a teacher is that I have a tendency toward sarcasm. When I come across poetry like this, I feel somewhat vindicated, however. There are places in this chapter where Deborah will be extremely sarcastic and demeaning toward those tribes who did not participate in the war against the Canaanites. Now, there are a lot of things which are completely missed by the casual reader, and even by the careful exegete in this chapter. Poetry is difficult for anyone. When it comes to verses 15–16, Deborah is being bitingly sarcastic. However, I defy you to find commentary one which catches this and points it out.


Now, what might be important to bear in mind is that this is an epic poem which is not set in any sort of chronological order. Vv. 2–3 are somewhat of an introduction; vv. 4–5 looks back to God’s power as demonstrated on Mount Sinai; and vv. 6–11 give an overview of the entire campaign against Canaan. In this overview, we go from the life that Israel was forced to lead while under the thumb of the Canaanites (they were both disarmed and were subject to restricted movement). Although we do not have a clear proclamation of victory, Deborah, the author, praises those who volunteered to fight and indicates in vv. 10–11 that a great debt is owed those who fought for the freedom of Israel. Then, in vv. 13–18, Deborah speaks of those who participated and those who did not participate in the war against the Canaanites (this would really be subsequent to the battle against Sisera). Then she goes back in time and speaks specifically of the battle against Sisera, the assassination of Sisera, and the pining away of Sisera’s mother for him (vv. 19–30). In other words, there is very little concept of chronology in this epic poem.


Let me add in an outline here from another exegete:

Matthew Henry’s Outline of Judges 5

I. It begins with praise to God (Judges 5:2–3).

II. The substance of this song transmits the memory of this great achievement.

1. Comparing God's appearances for them on this occasion with his appearances to them on Mount Sinai (Judges 5:4–5).

2. Magnifying their deliverance from the consideration of the calamitous condition they had been in (Judges 5:6–8).

3. Calling those to join in praise that shared in the benefits of the success (Judges 5:9–13).

4. Reflecting honour upon those tribes that were forward and active in that war, and disgrace on those that declined the service (Judges 5:14–19, Judges 5:23).

5. Taking notice how God himself fought for them (Judges 5:20–22).

6. Celebrating particularly the honour of Jael, that slew Sisera, on which head the song is very large (Judges 5:24–30).

III.     It concludes with a prayer to God (Judges 5:31). Footnote

It is kind of interesting how outlines can vary so much.

Return to Chapter Outline

Charts, Maps and Short Doctrines

Keil and Delitzsch essentially set up somewhat of an outline, which I will duplicate with an appropriate change of form:

Keil and Delitzsch’s Outline of Judges 5

I.       Introduction: a general summons to praise the Lord for the courage with which the people rose up to right against their foes (vv. 1–2)

II.      Deborah the singer dilates in the first section (vv. 3–12)

         A.      Glorious times when Israel was exalted to be the nation of the Lord (vv. 3–5)

         B.      The disgraceful decline of the nation in the more recent times (vv. 6–8)

         C.     The joyful turn of affairs which followed her appearance (vv. 9–11)

III.     A lively picture of conflict and victory (vv. 12–21)

         A.      A fresh summons to rejoice in their victory (v. 12)

         B.      The mighty gathering of the brave to battle (vv. 13–15a)

         C.     The cowardice of those who stayed away from the battle and the bravery with which the braver warriors risked their lives in the battle (vv. 15b–18)

         D.     The successful result of the conflict (vv. 19–21)

IV.     An account of the glorious issue of the battle and the victory (vv. 22–31)

         A.      A brief notice of the flight and pursuit of the for (vv. 22–24)

         B.      A commemoration of the slaying of Sisera by Jael (vv. 24–27)

         C.     A scornful description of the disappointment of Sisera’s mother, who was counting upon a large arrival of booty Footnote (vv. 28–30).

         D.     This song then closes with the hope, founded upon this victory, that all the enemies of the Lord might perish, and Israel increase in strength (v. 31). Footnote

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Charts, Maps and Short Doctrines


Introduction/Recipients of Psalm


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so sang Deborah and Barak ben Abinoam in the day the that, to say:

Judges

5:1

So Deborah and Barak ben Abinoam sang, in that day, saying:

So, in that day, Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, sang:


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so sang Deborah and Barak ben Abinoam in the day the that, to say:...

Septuagint                              And Debbora and Barac son of Abineem sang in that day, saying,...

 

Significant differences:           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       After the battle was over that day, Deborah and Barak sang this song: ...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         On that day Deborah and Barak, son of Abinoam, sang this song: ...

HCSB                                     On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang: ...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day: ...

Young’s Updated LT             And Deborah sings—also Barak son of Abinoam—on that day, saying:.


What is the gist of this verse? Deborah and Barak both sing the following song.


Judges 5:1

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shîyr (רי ̣ש) [pronounced sheer]

to sing

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7891 BDB #1010

Debôwrâh (הָרב ׃) [pronounced deb-voh-RAW],

bee; transliterated Deborah

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #1683 BDB #184

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Bârâq (ק ָרָ) [pronounced baw-RAWK]

lightening, lightening flash; transliterated Barak

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #1301 BDB #140

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Ăbîynô׳am (ם-עֹני.בֲא) [pronounced ub-vee-noh-ĢAHM]

my father is a delight; father of pleasantness; transliterated Abinoam

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #42 BDB #4

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

day; time; today (with a definite article)

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

hûw (אה) [pronounced hoo]

that, this

masculine singular, demonstrative pronoun (with the definite article)

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

The bêyth preposition, yôwm and hûw (with definite articles) mean in that day, on that day, in [on] the same day.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

 

Translation: So Deborah and Barak ben Abinoam sang, in that day, saying: ... The first verb is the Qal imperfect of shîyr (רי ̣ש) [pronounced sheer], which means to sing. We first encountered this verb when Moses and the sons of Israel sang a victory song to Jehovah in Ex. 15:1. We will find it many times throughout the psalms (e.g., Psalm 7:title 13:6 33:3 21:13), as well as scattered throughout the Old Testament (1Sam. 18:6 1Chron. 16:9 Eccles. 2:8 Isa. 5:1). We’ll cover this in greater detail when we get to Psalm 144 (to be studied while we are in 1Sam. 18).


First thing, in that day does not refer to the day of the battle between Barak and Sisera. Don’t forget that in between that battle and this verse came Judges 4:31, which read: And the hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier on Jabin, king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, the king of Canaan. In other words, the last battle was not between Barak and Sisera, but the war continued between Jabin and Israel, with Israel as the eventual victor. Furthermore, when the war between Jabin and Israel continued, many of the tribes of Israel began to join in. The phrase in that day does not refer to a particular day (although it did occur on a particular day), but at a particular period of time when victory over Jabin and the Canaanites had been achieved. Then a song of celebration was in order. We are not given any time frame over which this took place. It could have been a relatively short period of time, lasting less than a year following the battle between Barak and Sisera.


In the Bible, the word day does not always refer to a 24 hour period of time. In the Gen. 1, there, one day referred to a 24 hour period of time (Gen. 1:5, 7). However, the phrase, The Day of the Lord refers to the 7 years of the tribulation and the millennium, which a total of 1007 years (Isa. 2:12 13:6 Joel 2:1). The day of salvation refers to the period of time during which we are saved, which is instantaneous (2Cor. 6:2). In other words, a day can be longer or shorter than 24 hours, or it can be precisely 24 hours. For more detail, refer back to the Doctrine of Days—from Gen. 1:5. In this particular context, this song was written and sung either after victory had been secured against the Canaanites or when such victory had been assured (which could have been soon after the defeat of Sisera). The participation of the other tribes indicates that this was written after the battle in Judges 4, bu tnot immediately after. The emphasis on the defeat of Sisera in particular indicates that was the turning point in this struggle between Israel and the Canaanites.

 

Keil and Delitzsch: The historical introduction...takes the place of a heading, and does not mean that the song of Deborah and Barak which follows was composed by them jointly; but simply that it was sung by them together, in commemoration of the victory [which they together affected]. The poetess or writer of the song, according to Judges 5:3, 7, 12, was Deborah. Footnote


In a letting loose of those who let loose in Israel;

in a free volunteering of people;

bless Yehowah.

Judges

5:2

When [there is] a cutting loose of those who cut loose [or, when there is vengeance cut loose by military types] in Israel;

when [there is] a free volunteering of the people;

bless Yehowah.

During a time when those who vowed in Israel to avenge, when the people volunteered.

Blessed is Jehovah.


And now I remember why I stopped exegeting the book of Job. It was a royal pain in the neck. Poetry in the Hebrew is much more difficult to work with that prose, and I suspect that in this chapter, you will see a lot of different translations as we attempt to zero in on what has actually been said.


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          O you of Israel, that have willingly offered your lives to danger, bless the Lord.

Masoretic Text                       In a letting loose of those who let loose in Israel; in a free volunteering of people;

Peshitta                                  With requital has Israel been avenged; praise the Lord with a song for avenging Israel.

Septuagint                              A revelation was made in Israel when the people were made willing: Praise ye the Lord.

 

Significant differences:           The Hebrew is rather difficult, and I believe the translators of the LXX gave it their best guess. The Peshitta seems only barely similar here, and the Vulgate only slightly more so.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       We praise you, LORD! Our soldiers volunteered, ready to follow you.

NAB                                       Of chiefs who took the lead in Israel, of noble deeds by the people who bless the Lord.

NJB                                        That the warriors in Israel unbound their hair, that the people came forward with a will, bless Yahweh!

NWT                                      For letting the hair hang loose in Israel for war, For the people’s volunteering, Bless Jehovah.

REB                                       For the leaders, the leaders in Israel, for the people who answered the call, bless the Lord. [or, in the alternative: ‘For those who had flowing locks in Israel, for the people who answered the call, bless the Lord.’]

NLT                                        “When Israel’s leaders take charge,

and the people gladly follow—

bless the Lord!

TEV                                        Praise the Lord! The Israelites were determined to fight; the people gladly volunteered.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Praise the LORD! Men in Israel vowed to fight, and people volunteered for service.

HCSB                                     When the leaders lead in Israel, when the people volunteer, praise the LORD.

JPS (Tanakh)                         When [In many parts of this poem the meaning is uncertain] locks go untrimmed [Apparently an expression of dedication; compare Num. 6:5] in Israel,

When people dedicate themselves—

Bless the Lord!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Emphasized Bible           For the leadership of leaders in Israel, For the volunteering of the people, Bless ye Yahweh!

Edersheim                              For the loose flowing of the long hair, For the free dedication of the people, Praise ye Jehovah!

LTHB                                     For the loosing of locks of hair in Israel; for the willing offering of the people, bless Jehovah!

MKJV                                     Praise Jehovah for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

NASB                                     That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the Lord!

NKJV (alternate reading)       When locks Footnote are loosed in Israel, When the people volunteer themselves, Bless the Lord!

Owen's Translation                That the leaders took the lead in Israel; that offered themselves willingly the people; bless Yahweh.

NRSV                                     “When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly—bless the Lord.” [or, in the alternative: “When locks are long in Israel, you who offer yourselves willingly among the people, bless the Lord.”]

Robinson                                “Praise ye Jehovah; for the free are freed in Israel--the people have willingly offered themselves"

Thieme                                   When the strong showed themselves strong in Israel, when the people volunteered, [you] bless the Lord.

WEB                             Because the leaders took the lead in Israel, because the people offered themselves willingly, be blessed, Yahweh!

Young’s Updated LT             “For freeing freemen in Israel, For a people willingly offering themselves. Bless you Jehovah.


When you see this many translations, then you know that something is up; in this case, we have a number of difficulties with the translation of several words in this verse.


What is the gist of this verse? Because Israel is willing to fight, Jehovah is blessed.


Judges 5:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88qic

pâra׳ (עַרָ) [pronounced paw-RAHĢ]

to let go, to let loose, to let alone

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #6544 BDB #828

This verb appears to have a plethora of meanings:

1) to let go of, to let loose of in the sense of to remove, to take off, to uncover;

2) to let go of, to unleash [vengeance];

3) to let go of, to take [from oneself] [learning, counsel, doctrine];

4) to let go of, to let loose [of someone]; to let the reins loose; to unbridle; to become lawless, unrestrained.

To be quite frank with you, I am not completely happy with this set of definitions which I have put together; however, I find it to be a superior handling of this verb than I find in Gesenius or in BDB.

perâ׳ôth (תעָר ׃) [pronounced peraw-ĢOATH]

long-haired leaders; warriors [with shaved heads]; military types

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #6546 BDB #828

The difficulty of this word is related to the difficulty of understanding the verb above (from which it is derived). We may be reasonably certain that this refers to military types, leaders, warriors; as pharaoh is derived from the same root verb. The word for pharaoh was probably the original word; but, since the Pharaoh of Egypt let the Israelites go, a verb was possibly constructed in the common vernacular, so that one might say He pharaoh-ed me; i.e., he let me go; or, he pharaoh-ed my hair; i.e., he let go of [cut] my hair. A vow might be taken by soldiers to not cut one’s hair; or to begin with one’s head shaved (as is done in our military); the word to represent these men who were military types would be perâ׳ôwth, which had the connotation of the removing of one’s hair for military service; and at the same time, infer that the rank of such of one was similar to the ranking of pharaoh.

This is, to be sure, all conjecture; however, it is just as reasonable if not more so than anything which I have read in BDB or in Gesenius.

The infinitive construct, when combined with the bêyth preposition, can often take on a temporal meaning and may be rendered when [such and such happens]. It can serve as a temporal marker that denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb.

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88qic

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: When [there is] a cutting loose of those who cut loose [or, when there is vengeance cut loose by military types] in Israel;... The verb here has four primary meanings, which must be determined according to the context: 1) to let go of, to let loose of in the sense of to remove, to take off, to uncover; 2) to let go of, to unleash [vengeance]; 3) to let go of, to take [from oneself] [learning, counsel, doctrine]; 4) to let go of, to let loose [of someone]; to let the reins loose; to unbridle; to become lawless, unrestrained. Given the context, only the second option makes any sense.


Following this word, we have the masculine Footnote plural of its noun cognate, and this word is found only here and in Deut. 32:42. Now, there is another cognate, the word for locks (as in locks of hair), found in Num. 6:5 Ezek. 44:20. One explanation found in BDB, Footnote was that there would be a vow taken by the soldiers, when in war, not to cut their hair. I prefer to think that the men involved were degenerate and one of the exterior signs of degeneracy was their long-hair (1Cor. 11:14). In the book of Judges, we are either dealing with men who have made a vow not to cut their hair until victory has been achieved, or with men who have cut all of their hair off (i.e., they let loose of their locks) as a sign of going to war. In my opinion, it is the latter. So, what I’ve got so far is: In a letting loose of those who let loose in Israel... The NRSV reads: “When locks are long in Israel...” The NJB reads: That the warriors in Israel unbound their hair. It is possible that we are dealing with something akin to the Nazarite vow here as well (a Nazarite was not to cut his hair).


Judges 5:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88qic

nâdab (בַדָנ) [pronounced naw-DAHBv]

(without an object): to volunteer [oneself], to be willing to, to offer oneself freely; (with an object) to willingly offer, to give generously [spontaneously, willingly]; to offer up

Hithpael infinitive construct

Strong’s #5068 BDB #621

The infinitive construct, when combined with the bêyth preposition, can often take on a temporal meaning and may be rendered when [such and such happens]. It can serve as a temporal marker that denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb.

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766


Translation: ...when [there is] a free volunteering of the people;... BDB gives several meanings of the verb here; among them to incite, impel, volunteer, to offer free-will offerings. Without a direct object, we could probably render this as freely volunteer. In other words, these men were not drafted; no one had to talk them into volunteering to fight the Canaanites. They appeared of their own volition on behalf of the entire nation Israel. The bêyth preposition and an infinitive construct together may be rendered as a temporal clause; i.e., the bêyth can be reasonably rendered when.


I was raised during a strong anti-war movement (during the Vietnam War) and during the time of the Jesus freaks, where Christianity was presented to some as a hip, counter-culture approach to life; like Jesus, a long-haired hippy who wandered around peacefully in sandals. We find this throughout the history of Christianity; Christianity is made palpable to the hoi polloi by incorporating some popular culture into the doctrine. This is how we got our Christmas and Easter traditions, as a matter of fact.


The Bible presents an entirely different viewpoint. What you cannot find in Scripture is an anti-war stance, or any of this hippie view of peace and love. Here, men are praised for going to war; those who do not volunteer are cursed (Judges 5:23). We find this again and again in the Old Testament. In the New, when Jesus spoke to a Roman centurion, He did not tell the man to “Lay down your weapons, and follow Me.” What Jesus did say was, “I have not found such a great faith in all Israel.” Over and over again, Paul and Peter had run-in’s with the Roman government; not one time do they cite civil disobedience as the Christian approach (except when it came to evangelizing and teaching God’s Word, and there, “we ought to obey God and not man”). Now, you may not like this, but it is divine viewpoint. This is the way God sees things, which is quite different from the way that we see things. I was brought up to admire Gandhi and his non-violent approach to removing the British from India; however, India fell into great lawlessness and bloodshed as a result of Gandhi’s actions. When I was raised, I only got half of the story. So, the point of view that we find in Scripture is 180° out of sync with the way I was brought up. I had to get over it.


Application: Today, as I write this (September 2006), we have the phenomenon of suicide bombers and radical Islamic fanatics. There are many in our culture who want to take the same approach: you reason with these men, and, when reasoning fails, you take some sort of economic sanctions against them, until they are so uncomfortable that they are won over to our western ways. This is pure, unadulterated foolishness! These men are our godless enemies. They seek to kill us in any way possible. They raise their children from the youngest age to aspire to kill us and to destroy freedom and democracy. Their hatred of us and of Jesus Christ is so deeply engrained in their souls that they would kill themselves if they knew that they could take with them dozen or more English speaking men, women or children. If they take out a military target, that is fine; but they are just as comfortable taking out non-military targets—in fact, more so. Non-military targets tend to have a lot less security attached to them. All of the western world is anathema to them. There is no approach that we can take to these kind of fanatics apart from force, that will work. We cannot reason with them; we cannot levy sanctions against them. A few years ago, in the middle of summer, a bee flew into my car with me. I stepped out, closed the door, and determined that, a exceptionally hot car is going to teach this bee not to fly into cars. These were my sanctions against this bee. A few hours later, when I stepped into the car, the bee stung me—immediately. Sanctions did not work against this bee.


Application: The culture and beliefs of Islamic fascists does not mean that we should round up Muslims wherever we can find them, and haul them off to jail, shoot them, or otherwise persecute them. Like Christianity, the Muslim religion is multi-faceted. One cannot lump them altogether as Islamic fascists, because that is just plain wrong. However, setting up battle fronts against them throughout the world is reasonable and intelligent. Our CIA should be doing everything it can to infiltrate mosques here in the United States with right thinking, eastern types, under deep cover—to uncover those within our borders whose mind-set and intentions are the same.


Judges 5:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bârake (ַרָ) [pronounced baw-RAHKe]

invoke God, praise, celebrate, bless [God]; bless [men], invoke blessings; to bless [as God or man] and therefore cause to prosper or make happy; salute anyone [with a blessing]; curse

2nd person masculine singular, Piel imperative

Strong’s #1288 BDB #138

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: ...bless Yehowah. The very last line has the 2nd person masculine singular, Piel imperative of the word to bless; we are ordered to bless Jehovah. This was mentioned in Deut. 8:10, but it bears mentioning again. When the word bless is presented in Scripture and in churches, it is too often this vague religious term of little meaning. That is, if you cannot express what it is that it actually means, then it doesn't mean anything to you. When man blesses God, man recognizes that God has provided him with what he has received. Blessing, in this case, is gratitude and recognition of God's provision which comes out of God's character. When we say a blessing at meal time, ideally, this is what we are doing. When God blesses us, He is providing us with prosperity which overflows from His perfect character. When we bless other men, we are asking for God to give them His blessings—His prosperity and grace.


Now pull this together with what has come before: we are called upon to bless Jehovah because Israelites have volunteered to enter into a military action against the Canaanites.


Application: Don’t get out of control when it comes to understanding God’s relationship to the military. This does not mean that the military is the correct approach to each and every situation. Furthermore, given that we have an all-volunteer army, we can only fight on so many fronts. However, what we have done in the Middle East during this time period is brilliant. We are facing one nation which may develop nuclear capabilities in the near future (Iran); we have terrorist training grounds in a number of different Middle Eastern countries; so we need our troops in the Mideast. We need strong allies in the Mideast.


Application: I know I might seem like I am getting far too political here, and, to some extent, I am. Let’s clarify the situation. The only true solution is spiritual. As a nation, we must do certain things in order to protect ourselves, and these are honorable and Biblically sanctioned. However, our biggest mistake in both Afghanistan and Iraq is not insisting upon their adopting a Bill of Rights similar to our Bill of Rights. We should require them to allow freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The people there need the ability to choose Jesus Christ as their Savior. They should not have to hide their faith; and they should not have to face persecution for believing in Jesus Christ. We should be able to send missionaries over there. Apart from a spiritual revival, all we are doing is standing with the finger in the dyke. The military can provide, at best, a temporary solution; faith in Jesus Christ can provide a permanent solution.


Listen, O kings, give ear, O princes,

I to Yehowah, I will sing;

I will make music [in praise of God] to Yehowah, God of Israel.

Judges

5:3

Listen, O kings [and] give ear, O princes:

I—even I—will sing to [or, with regards to] Yehowah;

I will make a melody to [or, with regards to] [or, I will make music in praise of] Yehowah, the God of Israel:...

Kings, listen to me, and princes, pay attention to me;

I will sing to Jehovah; I will make music to Jehovah, the God of Israel:...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Listen, O kings, give ear, O princes,

I to Yehowah, I will sing;

Septuagint                              Hear [this], you kings, and listen [carefully] you rulers: I will sing, it is I who will sing to the Lord, it is I, I will sing a psalm to the Lord the God of Israel.

 

Significant differences:           There is some interpretation and shifting of the order of the words; however, there are no significant differences between the Greek and Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Listen, kings and rulers, while I sing for the LORD, the God of Israel.

NLT                                        “Listen, you kings!

Pay attention, you mighty rulers!

For I will sing to the Lord.

I will lift up my song to the Lord, the God of Israel.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Listen, you kings! Open your ears, you princes! I will sing a song to the LORD. I will make music to the LORD God of Israel.

HCSB                                     Listen, kings! Pay attention, princes! I will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

JPS (Tanakh)                         Hear, O kings! Give ear, O potentates!

I will sing, will sing to the Lord,

Will hymn the Lord, the God of Israel.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

LTHB                                     Listen, O kings; give ear, O princes. I, even I, will sing to Jehovah; I will sing praise to Jehovah the God of Israel.

Young’s Updated LT             Hear, you kings; give ear, you princes, I, to Jehovah, I—I do sing, I sing praise to Jehovah, God of Israel.


What is the gist of this verse? Deborah asks for kings and princes to listen to her as she sings praises to Jehovah, the God of Israel.


Now, in reading this verse apart from the other verses, This verse appears to be what is said prior to the song itself. However, the poetic alliteration of the previous verse indicates that we are already into the song and that this verse is simply a part of it. In fact, we have precedent and subsequent substantiation for this sort of verse found early in a song (see Ex. 15:1 Deut. 32:1 Psalm 27:6b–7a).


Judges 5:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

listen [intently], hear, listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], hearken to, be attentive to, listen and be cognizant of

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572


Translation: Listen, O kings... There were no kings in Israel at this time—Deborah was singing this, as it were, to the heathen nations, in glory to God. Footnote Essentially, she is evangelizing the heathen nations who will hear this psalm.


Judges 5:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âzan (ןַזָא) [pronounced aw-ZAHN]

to broaden out the ear with the hand in order to hear; give ear and answer; to listen and obey; to listen; to weigh

2nd person masculine plural, Hiphil imperative

Strong’s #238 BDB #24

râzan (ן-זָר) [pronounced raw-ZAHN]

to be weighty, to be judicious, to be commanding; princes, rulers [in the participle]

masculine plural, Qal active participle

Strong's #7336 BDB #931

This word is only found as a participle.


Translation: ...[and] give ear, O princes:... Again, there are no princes in Israel; the intent is that this psalm be sung throughout the surrounding lands, and that heathen from all around hear what God, through Deborah, has to say to them.


Some have suggested that this is addressed to the kings and princes of the Canaanites, but many of them died in this war between Israel and the Canaanites. Furthermore, bear in mind, this is an evangelical song; not a nyah, nyah, we kicked your butts psalm. There are imprecatory songs and psalms, where the writer asks that God deal with those who are evil; but, I don’t recall any psalms where the writer later rubs salt in the wound after the fact.


God uses Israel as a missionary of sorts during the Jewish Age; therefore, we would expect to find certain psalms and songs addressed to the surrounding unbelievers.

God Speaks to Foreign Unbelievers during the Age of Israel

Scripture

Quotation/Explanation

Deut. 32:1–4

Listen, heaven, and I will speak.

Earth, hear the words from my mouth.

Let my teachings come down like raindrops.

Let my words drip like dew, like gentle rain on grass, like showers on green plants.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Give our God the greatness he deserves!

He is a rock. What he does is perfect. All his ways are fair.

He is a faithful God, who does no wrong. He is honorable and reliable.

Moses proclaims to all the earth the faithfulness and honor of Jehovah God, the Rock of Israel.

Psalm 2:10–12

Now, you kings, act wisely. Be warned, you rulers of the earth!

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, or he will become angry and you will die on your way because his anger will burst into flames. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him.

David here makes it clear that, even though Jehovah is the God of Israel, He is the God of all mankind.

Psalm 49:1–9

Listen to this, all you people.

Open your ears, all who live in the world-—common people and important ones, rich people and poor ones.

My mouth will speak wise sayings, the insights I have carefully considered.

I will turn my attention to a proverb. I will explain my riddle with the music of a lyre.

Why should I be afraid in times of trouble, when slanderers surround me with evil?

They trust their riches and brag about their abundant wealth.

No one can ever buy back another person or pay God a ransom for his life.

The price to be paid for his soul is too costly. He must always give up in order to live forever and never see the pit.

This is exactly what we would expect to hear directed to the unbeliever; you are unable to pay the necessary ransom for your own soul; the price is too high. The message is, do not trust in your own riches; trust in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 119:46–50

I will speak about your written instructions in the presence of kings and not feel ashamed.

Your commandments, which I love, make me happy.

I lift my hands in prayer because of your commandments, which I love. I will reflect on Your laws.

Remember the word You gave me. Through it You gave me hope.

This is my comfort in my misery: Your promise gave me a new life.

Note how evangelical this is: Your promise gave me a new life. When heathen are addressed, evangelism is the focus.

Psalm 138:4–8

All the kings of the earth will give thanks to you, O LORD, because they have heard the promises you spoke.

They will sing this about the ways of the LORD: "The LORD'S honor is great!"

Even though the LORD is high above, he sees humble people close up, and he recognizes arrogant people from a distance.

Even though I walk into the middle of trouble, you guard my life against the anger of my enemies. You stretch out your hand, and your right hand saves me.

The LORD will do everything for me. O LORD, your mercy endures forever. Do not let go of what your hands have made.

This tells us that, at some point, all the kings of the earth will give thanks to Jehovah God. They can depend upon His promises and they can depend upon His integrity.

A song or a psalm has a better chance of reaching heathen populations than does simple text. Thoughout our own history as a nation, we have had songs which began in one small geographical location and spread throughout the land because the words and music appealed to so many. God the Holy Spirit would speak through His Word to men in other lands by these songs, which proclaimed the power, faithfulness, integrity and mercy of Jehovah, God of Israel.


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Judges 5:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ânôkîy (י.כֹנָא) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

ânôkîy (י.כֹנָא) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

shîyr (רי ̣ש) [pronounced sheer]

to sing

1st person singular, Qal imperfect; with the Voluntative hê

Strong’s #7891 BDB #1010

The hê at the end is called a voluntative hê and the verb itself is known as a cohortative and is often translated with the additional word let, may, might, ought, should.


Translation: ...I—even I—will sing to [or, with regards to] Yehowah,... This portion of v. 3 could read I—even I—will sing to Jehovah; or, I—even I—will sing with regards to Jehovah. If it is the former, we would have expected the preposition unto, which indicates respect or deference. In the latter case, Deborah is asking heathen kings and princes to listen, as she will sing with regards to Jehovah. She is going to tell them about Jehovah. She does not use the term for the Godhead, Elohim; she uses the specific name of each member of the Godhead (although, that there is a Godhead has only been hinted about previously). In any case, the name Jehovah identifies the specific God of Israel; not just God as a concept and not just the idea of a God, but of a God Who is above all other gods, and Who has chosen to work in, through and by the nation Israel.


Judges 5:3d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

zâmar (ר ַמָז) [pronounced zaw-MAHR]

to sing; to make music in praise of God, to make melody; properly to cut off (i.e., to divide up [a song] into its various parts)

1st person singular, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #2167 & #2168 BDB #274

This verb is a synonym for the previous verb, but it has additional meanings. Edersheim suggests that this involves the accompaniment of a musical instrument.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural construct

Strong's #430 BDB #43

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: ...I will make a melody to [or, with regards to] [or, I will make music in praise of] Yehowah, the God of Israel. The phrase God of Israel should not be ignored; the Bible has always presented a very specific God, with a specific identity and specific characteristics. During the Age of Israel, God worked primarily through the nation Israel. This does not mean that there was not evangelization far outside the nation Israel—it is possible that the book of Job found its way to heathen far from Israel. What we know, is God did deal with Israel and the nations which came into contact with Israel. That relationship is so powerful, that huge numbers of Arabs despair over the nation Israel—a nation that is a mere spec in the Arab world—and see the Jews as the cause of many, if not all, their ills. Their unreasonable hatred is a testimony to God and God’s working through Israel.


I believe that the gist of this verse is, Deborah is singing to the kings and princes of the surrounding heathen, and that she is singing to them about Jesus Christ, the God of Israel; and that her song praises Jesus Christ, the God of Israel.


A case could be made, however, for this psalm to be addressed to God, as God is spoken to directly in the next verse. What I think is the case is, this tiny preposition, affixed to the noun Elohim, acts in both ways. To the heathen, Deborah speaks of the God of Israel; and in this psalm, she speaks directly to God.


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God’s Power in Israel’s March is Made Manifest at the Battle of Barak and Sisera

Psalm 68:7–9 Habakkuk 3:3–16


After sitting in one place for 38½ years, Footnote Israel began to march into the Land of Promise through Edom and northward on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. This followed Israel’s initial march out of Egypt to Mount Sinai, and then to the southern border of the Land of Promise. These two marches, and God’s power manifest at that time, are seen as a whole here, and are also reviewed in Psalm 68 and (of all places) Habak. 3.


Yehowah, in a going forth from Seir

in Your marching from a region of Edom,

[the] ground quaked

furthermore, [the] heavens dripped;

yea, clouds dropped water.

Judges

5:4

Yehowah, when You went forth from Seir,

when You marched from the region of Edom,

the ground quaked;

moreover, the heavens dripped;

yea, clouds dropped water.

Jehovah, when You went out from Seir and when You march out of the region of Edom,

the ground quaked and the heavens began to rain;

in fact, the clouds poured down rain.



Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Yehowah, in a going forth from Seir

in Your marching from a region of Edom, [the] ground quaked

furthermore, [the] heavens dripped;

yea, clouds dropped water.

Septuagint                              O Lord, in your going forth on Seir, when you went forth out of the land of Edom, the earth quaked and the heaven dropped dews, and the clouds dropped water.

 

Significant differences:           No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Our LORD, God of Israel, when you came from Seir, where the Edomites live,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         O LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the country of Edom, the earth quaked, the sky poured, the clouds burst,...

HCSB                                     LORD, when You came from Seir, when You marched from the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens poured rain, the clouds poured water.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       "LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water.

MKJV                                     Jehovah, when You went out of Seir, when You marched out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

Young’s Updated LT             Jehovah, in Your going forth out of Seir, In Your stepping out of the field of Edom, Earth trembled, also the heavens dropped, Also thick clouds dropped water.


What is the gist of this verse? Deborah is setting up an analogous situation—God’s great power revealed as Israel marched from Egypt to the Land of Promise. Here, we begin where Israel began to march again, from Edom.


It is in this verse where we begin to get an idea as to what exactly happened which allowed Israel to win the battle against Sisera and all of his chariots. What Deborah gives us here is verification of God’s power in relation to the elements. She will first establish God’s power, and then later incorporate it into her song.


Judges 5:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

The infinitive construct, when combined with the bêyth preposition, can often take on a temporal meaning and may be rendered when [such and such happens]. It can serve as a temporal marker that denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb.

yâtsâ (אָצָי) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go out, to come out, to come forth; to rise; to flow, to gush up [out]

Qal infinitive construct with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

Sê׳îyr (רי.ע ̤) [pronounced say-ĢEER]

hairy, shaggy; transliterated Seir

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #8165 BDB #973


Translation: Yehowah, when You went forth from Seir,... Deborah begins with Seir, when the Jews began to develop some forward momentum again.

 

Easton tells us that Seir is the name of a mountainous region occupied by the Edomites, extending along the eastern side of the Arabah from the south-eastern extremity of the Dead Sea to near the Akabah, or the eastern branch of the Red Sea. Footnote Fausset tells us that Seir is probably more of a title or a descriptive name, rather than the proper name for this mountain region. Footnote


Let’s get a little background here. Israel marches from Egypt to the Land of Promise, stopping first at Mount Sinai; later at the southern border of the Land of Promise; apparently remains in the southern desert for 38½ years; and then begins their march again, heading toward Edom this time and traveling northward on the east side of the Dead Sea. In other words, we are actually viewing 2 marches, with one stop. During this time, God manifests Himself in raining upon the desert and by the quaking of the earth. In the Pentateuch narrative, interestingly enough, we see references to the quaking of the earth (at the foot of Mount Sinai), but I do not recall any references to heavy rainstorms. However, bear in mind that we have as many as 2,000,000 Jews in the desert, so something must have occurred in order to provide them with water. Also, interestingly enough, whereas, we might be willing to dismiss the references herein to rainstorms, we find them mentioned again in Psalm 68:9 and Habak. 3:9–10, 15.


Judges 5:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88qic

tsâ׳ad (ד-עָצ) [pronounced tzaw-ĢAHD]

to step, to march; to mount up

Qal infinitive construct with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #6805 BDB #857

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

sâdeh (ה∵דָ) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, country, open field, open country

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961

Ědôwm (םד ֱא) [pronounced eh-DOHM]; also Ědôm (םֹד ֱא) [pronounced eh-DOHM

reddish; and is transliterated Edom, Edomites

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #123 BDB #10


Translation: ...when You marched from the region of Edom,... Seir, as mentioned, is associated with Edom (Gen. 36:9) and the Edomites. The Edomites are descended from Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. God had already told Israel not to try to displace the Edomites: Deut. 2:4–6 (these would have been given prior to Deut. 2): “Give the people these instructions: 'You're going to pass through the territory of your relatives, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They'll be afraid of you, but be very careful. Don't start a fight with them, because I'm not giving you any of their land-not even enough to stand on. I've given Esau's descendants the region of Mount Seir as their property. You must pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.' ”


Judges 5:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

erets (ץ ר א) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land, ground, soil

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75

râ׳ash (ש-עָר) [pronounced raw-ĢAHSH]

to quake, to tremble, to shake; to be moved [shaken]

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect; pausal form

Strong’s #7493 BDB #950


Translation: ...the ground quaked;... One of the negative aspects of breaking the Bible into verses is, we associate the earth quaking and the rain of this verse with Seir in Edom; because, quite obviously, they are all in the same verse. However, we do not have an historical record of this occurring in Edom. This is not to say that it did not occur; but we simply don’t have a record of it. On the other hand, we do have indications of seismic events when Israel was in Sinai and God met Moses on Mount Sinai. Sinai will be mentioned in the next verse.


Judges 5:4d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

gam (ם ַ) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

shâmayîm (ם̣י ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAH-yim]

heavens, skies

masculine dual noun

Strong’s #8064 BDB #1029

nâţaph (ף-טָנ) [pronounced naw-TAHF]

to drop, to fall in drops, to drip

3rd person plural, Qal perfect; pausal form

Strong’s #5197 BDB #642


Translation: ...moreover, the heavens dripped;... The psalmist David recognized God’s power in the storms as well, and he seems to have taken from this passage when he wrote: O God, who You went before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness (Selah); Then earth quaked, the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God. Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed You inheritance when it was parched (Psalm 68:7–9). When we get to Sinai, we will try to pull all of this together.


Judges 5:4e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

gam (ם ַ) [pronounced gahm]

both...and, furthermore...as well as, also...also, that...so; either...or (but not used disjunctively)

when gam is repeated

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

Since this is poetry, it is possible that the primary meaning of gam (also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover) is what should be understood here.

׳âb (בָע) [pronounced ģawbv]

cloud, dark cloud, cloud-mass, darkness [caused by an overcast sky]; a dark thicket [of woods]

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #5645 BDB #728

Spelled the same as Strong’s #5646 BDB #712, which is an architectural term that possibly means threshold, steps [up to a porch]; landing; pitched roof.

nâţaph (ף-טָנ) [pronounced naw-TAHF]

to drop, to fall in drops, to drip

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #5197 BDB #642

mayim (ם̣יַמ) [pronounced MAH-yim]

water, waters

masculine plural noun; pausal form

Strong's #4325 BDB #565


Translation: ...yea, clouds dropped water. You will note the poetic imagery here, even though it can be all taken literally. We speak first of the land, then of the heavens, and then of what is between them, the clouds. Poetic images does not mean that this is not to be literally understood. If this song had the line, and Barak’s army came like a fierce storm, we would not interpret this passage in the same way; we would realize that storm is being used metaphorically. However, here, we are looking back on literal events which occurred—while Israel was in Sinai, as Israel marched on from Edom, there were earthquakes and there were rainstorms, even in desert areas where rainstorms did not generally occur.


So, what does this mean? Why does Deborah begin talking about literal earthquakes and literal rainstorms? This is because she is going to describe a battle between Barak and Sisera, and she wants to make it clear that Barak’s army was not like a rainstorm, but that there apparently was a sudden and intense rainstorm, the result of God’s power. This happens in the battle between Barak and Sisera, and it is the result of God’s power, much like previous events in Israel’s history.


Whereas the information was not clearly conveyed in the previous chapter, it will be quite clear in this chapter that there was a storm which worked against Sisera. Now, by strict interpretation, this verse does not refer to that storm; we will get that in vv. 20–21. It is the way that Sisera was defeated that brings to mind what God has done in the past. God has often unleashed the forces of nature against His enemies. So, what we have in this verse is not an attack by God against Sisera, but Deborah is establishing God’s awesome power with respect to the use of the elements of nature. This passage in particular is a poetic remembrance of what God had done before when He appeared to Israel as a cloud in the desert, leading them through the desert. This is brought to mind because we have a similar situation occurring at this time.

 

Barnes comments that this passage, Psalm 687–9 and Habak. 3:3–16 are parallel passages which (1) cover the march of Israel into the land of Canaan; and (2) that these three passages serve to explain one another. Footnote Barnes sees the victory of Deborah and Barak as being parallel to God’s guidance to Israel from Seir on up to Jericho and then into the land, rather than the origin of the storms as coming out of the south.


Interestingly enough, God is often associated with storms and earthquakes throughout Scripture. David alludes to this in 2Sam. 22:7–12: In my distress, I called up Jehovah. Yes, I cried to my God and from His temple He heard my voice and my cry for help went out to his ears. Then the earth shook and quaked and the foundations of heaven trembled and they were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils and fire from His mouth devoured. Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and He came down, with thick darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub and flew and He appeared on the wings of the wind. And He made darkness canopies around Him, a mass of waters, thick clouds out from the sky. Psalm 77:17–18: The clouds poured out water, the skies gave forth a sound, Your arrows flashed here and there. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world. The earth trembled and shook. Isa. 13:13: “Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble and the earth will be shaken from its place at the furry of Jehovah of the armies, in the day of His burning anger.” Jer. 10:10: But Jehovah is the true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath, the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. See also Psalm 18:7 Isa. 2:19, 21 24:18–19 64:3 Jer. 51:29 Nahum 1:5.


Meteorology has become quite an important and dynamic science today. We know about pressure, wind velocity and direction, what seems to draw a weather system this way or that, the location of clouds, the meaning of clouds. We have a variety of radar, we can track storms; and yet, our ability to predict weather and to predict heavy storms is weak. In the year 2005, forecasters were surprised by about twice as many tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic than they expected; so far, this year, it appears as though the opposite will occur. However, in eterminity past, God knew everything there is to know about every storm; and it is all set into motion to concur with His plan for this earth and for our lives.


A topic which one might ponder is, do these storms follow natural, scientific laws or does God choose for them to behave as they behave? First of all, scientific laws is a misnomer, because science does not make these laws and science cannot enforce them; the weather and all things natural function according to God’s laws. However, we cannot look at this within the confines of time. We might see a situation and determine that, “Now would be a good time to bring in a storm” because we are in time and confined to time. God invented time and is not bound by time. God does not view a situation here on earth and say, “Holy crap, I didn’t know this would happen; I had better make a storm to fix it.” God is never surprised; God is never caught off guard. God never saves one of us, and then later, thinks, “I did not know that boy was going to end up being such a weasel; he is out of my Book of Life.” These things in mind, I believe that God, in eternity past, determined weather patterns, determined each and every storm, each and every earthquake; and set up a system of divine laws which they invariable obey, which science is still working to discover. Furthermore, God took into account each and every person’s volition; each and every prayer which we would offer up—as well as the motivation behind each and every prayer—and set up all natural events to coincide perfectly with His plan. From our viewpoint, it may appear as though God suddenly brings on a storm for this or that reason (the case in point is Sisera and his charioteers doing battle with Barak); but God determined the path and direction and function of each and every storm from eternity past.


Application: Since God has planned each and every storm, and God knows every decision that I will ever make; if there is a weather related warning, can I therefore ignore it, because I am a believer in Jesus Christ? Don’t be silly! Some believers will find themselves in precarious situations with respect to weather; as some will be caught in unexpected natural phenomena; and some believers will even lose their lives over natural events (we will all die). If you are in a city under mandatory hurricane evacuation, don’t be an idiot and refuse to go. If there is a severe weather alert, and you have been warned to remain inside, don’t just hop in your car, based on God’s omnipotence and omniscience, so that you can catch the sale at Macy’s. You are in the same world as the unbelievers around you; you are subject to the same things which all unbelievers are subject to. If your city is under a mandatory evacuation, then don’t barricade yourself in your home, deciding that you are staying right there because God will provide. Did you ever think that maybe there is a reason that you, and 200,000 of your neighbors, are being moved for a reason? Did you ever think that you might be rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed out there for a reason? You do not get to simply enjoy day in and day out what you have begun to take for granted. Things change, but God governs this. There are times that you just go with the flow.


I am reminded of a person who is facing a heavy storm; and an evacuation bus goes down her street, offering her a ride. She refuses, saying, “Don’t worry; God will provide.” The rain keeps on going and, at some point, she finds herself sitting on top of their home during heavy flooding, and she is praying and praying to God for deliverance. A crowded boat goes by and they offer her a ride, and she calls out, “Don’t worry, God will take care of me.” The waters continue to rise, even though the storm has subsided; and a rescue helicopter comes to remove any victims that it can find; but she says, “Don’t worry about me; I have prayed to God; He will deliver me.” She dies in the storm, her house overrun with water, and when she meets God she asks Him about why He did not deliver her; and He answers, “I sent you a bus, a boat and a helicopter. I finally decided that you were too dumb to live and brought you home.”


I have run into a number of people who, from the outside, it is obvious to see God’s prodding. I am recalling one prospective tenant from the Katrina hurricane; and God had given her a place to stay; the people who became acquainted with her were going to get her set up in a new home; and had furniture and other things for her; and I was going to accept her as a tenant. It was obvious to me that everything had come together to provide her with pretty much all that she had lost in that storm; and yet, the last time I was in touch with her benefactors, she had overstayed her welcome and was unable to make a decision of what to do (at the time, she could not determine if she wanted to remain in the Houston area or move up to Dallas where her grown son, also an evacuee, was). Now, to me, when all of the doors open as they did, then you walk through those open doors.


Application: What’s the problem? How can God open so many doors; how can He make it so obvious; and yet, some believers cannot make a decision to save their lives? It is a lack of doctrine and a lack of the filling of the Holy Spirit. You know this or that Scripture, which you tout over all others; you have this or that phoney holy attitude; and the result is, you either cannot make a decision or you are unable to make the correct decision. Personally, I can’t tell you what is going to happen in my life tomorrow. I do not know what I will be faced with, or what is going to happen, or what decisions I am going to make; however, I do know that looking back on my life, divine guidance has never been a difficult thing. I’ve never had to pray and pray and pray for days on end in order to make a decision; and I have made some big, life-changing decisions.


I know that I have gone off-topic here, but let me continue in this vein:

Divine Guidance

1.      You need to be filled with the Spirit. This is not a second blessing or some emotional experience, but achieved simply by naming your sins to God.

2.      You need doctrine in your soul; you must know divine viewpoint. This has to be a day-in and day-out thing. If you don’t know what God is like; if you do not have any concept of His plan; then how will you be able to figure out your place in it?

3.      Consider your motivations for your decisions. Many times, you make the choices that you make out of pride, arrogance, stubbornness, or hard-headedness.

4.      As I haven mentioned before, I have known a number of people who seem to ponder over simple decisions and their general arrogance and lack of doctrine seems to stand in the way of their making a relatively simple decision.

5.      

We don’t know everything there is to know in this life; however, God guides us and makes our pathways reasonably easy.


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Back to the narrative at hand:

A Summary Interpretation of Judges 5:4

Scripture

Incident

Yehowah, when You went forth from Seir,

when You marched from the region of Edom,

The language used here can be interpreted temporally, as I have done. We can take this in two separate ways: (1) This happened around the time that Israel marched around Seir; or (2) this happened when or very close to the time that Israel marched around Seir.

the ground quaked;

moreover, the heavens dripped;

yea, clouds dropped water.

The things which occurred were natural events. Israel did have a run-in with the Edomites, who did not want Israel to pass through their territory. It appears as though Israel took a more extended journey (Num. 20:14–21). We are not really given much by way of specifics, but it is possible that God kept the Edomites separate from the Jews by earthquakes and rainstorms.

In general, Deborah is looking back to Jehovah God and the power He used against Israel’s enemies in the past, and she is claiming that this is being repeated before her eyes.

This interpretation may not be as definitive as you would like, but you cannot assume too much.


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Mountains quaked from faces of Yehowah;

this Sinai from faces of Yehowah,

God of Israel.

Judges

5:5

Mountains quaked from before the face of Yehowah;

This Sinai [quaked] from before the face of Yehowah, the God of Israel.

The mountains quaked in the presence of Jehovah;

even this mountain Sinai quaked before the presence of Jehovah, the God of Israel.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Mountains quaked from faces of Yehowah;

this Sinai from faces of Yehowah,

Peshitta                                  The mountains melted from before the Lord, even this Sinai from the presence of the Lord, the Holy one of Israel.

Septuagint                              The mountains were shaken before the face of the Lord Eloi, this Sina before the face of the Lord God of Israel.

 

Significant differences:           The LXX adds in another word for God in this verse. The Peshitta has the Holy One instead of God. Apart from those things, there are no significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...rain poured from the sky, the earth trembled, and mountains shook.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         ...and the mountains shook in the presence of the LORD God of Sinai, in the presence of the LORD God of Israel.

HCSB                                     The mountains melted before the LORD, even Sinai before the LORD, the God of Israel.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       The mountains quaked before the LORD, even Sinai before the LORD, the God of Israel.

WEB                             The mountains quaked at the presence of Yahweh, even Sinai, at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel.

Young’s Updated LT             Hills flowed from the face of Jehovah, This one—Sinai—From the face of Jehovah, God of Israel.


What is the gist of this verse? God even causes earthquakes, including those which occurred on Mount Sinai.


Judges 5:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

har (ר ַה) [pronounced har]

hill; mountain, mount; hill-country

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #2042 (and #2022) BDB #249

nâzal (ל ַזָנ) [pronounced naw-ZAHL

to drip, to distill, to flow, to trickle; to melt; to run [down]; to descend

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #5140 BDB #633

Owen offers the following alternative:

zâlal (לַלָז) [pronounced zaw-LAHL]

to be shaken, to tremble, to quake; to be agitated

3rd person plural, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #2151 BDB #272

This verb appears to be a homonym with to be a glutton, to look to satisfy one’s own appetites, to satiate one’s own lusts.

The Tanakh understands this in the same way, and points to the Aramaic Targum as justification. However, we do not need to obsess on this as, mountains flowing or melting is really not much different from the results of a quake.

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

pânîym (םי̣נָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, mipânîym mean from before the face of; out from before the face, from the presence of. However, together, they can also be a reference to the cause, whether near or remote, and can therefore be rendered because of, because that.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: Mountains quaked from before the face of Yehowah;... One of the things that you should like about Hebrew poetry is the order in which it is written. The subject of the verse comes first and then the verb, rather than vice versa. This makes Hebrew poetry sound like normal English and Hebrew prose sound somewhat poetic when literally rendered with regards to the word order.

 

There is some disagreement with regards to the first verb. The MT has to drip, to distill, to flow, to trickle. Footnote The word which possibly should be here is the 3rd person plural, Niphal perfect of zâlal (ל ַל ָז) [pronounced zaw-LAHL], which means to shake, to be agitated, to quake. This latter view agrees with the Septuagint. However, you need not obsess on this, as I mention in the Hebrew exegesis. Certainly, there is a relationship; the quaking would result in a mountain which would tumble, flow, and become almost liquid in its behavior. What we might expect to find is both verbs, as they could be used to describe the same phenomena from a different perspective.

 

Gill comments: The sense is, the mountains melted, just as the famous mountain Sinai in a literal sense did, when it trembled and quaked at the presence of God on it; the tokens of it, the fire and smoke, thunders, lightnings, and tempests there seen and heard. Footnote


You will recall the violent quaking and the thunderstorms of Mount Sinai when Israel first stopped there: So it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thundering sounds and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because Jehovah descended upon in it fire; and it smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace and the whole mountain quaked violently (Ex. 19:16–18). Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off (Ex. 20:18).


Judges 5:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

zeh (הז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, this one; thus; possibly another

demonstrative adjective

Strong’s #2088, 2090 (& 2063) BDB #260

Çîynai (י-ני.ס) [pronounced see-NAH-ee]

thorny; transliterated Sinai

singular proper noun

Strong’s #5514 BDB #696

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

pânîym (םי̣נָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, mipânîym mean from before the face of; out from before the face, from the presence of. However, together, they can also be a reference to the cause, whether near or remote, and can therefore be rendered because of, because that.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: This Sinai [quaked] from before the face of Yehowah, the God of Israel. Apparently, there was apparently a terrific earthquake in north-central Israel during the war of Deborah and Barak, as well as a rainstorm which neutralized the chariots of Sisera. Actually, we don’t know about the earthquake, but we have a mention of the Torrent Kishon sweeping them away in Judges 5:21, which suggests a rainstorm. In any case, there are natural phenomenon during this battle which cause Deborah to recall Israel at Mount Sinai, and to cite it as a similar example of God’s power and involvement. So, even though she is historically pointing back to Moses and the people of Israel at Sinai, she is, at the same time, drawing a parallel to what occurred during the war against the Canaanites. She therefore calls it this Sinai. This indicates to me that, while the Jews were on Mount Tabor, and charging down to the Canaanites, that God caused great natural phenomenon which accompanied their charge.


It was well understood by all peoples of that area that there was a special relationship between Israel and Jehovah. It was recognized that Jehovah’s power might be greater than the average heathen god; although the extent of that acknowledgment was usually the difference between salvation and damnation. However, to understand the psychology here, these men of Sisera had control over Israel for two decades, although they did have this understanding of this peculiar relationship between Israel and Jehovah. Now that they are going to war against Israel, the sudden thunder, lightning and quaking of the earth makes these people realize that they are facing more than just an army of foot soldiers. Israel expects the help of God and Sisera and his men fear that such a thing could occur. So when all of the elements appear to conspire against the army of Sisera, they are struck with a terrific fear. Many people are themselves struck with great fear when faced with earthquakes or tremendous storms. Imagine further if you realized that this storm was brought upon by God for the purpose of being against you. This made the storm all the more frightening.


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I’ve mentioned and quoted from the parallel passages; now let’s put them all together:

The Parallel Passages

Scripture

Text

Judges 5:4–5

Yehowah, when You went forth from Seir,

when You marched from the region of Edom,

the ground quaked;

moreover, the heavens dripped;

yea, clouds dropped water.

Mountains quaked from before the face of Yehowah;

This Sinai [quaked] from before the face of Yehowah, the God of Israel.

Deborah looks back to God’s great power being revealed when Israel was marching from Egypt to the Land of Promise. The phrase this Sinai suggests that there was an earthquake at Mount Tabor, and the natural phenomena of Mount Sinai were also experienced at Mount Tabor. In fact, I would think that this Sinai is a poetic reference to Mount Tabor, where God’s presence was clearly made know.

Psalm 68:7–9

O God, when you went out before your people,

when you marched through the wilderness, Selah.

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai,

before God, the God of Israel.

Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;

you restored your inheritance as it languished.

Psalm 68 looks back at Israel’s history and this particular passage briefly alludes to the wilderness march, where God brought earthquakes and rainstorms.

Habak. 3:3–16

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran.

His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. Selah.

His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand;

and there he veiled his power.

Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations;

then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low.

His were the everlasting ways.

I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.

Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD?

Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea,

when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?

You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows.

Selah.

You split the earth with rivers.

The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on;

the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high.

The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped,

at the flash of your glittering spear.

You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger.

You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed.

You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck.

Selah.

You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,

who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.

You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.

I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound;

rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me.

Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.

Habbakkuk probably observed the Babylonian invasion of Judah, and he asks God how can He allow such a ruthless people to overpower His Own nation. The answer is, God has delivered His people in the past (our passage above), and therefore, He will deliver them in the future, causing Habakkuk to conclude: I will rejoice in Jehovah, and I will be joyous with the God of my deliverance (Habak. 3:18).

What we seem to have very little mention of in narrative is that God provided Israel with water during the journey from Egypt to the Land of Promise. This would obviously come in the form of rain (although, during some dry spells, God provided water miraculously, by the rock which represents our Lord).


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Deborah Establishes Time and Place


In days of Shamgar ben Anath; in days of Jael,

ceased highways

and goers of paths went [on] highways crooked.

Judges

5:6

In the days of Shamgar ben Anath [and] in the days of Jael,

the highways ceased and travelers of paths traveled on crooked highways.

During the time of Shamgar ben Anath and Jael, free movement on the highways nearly ceased;

travelers took the back routes instead.


We lose a lot of the alliteration in the English, as well as the repetition of certain words in slightly different forms. It is a very playful use of words. Perhaps some of the looser translations can help to convey this and some might help to convey the meaning of all this:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       In days of Shamgar ben Anath; in days of Jael,

ceased highways

and goers of paths went [on] highways crooked.

Septuagint                              In the days of Samegar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, they deserted the ways, and went in by–ways; they went in crooked paths.

 

Significant differences:           No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       In the time of Shamgar son of Anath, and now again in Jael's time, roads were too dangerous for caravans. Travelers had to take the back roads,...

NAB                                       In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of slavery caravans ceased; Those who traveled the roads went by roundabout paths.

NJB                                        ...there were no more caravans; those who went forth on their travels took their way along by-paths.

NLT                                        “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,

and in the days of Jael,

people avoided the main roads,

and travelers stayed on crooked side paths.

TEV                                        In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans no longer went through the land, and travelers used the back roads.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, roads were deserted. Those who traveled took back roads.

HCSB                                     In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the main ways were deserted, because travelers kept to the side roads.

JPS (Tanakh)                         In the days of Shamgar son of Anath [or, the Beth-anathite],

In the days of Jael, caravans [or, roads] ceased,

And wayfarers went

By roundabout paths.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

MKJV                                     In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were empty, and the travelers walked through crooked ways.

NRSV                                     “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,

in the days of Jael, caravans ceased

and travelers kept to the byways.

WEB                             In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied. The travelers walked through byways.

Young’s Updated LT             In the days of Shamgar son of Anath—In the days of Jael—The ways have ceased, And those going in the paths go in crooked ways.


What is the gist of this verse? During the time of Shamgar and Jael, there was no real freedom in Israel; when traveling, Israelites kept to the off-roads, and did not go on the main highways (for fear of the Canaanites).


Judges 5:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

yâmîym (םי.מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEM]

days, a set of days; time of life, lifetime; a specific time period, a year

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

The construct phrase is literally in days; and this phrase is properly rendered in the days of, during the time of, at the time of. The concept here refers to a particular time.

Shamgar (ר-מ-ש) [pronounced shahme-GAHR]

sword; transliterated Shamgar

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #8044 BDB #1029

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

׳Ânâth (תָנָע) [pronounced ģawn-AWTH]

answer, answer [to prayer]; indemnity, fine; transliterated Anath

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #6067 BDB #779


Translation: In the days of Shamgar ben Anath... Shamgar is mentioned twice in Scripture—here, and in Judges 3:31, but all we know is that he struck down 600 Philistines with an ox-goad, thus delivering Israel. We are not told of the precise circumstances.


Judges 5:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

yâmîym (םי.מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEM]

days, a set of days; time of life, lifetime; a specific time period, a year

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

The construct phrase is literally in days; and this phrase is properly rendered in the days of, during the time of, at the time of. The concept here refers to a particular time.

Yâ׳êl (ל̤עָי) [pronounced yaw-ĢALE]

transliterated Jael

feminine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #3278 BDB #418


Translation:...[and] in the days of Jael,... Here, it is implied that Shamgar and Jael are contemporaries. Possibly, his old age coincided with her in her youth. This does help to set up a time line for this time period, however. Recall that I mentioned that some judges would be contemporaries and that they would function in different parts of Israel. In Judges 3, we discussed Ehud, and, in the final verse, Shamgar is mentioned. Again here, he is mentioned, and in conjunction with Jael, suggesting that they are contemporaries. Furthermore, Judges 4 take place after Ehud dies (Judges 4:1). All of this suggests that, Ehud delivered Israel from the hand of Moab; he died, and Israel went apostate again. During this time of apostasy, there was a judge, Shamgar, who killed 600 Philistines (he probably lived in northern Judah or in far western Israel); and there was Deborah, a judge who presided simultaneously in north central Israel. Because Shamgar and Deborah are contemporaries, we do not have a separate listing of how long he ruled, the period of rest, and then have this repeated for Deborah. In fact, all we will be told is, [after these things] the land had rest for 40 years (Judges 5:31c).


Judges 5:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

châdal (לַדָח) [pronounced khaw-DAHL]

to cease and desist, to leave off, to cease, to leave, to forsake

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2308 BDB #292

ôrach (ח-רֹא) [pronounced OH-rahkh]

a [well-trodden] road; way, path; metonyms: traveler; traveling company, caravan; metaphorically: a course [way] of living [or action]; mode, manner, way; a path of life

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #734 BDB #73


Translation: ...the highways ceased... The verb is the Qal perfect of to leave off, to cease, to desist. What ceased was the masculine plural paths, ways, highways. This is elliptical. The highways didn’t cease, per se (i.e., they did not disappear, they were not destroyed), but traveling along the highways did cease almost entirely. When ancient roads fell into disuse, weeds and trees and bushes grew up in them, causing the roads themselves to degenerate into countryside.


Judges 5:6d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that, so that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

those walking, those going, those who are departing; walkers, travelers

masculine plural, Qal active participle

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

nethîybâh (הָבי .תנ) [pronounced netheev-BAW]

path, pathway, footpath, a trodden down path

feminine plural noun

Strong’s #5410 BDB #677

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

to go, to come, to depart, to walk; to advance

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

ôrach (ח-רֹא) [pronounced OH-rahkh]

a [well-trodden] road; way, path; metonyms: traveler; traveling company, caravan; metaphorically: a course [way] of living [or action]; mode, manner, way; a path of life

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #734 BDB #73

׳ăqaleqâl (ל ָקל-קֲע) [pronounced guh-kahle-KAWL]

crooked, winding; torturous

feminine plural, intensive adjective

Strong’s #6128 BDB #785


Translation: ...and travelers of paths traveled on crooked highways. The participle of to go, to come, to depart, to walk is found here, and rendered variously as those going (Young); travelers (KJV, NASB and Owen, who all ignore the noun which follows); frequenters (Rotherham, whose translation does not make sense without the noun that follows). What follows this construct is the feminine plural path, course of life, path of life. So our subject is the travelers of paths.


The verb which follows is the Qal imperfect of to go, to com, to depart, to walk (we just had the participle). This is followed by the feminine plural of ôrach, again, which path, way, highway. These paths or highways are described by the adjective which means crooked, roundabout paths.


What has happened is that free trade has become restricted and travel has either ceased or done along back routes. One of the signs of a dictatorship is the restriction of travel and the restriction of free trade; or, as was probably the case at this time, the roads were unsafe due to enemy garrisons and marauding bands. Footnote We have a similar situation spoken of when Israel will fall under the judgment of God again: The highways are desolate, the traveler has ceased. He has broken the covenant; he has despised the cities. He has not regard for man (Isa. 33:8).

 

Matthew Henry describes the life like this: [There is little or] no trade. For want of soldiers to protect men of business in their business from the incursions of the enemy, and for want of magistrates to restrain and punish thieves and robbers among them (men of broken fortunes and desperate spirits, that, having no employment, took to rob on the highroad), all commerce ceased, and the highways were unoccupied; no caravans of merchants, as formerly...[Furthermore, there was] no traveling. Whereas in times when there was some order and government the travelers might be safe in the open roads, and the robbers were forced to lurk in the by-ways, no, on the contrary, the robbers insulted on the open roads without check, and the honest travelers were obliged to skulk and walk through by-way. Footnote

 

Gill suggests: The public roads were so infested with thieves and robbers, who stopped all they met with, and robbed them of what they had, that travellers and merchants with their carriages were obliged either to quit their employments, and not travel at all; or, if they did, were obliged to go in private roads, and roundabout ways, to keep clear of those rapparees the highways and public roads abounded with. Footnote


Interestingly enough, freedom of movement (or lack of) is alluded to several times in Scripture: Lev. 26:22 2Chron. 15:5 Isa. 33:8 Lam. 1:4, 18 Micah 3:12.


I have rewritten most of the points on this list:

Matthew Henry’s List of What Israel’s Oppression Consisted Of

1.      Israel lacked free trade. There were no Israeli soldiers who protected businessmen and traders from the attacks of bandits and thieves; there were no magistrates to restrain and punish these actions. Even worse,men of broken fortunes and desperate spirits, that, having no employment, took to rob on the highroad. All commerce ceased, and the highways were unoccupied; there were no caravans of merchants.

2.      Israel lacked freedom of movement. Whereas in times when there was some order and government the travelers might be safe in the open roads, and the robbers were forced to lurk in the by-ways, [under Canaanites oppression], the robbers moved unchecked on the open roads and the honest travelers were forced to stay off the beaten path, to avoid thieves and Canaanites.

3.      Israel’s farming was cut way back. The fields must needs be laid waste and unoccupied when the inhabitants of the villages, the country farmers, ceased from their employment, quitted their houses which were continually alarmed and plundered by the banditti, and were obliged to take shelter for themselves and their families in walled and fenced cities. A farmer is going to grow crops in order to feed the country; and his food would be traded for other items. Restrict trade and travel, and there is no reason for the farmer to grow very much.

4.      There was no administration of justice in Israel. There was war in the gates where their courts were kept (Judges 5:8). The continual incursions of the enemy deprived the magistrates of the dignity, and the people of the benefit, of their government.

5.      There was no peace to him that went out nor to him that came in. The gates through which they passed and repassed were infested by the enemy; the places of drawing water were places where thieves would lie in wait.

6.      Israel lacked arms, leadership and the spirit with which to help themselves. There was not a shield nor spear seen among forty thousand (Judges 5:8). Either they were disarmed by their oppressors, or they themselves neglected the art of war; so that, though they had spears and shields, they were not to be seen, but were thrown by and suffered to rust, they having neither skill nor will to use them.

The italicized portions are slightly edited and from Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible; from e-Sword, Judges 5:6–11.


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Ceased true leadership in Israel

ceased until which I arose,

Deborah, I arose,

a mother in Israel.

Judges

5:7

True leadership ceased in Israel.

It ceased until I—Deborah—arose,

I arose, a mother in Israel.

True leadership had ceased in Israel;

It ceased until I, Deborah, arose; a mother in Israel.


There are a few significant differences between translations, so I will list them here:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Ceased true leadership in Israel ceased until which I arose,

Deborah, I arose, a mother in Israel. .

Septuagint                              The mighty men in Israel failed, they failed until Debborn arose, until she arose a mother in Israel.

 

Significant differences:           The meaning of this first noun is discussed below; but there are disagreements when it comes to the interpretation of it. More importantly, the Hebrew is emphatically 1st person; the Greek is a 3rd person approach. The Latin and the Greek agree; the Syriac and the Hebrew agree.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ... and villagers couldn't work in their fields. Then Deborah took command, protecting Israel as a mother protects her children.

NLT                                        There were few people left in the villages of Israel—

until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.

REB                                       Champions there were none, none left in Israel, until you, Deborah, arose, arose as a mother in Israel.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Villages in Israel were deserted- deserted until I, Deborah, took a stand- took a stand as a mother of Israel.

HCSB                                     Villages were deserted, they were deserted in Israel, until I, Deborah, I arose, a mother in Israel.

JPS (Tanakh)                         Deliverance ceased,

Ceased in Israel,

Till you [Hebrew: qamti, archaic second-person singular feminine] arose, O Deborah,

Arose, O mother, in Israel!

NIV                                         Village life [or, Warriors] in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                The villages were unoccupied, and rulers ceased in Israel, until you arose, you Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel.

The Emphasized Bible           There was a failure of rulers In Israel, a failure, Until I arose, a Deborah, arose a mother in Israel:—

NASB                                     “The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel.

WEB                             The rulers ceased in Israel. They ceased until I, Deborah, arose; Until I arose a mother in Israel.

Young’s Updated LT             Villages ceased in Israel—they ceased, Till that I arose—Deborah, That I arose, a mother in Israel.


What is the gist of this verse? True leadership did not exist in Israel until Deborah arose, as she herself tells us in this verse.


Judges 5:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

châdal (לַדָח) [pronounced khaw-DAHL]

to cease and desist, to leave off, to cease, to leave, to forsake

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2308 BDB #292

perâzôwn (ןז ָר ׃) [pronounced peraw-ZOHN]

rule, dominion; rural expansion; true leadership

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6520 BDB #826

This word is translated as follows: peasantry (NASB, Owen), villages (Young), villagers ESV); rulers (Rotherham), mighty men (Septuagint) and village life (NIV).

This word is very similar to the masculine noun perâzîy (י ̣ז ָר  ׃) [pronounced peraw-ZEE], which means villages, hamlets, country area, country dweller. (Strong’s #6521 BDB #826). It is also similar to the word which means country, villages, open region (Strong’s #6519 BDB #826). However, it is also similar to the word pârâz (ז ָר ָ) [pronounced paw-RAWZ], which means either villages or leaders. This word is found only in Habak. 3:14. Strong’s #6518 BDB #826.

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: True leadership ceased in Israel. What first ceased is discussed above. This word occurs here and in v. 11. We might could get away with the rendering rural expansion. In examining this in context—Deborah saying, until I arose—makes me think that this word should be rendered true leadership. There was not a leadership; there was no police force, there was no army in place. There was nothing to insure the protection of the individual. We do not have personal freedom without an umbrella of authority. Furthermore, traveling and free trade in Israel were restricted or simply ceased until Deborah arose, a mother in Israel.

 

What the NIV Study Bible suggests is that the inhabitants of villages fled to walled towns for protection. Footnote Clarke gives essentially the same interpretation (The people were obliged to live together in fortified places; or in great numbers, to protect each other against the incursions of bands of spoilers). Footnote Gill goes into greater detail: Not only did those Canaanitish robbers go upon the highway, and robbed all they met with, which made travelling difficult and dangerous; but entered into the villages and unwalled towns, and broke into houses and plundered them; so that the inhabitants of them were obliged to quit their dwellings, and go into the fortified cities for security; by which means the villages were left empty, and in time fell to ruin, and ceased. Footnote You see, when some hostile rulers take over an area, they provide some modicum of protection for the inhabitants of the area. Jabin and Sisera were interested in ruling over the land and collecting their due from the people, but they did not give back anything in return.


The alternate interpretation which I am going with is, the local rulership and control ceased; Jabin and Sisera control these areas, as well as the men under them. This makes even better sense, but is more difficult to support from the original languages.

 

Even given those two interpretations, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown gives a generalized approach: The song proceeds in these verses to describe the sad condition of the country, the oppression of the people, and the origin of all the national distress in the people's apostasy from God. Idolatry was the cause of foreign invasion and internal inability to resist it. The idea is, they are being oppressed by a foreign power due to their idolatry and apostasy; and this is what we would have expected. It is my view that Deborah cites something more specific for her era, and that is a complete lack of spiritual leadership (in Israel, that would mean a lack of spiritual and political leadership).


Judges 5:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

châdal (לַדָח) [pronounced khaw-DAHL]

to cease and desist, to leave off, to cease, to leave, to forsake

3rd person plural, Qal perfect; pausal form

Strong’s #2308 BDB #292


Translation: It ceased... We are going to have a repetition of words here. This entire verse has a lot of repetition and when viewed as a whole, the poetic nature of the verse will be clear. What has ceased is, true leadership in Israel, a void which Deborah fills.


Judges 5:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

ăsher (רשֲא) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

Together, ׳ad and ăsher mean until that, until. Generally used of an event which occurred in the past.

The word which we actually find here is...

she– (–∵ש) [pronounced sheh]

who, which, that

relative particle:

Strong’s #7945 (from #834) BDB #979

This appears to be a form of or a synonym of the relative pronoun ăsher (רשֲא) [pronounced uh-SHER], which means that, which, when, who or how. Strong's #834 BDB #81. Its usage appears to be confined to later Hebrew and passages with a northern Palestine coloring. Footnote

I list the other relative pronoun, as it has a common meaning when combined with ׳ad; therefore, we should expect that ad + this particle also means until that, until.

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

Debôwrâh (הָרב ׃) [pronounced deb-voh-RAW],

bee; transliterated Deborah

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #1683 BDB #184


Translation: ...until I—Deborah—arose,... Whatever was lacking, Deborah arose and filled the gap. My interpretation comes from this portion of the verse; something is missing; Deborah arises to replace that which is missing. What makes sense is, there is a lack of leadership in Israel; and, as unusual as it may seem, Deborah, a woman, rises up to take a position of leadership. I say unusual, as women are not generally portrayed as leaders or as those in authority in Scripture. However, in a period of time when men do not assume positions of leadership, then sometimes it is necessary for a strong woman to do so.


The interpretation that peasantry, or rural population or something of that nature ceased, until Deborah arose, just does not seem to make much sense.


Judges 5:7d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

êm (ם̤א) [pronounced aim]

mother

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #517 BDB #51

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: ...I arose, a mother in Israel. F.F. Bruce suggests (and The Amplified Bible as well as others go along with him) that the doubling of the verb here could be understood not as a 1st person (which is how it reads in the Hebrew), but as an archaic 2nd person singular—you arose. To add to this confusion, the Greek reads that Deborah arose. I don’t see any pressing reason why we should stray from the actual Hebrew. The doubling of the second verb would match poetically with the doubling of the first.


Let’s look at this verse as a whole:

The Poetic Nature of Judges 5:7

Scripture

Explanation

True leadership ceased in Israel.

Ceased actually begins this and the next line.

It ceased until I—Deborah—arose,

The repetition of the word ceased emphasizes the dire straights that Israel is in. We begin this line with despair, but we end with hope—I, Deborah, arose.

I arose, a mother in Israel.

Deborah emphasizes her humble beginnings; she is not the daughter of a judge or the wife of a great, fallen warrior; she is simply a mother in Israel who had to rise to the occasion.

Since no man rises to a position of leadership, Deborah herself must rise to the occasion. This is not some power-hungry female who wants the chance to tell men what she wants them to do; this is a woman who takes a stand because it is necessary for her country. She is not grabbing whatever power that she can; she is filling a void.

McGee concurs with my opinion, as you will see.


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McGee: Deborah confesses that she is a mother in Israel and was not looking for a job at all. The fact that she took the lead is no reflection on her. She was God’s choice. History affords man such examples. There was Molly Pitcher, the wife of a Revolutionary soldier, who, at the battle of Monmouth, manned the cannon at which her husband had just fallen. Other examples are Joan of Arc, the French heroine, and Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra. Footnote And, of course, Xena, warrior princess.

 

McGee, again: Deborah was one of the outstanding judges. She far exceeded Othniel in ability. It is an evidence of decline, however, when women come in into the position of authority. It is a sign of weakness and of a flabby age. We have already seen that weak-kneed general, Barak. He was a sissy. He wanted to stay home and did not want to fight at all. Deborah had to agree to go with him before he was willing to go and battle the enemy...Regardless of what you might think (and I know I may sound very out of date, especially in this day of women’s rights), America is paying an awful price for taking women into its defense system and into industry. I made this statement as far back as 1948, and I am no prophet, but I predicted a backwash of immorality if women left the home. Well, it certainly came to pass. First there was an epidemic of women shooting their husbands, deserting their children, becoming dope peddlers and committing suicide. There are many things that are considered a menace in our country—inflation, crime, foreign aggression—but I feel that the greatest danger is that women are leaving their place in the home. Footnote


What McGee did not mention, and something which was probably unthinkable to him at that time, was the incredible sexual immorality which would befall American women as well, who have debased themselves with lewdness, promiscuity and Lesbianism. And it begins early. Female children barely entering puberty dress provocatively. Very few associate their first sexual experience with marriage and very few associate marriage with a forever commitment.

 

Let me quote from the well-known article from Forbes Magazine, written by Michael Noer, Aug. 22, 2006, which caused quite a stir, because it does not fit feminist doctrine: Guys: a word of advice, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat and less likely to have children. And if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women—even those with a "feminist" outlook—are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner. Footnote


By the way, when I went to www.dogpile.com in order to find this article, I had to wade through dozens upon dozens of commentaries from those who literally threw a fit over the article. The article deals with simple correlation studies; career women and homemakers are compared in areas of divorce, infidelity, happiness; and, apart from the nebulous concept of happiness, these are simple, correlative statistics; and very difficult to argue with. However, people do, of course, because their vision has been colored by feminism doctrine. Yes, I am sure that some can blow this off by saying, statistics lie, and not give it another thought (this is the simple-minded response of someone who does not like the statistics he is confronted with, so he dismisses them altogether). When the analysis is done, questions dealing with happiness could be suspect (not because the survey is inaccurate, but because quantifying and measuring relative happiness is difficult). However, when it comes to divorce and fidelity (or infidelity), that’s hard to fake. A career woman is more likely to get divorced; a career woman s more likely to cuckold her husband. No matter what philosophical or sociological view you want to take, you cannot argue with those facts.


One might be able to make an argument about the happiness factor, as happiness is difficult to gauge, but also realize, divorce and infidelity are key indicators of an unhappy or unsatisfied person. So, even though that aspect of sociological research can be questioned, it is, nevertheless, logical and reasonable.

 

It is also important to note that Noer’s article is not based on one, but on several studies, which include the following information: If they [career women] quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). You [the husband] will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research). Footnote


And what did McGee predict as far back as 1948? As women go into industry and into the military, there will be an increase of immorality. If anyone reading this knows anything about the 50's and 60's and compares it to the 21st century, it should be clear that the United States has become extremely immoral by comparison. Infidelity was flat out wrong in the 50's. There were even laws against it. This was an agreed upon more. 50–60 years later, a common movie theme of many love stories is a man or a woman stepping out on their present husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, and finding a more fulfilling, enriching relationship elsewhere. Sex before marriage? Almost non-existent in the 50's; and when it did exist, it was rarely casual. Today, sexual exploration is presented as the norm; a relationship may or may not follow. In the 50's, divorce was rare and not easy to get. Some of those who divorced were even cut off from other social relationships because of the divorce. Today, over 50% of those who get married also get divorced.


So, was Deborah wrong to rise to the occasion? Should she have stayed home with the kids and the laundry? Obviously not; God spoke to her; God guided her; and God blessed her. Israel, through Deborah, was blessed. The key is, there was no true male leadership in Israel, so Deborah had to arise to fill the void. Remember, that he greatest male leader in Israel would not go to war against the Canaanites, even though God had so ordered him to; unless Deborah went with him.


He chose gods new

then war gates.

A shield if seen and spear [or, A shield, was it seen? And spear]

in forty thousand in Israel.

Judges

5:8

He chose new gods

then war [of the] gates.

Was a shield seen?

or spear among forty thousand in Israel?

Israel chose new gods and then, suddenly, war was within her gates.

Was there even a shield or a spear to be found among forty thousand in Israel?


We had better look at some other translations first:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          The Lord chose new wars, and he himself overthrew the gates of the enemies.

a shield and spear was not seen among forty thousand of Israel.

Masoretic Text                       He chose gods new

then war gates.

A shield if seen and spear [or, A shield, was it seen? And spear]

in forty thousand in Israel.

Peshitta                                  The Lord will choose new things; then the barley bread,

and a sword or a spear will not be seen among 40,000 in Israel.

Septuagint                              They chose new gods; then the cities of rulers fought;

if there should be seen a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel.

 

Significant differences:           The problem is the second phrase, which is rather confusing in the Hebrew. The Latin is different in the first two lines, as is the Syriac. Because there is such a difference between all 4 ancient texts, I’ll stick with the Hebrew when it comes to explaining what is here.

 

One thing which should be noted: this is one of the most problematic verses when it comes to differences between the ancient texts; however, there are no major doctrines (or minor ones, for that matter) which are affected by the difference in text.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The Israelites worshiped other gods, and the gates of their towns were then attacked. But they had no shields or spears to fight with.

The Message                         God chose new leaders, who then fought at the gates. And not a shield or spear to be seen among the forty companies of Israel.

NLT                                        When Israel chose new gods,

war erupted at the city gates.

Yet not a shield or spear could be seen

among the forty thousand warriors in Israel!

REB                                       They chose new gods,

they consorted with demons.

Not a shield was to be seen, not a lance

among forty thousand Israelites.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         When the people chose new gods, war broke out inside the city gates. Not a weapon was seen among 40,000 in Israel.

HCSB                                     Israel chose new gods, then war was in the gates. Not a shield or spear was seen among 40,000 in Israel.

JPS (Tanakh)                         When they chose new gods,

Was there a fighter then in the gates? [Meaning of Hebrew uncertain; others “then was war in the gates.”]

No shield or spear was seen

Among forty thousand in Israel!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible    They chose gods that were new, Then [suddenly], [there is] war at the gates! Was there a shield to be seen? Or a spear? Among forty thousand in Israel?

ESV                                       When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?

NASB                                     New gods were chosen; Then war was in the gates. Not a shield or a spear was seen Among forty thousand in Israel.

Young’s Updated LT             He chooses new gods, Then war is at the gates! A shield is not seen—and a spear Among forty thousand in Israel.


What is the gist of this verse? When Israel became idolatrous, there was war within their gates; and they lacked shields and swords to defend themselves with.


Judges 5:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bâchar (ר ַח ָ) [pronounced baw-KHAHR]

to choose; Gesenius also lists to prove, to try, to examine, to approve, to choose, to select; to love, to delight in [something], to desire

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #977 BDB #103

ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

châdâsh (שָדָח) [pronounced khaw-DAWSH]

new, new thing; fresh

masculine plural adjective

Strong’s #2319 BDB #294


Translation: He chose new gods... Chosen is the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect. The subject of the sentence is likely Israel. What Israel chose were new gods. This is in keeping with the pattern which occurs throughout the book of Judges: Israel goes from peace to idolatry; when Israel falls into idolatry, then they are put under pressure, as per Lev. 26.


Judges 5:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âz (ז ָא) [pronounced awz]

then, at that time, in that case (when following an if or though), now, as things are; that being so

adverb

Strong’s #227 BDB #23

lâchêm (ם̤חָל) [pronounced law-KHAIM]

war; siege; battle

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #3901 BDB #535

This word is only found here in Judges 5:8; it appears to be a Piel form of the word to fight, to do battle, to war. Strong’s #3898 BDB #535.

sha׳ar (ר-ע -ש) [pronounced SHAH-ģahr]

gates [control of city can be implied]; entrance [through the gates]

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #8179 BDB #1044


Translation: ...then war [of the] gates... Suddenly, there was war of [the] gates. War is in the construct state, which is simply a difference of vowel points (in other words, this may or may not be in keeping with the original). The best indication is that war was brought right to the gates of Israel’s cities, if not inside the gates themselves. We have no preposition prior to the word gates; neither do we have a connective, which is what we would have if it were not in the construct. I will pass off the lack of a connective to the poetic nature of this verse or accept that war is in the construct.


Israel would always suffer when she turned away from Jehovah to other gods. This is a scene which is predicted in several places and played out throughout the Old and New Testaments. “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked. You are grown fat, thick, and sleek. Then he forsook God Who made him and scorned the Rock of his salvation. They made Him jealous with strange gods, with abominations they provoked Him to anger. The sacrificed to demons who were not-God, to gods whom they had not known, newer gods who had come in later, whom your fathers did not dread. You neglected the Rock Who begot you and you forgot the God Who gave you birth. And Jehovah saw this and He spurned them, because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them and I will see what their end will be. For they are a perverse generation, sons in whom there is no faithfulness. They have made Me jealous with what is not-God; they have provoke Me to anger with their idols. Therefore, I will make them jealous with not-[My]-people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger and it burns to the lowest portion of Sheol; and it consumes the earth with its yield and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap misfortunes on them and I will use My arrows on them. They will be wasted by famine and consumed by plague and bitter destruction. And the teeth of beasts I will send upon them with the venom of crawling things of the dust. Outside, the sword will bereave and inside, terror, for both young men and virgins, the nurslings and the old men.’ ” (Deut. 32:15–25). The general idea here is that Deborah is giving a little history lesson. Israel, in her down cycle, chose new gods, heathen gods, then, suddenly, they were faced with war.

 

McGee: Israel denied God—as men do today—only instead of becoming atheists, they became polytheists. Footnote Throughout the entire Bible, there is One God; man does not simply have a variety of ways or worshiping Him. There are not a variety of names (Buddha, Mohammed, Allah) by which we access Him. In this time period, the God of the Jews is the God of the Universe.


Judges 5:8c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mâgên (ן̤ג ָמ) [pronounced maw-GAYN]

shield, smaller shield; protection

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4043 BDB #171

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

rââh (ה ָאָר) [pronounced raw-AWH]

to be seen, to be visible; to let oneself be seen, to appear; to present oneself; to be provided [cared] for (i.e., looked after)

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong's #7200 BDB #906

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that, so that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

romach (ח-מֹר) [pronounced ROH-mahkh]

spear, lance, javelin

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7420 BDB #942

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

arebâ׳îym (םי.עָר-א) [pronounced are-BAW-ĢEEM]

forty

undeclined plural noun

Strong’s #705 BDB #917

eleph (ף ל א) pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, family, (500?); military unit

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: ...Was a shield seen? or spear among forty thousand in Israel? The hypothetical particle could also be an interrogative particle; both Rotherham and Young took it as an interrogative particle; the translators of the NASB ignored it; and Owen took it to be a hypothetical particle (although he did not translate as such). In any case, the point is that there was not a shield or a spear to be found in 40,000 men in Israel, meaning that Israel had been disarmed. They were without the proper amount of military equipment. Time to haul out those ox-goads, I guess.

 

Matthew Henry comments: Either they were disarmed by their oppressors, or they themselves neglected the art of war; so that, though they had spears and shields, they were not to be seen, but were thrown by and suffered to rust, they having neither skill nor will to use them. Footnote


Now, oft times Thieme would launch into a military preparedness lecture at this point. And, if the lack of weapons occurred prior to the war, this would be an apt place to do it. Because of what follows, it appears as though we are dealing with preparations to go to war with Jabin and Sisera. That is, the entire previous history of Israel’s down cycle, ala Judges 2:13, is covered in the first two lines of v. 8; in fact, this information is given more or less by way of explanation, just as the arising of Deborah. After that, we are dealing with preparing for a war for independence. Therefore, their lack of weaponry is a result of being under the control of the Canaanites (similar to 1Sam. 13:19–22), and not the prelude to that. The NIV Study Bible suggests that their lack of weaponry could also be a result of an allegiance to the Canaanites or a peace with the Canaanites (as per Judges 3:5–6).


One thing is clear in history—you can be an essentially peaceful people, and, for that reason, believe that you can chunk all of your weaponry—but there will be countries around you who will see this as weakness, not as some higher level of evolution, and will exploit the situation.


We should deal with the actual number 40,000. In Judges 4:6, 10, we have the number 10,000. It is clear in Judges 4 that we are speaking of the troops from Naphtali and Zebulun. In Judges 5, this is a reference to Israel, although I would take it as a reference to northwestern Israel (as opposed to Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh in the east; and Simeon and Judah in the south). From this standpoint, the numbers would compliment each other quite reasonably.


Deborah is not really dealing with the why and the wherefor’s; she merely sets the stage. Israel had pursued other gods; their was war at Israel’s gates; the people lacked the proper equipment and preparation for war. All this was the scene as Deborah arose as a leader in Israel.

 

Clarke paints an interesting picture of the conflict, which makes perfect sense, given what we have read so far in this and the previous chapter: “The Lord chose a new species of war, and himself subverted the gates of the enemy.” [Clarke is quoting the Latin Vulgate here]. Now, what was this new species of war? A woman signifies her orders to Barak; he takes 10,000 men, wholly unarmed, and retires to Mount Tabor, where they are immediately besieged by a powerful and well-appointed army. On a sudden Barak and his men rush upon them, terror and dismay are spread through the whole Cannanitish army, and the rout is instantaneous and complete. The Israelites immediately arm themselves with the arms of their enemies, and slay all before them; they run, and are pursued in all directions. Sisera, their general, is no longer safe in his chariot; either his horses fail, or the unevenness of the road obliges him to desert it, and fly away on foot; in the end, the whole army is destroyed, and the leader ingloriously slain. This was a new species of war, and was most evidently the Lord’s doings. Whatever may be said of the version of the Vulgate, (and the Syriac and Arabic are something like it), the above are all facts, and show the wondrous working of the Lord. Footnote Whether or not there is anything to this new species of war, it is clear from this verse that, of 40,000 men, there was not a sword or a shield to be found; yet we have them charging down the hill toward the Canaanites in the previous chapter. I personally doubt that they were weaponless; however, what they probably used to begin with is farm implements, along the lines of Shamgar who used the ox goad to kill 600 Philistines.


Deborah merely sets the stage here, but does not give us any explanation as to why Israel is unarmed. There are several possible reasons for this.

Theories as to Why was Israel Unarmed

1.      The Israelites developed some strong bonds between themselves and the indigenous Canaanites, worshiped their gods, and decided that being armed was not necessary to their society.

2.      The Canaanites and/or the Philistines had placed controls over the Israelites with respect to forging weapons (along the lines of 1Sam. 13:19–22).

3.      The Canaanites, in their several decades of oppression, disarmed the Israelites.

4.      Israel was not armed due to negligence and sloth; what weapons they had may have been forged back into farming implements.

5.      Israel did not need any weapons, as God fought for them. Although this seems very holy and all that, we already know that Israel was in a low spiritual state; so attributing great faith to them seems misplaced at this point in their history. On the other hand, one could see this as a misapplication of faith. However, even that seems like an incorrect understanding, as their faith seems to be in idols and the gods of other peoples.

6.      Deborah states the lack of weapons as a fact; but the fault here goes back to Israel’s idolatry. That is, it is unfortunate that Israel is without weapons here, but the real problem is their spiritual condition.

 


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Let’s take these last two lines as a whole: Was a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? As we will observe later on in this chapter, more tribes participate in Israel’s revolt against the Canaanites than just Zebulun and Issachar. Their initial battle puts 10,000 men from just those two tribes against Sisera and his army. However, more tribes participated to fully defeat the Canaanites, so that an army of 40,000 is reasonable. Deborah makes the observation that of these 40,000 men, they had no offensive or defensive military gear.


There are other interpretations: one suggests that, out of several hundred thousand men, there was only enough military gear for 40,000. That is a nice thought, but it is problematic for two reasons: (1) this is not what the text says; (2) given that some of the tribes participated and many did not, an army of 40,000 weaponless men seems more reasonable than an army with several hundred thousand, given what is said in this and the previous chatper.


Application: I come from a background that believes in pacifism, and Gandhi was held up as a role model for me. However, I have to repudiate that background, as there is no Scriptural backing for it. As a nation, we should and must be militarily prepared. We cannot expect to lay down our weapons, and that our enemies will then let us be. This is like saying, let’s get rid of policemen so that crime will become non-existent. It is foolish and makes unwarranted assumptions about the human condition. War is not a thing of the past; war is not something that mankind, through evolution and spiritual enlightenment, will learn to overcome.

 

McGee goes a little off-topic at this point, but makes an interesting observation: Do you remember the hopes that this country had after World War II? Everyone in the United States thought they were going to have peace at last. Many people thought they would live in peace and sin, and it would be nice. The forgot to read Psalm 85:10 which says, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have killed each other.” Friends, peace and righteousness do not even speak to each other today—I do not even think they know each other! It is interesting that God did not let us live comfortably in peace and sin. God did not let Israel live that way either. It is also interesting to not that Israel lacked a defense. They has nothing with which to meet the enemy. Footnote Quite simply, you don’t get to have peace and immorality. Only in the Great Tribulation will people be under the mistaken impression that they have achieved both under the leadership of the beast (which is why he will be worshipped).


My heart to lawmakers of Israel

the ones willingly volunteering in the people;

you [all] bless Yehowah.

Judges

5:9

My heart [goes out] to the lawmakers of Israel,

the ones willingly volunteering among the people;

[All of] you, bless Yehowah.

My heart goes out to the scribes in Israel, the ones who have willing volunteered to lead the people;

Bless Jehovah, all of you.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                             My heart loves the princes of Israel: O you, that of your own good will offered yourselves to danger, bless the Lord.

Masoretic Text                           My heart to lawmakers of Israel

the ones willingly volunteering in the people;

you [all] bless Yehowah.

Peshitta                                  My heart said to the lawgiver of Israel, “They who are chosen among the people, bless the Lord.”

Septuagint                              My heart inclines to the orders given in Israel; you who are willing among the people, bless the Lord.

 

Significant differences:           No significant differences; it is more of a matter of interpretation. There is no verb in the first line, so it ends up being a matter of interpretation. The Latin and Syriac make reasonable guesses here, as we find in many English translations.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       I praise you, LORD, and I am grateful for those leaders and soldiers who volunteered.

NLT                                        My heart goes out to Israel’s leaders,

and to those who gladly followed.

Bless the Lord!


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         My heart goes out to Israel's commanders, to those people who volunteered. Praise the LORD!

HCSB                                     My heart is with the leaders of Israel, with the volunteers of the people. Praise the LORD!

JPS (Tanakh)                         My heart is with Israel’s leaders,

With the dedicated of the people—

Bless the Lord!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.

MKJV                                     My heart is toward the lawgivers of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless JehovaH.

Young’s Updated LT             My heart is to the lawgivers of Israel, Who are offering themselves willingly among the people, Bless you Jehovah! .


What is the gist of this verse? Deborah’s heart is with the leaders of Israel who offer up themselves willingly to an enemy with much greater weaponry. She blesses Jehovah God [i.e., thanks Him] for His power and grace {I am assuming that to be the interpretation here].


Judges 5:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lêb (בֵל) [pronounced laybv]

heart, inner man, mind, will, thinking

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #3820 BDB #524

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

châqaq (קַקָח) [pronounced khaw-KAK]

lawgivers; those who carve out; those who cut up [their enemies in battle]; engravers, scribes; painters; those who ordain or make decrees

masculine plural, Qal active participle

Strong's #2710 BDB #349

Given the variety of Qal meanings, any of these are possible. In the KJV, we primarily see the participle rendered as lawgivers, governors. Zodhiates seems to think that we may understand this, in the participle, to mean ruler, lawgiver, leader, commander. Given the variety of things that this could mean, we are probably safe with one of those three renderings.

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

nâdab (בַדָנ) [pronounced naw-DAHBv]

volunteers, those freely offering themselves; those who give generously [willingly, spontaneously]; those offering up

masculine plural, Hithpael participle

Strong’s #5068 BDB #621

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766


Translation: My heart [goes out] to the lawmakers of Israel, the ones willingly volunteering among the people;... We have two participles in this portion of the verse, which are covered in detail above. The first reasonably means lawmakers, lawgivers, and possibly the leaders or governors of Israel. It’s use as a lawgiver is unusual here because (1) God gave Israel the Law; and (2) Israel is not governing herself but is being governed by Jabin and that is enforced by Sisera. The key is that these are the men who would have a position of leadership, if they were not under the rule of Jabin.


The second particple means volunteers; I think the idea is, we have the commanders and we have the grunts, both of whom are necessary to a military force. These are the men who stood up to go out to war. In meandering through several message boards the other day, I came across a person who asked a question, and then answered it himself (very typical of Bible answer call in shows and places where people post. They don’t really have a question; they just want to spread their own opinions, which are generally incorrect. This person asked if it was alright for a Christian to go to war; then he quickly answered no, because Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies.” (Matt. 5:39b, 44a). In the Bible, the highest honor is always afforded those in military service. We just finished the book of Joshua where Joshua, although not brimming with intelligence, is still portrayed as quite honorable. What many Jewish scholars who are not Christian recognize is that Jesus did not teach a lot of new doctrines; He taught primarily the Law of Moses and its correct applications. A lot of Christians think that the teaching of our Lord was all totally brand new and that’s why the Jewish authorities despised Him. “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies” applied to personal relationships, not to national relationships. When our Lord spoke to the centurion, He did not tell him to put down his sword and follow Him. He did not berate him for fighting in wars and leading others to fight in wars. Our Lord said, “I have not found a greater faith; no, not in all of Israel.” (Matt. 8:10b). These men who rallied to the call of Barak and presented themselves for war—these men are heroes, to be respected and emulated. The Bible always affords the highest honor to those who serve in the military.

 

Barnes comments: In this deplorable weakness of Israel how noble was the conduct of the governors who volunteered to lead the people against their oppressors. Deborah’s heart was filled with admiration as she thought of their patriotic devotion. Footnote


Judges 5:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bârake (ַרָ) [pronounced baw-RAHKe]

invoke God, praise, celebrate, bless [God]; bless [men], invoke blessings; to bless [as God or man] and therefore cause to prosper or make happy; salute anyone [with a blessing]; curse

2nd person masculine plural, Piel imperative

Strong’s #1288 BDB #138

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: [All of] you bless Yehowah. The final phrase is the 2nd person masculine plural, Piel imperative of bless, which is Deborah directing those who hear her song to give thanksgiving to God for providing these men the strength and the wherewithal to step up to the plate and defend their country. Recall that our blessing God is a show of thanksgiving and a recognition of what He has done on our behalf.


Riders of donkeys light-colored [or, white]

sitters upon saddles [or, carpets]

and walkers upon a way,

speak.

Judges

5:10

Riders of light-colored donkeys,

those sitting upon saddles [or, carpets],

and those walking along the way,

speak.

Those of you who ride upon expensive donkeys and those of you who sit upon carpets,

and those of you who are walking about freely and in safety—verbally acknowledge and recognize those who provided you your freedom.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          Speak, you that ride upon fair asses, and you that sit in judgment, and walk in the way.

Masoretic Text                       Riders of donkeys reddish-grey [or, white]

sitters upon saddles [or, carpets]

and walkers upon a way, speak.

Peshitta                                  O you who ride on white asses,

you who dwell in houses,

and you who travel on the highways,... [the next verse tells them to meditate on the words of the inquirers].

Septuagint                              You that mount a she–ass at noon–day, you that sit on the judgement–seat, and walk by the roads of them that sit in judgement by the way; declare....

 

Significant differences:           The color of these donkeys is unclear; the Peshitta has them as white, the Vulgate as light; the MT as reddish-grey or white; and the Septuagint calling them simply she-asses. I think the difficulty of the MT causes the translators to make their best guess.

 

The next problem is, where do they dwell? In the Vulgate and LXX, it is in judgment (or the judgement-seat); in the Peshitta, it is in houses; in the MT, it is probably saddles. Again, the uncertainty of the meaning of the MT, I believe, brought out the creative streak of the ancient translators.

 

There seems to be an agreement that they are all walking in the way or on the highways or roads. The LXX adds the phrase of them that sit in judgment, identifying where these roads are.

 

All, but the Peshitta ask these people to speak; the Peshitta, in the next verse, asks them to meditate.

 

Because of these substantial differences, we will stay with the Masoretic text as much as possible when interpreting this verse; and, I suspect, we may not get much in the interpretation.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Listen, everyone! Whether you ride a donkey with a padded saddle or have to walk.

NLT                                        “You who ride on fine donkeys

and sit on fancy saddle blankets, listen!

And you who must walk along the road, listen!


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         You people who ride on brown donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets, and who walk on the road-think.

HCSB                                     You who ride on white donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets, and who travel on the road, give praise!

JPS (Tanakh)                         You riders on tawny she-asses,

You who sit on saddle rugs,

And you wayfarers, declare it!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

LTHB                                     You that ride on white asses, you that sit on rich carpets, and you going on the way, sing out!

MKJV                                     Speak, you who ride on white asses, you who sit in judgment and walk by the way.

Young’s Updated LT             Riders on white asses—Those sitting on a long robe—And walkers by the way—meditate!


What is the gist of this verse? Certain types of people—those who ride white donkeys, those who sit upon saddles, and those who walk upon the way, are asked to speak out (or to meditate, study).


Judges 5:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

râkab (בַכָר) [pronounced raw-KAHBV]

the one riding, rider

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong’s #7392 BDB #938

âthôwn (ןתָא) [pronounced aw-THORN]

ass, she-ass, donkey

feminine plural noun

Strong’s #860 BDB #87

tsâchôr (רֹחָצ) [pronounced tsaw-KHOHR]

white, tawny; possibly light-colored or reddish brown with lighter spots?

masculine plural, adjective

Strong’s #6715 BDB #850

Gill goes into great detail about similar words in other languages, in order to support that this word means white. Footnote


Translation: Riders of light-colored donkeys,... The adjective which describes the donkeys is an adjective which means tawny, reddish-gray. Young and the NIV have white instead; the NASB has both. One commentator, whose name I can’t recall, but whose comments were generally worthless, spoke of all white asses; whereas Keil and Delitzsch, whose opinions I respect, claim that no such animal exists and that these were donkeys spotted with white (although, they claim the word means dazzling white). James Freeman, whom I generally trust, says that these were white asses, and therefore quite expensive and ridden on only by the very wealthy.

 

Gill goes into great detail, citing several references, that even as recently as the last century (2 centuries ago for us), there were herds of wild asses seen along the Euphrates which were white. In fact, let me just quote from Gill, as he has a lot to say here: The ass in the Hebrew language has its name from redness, that being the usual colour of them in those parts; and hence they were hateful to the Egyptians, because that their Typhon was of that colour; Footnote but there were some that were white, as there are wild ones now of that colour. A traveler Footnote in those parts in the beginning of the last century tells us, that on the banks of the Euphrates they beheld every day great droves of wild beasts, as wild asses "all white", &c. The word we translate "white" is "zechorot", and perhaps may describe the same animal the Ethiopians call "zecora", and some "zebra"; said to excel in beauty all four footed creatures in the whole world. It is an animal of the size of a mule, found in the woods beyond Abyssinia, is easily tamed, and is the frequent and chief present of the kings of that country; about its loins is a circle of a black colour, in the form of a girdle, which is followed with more on each side, according to the part of the body, some broader, others narrower, both black and white, or of an ash colour, so neat that they seem to exceed the art of the most eminent painter; its only deformity are its ears, which are long; hence it is called by the Portuguese the wild ass, though wrongly; of what value and esteem it was appears from the large price it has been sold for; one, that was the gift of a king to a Turkish governor, was sold to an Indian for 2,000 pieces of Venetian money, to make a present of to the great Mogor, king of the Indians, Footnote which was the value of nine hundred pounds. Those that rode on these creatures were the princes and nobles of Israel; though they are generally interpreted by the Jewish commentators of merchants that rode from place to place about business. Footnote


And certainly, another possibility is that they could have been a very light tan. We do not have enough Biblical references to this word to tie it down any better than that. However, Gill makes a compelling case for these being white asses. In any case, it appears that those who owned these donkeys and rode upon them were the rich and prosperous.


Societies vary as to how riding on donkeys is viewed. This area had few horses, and it was the elite and royalty who rode donkeys. You may recall that our Lord came into Jerusalem riding a donkey. Furthermore, by Judges 10:4 12:14, it is clear that those of a royal family were the ones to ride donkeys during that era.


Judges 5:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâshab (בַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

those inhabiting, those staying, those dwelling in, the inhabitants of, the ones dwelling in, dwellers of, those sitting [here], the ones sitting

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5920, #5921 BDB #752

maddîym (םי. ַמ) [pronounced mahd-DEEM]

measure, cloth garments, outer garments; armored coat; carefully tailored clothing; a thick piece of cloth; leather garments, nice carpet; a hand-crafted saddle?

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #4055 BDB #551


Translation: ...those sitting upon saddles [or, carpets],... What they are sitting upon is measure, cloth garment, and possibly, in this context, a thick piece of cloth, akin to a carpet. Barnes suggests that this is a saddle, which makes even more sense. My thinking, after examining some of the other passages where this noun is found (Lev. 6:10 Judges 3:16 1Sam. 17:38–39), is that this should be rendered a carefully-tailored clothing; however, this would make little sense for people to be sitting upon carefully-tailored clothing. Perhaps, in the context, this is a hand-made saddle? Maybe this is not related to the donkey in the previous line, and simply means that, in their tents, instead of the bare earth, they had some sort of carpeting. The implication is, they, again, are the wealthy.


Judges 5:10c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that, so that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

those walking, those going, those who are departing; walkers, travelers

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5920, #5921 BDB #752

dereke (ר) [pronounced DEH-reke]

way, distance, road, path; journey, course; direction, towards; manner, habit, way [of life]; of moral character

masculine singular noun

Strong's #1870 BDB #202


Translation: ...and those walking along the way,... We also have another class of people called walkers; people who are not rich enough to afford the ancient, tricked-out automobile (a donkey with a saddle), walked to wherever they needed to go.


Some interpret this as a reference to rulers or judges who sat upon carpet where they functioned as rulers or judges.


Bullinger calls this a three-fold naming of princes, rulers and merchants. Footnote These would be men who are successful because of the freedom that they enjoy in Israel which is no longer tyrannized because of the Canaanites. They are to speak of righteous deeds of God and to celebrate their freedom.


Judges 5:10d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

sîyach (ַחי ̣) [pronounced SEE-ahkh]

communicate, declare, speak of, talk about; meditate, study

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong’s #7878 BDB #967

 

Translation: ...speak! What they are all to do is the Qal imperative of sîyach (ַחי̣) [pronounced SEE-ahkh], and it means to communicate, to declare, to speak of, to talk about. This could also mean meditate or study. This is quite a thing, don’t you think? We are not really 100% sure of whom we are speaking to; and, as if that were not enough, we do not even really know what we want them to do—should they speak out? Should they be meditating? Furthermore, isn’t meditating and speaking pretty much the opposite of one another? What is that all about? Therefore, we should stop and take a look at the Doctrine of Sîyach (only a bare summary is presented below).


And, in case you do not want to examine the entire doctrine of this word...

A Summary of the Doctrine of Sîyach

1.      One theory is, this word originally meant to complain, and that it gradually came to mean something different. However, by examining all of the places where sîyach occurs, we find that we do not need the meaning to complain.

2.      Although there are several instances where this word could mean to sing, such a rendering seems unnecessary, as there are other and equally good options for the same passage.

3.      There are even fewer instances where sîyach could mean to pray; and in all instances, other meanings are equally likely.

4.      Therefore, that leaves us with two possible sets of meanings:

         a.      To communicate, to speak, to verbalize, to say what is on your mind and

         b.      To think, to ponder, to meditate, to keep something at the forefront of your mind.

What I had hoped to do in this examination is to eliminate one of the final two sets of meanings above; however, that seems to be impossible, given the several times this word seems to mean one or the other.

I should point out that I did not spend any real time examining the cognates; however, they could mean what they mean, and still allow for sîyach to be rendered as above.


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How you interpret this verse essentially depends upon where you place these 3 sets of people in time. The strictly western mind, which sees narrative always in a chronological form, might assume that these groups are those from before the war, which is covered in later verses. However, in v. 6, we just spoke of how much traveling had been restricted: In the days of Shamgar ben Anath [and] in the days of Jael, the highways ceased and travelers of paths traveled on crooked highways. However, these 3 examples speak of those who travel (at least the 1st and 3rd who are listed). They are told to speak. The idea is, movement and travel had been seriously restricted, in the days of Shamgar and Jael; but now, those who travel, should speak out, or at least meditate, upon the freedom that they now enjoy. Apparently, even the very wealthy and the royalty, as it were, are able to move about freely. This did not just happen; this was not magic; there is a reason that we have gone from restricted movement to free and safe travel. It is this reason that these travelers should mediate on, and even speak of.


What Deborah is saying here is that, as a result of those who came forward and volunteered to serve God, to throw off their oppressors—they provided the peace and the prosperity. We are all to praise God for these men (v. 9) and those who became prosperous as a result, those who now sit on carpet rather than upon the ground, those who enjoy a freedom of travel—they are also to speak, to testify, to praise and to give thanks to God. In other words, there is a place in our lives for patriotism. There are times when we should recognize and extol the virtues of those who paid for our freedom with their lives and with their blood.


Application: There is a place for patriotism in your life as a believer. There have been men of great noble souls who have been willing to give all that they had for your freedom. In our passage, those who are enjoying great freedom are told to take time to reflect upon this, and even to speak of their freedom and how it was achieved.


At this time as I write, the United States is in Iraq, and we are in the process of training the Iraqis to handle their own newly established freedom. I recall hearing one special where our troops had to spend no little time convincing the Iraqi police to go out and patrol the streets with them. There are two reasons for this: (1) we did not require that their constitution include a Bill of Rights, which I believe to be a grave mistake. As recently as a year ago, a man was arrested, either in Iraq or Afghanistan for being a believer in Jesus Christ. (2) They do not value freedom enough to die for it. Our freedom in the United States was purchased by hundreds of thousands of lives, from those who signed the Declaration of Independence, right down to those who have fought in our wars overseas. If and when we leave (and, in my opinion, I believe we should establish semi-permanent bases there as we have in Germany, the Philippines and Japan), there is the very real possibility that they will fall into tyranny once again.


From a sound of dividers at watering places,

there they [celebrate and] recount the executed righteousness of Yehowah,

the executed righteousness of His true leadership in Israel.

Then they went down to the gates, people of Yehowah.

Judges

5:11

From the sound of those who have been liberated [or, the dividers] at the watering holes;

there they [celebrate and] recall the righteous acts of Yehowah,

the righteous acts of His true leadership in Israel.

Then the people of Yehowah went down to the gates.

From the sound of the traders at the watering holes,

where they celebrate and recall the righteous acts of Jehovah—the righteous acts of His leadership in Israel.

Then the people of Jehovah went down to the gates.


We had better look at a couple of different translations here:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                             Where the chariots were dashed together,

and the army of the enemies was choked,

there let the justices of the Lord be rehearsed,

and his clemency towards the brave men of Israel:

then the people of the Lord went down to the gates, and obtained the sovereignty.

Masoretic Text                           From a sound of dividers at watering places,

there they [celebrate and] recount the executed righteousness of Yehowah,

the executed righteousness of His true leadership in Israel.

Then they went down to the gates, people of Yehowah.

Peshitta                                  Meditate on the words of the inquirers, who are among the teachers;

they will execute the righteousness of the Lord,

even His righteousness which He has multiplied in Israel;

then the people of the Lord will march to the gates.

Septuagint                              ...the noise of noisy ones among the drawers of water; there shall they relate righteous acts: O Lord, increase righteous acts in Israel: then the people of the Lord went down to the cities.

 

Significant differences:           As in the previous verse, there are a great many differences, which is common for, say, the book of Samuel; but rather uncommon in this book. What is rare is, the LXX and the MT roughly agree in the first line, whereas the Latin and Syriac seem to be completely different.

 

The second line brings the Syriac into closer agreement with the Hebrew and Greek text; however, in the Syriac, they are executing the righteousness of the Lord; in the Greek and Hebrew, they are meditating upon it or speaking of it.

 

The Latin, all the way through, appears to be entirely different—as if it is a different verse. Only in the final line (2nd to the last line in the Latin), is there any general agreement among the ancient texts.

 

Because there is so much dissent here, I will cover only the Hebrew text; but bear in mind, there may be great inaccuracies in the text.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Even those who carry water to the animals will tell you, "The LORD has won victories, and so has Israel." Then the LORD's people marched down to the town gates...

The Message                         Gather at the town well and listen to them sing, Chanting the tale of GOD's victories, his victories accomplished in Israel. Then the people of GOD went down to the city gates.

NLT                                        Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes.

They recount the righteous vicotrys of the Lord,

and the victories of his villagers in Israel.

Then the people of the Lord

marched down to the city gates.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Listen to the voices of those singing at the wells. Over and over again they repeat the victories of the LORD, the victories for his villages in Israel. Then the LORD'S people went down to the city gate.

HCSB                                     Let them tell the righteous acts of the LORD, the righteous deeds of His warriors in Israel, with the voices of the singers at the watering places. Then the LORD's people went down to the gates.

JPS (Tanakh)                         Louder than the sound of archers [Or “thunder peals”; meaning of Hebrew uncertain],

There among the watering places

Let them chant the gracious acts of the Lord,

His gracious deliverance of Israel.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible    In the place of the noise of bowmen among the wells There speak boldly of the righteous acts of Yahweh, righteous acts of his rule over Israel, Then had come down to the gates the people of Yahweh.

ESV                                       To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. "Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

LTHB                                     Louder than the voice of the dividers between the watering places there, they shall tell of the righteous acts of Jehovah, the righteous acts of His leaders in Israel. Then the people of Jehovah went down to the gates.

NASB                                     “At the sound of those who divide flocks among the watering places, There they shall recount the righteous deeds of the Lord, The righteous deeds for His peasantry [or, rural dwellers] in Israel. Then the people of the Lord went down to the gates.

Owen's Translation                To the sound of musicians (archers) at the watering places; there they repeat the triumphs of Yahweh; the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel; then they marched down to the gates, the people of Yahweh.

Young's Literal Translation     By the voice of shouters Between the places of drawing water, There they give out righteous acts of Jehovah, Righteous acts of His villages in Israel, Then ruled in the gates have the people of Jehovah.


What is the gist of this verse? Those at the watering holes recount the great deeds of Jehovah. They also speak of the great righteous acts of their leaders, although there appears to be a lot of disagreement here. Finally, it appears as though the people of Jehovah march down to the gates, although the significance of this is rather nebulous.


I should warn you that determining what we have in this verse is going to be difficult, if not impossible.


Judges 5:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

châtsats (ץַצ ָח) [pronounced khaw-tsahts]

singers; shouters, those who yell; those who are spread out; those who have been set free [liberated]

3rd person masculine plural, Piel participle

Strong’s #2686 BDB #346

bêyn (ןיֵ) [pronounced bane]

in the midst of, between, among; when found twice, it means between

preposition

Strong's #996 BDB #107

masheâb (בָא ש-מ) [pronounced mahshe-AWBV]

a drawing place for water; a channel; a place to water cattle

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #4857 BDB #980

 

Translation: From the sound of those who have been liberated [or, the dividers] at the watering holes;... We begin this verse with the mîn preposition, which means from, out from. It is followed by the masculine singular construct of qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl], which means sound, voice. What this is the sound of is the Piel participle, masculine plural of châtsats (ץ ַצ ָח) [pronounced khaw-tsahts], which is said to mean to divide. In the Piel participle, we have the possible renderings dividers [or spoil], sharpeners, archers. This word is found only in three places, and in each case it is a different stem. In Prov. 30:27, it is the Qal participle; in Judges 5:11, it is the Piel participle; and in Job 21:21, it is a Pual perfect. This also has a noun cognate, which is also found but three times in Scripture (Strong’s #2687 BDB #346), once rendered arrows (Psalm 77:17) and once rendered gravel or gravel stones (Prov. 20:17 Lam. 3:16). Strong’s #2686 BDB #346. The best way to deal with this is to first list the verses which are in question, and then show what other good translators have done in each of the six cases:


How is Châtsats Generally Translated?

Verse

Verb

Greek

NRSV

NASB

Rotherham

Young

Judges

5:11

By the voice of [a masculine plural, Piel participle] between the places of drawing water...

Disturbers (or, noisy ones)

musicians

those who divide flocks

bowmen

shouters

Job

21:21

For what is his delight in his house after him, and the number of his months [verb]

cut off

cut off

cut off

cut in twain

cut off

Proverbs

30:27

A king there is not to the locust, and it goes out—each one [Qal participle]

orderly

in rank

in ranks

in swarms

shouting

Verse

Noun

Greek

NRSV

NASB

Rotherham

Young

Psalm

77:17

Poured out waters have thick clouds; the skies have given forth a noise. And, Your [plural noun] go up and down

arrows

arrows

arrows

arrows

arrows

Proverbs

20:17

Sweet to a man is the bread of falsehood and afterwards his mouth is filled [with] [singular noun]

[verse missing]

gravel

gravel

gravel

gravel

Lam.

3:16

And He breaks my teeth with [plural noun], He has covered me with ashes

gravel

gravel

gravel

gravel-stones

gravel

Obviously, this chart does not bring us to any clear conclusions about this word or its noun cognates.


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What we have here is pretty obvious; these translators agree amongst each other, probably a combination of going back to the Greek translation and deference to the KJV. However, they do not internally agree; that is, there is more of a difference between any translator in his own Bible than there is between various translators in the same verse. Now let me offer an entirely different translation, suggested in part by the NRSV and by Young: the verb means to sing; and the noun means song. Whereas, I am not enthralled by these renderings, and perhaps someone, in studying these verse, can come up with a better rendering. My translation does violence to the interpretation of Prov. 20:17 (in my opinion, it is unacceptable in that case). In re-examination, perhaps shouting or yelling would work for the verb; and shout or yell for the noun. The third possibility is that this means to cut up, to divide for the verb and the noun is the result of what has been cut up or divided, which would be arrows, stones, or gravel. The dividing up alluded to could be flocks which have gotten mixed up while being watered. There is a peaceful, if not amiable, division of the herds. Let’s add to this that Keil and Delitzsch rightly point out that this word is never used for dividing up spoil; there is another word for that. They suggest archer as a representative of a warrior. Footnote As you can see, the job the translator is not easy.


Those who have been liberated (the Israelites) are at the watering holes; freedom of movement speaks of their freedom in general. When gathered at these watering holes, this would be a great feeling, and the people would be animated, happy and joyous. This would be reflected in their speech, their greetings, in their general conversation. When they gather at these watering holes, it would be loud and one could hear them from a ways off. From the sound of those who have been liberated at watering holes;...

 

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: The wells which are at a little distance from towns in the East, are, in unsettled times, places of danger. But in peace they are scenes of pleasant and joyous resort. Footnote Edersheim also points out that, apart from the difficult language, that this verse contrasts a time of peace with a time of war and/or oppression.


Judges 5:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

shâm (ם ָש) [pronounced shawm]

there; at that time, then; therein, in that thing

adverb

Strong’s #8033 BDB #1027

tânâh (הָנָ) [pronounced taw-NAW]

to recount, to celebrate

3rd person masculine plural, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #8567 [& #8566] BDB #1072 [& #1071]

There is an entirely different meaning (to hire; to hire a prostitute), which is Strong’s #8566 BDB #1071. The other usage is only found in the Qal and Hiphil.

tsedâqâh (ה ָק ָד  ׃צ) [pronounced tsedaw-KAW]

righteousnesses, executed righteousnesses and justice, righteous acts, righteous vindication

feminine plural construct

Strong’s #6666 BDB #842

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

 

Translation: ...there they [celebrate and] recall the righteous acts of Yehowah,... What they do at the watering holes is the Piel imperfect of tânâh (ה ָנ ָ) [pronounced taw-NAW], which appears to means both hire or procure [a prostitute]; and to recount, to celebrate, the difference being determined by context. Whoever is at the watering places, whether it is those who have been victorious over the Canaanites and are now dividing the booty, or whatever; they are to celebrate and recount the feminine plural construct of righteousness, executed righteousness and justice, righteous vindication. What this gives us so far is: From the sound of those who have been liberated at the watering places, there they [celebrate and] recall the righteous acts of Yehowah...


This generation, at least for a short time, understands the function of God in their lives; they understand that He has liberated them from their oppressors, and that God is the source of freedom in their lives.


Judges 5:11c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

tsedâqâh (ה ָק ָד  ׃צ) [pronounced tsedaw-KAW]

righteousnesses, executed righteousnesses and justice, righteous acts, righteous vindication

feminine plural construct

Strong’s #6666 BDB #842

perâzôwn (ןז ָר ׃) [pronounced peraw-ZOHN]

rule, dominion; rural expansion; true leadership

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #6520 BDB #826

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: ...the righteous acts of His true leadership in Israel. The word for executed righteousness is repeated; first it is of Jehovah, and secondly, it is of Israel’s peasantry or rural expansion or true leadership (see v. 7). You must understand that the executed righteousness of God can be manifest as a variety of actions; in this case, it is the securing of the freedom of Israel. Part of their freedom is the simple ability to leave the gates of the city and to go to their water sources. Apparently, this was not a safe thing to do while under the oppression of Sisera and Jabin.

 

Clarke gives his take: As wells were very scarce in every part of the East, and travelers in such hot countries must have water, robbers and banditti generally took their stations near tanks, pools, and springs, in order that they might suddenly fall upon those who came to drink; and when the country was badly governed, annoyances of this kind were very frequent. The victory gained now by the Israelites put the whole country under their own government, and the land was cleansed from such marauders. Dr. Shaw, in his account of the sea-coast of the Mauritania Caesariensis, page 20, mentions a beautiful rill of water that runs into a basin of Roman workmanship, called shrub we krub, “drink and be off,” because of the danger of meeting with assassins in the place. Instead of such danger and insecurity, Deborah intimates that they may sit down at the place of drawing water, and there recall the righteous acts of the Lord; the land being now everywhere in peace, order and good government being restored. Footnote


We in the United States, having been given such great freedom, have difficulty imagining life under great oppression. There is a segment of our population which compares George W. Bush to Hitler and our own POW camps to the Gulags of Russia. Such people have no historical concept of what real tyranny and oppression is, so, when they do not like the seated president, they compare him and policies of his administration to tyrannies that they themselves really could not imagine. They barely grasp the symbology; Hitler is bad, so, because they view Bush as bad, Hitler and Bush must be equivalent; Gulags are bad, therefore, our interment camps for war prisoners must be bad, as Bush is president while they exist. A complete lack of any true historical knowledge; a complete lack of appreciation for what true tyranny and oppression is. However, this generation of Israelites fully understands what real oppression is; and the contrast of true freedom.


Judges 5:11d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âz (ז ָא) [pronounced awz]

then, at that time, in that case (when following an if or though), now, as things are; that being so

adverb

Strong’s #227 BDB #23

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

3rd person masculine plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

sha׳ar (ר-ע -ש) [pronounced SHAH-ģahr]

gates [control of city can be implied]; entrance [through the gates]

masculine plural noun; with the definite article

Strong’s #8179 BDB #1044

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: Then the people of Yehowah went down to the gates. Part of their celebration is to go down to the gates. What this is all about is that these were gates which restricted their travel; these were gates which would have kept them in or out of certain cities. They were more or less safe within the gates of their cities, but they were not when they left their cities. Now they can go in and out, as they have regained their personal freedom and their safety. In these past three verses, the people are to celebrate their freedom and to speak of the heroic acts of those who delivered them, and to praise God for what has occurred. In other words, the Israelites are celebrating the freedom which was secured for them by Deborah and Barak, which will be alluded to in the next verse, and then covered in greater detail in subsequent verses.

 

Wesley on the gates of the city: [These] were where both city and country gathered for public business and matters of justice, from which they they had been debarred by their oppressors; but now they had free access and passage, either in or out of the gates, as their occasions required; and they who had been driven from their cities, now returned to them in peace and triumph; so the citizens deliverance is celebrated here. Footnote


Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake;

utter a song.

Arise Barak and lead away captive your captives,

O son of Abinoam.

Judges

5:12

Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake,

and utter a song.

Arise Barak and lead away captive your captives,

O son of Abinoam.

Wake up, Deborah, wake up, sing a song!

Get up, Barak, son of Abinoam, and lead away captive your captives.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake; utter a song.

Arise Barak and lead away captive your captives, O son of Abinoam.

Septuagint                              Awake, awake, Debbora; awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barac, and lead your captivity captive, son of Abineem.

 

Significant differences:           None. We had two difficult verses, but we might be in for smoother sailing now.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...and said, "Deborah, let's go! Let's sing as we march. Barak, capture our enemies."

The Message                         Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, sing a song! On your feet, Barak! Take your prisoners, son of Abinoam!.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Get up! Get up, Deborah! Get up! Get up and create a song! Barak, attack! Take your prisoners, son of Abinoam.

HCSB                                     "Awake! Awake, Deborah! Awake! Awake, sing a song! Arise Barak, and take hold of your captives, son of Abinoam!"


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       "Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam.

Young's Updated LT              Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, utter a song; Rise, Barak, and take captive thy captivity, Son of Abinoam.


What is the gist of this verse? Deborah and Barak are called upon to go into action here.


Judges 5:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳ûwr (רע) [pronounced ģoor]

rouse onself, awaken, wake up; be raised up [stirred up or lifted up]; be induced, be persuaded

2nd person feminine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #5782 BDB #734

׳ûwr (רע) [pronounced ģoor]

rouse onself, awaken, wake up; be raised up [stirred up or lifted up]; be induced, be persuaded

2nd person feminine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #5782 BDB #734

Debôwrâh (הָרב ׃) [pronounced deb-voh-RAW],

bee; transliterated Deborah

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #1683 BDB #184


Translation: Awake, awake, Deborah,... At least this verse will not be near as rugged as the previous. We have the Qal imperative of rouse yourself, awake. This is used four times. It is a call to Deborah to take action. The psalmist speaks to God in a similar way. To the psalmist, it appears as though God is no longer to be found in Israel, although the psalmist knows that God has not forgotten Israel. He writes: Arose, Yourself! Why do you sleep, O Jehovah? Awake and do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppressions? (Psalm 44:23–24). Barak, in the next line, is also called to take action.


By the way, there is no lethargy in Deborah, and so she has to tell herself to wake up (as per Gill); Deborah is writing the song, and she does not come off remiss either in the song or in the narrative of Judges 4. Now, what is occurring is, Deborah is being called by God—being pressed into service—for a national crisis; she is whom God will use. So, even though she is a faithful vessel through whom God works, it is clear at this juncture that God has a plan for her to guide Barak in the deliverance of Israel. Therefore, these Qal imperatives are not simply artistic license, and they don’t simply sound nice repeated; but God is calling Deborah to play an important part in Israel’s history.


The call for a believer to wake up or to take a stand can refer to several different things.

What it Means When a Person is Told to Wake up or to Rise up

Meaning

Scripture and Further Commentary

Deborah is called upon to become a spiritual atlas in her day.

Judges 5:12a: Awake, awake, Deborah,... Deborah is a mature believer with a spiritual impact; however, in this case, she is going to have an effect on her nation.

Deborah is called upon to record poetically what happened.

Judges 5:12b: ...awake, awake, and utter a song. Deborah is called upon to record poetically what has happened, which gives the divine viewpoint.

David is calling upon God’s glory and honor within him to be awakened.

Psalm 57:8a: Wake up, my glory,... This is a more difficult call; in the same verse, David calls for musical instruments to awaken, which is easier to explain, and a lot less interesting (the musical instruments awaken when they are played—which explanation also applies to Psalm 108:2).

This is a call to God to become actively involved in the destiny of Israel, as it appeared for some time that He had not been.

Isa. 51:9: Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, that pierced the dragon? Even though Isaiah calls for God to act, this does not mean that He had no function in Israel’s history immediately prior to this call, nor does it mean that God sort of forgot about Israel; this is a anthropopathism where to us, it appears as though God did not function in Israel, although He has all along.

There are no men of spiritual integrity in Jerusalem, so the city seems to be falling apart and under God’s wrath.

Isa 51:17–18: Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne; there is none to take her by the hand among all the sons she has brought up.

I believe that we are speaking of the ultimate sanctification of Israel here. Not only do the Jews come back as the people of God, but the city Jerusalem goes into the Millennium as a holy city.

Isa 52:1–2: Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

The interpretation is similar to that above; the Jews and Jerusalem will assume a leadership position spiritually.

Isa. 60:1–3: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Paul rouses the Corinthians to do that which is right; to get back into fellowship, and to grow spiritually.

1Cor. 15:34: Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. Some great teachers have been at Corinth, and some believers there understand little or no theology.

The context does not appear to apply to unbelievers who awaken to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather to believers who actions are the same as the actions of unbelievers. They are to get back into fellowship.

Eph. 5:12–14: For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." This appears to be a rather free translation of Isa. 60:1 (above).

When the Scripture has language which says, awake, awake, it is apparent by the context of these passages that it does not always refer to the same thing.

There are many other examples where believers are simply told to take a stand.


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Judges 5:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳ûwr (רע) [pronounced ģoor]

rouse onself, awaken, wake up; be raised up [stirred up or lifted up]; be induced, be persuaded

2nd person feminine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #5782 BDB #734

׳ûwr (רע) [pronounced ģoor]

rouse onself, awaken, wake up; be raised up [stirred up or lifted up]; be induced, be persuaded

2nd person feminine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #5782 BDB #734

dâbar (רַבָד) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

to speak, to talk [and back with action], to give an opinion, to expound, to make a formal speech, to speak out, to promise, to propose, to speak kindly of, to declare, to proclaim, to announce

2nd person feminine singular, Piel imperative

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180

shîyr (רי.ש) [pronounced sheer]

song, singing

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7892 BDB #1010


Translation: ...awake, awake, and utter a song. I suspect that the idea behind Deborah singing a song is, this is one way that she communicates the Word of God. This second set of awake, awake, God calls upon Deborah to write this song, which also contains doctrine, just as the narrative of the previous chapter did.


Judges 5:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

Bârâq (ק ָרָ) [pronounced baw-RAWK]

lightening, lightening flash; transliterated Barak

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #1301 BDB #140


Translation: Arise Barak... A male leader is needed to lead Israel into combat against the Canaanites. Deborah, as we know, is the one who summons him.


Judges 5:12d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that, so that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shâbâh (הָבָש) [pronounced shawb-VAW]

to lead away captives, to take captive

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #7617 BDB #985

shêbvîy (י ̣ב  ׃ש) [pronounced sheb-VEE]

captives, captivity

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7628 BDB #985

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Ăbîynô׳am (ם-עֹני.בֲא) [pronounced ub-vee-noh-ĢAHM]

my father is a delight; father of pleasantness; transliterated Abinoam

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #42 BDB #4


Translation: ...and lead away captive your captives, O son of Abinoam. What Barak is to do, after rising up, is the Qal imperative of lead away captives, take captive. This is followed by its noun cognate, the masculine plural captives, captivity. Barak, after soundly defeating the enemy, is to lead away his captives.


One of the things I need to explain here is, how can Barak lead away anything captive, if all of Sisera’s army is destroyed (Judges 4:16: And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left).

If Sisera’s Army is Destroyed, Who is Led Away Captive?

1.      One explanation is, Deborah is speaking of leading away the possessions of the Canaanites (their sheep, their cattle, etc.).

2.      Even more likely, Jabin has more than one division (his primary army is led by Sisera), and that captives are made from some of those from Jabin’s other divisions. It is obvious, by what follows (which tribes participate and which do not, as compared to the two tribes used in Judges 4) that the war continued, even after this very decisive victory.

3.      A third explanation is, Israel took civilians as prisoners, later using them as slaves.

4.      There is the possibility that even though Judges 4:16 sounds as if there is no a single man remaining, that does not have to be taken in an absolute literal sense. I.e., there was not a man left to oppose Barak’s army; i.e., they surrendered; or, virtually, the entire army was wiped out, but there were a few dozen remaining who were taken as prisoners.

Personally, I would go with the second explanation, but any of these easily explain the apparent contradiction of this verse and Judges 4:16.

By the way, the second explanation appeals to me, not because I do not like the implications of Israel taking Canaanite slaves, but because passages which follow indicate that other tribes joined in later to continue this fight. That is, we have additional Scripture which backs up the second explanation.

This fourth explanation could be applicable as well in addition to the second.


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One of the things which I find to be the most disconcerting about the Hebrew writers is the complete disregard, at times, for chronology. What we have been given, so far, is the general state of Israel prior to Israel’s fight for independence. We have a mention of Deborah and Barak, who are called upon to take a stand; and then we have the results of their fight for freedom. What comes next is not what comes next chronologically, but the participation or lack of participation of the allied tribes of Israel, followed by the battle against Sisera. Let me be more specific: the next six verses do not precede the subsequent verses in time. In fact, Judges 5:19–30 precede in time Judges 5:9–18.


David, who wrote many of the psalms, no doubt studied the songs found elsewhere, and was inspired by this line. He wrote: You have ascended on high; You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men—the rebellious also; that Yah God may dwell [there] (Psalm 68:18). Paul saw this as prophecy, and quoted this centuries later: But to each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it reads: When He ascended on high, He led captive an army of captives, and He gave gifts to men (Eph. 4:8; Psalm 68:18). Footnote So this is an interesting series; what Deborah writes here apparently inspires David, who writes something very similar; and then Paul takes it and is inspired as well. So, the phrase has one meaning here; it has a completely different meaning at David’s hand, possibly even a two-fold meaning, and Paul uses this to get across a different point in Eph. 4:8.


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Let’s see if I can organize this a little better:

The Trip from Judges 5:12 to Ephesians 4:8

Scripture

Passage

Interpretation

Judges 5:12

Awake, awake, Deborah,

awake, awake,

and utter a song.

Arise Barak

and lead away captive your captives,

O son of Abinoam.

Barak is seen by Deborah as already victorious, when she calls upon him to take a stand; his captives would be Canaanite people (and possibly soldiers) whom he leads away into captivity.

Psalm 68:18

You have ascended on high;

You have led captive Your captives;

You have received gifts among men

—the rebellious also;

that Yah God may dwell [there].

The context is God’s presence in certain mountains, e.g., Sinai. This verse is directed toward God (You). God ascending on high refers to his special presence going from the mountains to His royal throne room (as in Job 1). Taking captivity captive means that God has achieved a complete and total victory in the angelic conflict; and that Satan and his fallen angels would be bound. The gifts in men, as the Hebrew reads, would be the change in man, including Christ’s indwelling, and the divine good that they produce. This may refer to Jesus Christ when He is among men, and the gifts He would receive would be these men who believe in Him. The rebellious indicates that these are men who formerly were in rebellion against God, and they are in Him. God dwells with man, as He has made Himself manifest on Mount Sinai.

Ephesians 4:8

But to each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it reads: When He ascended on high, He led captive an army of captives, and He gave gifts to men (Eph. 4:8; Psalm 68:18). Footnote

First of all, Paul changes the text which he quotes here; he is not quoting the Hebrew or the Greek. Paul begins this chapter by calling himself a prisoner of the Lord. He then speaks to the unity of the faith, and makes two points from this passage which he quotes: (1) Jesus Christ had to descend into the lower parts of the earth (where believers and unbelievers were kept, in separate areas), and that He would ascend from there into heaven, where He would receive approval from God. That He would lead these believers out of Abraham’s bosom is probably the intent of Paul, but he does not elaborate. (2) Jesus Christ gave spiritual gifts to believers, which Paul later elaborates on.

You will note that David the psalmist merely uses the phrase found in Judges 5:12, but none of the meaning of our passage. Paul essentially does the same thing; he quotes the passage out of context and even misquotes a portion of it, and gives it another application altogether.

The gifts in men and the gifts which God give to men are related. Believers are gifts to Jesus Christ; He indwells man and they belong to Him. Because they are His, God the Holy Spirit gives gifts to men so that we may have a real function in this earth.

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After reading Clarke’s commentary on v. 28, and studying this song from a distance, I note that this song is apparently sung by Deborah and Barak, both individually and together. There was possibly even a chorus, and that this, for a time, was sung by a man and a woman and a chorus. If I put my mind to this, I might be able to come up with a very imperfect of line distribution—that is, who sung which lines. However, that may be better left to a music director, and his choir.

In any case, I do want to note that certain lines could only be spoken by a specific person.

Who Sings What in Deborah’s Song?

Person

Lines

Comments

Deborah or Barak

During a time when those who vowed in Israel to avenge,

when the people volunteered.

Blessed is Jehovah.

Kings, listen to me, and princes, pay attention to me;

I will sing to Jehovah;

I will make music to Jehovah, the God of Israel:

Jehovah, when You went out from Seir

and when You march out of the region of Edom,

the ground quaked and the heavens began to rain;

in fact, the clouds poured down rain.

The mountains quaked in the presence of Jehovah;

even, this mountain Sinai quaked before the presence of Jehovah, the God of Israel.

Immediately in v. 3, it is clear that only one person is singing. It would be reasonable for Deborah to sing up until I will make music to Jehovah, the God of Israel, at which point, Barak sings.

Deborah

During the time of Shamgar ben Anath and Jael,

free movement on the highways nearly ceased;

travelers took the back routes instead.

True leadership had ceased in Israel;

It ceased until I, Deborah, arose; a mother in Israel.

Israel chose new gods

and then, suddenly, war was within her gates.

Was there even a shield or a spear to be found among forty thousand in Israel?

My heart goes out to the scribes in Israel,

the ones who have willing volunteered to lead the people;

Bless Jehovah, all of you.

Those of you who ride upon expensive donkeys and those of you who sit upon carpets,

and those of you who are walking about freely and in safety—

verbally acknowledge and recognize those who provided you your freedom.

At least portions of this passage had to be sung by Deborah.

Barak

From the sound of the traders at the watering holes,

where they celebrate and recall the righteous acts of Jehovah—the righteous acts of His leadership in Israel.

Then the people of Jehovah went down to the gates. Wake up, Deborah, wake up, sing a song!

Deborah is not going to call to herself!

Deborah

Get up, Barak, son of Abinoam, and lead away captive your captives.

Barak will not call to himself.

From this point on, it is more difficult to assign vocals to either person specifically. What I have done to this point is imperfect, I am sure. However, the point I am getting across is, as only portions of this song can be sung by a specific person, some information in this song can only come from a specific person. Near the end of this song, we will hear an account of Sisera’s death which could have only come from Jael. At the end of this song, we get the viewpoint of Sisera’s mother, who gives us information about Sisera and his raiding parties which we would not otherwise have had.

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I did a little searching on the internet, and apparently Dr. Kennicott also distributed the lines of this song:

Dr. Kennicott’s Division of Vocals

2

Deborah

For the leaders who took the lead in Israel,

Barak

For the people who offered themselves willingly,

Both

BLESS YE JEHOVAH!

3

Deborah

Hear, O ye kings!

Barak

Give ear, O ye princes!

Deborah

I unto JEHOVAH will sing.

Barak

I will answer in song to JEHOVAH;

Both

THE GOD OF ISRAEL!

4

Deborah

O JEHOVAH, at thy going forth from Seir At thy marching from the field of Edom,

Barak

The earth trembled, even the heavens poured down; The thick clouds poured down the waters

5

Deborah

The mountains melted at JEHOVAH'S presence.

Barak

Sinai itself, at the presence of JEHOVAH

Both

THE GOD OF ISRAEL!

6

Deborah

In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted.

Barak

For they who had gone by straight paths, Passed by ways that were very crooked.

7

Barak

Deserted were the villages in Israel.

Deborah

They were deserted till I, Deborah, arose; Till I arose a mother in Israel.

8

Deborah

They chose new gods!

Barak

Then, when war was at the gates, Was there a shield seen, or a spear, Among forty thousand in Israel?

9

Deborah

My heart is towards the rulers of Israel;

Barak

Ye who offered yourselves willingly among the people.

Both

BLESS YE JEHOVAH!

10

Deborah

Ye who ride upon white asses; Ye who sit upon the seat of judgment.

11

Barak

And ye who travel upon the roads, Talk of Him with the voice of praise.

Deborah

Let them who meet armed at the watering places There show the righteous acts of JEHOVAH,

Barak

And the righteousness of the villages of Israel: Then shall they go down to the gates;

Both

THE PEOPLE OF JEHOVAH!

12

Barak

Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, lead on the song.

Deborah

Arise, Barak! and lead thy captivity captive, Barak, thou son of Abinoam.

13

Barak

Then, when the remainder descended after their chiefs, Jehovah's people descended after me, Against the mighty.

14

Deborah

Out of Ephraim was their beginning at Mount Amalek; And after thee was Benjamin, against the nations.

Barak

From Machir, came masters in the art of war; And from Zebulun, those who threw the dart.

15

Deborah

The princes in Issachar were numbered Together with Deborah and Barak.

Barak

And Issachar was the guard of Barak, Into the valley sent close at his feet. Deb.

Deborah

At the divisions of Reuben, Great were the impressions of heart.

16

Barak

Why sattest thou among the rivulet? What! to hear the bleatings of the flocks?

Deborah

For the divisions of Reuben, Great were the searchings of heart.

17

Barak

Gad dwelt quietly beyond Jordan; And Dan, why abode he in ships?

Deborah

Asher continued in the harbour of the seas, And remained among his craggy places.

18

Barak

Zebulun were the people, and Naphtali,

Deborah

Who exposed their lives unto the death,

Both

ON THE HEIGHTS OF THE FIELD.

19

Deborah

The kings came, they fought; Then fought the kings of Canaan;

Barak

At Taanac, above the waters of Megiddo: The plunder of riches they did not receive.

20

Deborah

From heaven did they fight; The stars, from their lofty stations, Fought against Sisera.

21

Barak

The river Kishon swept them away, The river intercepted them; the river Kishon: It was there my soul trod down strength.

22

Deborah

It was then the hoofs of the cavalry were battered. By the scamperings, the scamperings of its strong steeds.

23

Barak

Curse ye the land of Meroz, Said the messenger of JEHOVAH:

Deborah

Curse ye heavily its inhabitants, Because they came not for help.

Both

JEHOVAH WAS FOR HELP! JEHOVAH AGAINST THE MIGHTY!

24

Deborah

Praised among women will be Jael, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Among women in the tent will she be praised.

25

Barak

He asked water, she gave him milk; In a princely bowl she brought it.

26

Deborah

Her left hand she put forth to the nail; And her right hand to the workman's hammer.

Barak

She struck Sisera, she smote his head; Then she struck through, and pierced his temples.

27

Deborah

At her feet he bowed, he fell!

Barak

At her feet he bowed, he fell!

Both

WHERE HE BOWED. THERE HE FELL DEAD.

28

Deborah

Through the window she looked out and called, Even the mother of Sisera, through the lattice;

Barak

'Why is his chariot ashamed to return? Why so slow are the steps of his chariot?'

29

Deborah

Her wise ladies answered her; Nay, she returned answer to herself:

30

Barak

'Have they not found, divided the spoil;

Embroidery, double embroidery for the captains' heads!

A prize of divers colours for Sisera!'

Deborah

'A prize of divers colours of embroidery;

A coloured piece of double embroidery for MY NECK, a prize!'

31

Both

So perish all thine enemies, O Jehovah! Grand Chorus, by the whole procession.

AND LET THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BE AS THE SUN GOING FORTH IN HIS MIGHT.

Dr. Kennicott’s version does make a great deal of sense. It is quite reasonable for Deborah to speak of the leaders of Israel answering God’s call (which included Barak); and then for the people in general to respond to God’s calling, something which Barak would have observed more closely.

Taken from http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=jud&chapter=005. I did some rearranging here to make it easier to follow.

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I will subdivide the next section, rather than break it down into separate sections for two reasons: (1) We begin with the tribes who did participate, spend time with the tribes that did not participate, and then speak of the two tribes who gave the most. (2) This subdivision occurs in the midst of v. 15, which is one of the poorest verse divisions in Scripture. The three subdivisions are:

The Tribes who Participated,

The Tribes Who Did Not Participate,

The True Heroes of this Time.


The Tribes Which Participated in Battle and the Tribes Which Did Not


The Tribes who Participated

Then came down a remnant to noble ones,

people of Yehowah came down to me against the mighty ones.

Judges

5:13

Then the remnant came down to the noble ones,

the people of Yehowah came down to me against the mighty ones.

Then those of Israel who still remained came down to help their brothers;

the people of God came down to me to fight against the Canaanite soldiers.


We will need to examine some translations in this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          The remnants of the people are saved,

the Lord has fought among the valiant ones.

Masoretic Text                       Then came down a remnant to noble ones,

people of Yehowah came down to me against the mighty ones.

Peshitta                                  Then the deliverer went down to sing praise before the Lord;

you have given me victory by the hand of a man out of Ephraim.

Septuagint                              Then went down the remnant to the strong,

the people of the Lord went down for him among the mighty ones from me.

 

Significant differences:           The strong (as found in the Greek) is another interpretation of the Hebrew word I rendered noble ones.

 

The primary difference between the Greek and Hebrew texts is, the Hebrew reads that the people of Jehovah came down to me (i.e., to Deborah), and the Greek reads that they came down to him (i.e., to Barak or to God?).

 

The final difference is the word against and among; the same Hebrew word, the bêyth preposition, can be rendered in either way. In there words, there is only one significant difference between the Greek and Hebrew texts.

 

On the other hand, it is particularly disconcerting just how different the Latin and Syriac texts are from each other and from the Greek and Hebrew. It does not even appear to be the same verse. Bear in mind that, there seems to be a great deal of corruption with this portion of Judges 5.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The LORD's people who were left joined with their leaders and fought at my side.

NLT                                        “Down from Tabor marched the remnant against the mighty.

The people of the Lord marched down against the mighty warrriors.

REB                                       ‘Then down marched the column and its chieftains, the people of the Lord marching down like warriors.’ [the probable reading is column...marching down; it is survivor...adds to me in the Hebrew].


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Then those mighty men who were left came down. The LORD'S people went into battle for me against the mighty soldiers.

HCSB                                     The survivors came down to the nobles; the LORD's people came down to me with the warriors.

JPS (Tanakh)                         Then was the remnant made victor over the mighty,

The Lord’s people won my victory over the warriors.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Emphasized Bible           Then came down a remnant to the nobles—a people—Yahweh came down with me against the mighty,

NASB                                     “Then survivors came down to the nobles; The people of the Lord came down to me as warriors.”

ESV                                       Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.

LTHB                                     Then He caused me to tread on the remnant of the noble ones of the people; Jehovah trod for me among the warriors.

MKJV                                     Then He made me tread on the remnant of the nobles among the people. Jehovah made me have dominion over the mighty. Notice that both the MKJV and the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible have italicized words; that means, these words are not found in the original.

WEB                             Then a remnant of the nobles and the people came down. Yahweh came down for me against the mighty.

Young's Literal Translation     Then him who is left of the honourable ones He caused to rule the people of Jehovah, He caused me to rule among the mighty.


You will notice several significant differences between the translations. The first primary difference is that, in The Emphasized Bible, it is Jehovah Who comes down with Deborah against the Canaanites; however, in the NASB and Septuagint, it is the people of Jehovah who march down to (or, with) Deborah.


What is the gist of this verse? Certain men of Israel (the remnant) came down to complete this war against the Canaanites.


Judges 5:13a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

âz (ז ָא) [pronounced awz]

then, at that time, in that case (when following an if or though), now, as things are; that being so

adverb

Strong’s #227 BDB #23

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

The actual verb that we find here is yârar (ר-רָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHR], which occurs here and only here, and its meaning can only be guessed at (e.g., to participate). I have given what I believe to be the correct verb above (which is the verb most translators see as being here). However, there is a third possible verb which this could be. It is possible that the verb here is...

râdâh (הָדָר) [pronounced raw-DAW]

to tread with the feet; to rule, to have dominion over, to subdue; to take possession of

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7287 BDB #921

The imperfect will drop the hê’ (ה) and throw in a yohd (י) at the beginning of the word. I include this possibility to help to explain the difference between the various translations. The problem with this verb is, we would not expect the lâmed preposition to go with it. It often will be followed by the bêyth preposition. Given that this translation works fine and makes perfect sense without assuming a minor copyist error here; and given that we do not find a bêyth preposition here, I would conclude that this alternate hypothetical reading is incorrect.

One must be careful, when presented with an alternate hypothetical reading, not to grab onto it with both hands and embrace it as the proper reading. Once and awhile, such an hypothetical reading makes perfect sense; at other times, as in this verse, it obfuscates the meaning of the verse (note that the MKJV and the LTHB both needed to add in additional text in order for this verb to make sense).

To sum up, there is a 3-fold problem with this alternate verb: (1) we have a lâmed preposition rather than a bêyth preposition, as would be the care with yârad but not with râdâh; (2) additional text must be added in order for râdâh to make sense; and (3) those who assume that râdâh is the correct verb here find that they must render this verb in the Hiphil form in order for this verse to make sense.

sârîyd (די  ̣רָ) [pronounced saw-REED]

survivor, remnant, the one remaining, those who are left

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #8300 BDB #975

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to; belonging to; by

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

addiyr (רי ̣ַא) [pronounced ahd-DEER]

majestic, powerful, magnificent, glorious

masculine plural adjective with the definite article

Strong’s #117 BDB #12

That’s the short version. According to Gesenius, this means ➊ large, very great, mighty (Psalm 93:4 Isa. 33:21); ➋ powerful when used of kings and kingdoms (1Sam. 4:8 Psalm 136:18 Ezek. 32:18); ➌ prince, leader, chief, noble (when used as a substantive); ➍ magnificent, illustrious, glorious (Psalm 8:2); and, ➎ noble (when applied in a moral sense, as in Psalm 16:3).


Translation: Then the remnant came down to the noble ones,... You may have noted a significant difference between some of the more literal translations. This is explained above in the exegesis of the Hebrew text. There is an alternate verb which may have been meant here, but that hypothetical reading ends up causing more problems than it solves. The two different readings would be: Then came down a remnant, to noble ones; or, Then He caused to rule a remnant, to noble ones. The latter reading is rejected because, in order for it to make sense, we must translate it as a causal (Hiphil) verb, and it is not found that way here; we have to add in additional verbiage in order for it to make sense; and it is followed by the wrong preposition. In making our choice, context would indicate that to come down is the most likely translation. The other possibility is that this is an actual word (yârar), which occurs only here in Scripture, and that it means something like to participate. Again, the accepted reading seems to make the most sense, and I have probably spent far too much time here exploring the other options.


The two tribes which went up with Barak were Zebulun and Issachar. There were remaining tribes (the remnant) in the Land of Promise, who will be specifically named in this context. Those remaining tribes are examined here, and they are said to come down to the noble ones (those who began this war against the Canaanites; Zebulun and Issachar).


Judges 5:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

3rd person masculine plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

It is possible that the verb here is...

râdâh (הָדָר) [pronounced raw-DAW]

to tread with the feet; to rule, to have dominion over, to subdue; to take possession of

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7287 BDB #921

This was fully discussed above in Judges 5:13a.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to; belonging to; by

directional/relational preposition; with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

gibbôwr (ר  ̣) [pronounced gib-BOAR]

strong man, mighty man, soldier, warrior, combatant, veteran

masculine plural noun/adjective

Strong’s #1368 BDB #150

The original word would be properly applied to one of rank or distinction; a man of “power” — power derived either from office, from talent, or from wealth. It is a word which is often applied to a hero or warrior: Isa. 3:2 Ezek. 39:20 2Sam. 17:10 Psalm 33:16 120:4 127:4 Daniel 11:3 Gen. 6:4 Jer. 51:30. Footnote


Translation: ...the people of Yehowah came down to me against the mighty ones. The same discussion which we find in the previous portion of this verse applied here; there is the same difficulty with the verb. There is the difference that here we do have a bêyth preposition; however, that is not the case with Judges 5:13a.


Next, we should examine is the concept of the construct in the Hebrew. When two nouns are placed together, side-by-side, the result is often what is known as the construct state of the first noun. In English, to translate this, we generally add the word of (although, sometimes with or for are also apropos). Although the second noun may be preceded by a definite article, the first noun will never be preceded by a definite article. If the second noun is preceded by a definite article, it is proper to, in the English, use a definite article with the first noun as well.


The construct state also gives us a better understanding of adjectives. We, in the English, place our adjectives before the noun that they modify. In the Hebrew, the adjectives follow the nouns that they modify. What we actually have is something akin to the idea of the construct state. What might be translated a strong man in the English, is actually a man strong in the Hebrew. However, it is better understood as a man of strength, something like the construct state between two nouns. Now, other than there being no definite article prior to the first noun, sometimes we do not have any other way of determining that we have a construct state; i.e., there is no suffix, vowel point or anything else which clearly points us to the fact that it is a construct (in some cases, the ending of the noun does tell us that it is a construct state). Therefore, sometimes the construct is determined by linguistic interpretation—that is, we are pretty sure that it is, so therefore we say it is. In this case, what will follow is not God’s hand in the battle against the Canaanites (which would make sense if it were Jehovah coming down with Deborah to battle—ala Rotherham; but what will follow is a list of the tribes which participated and which did not participate; therefore, it is the people of Jehovah who come down with Deborah.


The two very different possibilities for the verbs gives us two very different possibilities for a translation: either, Then came down a remnant to [or, belonging to] the noble ones; people of Yehowah came down to me against the mighty ones. Or, Then He caused to rule a remnant belonging to the noble ones; a people of Yehowah He caused to rule to me against the mighty ones. Although I tend to go with Young against the majority most of the time, here I will have to go with the majority. The overall verse, particularly the last portion, makes more sense that way. In the Hebrew exegesis, I have given more greater space to this alternative reading.


By way of interpretation, the remnant refers to the tribes of Israel who were not yet involved, but to be specifically named in the following verses. The noble ones are the believers in Israel already engaged in war against the Canaanites. The people of Jehovah are, obviously, Israel, and they march down to fight against the Canaanites, who are the mighty ones.


We have a parallelism here, common to poetry. A remnant [of Israel] comes down to the noble ones—those who have begun the war against the Canaanites; and the people of God—who are equivalent to the remnant of Israel—come down against the mighty ones [the Canaanites].


All the players are named below, so that it might be easier to follow:

The Players Named in Judges 5:13

Scripture

Who is Who

Then the remnant came down

The remnant refers to those who still remain in Israel, but have not participated in the war.

to the noble ones,

The noble ones are Zebulun and Issachar who have begun their war for independence against the Canaanites.

the people of Yehowah came down

The people of Jehovah are equivalent to the remnant above; those who did not volunteer originally to war against the Canaanites. This makes complete sense, as both subjects are associated with the same verb.

to me

To me is a reference to Deborah; these troops reported to her, the prophetess, and she put them with Barak.

against the mighty ones.

They will war against the mighty ones, the Canaanites.

A correct translation coupled with a correct interpretation is a wonderful thing. After correctly translating and interpreting this, I now have the pleasure of going back to see what others have done with this verse, by way of explanation.


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I considered putting up a chart to indicate the incorrect ways that this verse has been understood—Clarke, for instance, calls Barak the remnant. Others misinterpret this verse because they accept the wrong verb here.


Let me close out this verse with a quotation from the Psalms: It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another (Psalm 75:7). It was the proper time, and God lifted the Israelites over the Canaanites.


Application: A friend of mine once pondered, why do fundamentalist Christians seem to line up politically with conservatives; particularly, with patriotic conservatives? The Bible supports the status quo in society; the Bible never encourages revolution, whether national or personal (e.g., a slave liberating himself from his master). With regards to men who must go to war, the Bible treats soldiers with great respect and deference. Our Lord, when face to face with a Roman centurion, did not encourage this man to lay down his arms and follow Him in peace; Jesus remarked, instead, “Never have I found such a great faith in Israel!” Now, I have seen a big change in the conservative party in the United States during my tenure on this earth; when I was in my teens and early 20's, there was a despicable amount of anti-Semitism which pervaded the conservative movement; which helps to explain the corruption and dishonesty which was often found in conservative officials. Since Jimmy carter and Ronald Regan, it is the conservatives which have begun to ally themselves clearly with Israel and it is the liberals who have begun to distance themselves from Israel, and have, to some degree, taken up the side of the Arabic peoples and nations. Along with this, the conservative party has seemed to have developed a conscience and a personal integrity, whereas the liberals are the ones who rift with scandals and dishonesty, both personal and ideological (I write this in 2006). But, the primary reason I take this aside is to note, the Bible consistently honors the soldier, the warrior, the man who is willing to lay his life down for the freedom of his people (Communism, by the way, and radical Islam, are antithetical to freedom; so a soldier who is willing to die for either of these causes is one who wants others to by tyrannized).


In case you are wondering, what is the connection between this verse and that application; let me point out the Deborah, in song, is celebrating here the Israeli soldiers who come down to continue the fight against the Canaanites. We have a number of patriotic songs which recall those who have fought and died for our freedom in the United States—e.g., the Star Spangled Banner—we must hold onto these songs as well as to their meaning.


From Ephraim their root in Amalek [or, From Ephraim they came down into the valley];

after you Benjamin with your peoples;

from Machir marched down lawgivers

and from Zebulun those drawing out in a rod [or, staff] of a scribe or, writer.

Judges

5:14

From Ephraim [they came down] into the valley;

after you, Benjamin, with your people.

From Machir, the lawgivers marched down;

and from Zebulun, those marching with a tribe of scribes [or, with a general’s staff].

They came down into the valley from Ephraim; and Benjamin then followed you down.

The lawgivers marched out from Machir and the scribes came down from Zebulun.


You need to brace yourself, as this will be a rather difficult verse. We will definitely need to look at other translations:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          Out of Ephraim he destroyed them into Amalec,

and after him out of Benjamin into your people, O Amalec.

Out of Machir there came down princes,

and out of Zabulon they that led the army to fight.

Masoretic Text                       From Ephraim their root in Amalek [or, From Ephraim they came down into the valley];

after you Benjamin with your peoples;

from Machir marched down lawgivers

and from Zebulun those drawing out in a rod [or, staff] of a scribe or, writer.

Peshitta                                  And Barak’s works are known in Amalek;

after you marched Benjamin with affection for you;

out of Machir came forth a seer,

and out of Zebulun those who write with the pen of a scribe.

Septuagint                              Ephraim rooted them out in Amalek,

behind you was Benjamin among your people;

the inhabitants of Machir came down with me searching out the enemy;

and from Zabulon came they that draw with the scribe’s pen of record.

 

Significant differences:           Again, we have very little agreement. Part of the problem is possibly interpreting the Hebrew, which can account for some differences. In the first line, the MT is unclear; therefore, we have first lines in the Latin and Syriac which barely have anything in common with the Hebrew (or Greek).

 

The Latin adds Amalek to the second line and has the phrase into your people, which is actually a reasonable translation of the Hebrew phrase (so is the Greek translation, among your people).

 

When it comes to who comes down from Machir, the Latin and Hebrew are somewhat similar (princes; lawgivers); but the Syriac has a seer and the Greek has the inhabitants of Machir coming down with me searching out the enemy. Previously, the LXX left out the little phrase to me, but they add in with me here; and offer an entirely different scenario.

 

The final line, which on the surface appears to be the most obscure, is essentially agreed upon with the exception of the Latin). Often, poetry is be extremely demanding.


When it comes to the translations below, you will note that in some of the paraphrases, there is a little similarity between the Masoretic text and their translation; and, as we move into the more accurate renderings, the translations tend to line up with the MT.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Troops came from Ephraim, where Amalekites once lived. Others came from Benjamin; officers and leaders came from Machir and Zebulun.

The Message                         The captains from Ephraim came to the valley, behind you, Benjamin, with your troops. Captains marched down from Makir, from Zebulun high-ranking leaders came down.

NJB                                        The princes of Ephraim are in the valley; behind you, Benjamin is in your ranks, captains have come down from Machir, those who wield the commander’s staff, from Zebulun.

NLT                                        They came down from Ephraim—a land that once belonged to the Amalekites,

and Benjamin also followed you.

From Makir the commanders marched down;

from Zebulun came those who carry the rod of authority.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Those who had settled in Amalek's country came down from Ephraim. Benjamin came with its troops after Ephraim. Commanders from Machir went into battle. The officers from Zebulun also went.

HCSB                                     Those with their roots in Amalek came from Ephraim; Benjamin came with your people after you. The leaders came down from Machir, and those who carry a marshal's staff came from Zebulun.

JPS (Tanakh)                         From Ephraim came they whose roots are in Malek;

After you, your kin Benjamin;

From Marcher came down leaders,

From Zebulun such as hold the marshal’s staff.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Albert Barnes (revised)          Of Ephraim came down those whose root is in Mount Amalek; after you came Benjamin among your people; of Machir there came down the chiefs, and of Zebulun, they that handle the staff of the officer.

Barnes (with commentary)     Of Ephraim (Deborah’s own tribe) came down those whose root is in Mount Amalek (Judges 12:15); after you (O Ephraim) came Benjamin among your people; of Machir (the west–Jordanic milies of Manasseh; see Joshua 17:1–6) there came down the chiefs, and of Zebulon they that handle the staff of the officer.

Updated Emphasized Bible    Out of Ephraim came down they whose root was in Amalek, After you Benjamin, among your tribes,—Out of Machir had come down governors, And out of Zebulun such as bear aloft the staff of the marshal;...

NASB                                     “From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek came down, Following you, Benjamin, with your peoples; From Machir commanders came down, And from Zebulun those who wield the staff of office.”

NRSV                                     From Ephraim they set out into the valley, following you Benjamin, with your kin; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal’s staff;

Owen's Translation                From Ephraim their root in Amalek; following you, Benjamin with your kinsmen; from Machir, marched down the commanders; and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal’s staff.

Young’s Updated LT             Out of Ephraim their root is against Amalek. After you, Benjamin, among your peoples. Out of Machir came down lawgivers, And out of Zebulun those drawing with the reed of a writer.


What is the gist of this verse? Once this war against the Canaanites was kicked off with a spectacular victory, other tribes joined in the fight: Ephraim, Benjamin, and those in the Machir area. Apparently, history record keepers came from Zebulun.