Story Nine

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Judg. 4:1, to 5:31
AGAIN many of the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el were drawn away from the worship of the Lord, and began to live like the people around them, praying to idols and doing wickedly. And again the Lord left them to suffer for their sins. A Cā́ năan-īte king in the north, whose name was Jā́ bin, sent his army down to conquer them under the command of his general, named Sĭś e-rȧ. In Sĭś e-rȧ's army were many chariots of iron, drawn by horses; while soldiers in the chariots shot arrows and threw spears at the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. The men of Ĭś̝ ra-el were not used to horses, and greatly feared these war-chariots.
All the northern tribes in the land of Ĭś̝ ra-el fell under the power of King Jā́ bin and his general, Sĭś e-ra; and their rule was very harsh and severe. This was the fourth of these "oppressions," and it bore most heavily upon the people in the north. But it led those who suffered from it to turn from their idols, and to call upon the Lord God of Ĭś̝ ra-el.
At that time a woman was ruling as judge over a large part of the land; the only woman among the fifteen judges who, one after another, ruled the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. Her name was Dĕb́ o-rah. She sat under a palm-tree north of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, between the cities of Rā́ mah and Bĕth́ el, and gave advice to all the people who sought her. So wise and good was Dĕb́ o-rah that men came from all parts of the land with their difficulties and the questions that arose between them. She ruled over the land, not by the, force of any army, or by any appointment, but because all men saw that God's spirit was upon her.
Dĕb́ o-rah heard of the troubles of the tribes in the north under the hard rule of the Cā́ năan-ītes. She knew that a brave man was living in the land of Năph́ ta-lī, a man named Bā́ răk, and to him she sent this message:
"Bā́ răk, call out the tribes of Ĭś̝ ra-el who live near you; raise an army, and lead the men who gather about you to Mount Tā́ bôr. The Lord has told me that he will give Sĭś e-rȧ and the host of the Cā́ năan-ītes into your hands.”
But Bā́ răk felt afraid to undertake alone this great work of setting his people free. He sent back to Dĕb́ o-rah this answer:
"If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
"I will go with you," said Dĕb́ o-rah; "but because you did not trust God, and did not go when God called you, the honor of this war will not be yours, for God will deliver Sĭś e-rȧ into the hands of a woman.”
Dĕb́ o-rah left her seat under the palm-tree and went up to Kḗ desh, where Bā́ răk lived. Together Dĕb́ o-rah and Bḗ răk sent out a call for the men of the north, and ten thousand men met together with such arms as they could find. This little army, with a woman for its chief, encamped on Mount Tā́ bôr, which is one of three mountains standing in a row on the east of a great plain called "the plain of Ĕs-dra-ḗ lon," "the plain of Jĕź re-el," and "the plain of Mē̇-gĭd́ dō̇,"—for it bears all these three names. On this plain, both in Bible times and also in the times since the Bible, many great battles have been fought. Over this plain winds the brook Kī́ shŏn, which at some seasons, after heavy rain, becomes a foaming, rushing river.
From their camp on the top of Mount Tā́ bôr the little army of Ĭś̝ ra-el could look down on the great host of Cā́ năan-ītes with their many tents, their horses and chariots, and their general, Sĭś e-rȧ. But Dĕb́ o-rah was not afraid. She said to Bā́ răk:
"March down the mountain with all your men, and fight the Cā́ năan-ītes. The Lord will go before you, and he will give Sĭś e-rȧ and his host into your hand.”
Then Bā́ răk blew a trumpet and called out his men. They ran down the side of Mount Tā́ bôr and rushed upon their enemies.
The Cā́ năan-ītes were taken so suddenly that they had no time to draw out their chariots. They were frightened and ran away, trampling each other under foot, chariots and horses and men in a wild flight.
And the Lord helped the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes; for at that time the brook Kī́ shŏn was swollen into a river, and the Cā́ năan-ītes crowded after each other into it. While many were killed in the battle, many were also drowned in the river.
Sĭś e-rȧ, the general of the Cā́ năan-ītes, saw that the battle had gone against him and that all was lost. He leaped from his chariot and fled away on foot. On the edge of the plain he found a tent standing alone, and he ran to it for shelter and hiding.
It was the tent of a man named Hḗ be͂r, and Helper's wife, Jā́ el, was in front-of it. She knew Sĭś e-rȧ, and said to him, "Come in, my lord; come into the tent; do not be afraid.”
Sĭś e-rȧ, entered the tent, and Jā́ el covered him with a rug, so that no enemy might find him. Sĭś e-rȧ, said to her, "I am very thirsty; can you give me a little water to drink?”
Instead of water she brought out a bottle of milk and gave him some: and then Sĭś e-rȧ, lay down to sleep, for he was very tired from the battle and from running. While he was in a deep sleep, Jā́ el crept into the tent quietly with a tent-pin and a hammer in her hand. She placed the point of the pin upon the side of his head, near his ear, and with the hammer gave blow after blow, driving it into his brain and through his head until it went into the ground underneath. After a moment's struggle Sĭś e-rȧ was dead, and she left his body upon the ground.
In a little time Jā́ el saw Bā́ răk, the chief of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-īte army, coming toward the tent. She went out to meet him, and said, "Come with me, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.”
She lifted the curtain of the tent, and led Bā́ răk within; and there he saw lying dead upon the ground the mighty Sĭś e-rȧ, who only the day before had led the army of the Cā́ năan-ītes.
That was a terrible deed which Jā́ el did. We should call it treachery and murder; but such was the bitter hate between Ĭś̝ ra-el-īte and Cā́ năan˗īte at that time that all the people gave great honor to Jā́ el on account of it, for by that act she had set the people free from the king who had been oppressing Ĭś̝ ra-el. After this the land had rest for many years.
Dĕb́ o-rah, the judge, wrote a great song about this victory.
Here are some verses from it :
"Because the elders took the lead in Ĭś̝ ra-el,
Because the people offered themselves willingly,
Bless ye the Lord.

Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes;
I, even I will sing unto the Lord;
I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Ĭś́ ra-el.

The kings came and fought.
Then fought the kings of Cā́ năan,
In Tā́ a-năch by the waters of Mē̇˗ḡĭd́ dō̇.
They took no gain of money.

They fought from heaven,
The stars in their courses fought against Sĭś e˗ȧ.
The river Kī́ shŏn swept them away,
That ancient river, the river Kī́ shŏn.
O my soul, march on with strength;

Blessed among women shall Jā́ el be,
The wife of Hḗ be͂r the Kĕń īte,
Blessed shall she be among women in the tent.
He asked water, and she gave him milk,
She brought him butter in a lordly dish.

At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay;
At her feet he bowed, he fell.
Where he bowed, there he fell clown dead.

Through the window c, woman looked forth and cried,
The mother of Sĭś e-rȧ cried through the lattice,
Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the wheels of his chariot?

So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord;
But let them that love him be as the sun,
When he goeth forth in his might."