Judges 4 Notes

Chapter 4

v. 4:  Deborah’s role here is very interesting.  The fact that the narrator says so matter-of-factly that a woman (Deborah) ruled Israel at this time seems odd to me.  It is such an unusual circumstance that I would have expected him to dwell on it a little more.  I wonder why she (rather than a man) was the ruler.  God selected the judges, so her being one must have been in accord with his will.  Perhaps there was a dearth of faithful men.  Note Barak’s timidity.  Note also Deborah’s words in v.9.  Of course, her being a prophetess (the only judge so titled) may also have something to do with her authority.  This may also be why Barak insists on her coming with him in v. 8.

v. 9:  This prophecy has a double meaning.  First, Deborah took Barak’s glory by accompanying him to the battle; this was, no doubt, Barak’s initial interpretation of the prophecy.  But the prophecy’s second (and most exact) fulfillment was obviously in Jael’s slaying of Sisera.

v. 24:  Note this statement and compare it with those concerning the Canaanites in this area (chapter one).  I think this statement  is a description of how what is recorded in chapter one came to pass.  Note the map at the end of my commentary for a visual display of how these things fell out. It is interesting to note the wide number of “1’s” in this area right beside all the “4’s” in Asher.  This could indicate that the victories alluded to here did not include the Canaanites living in Asher.

V. 17:  The actions of Jael are interesting.  Why does she kill Sisera?  Obviously, there was an alliance between Heber and Jabin, which Sisera trusted.  So why would Jael slay a man with whom her husband was allied?  Perhaps Jael (and/or her husband) were opportunists, or perhaps Jael was simply a Hebrew acting from a sense of loyalty to her people, or perhaps she was motivated to uphold the Israelites’ cause for some other reason.  She may even have slain him because of some personal reason totally unconnected to politics; God could have used such a personal grudge to achieve the ends he desired.


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