Judges 5 Notes

Chapter 5

v. 2:  This may be touching on the theme of Barak’s hesitance to lead, which the writer records earlier in his narrative.[1]

Below is my attempt to trace the song, following who the speaker is and how its various parts are connected.  Deborah’s voice is indicated by green,Barak’s by blue.

v. 2:  I believe this is Deborah singing because it expresses the same theme as v. 9 where she is definitely the one singing.[2]

v. 3:  This verse possibly shares the theme of vs. 10 and 11; the pattern would be parallel anyway.

vs. 4-5: The past tense here recalls God’s past glory in the conquest of Canaan during Joshua’s time as a judge.

vs. 6-8:  This is still the past but the more recent past.

v. 9:  This reintroduces the theme of v. 2.

vs. 10-11:  This reintroduces the theme of v. 3.

v. 12a: Barak sings.

v. 12b: Deborah sings

vs. 13-19:  This section describes the gathering of Israel for the battle and gives praise to those who helped and rebuke to those who did not.  I am uncertain who is singing for the rest of the song because both Deborah and Barak are mentioned in the third person in v. 15.  I am not sure who the “me” of v. 13 is, though it does sound like v.7, which would suggest Deborah were it not for the fact that “him that remaineth” (as the OKJ translates it) parallels “me,” and “him” would suggest Barak.

v. 19:  Here is a description of the battle itself.

v. 23: Here is a curse on Meroz.

v. 24: Here is a blessing on Jael for her work.

vs. 13-31: The translations differ somewhat here, but I believe these verses establish the theme of the song.  They seem purposely to take any spotlight away from Barak, which could be a mild rebuke of his hesitance to lead.  Along those lines, note the emphasis on Israel’s willing leaders as well as its willingfollowers in contrast to those tribes who did not help.  Note too the preeminence of women in this song.  This may be yet another subtle rebuke of men who did not lead.  The women range from Deborah (who seems to sing most of the song) to Jael, to Sisera’s mother and her wise ladies.

V. 28:  I believe there is an intentional parallel between the mother of Sisera and Deborah herself, “a mother in Israel” (5:7).

[1] See also 4:8, 5:9, and (perhaps) 5:13.

[2] In verse one we find that Deborah and Barak both sing, but Deborah seems to be the primary singer, perhaps with Barak singing some sort of antiphony, and so it is properly her song, especially when one considers her authoritatively superior status as a prophet.


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