Deborah, the Judge
1 After Ehud died, the people again did what the LORD said was wrong. 2 So the LORD allowed King Jabin of Canaan to defeat the Israelites. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor. A man named Sisera was the commander of King Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in a town called Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he was very cruel to the Israelites for 20 years. So they cried to the LORD for help.
4 There was a woman prophet named Deborah. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. 5 One day Deborah was sitting under the Palm Tree of Deborah, and the Israelites came up to her to ask what to do about Sisera. (The Palm Tree of Deborah is between the cities of Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim.) 6 Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak and asked him to come meet with her. Barak was the son of a man named Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead them to Mount Tabor. 7 I will make Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, come to you. I will make Sisera, his chariots, and his army come to the Kishon River.* Kishon River A river about ten miles from Mount Tabor. I will help you defeat Sisera there.’ ”
8 Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go and do this if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
9 “Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But because of your attitude, you will not be honored when Sisera is defeated. The LORD will allow a woman to defeat Sisera.”
So Deborah went with Barak to the city of Kedesh. 10 At the city of Kedesh, Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali together. He gathered 10,000 men to follow him from these tribes, and Deborah also went with him.
11 There was a man named Heber who was from the Kenites. The Kenites were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law,† father-in-law Or possibly, “son-in-law.” Hobab. Heber had left the other Kenites and had made his home by the oak tree in Zaanannim, near the city of Kedesh.
12 Someone told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam was at Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, and they marched from the city of Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Today the LORD will help you defeat Sisera. Surely you know that the LORD has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led the 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15 Barak and his men attacked Sisera. During the battle, the LORD confused Sisera and his army and chariots. They did not know what to do. Barak and his men defeated Sisera’s army, but Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16 Barak continued fighting Sisera’s army. He and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. They used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of Sisera’s men was left alive.
17 But Sisera ran away to the tent where a woman named Jael lived. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. His family was at peace with King Jabin of Hazor. That is why Sisera ran to Jael’s tent. 18 Jael saw him coming, so she went out to meet him and said, “Sir, come into my tent. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 But first, Sisera asked Jael for a drink of water. Jael had some milk in a bottle made from animal skin. So she gave him a drink of the milk and then covered him up.
20 Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say, ‘No.’ ”
21 But Jael found a tent peg and a hammer. She quietly went to Sisera. Sisera was very tired, so he was sleeping. She put the tent peg to the side of Sisera’s head and hit it with a hammer. The tent peg went through the side of his head and into the ground. Sisera died.
22 Just then Barak came by Jael’s tent, looking for Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, “Come in here, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered the tent with Jael. There Barak found Sisera lying dead on the ground, with the tent peg through the side of his head.
23 On that day God defeated King Jabin of Canaan for the Israelites. 24 So the Israelites became stronger and stronger until they defeated King Jabin of Canaan. The Israelites finally destroyed him.
*4:7 Kishon River A river about ten miles from Mount Tabor.
†4:11 father-in-law Or possibly, “son-in-law.”