נחל קישׁון גרפם נחל קדומים נחל קישׁון תדרכי נפשׁי עז׃
אז הלמו עקבי־סוס מדהרות דהרות אביריו׃
The Kishon River swept them away, that ancient river, the Kishon River. O my soul, march on with strength! Then the horses' hoofs pounded the ground, their mighty steeds galloping at full speed.
(Jdg 5:21-22 CJB)
DEBORAH: JUDGE AND PROPHETESS
Now D'vorah, a woman and a prophet, the wife of Lapidot, was judging Isra'el at that time. (Jdg 4:4 CJB)
This is the introduction of Deborah. The name Deborah in Hebrew means "bee." Most translations translate the Hebrew text, " אשׁת לפידות as "the wife of Lapidot", but the word "lapid", means"torch," so some well-known Talmudists translate the phrase, "a woman of torches", or "of fiery decisive spirit." Which is right or wrong, Messiah will tell us when He comes. May it be soon, HaShem!
She used to sit under D'vorah's Palm between Ramah and Beit-El, in the hills of Efrayim; and the people of Isra'el would come to her for judgment. (Jdg 4:5 CJB)
In Biblical history, the position of sitting under a tree infers studying or rendering judgment. Israel at that time had no central authority. It was a loose tribal federation, not unlike the United States before the Constitutional Convention when all the states worked independently from each other.
That state of affairs was dangerous for Israel. Four times in the Book of Judges we are told:
At that time there was no king in Isra'el; a man simply did whatever he thought was right. (Jdg 17:6 CJB)
Just like the United States were before the institution of the Constitution, this lack of federalism made Israel vulnerable not only to attacks from the outside, but also to heresies from the inside. The book of Judges seems to be a litany of what happens when man is left to his own devices without government or king. It was only after Saul united the whole country under one flag that the country found its strength under King David and its glory under King Solomon. Its post-Solomonic division only led to disaster.
TROUBLE BREWING IN THE NORTH
In the absence of unifying leadership, Israel relied on judges to solve their complaints. One such complaint was about Jabin the Canaanite who had rebuilt the city of Hazor and, with a chariot force, exercised control over the strategic Hazor-Megiddo Highway (Judg 4:3). The situation later described in the Song of Deborah was dire (Judg 5:6-8).
Deborah understood that sin was at the root of Israel's problems in the North (Judg 5:8), but she empathized with the soldiers who tried to defend the country (Judg 5:9).
So she took the decisive action of sending support to the troops. Note that the decision was not totally pragmatic. She received an oracle from HaShem and thus was able to send Barak, whose name in Hebrew means "lighting," not with her own marching orders, but with HaShem's.
She sent for Barak the son of Avino`am, from Kedesh in Naftali, and said to him: "Adonai has given you this order: 'Go, march to Mount Tavor, and take with you 10,000 men from the people of Naftali and Z'vulun. I will cause Sisra, the commander of Yavin's army, to encounter you at the Kishon River with his chariots and troops; and I will hand him over to you.' " (Jdg 4:7 CJB)
BARAK, THE SHY LIGHTNING
Barak who already had a reputation within his Naphtali tribe trusted the prophetess but seemed to have low self-esteem. He didn't trust himself so.
Barak answered her: "If you go with me, I'll go; but if you won't go with me, I won't go." (Jdg 4:8 CJB)
If one had to choose, it is better to have a low-esteem than arrogant pride, which HaShem hates. But sometimes, humility can even be a form of pride. It happens when maybe we become "proud that we are humble." But that was not Barak's case. His case was a kind of pride that doesn't believe in HaShem's Words. We may not be sure of ourselves, but when we know HaShem said it, it can be a form of pride to resist the Word of HaShem.
Barak asked for the prophetess to go with him. Could it be that he gave more honor to HaShem's mouthpiece than to His words? Regardless of the reasons for his reservations, they were noted and Deborah chided Barak for it.
She replied, "Yes, I will gladly go with you; but the way you are doing it will bring you no glory; because Adonai will hand Sisra over to a woman." Then D'vorah set out and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Jdg 4:9 CJB)
Ouch! The price, the trophy of victory would be taken from Barak and given to a woman!
SUMMONING THE TROOPS TO MOUNT TABOR
Barak summoned Z'vulun and Naftali to come to Kedesh. Ten thousand men followed him, and D'vorah went up with him. (Jdg 4:10 CJB)
Hever the Keini was there:
Now Hever the Keini had cut himself off from the rest of Kayin, the descendants of Hovav Moshe's father-in-law; he had pitched his tent near the oak at Tza`ananim, which is close to Kedesh. (Jdg 4:11 CJB)
Sisera stationed his forces on the plain of the Jezreel Valley between Megiddo and Mount Tabor, the plain of Armageddon (Daniel Lancaster TC 3 p 359).
Sisra was informed that Barak the son of Avino`am had gone up to Mount Tavor. So Sisra rallied his chariots, all 900 iron chariots, and all the troops he had with him, from Haroshet-HaGoyim to the Kishon River. (Jdg 4:12- 13 CJB)
Then Deborah, in tune with the Word of HaShem yells to Barak:
"Get going! This is the day when Adonai will hand Sisra over to you! Adonai has gone out ahead of you!" So Barak went down from Mount Tavor with 10,000 men following him; and Adonai threw Sisra, all his chariots and his entire army into a panic before Barak's sword; so that Sisra got down from his chariot and fled on foot. (Jdg 4:14-15 CJB)
In her victory song, Deborah reflects:
"Kings came; they fought. Yes, the kings of Kena`an fought at Ta`anakh, by the waters of Megiddo; but they took no spoil of silver. (Jdg 5:19 CJB)
Daniel Lancaster, whose brother is a historical geographer, explains with the help of famous historian Josephus:
For most of the year, this united Kishon is only a shallow meandering creek that winds its way northwesterly through the Jezreel Valley and below Mt Carmel before emptying in the Mediterranean Sea at Haifa Bay. As Barak's warriors descended upon Sisera's armies, the Lord unleashed a great cloudburst: "There came from heaven a great storm with a vast quantity of rain and hail."
Deborah reflects on this supernatural event in her victory song:
They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses; yes, they fought against Sisra. (Jdg 5:20 CJB)
Daniel continues explaining, "Sisera's charioteers found their wheels haplessly mired and their horses wild with terror as the waters pounded down on them like hoofbeats."
Deborah also describes in her song:
The Kishon River swept them away, that ancient river, the Kishon River. O my soul, march on with strength! Then the horses' hoofs pounded the ground, their mighty steeds galloping at full speed. (Jdg 5:21-22 CJB)
The narrator continues:
But Barak pursued the chariots and the army all the way to Haroshet-HaGoyim. Sisra's entire army was put to the sword; not one man was left. (Jdg 4:16 CJB)
REMEMBER THE PROPHECY FROM DEBORAH THAT A WOMAN WOULD TAKE THE TROPHY?
However, Sisra ran on foot to the tent of Ya`el the wife of Hever the Keini, because there was peace between Yavin the king of Hatzor and the family of Hever the Keini. Ya`el went out to meet Sisra and said to him, "Come in, my lord; stay here with me; and don't be afraid." So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. He said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink -- I'm thirsty." She opened a goatskin of milk, gave him some to drink, and covered him up again. He said to her, "Stand at the entrance to the tent; and if anyone asks you if somebody is here, say, 'No.' " But when he was deeply asleep, Ya`el the wife of Hever took a tent peg and a hammer in her hand, crept in to him quietly and drove the tent peg into his temple, right through to the ground; so that he died without waking up. So here is Barak pursuing Sisra, and Ya`el steps out to meet him and says, "Come, I will show you the man you are looking for." He goes into her tent; and there is Sisra, lying dead with the tent peg through his temple. Thus God on that day defeated Yavin the king of Kena`an in the presence of the people of Isra'el. The hand of the people of Isra'el came down more and more heavily against Yavin the king of Kena`an, until they had completely destroyed Yavin the king of Kena`an. On that day D'vorah and Barak the son of Avino`am sang this song: (Jdg 5:1 CJB)
CONNECTION WITH THE PARASHA
In the parasha this week we read a similar story:
"Then the people of Isra'el went into the sea on the dry ground, with the water walled up for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians continued their pursuit, going after them into the sea -- all Pharaoh's horses, chariots and cavalry. Just before dawn, Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic. He caused the wheels of their chariots to break off, so that they could move only with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Adonai is fighting for Isra'el against the Egyptians! Let's get away from them!"
(Exo 14:22-25 CJB)
We also read how Moshe sang a song of victory when they were on the other side (Ex 15:1-21), just like Barak and Deborah sang a song of victory.
"When leaders in Isra'el dedicate themselves, and the people volunteer, you should all bless Adonai. Hear, kings; listen, princes; I will sing to Adonai! I will sing praise to Adonai the God of Isra'el. "Adonai, when you went out from Se`ir, when you marched out from the field of Edom, the earth quaked, and the sky shook; yes, the clouds poured down torrents. The mountains melted at the presence of Adonai, at Sinai, before Adonai the God of Isra'el. "In the days of Shamgar the son of `Anat, in the days of Ya`el, the main roads were deserted; travelers walked the byways. The rulers ceased in Isra'el, they ceased, until you arose, D'vorah, arose a mother in Isra'el. "They chose new gods when war was at the gates. Was there a shield or spear to be seen among Isra'el's forty thousand men? My heart goes out to Isra'el's leaders and to those among the people who volunteer. All of you, bless Adonai. "You who ride white donkeys, sitting on soft saddle-blankets, and you walking on the road, talk about it! Louder than the sound of archers at the watering-holes will they sound as they retell the righteous acts of Adonai , the righteous acts of his rulers in Isra'el. "Then Adonai's people marched down to the gates. "Awake, awake, D'vorah! Awake, awake, break into song! Arise, Barak! Lead away your captives, son of Avino`am! "Then a remnant of the nobles marched down; the people of Adonai marched down to me like warriors. From Efrayim came those rooted in `Amalek. Behind you, Binyamin is with your peoples. From Makhir the commanders marched down, and from Z'vulun those holding the musterer's staff. The princes of Yissakhar were with D'vorah, Yissakhar, along with Barak; into the valley they rushed forth behind him. Among the divisions of Re'uven they made great resolutions in their hearts. But why did you stay at the pens for the sheep, and listen to the shepherd's flute playing for the flocks? Concerning the divisions of Re'uven there were great searchings of heart. Gil`ad lives beyond the Yarden. Dan -- why does he stay by the ships? Asher stayed by the shore of the sea, remaining near its bays. The people of Z'vulun risked their lives, Naftali too, on the open heights. "Kings came; they fought. Yes, the kings of Kena`an fought at Ta`anakh, by the waters of Megiddo; but they took no spoil of silver. They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses; yes, they fought against Sisra. The Kishon River swept them away, that ancient river, the Kishon River. O my soul, march on with strength! Then the horses' hoofs pounded the ground, their mighty steeds galloping at full speed. " 'Curse Meroz!' said the angel of Adonai, 'Curse the people living there with a bitter punishment for not coming to help Adonai, to help Adonai against the mighty warriors.' "Ya`el will be blessed more than all women. The wife of Hever the Keini will be blessed more than any woman in the tent. He asked for water, and she gave him milk; In an elegant bowl she brought him curds. Then she took a tent peg in her left hand and a workman's hammer in her right; with the hammer she struck Sisra, pierced his skull, yes, she shattered and crushed his temple. He sank down at her feet, he fell and lay there; he sank at her feet, he fell -- where he sank down, there he fell dead. "Sisra's mother looks out the window; peering out through the lattice she wonders, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why are his horses so slow to return?' The wisest of her ladies answer her, and she repeats it to herself, 'Of course! They're collecting and dividing the spoil -- a girl, two girls for every warrior, for Sisra booty of dyed clothing, a plunder of colorfully embroidered garments, two embroidered scarves for every soldier's neck.' "May all your enemies perish like this, Adonai; but may those who love him be like the sun going forth in its glory!"
(Jdg 5:2-31 CJB)
Then the land had rest for forty years.
THE VALLEY OF JEZREEL/ARMAGEDDON
The Valley of Jezreel/Megiddo has been the site of great battles. Napoleon Bonaparte declared it as "the most natural battleground of the whole earth." Here are some of the most important ones: Thutmose III vs. the Canaanites in ca. 1472 BCE; Deborah & Barak vs. Sisera (Judges 5); Saul vs. the Philistines (1 Sam 31) Solomon vs. Pharaoh Shishak (2 Chr. 12:3-4); Josiah vs. Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29); Four separate battles between Saladin and the Crusaders in the 12th century; Egyptian Mamlouks vs. Mongols in 14th century; Napoleon Bonaparte vs. Ottomans in 1799; General George Allenby vs. Ottoman Turks in 1918; Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek vs. Arab Liberation Army in 1948.
At least one final one will be fought:
The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva'ot. ("Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won't be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!") And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.
(Rev 16:12-16 CJB)
But as with what happened with Barak and Deborah, our enemy will lose:
Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, "THE WORD OF GOD." The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations -- "He will rule them with a staff of iron." It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven's armies. And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, "Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!" I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
(Rev 19:11-21 CJB)
Will it be because of a supernatural flood?
MAY HE ALSO SEND THE STARS OF HEAVEN (ANGELS) TO FIGHT ON OUR SIDE, UNLEASHING THE FLOODS OF HEAVEN AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF GOD.