Deborah and Barak. 1a The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; Ehud was dead. 2So the LORD sold them into the power of the Canaanite king, Jabin, who reigned in Hazor. The general of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim.b 3c But the Israelites cried out to the LORD; for with his nine hundred iron chariots Jabin harshly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.
4At that time the prophet Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. 5She used to sit under Deborah’s palm tree, between Ramah and Bethel in the mountain region of Ephraim, where the Israelites came up to her for judgment. 6She had Barak, son of Abinoam,d summoned from Kedesh of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands: Go, march against Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from Naphtali and Zebulun. 7I will draw Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, out to you at the Wadi Kishon,e together with his chariots and troops, and I will deliver them into your power.” 8But Barak answered her, “If you come with me, I will go; if you do not come with me, I will not go.” 9“I will certainly go with you,” she replied, “but you will not gain glory for the expedition on which you are setting out, for it is into a woman’s power that the LORD is going to sell Sisera.” So Deborah arose and went with Barak and journeyed with him to Kedesh.
10Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh, and ten thousand men followed him.f Deborah also went up with him. 11* Now Heber the Kenite had detached himself from Cain, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ father-in-law,g and had pitched his tent by the terebinth of Zaanannim, which was near Kedesh.
12It was reported to Sisera that Barak, son of Abinoam, had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13So Sisera called out all nine hundred of his iron chariots and all his forces from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. 14Deborah then said to Barak, “Up! This is the day on which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your power. The LORD marches before you.” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by his ten thousand men. 15And the LORD threw Sisera and all his chariots and forces into a panic before Barak.h Sisera himself dismounted from his chariot and fled on foot, 16but Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-ha-goiim. The entire army of Sisera fell beneath the sword, not even one man surviving.
17Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin, king of Hazor, and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside with me; do not be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink. I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him.i 20“Stand at the entrance of the tent,” he said to her. “If anyone comes and asks, ‘Is there someone here?’ say, ‘No!’” 21Jael, wife of Heber, got a tent peg and took a mallet in her hand. When Sisera was in a deep sleep from exhaustion, she approached him stealthily and drove the peg through his temple and down into the ground, and he died.j 22Then when Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
23Thus on that day God humbled the Canaanite king, Jabin, before the Israelites; 24their power weighed ever more heavily on him, until at length they finished off the Canaanite king, Jabin.
* [4:11] It was characteristic of the Kenites that they encamped alongside or among other nomadic groups, such as the Amalekites (cf. 1:16; 1 Sm 15:6). They are most often mentioned in connection with tribes living in the southern part of Judah, but Heber’s group seems to have moved north and pitched its tents in the lower Galilee. Cain: in this case a collective term for the Kenites. For Hobab, see 1:16.
a. [4:1] Jgs 2:19; 3:12; 8:33–34.
b. [4:2] Jos 11:1–15; Ps 83:10; 1 Sm 12:9.
c. [4:3] Jgs 3:9, 15; 6:6, 7; 10:10; 1 Sm 12:8, 10.
h. [4:15] Ex 14:24; Jos 10:10; 1 Sm 7:10.