Who was Deborah in the Bible?

BibleAsk Team


Deborah in the Bible was a female judge and a prophet of Israel during the Canaanites oppression. She was the wife of Lapidoth (Judges 4:4). Her name means “bee.” She judged perhaps not as a princess by any civil authority but as a prophetess, correcting injustices and evil. Her favorite place for hearing cases was under a tree between Ramah and Bethel (1 Samuel 1:1). This seems to have been in the vicinity of the famous “tree of mourning,” under which Rachel’s nurse, Deborah, was buried (Genesis 35:8).

The Canaanites ruled over Israel for 20 years (Judges 4:2–3). The Canaanite king was Jabin and his commander of army, was Sisera. Their task force consisted of 900 chariots of iron. Against such a threatening foe the Israelites, in their state of sinful rebellion, could not stand, and they were soon overcome and forced to pay tribute.

The Israelites were treated very harshly by Sisera and they longed for deliverance. Deborah described that sad condition, “The highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be” (Judges 5:6-7).

So, the Lord told Deborah that a man by the name Barak from Naphtali will revolt against Sisera. Upon hearing that Barak said, “I’ll only go if Deborah goes with me” (Judges 4:8). Deborah said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9). Deborah agreed to go along on the military expedition, but she prophesied that the victory that would take place will not be to Barak’s glory but to that of a woman. She was not referring to herself, but to Jael (verses 18–21).

The Lord gave the Israelites the victory in the war and Sisera fled away and came to a camp of Kenites. Heber the Kenite was probably away so his wife Jael welcomed the commander and hid him in the tent. But when he went to sleep she drove the peg of the tent into his head and killed him (verse 21). Thus, the prophecy of Deborah was fulfilled in that Sisera died by a woman.

In Judges chapter 5, we read about the song of Deborah and Barrak to celebrate that national victory. This song begins with words of praise to God for victory (verses 2–5), followed by a description of the state of affairs that preceded the battle (verses 6–8). This is followed by a description of the battle (verses 18–22) and the death of Sisera at the hand of Jael (verses 24–27).

Chapter five ends with the phrase: “So the land had rest for forty years” (verse 31). After fighting the enemy, the Israelites were blessed with peace. This same message applies to us today. The Bible admonishes the believers, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We too can experience peace when we fight the oppression of the devil and chase him and sin out of our lives by the mighty name of Jesus (Luke 10:19).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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