The Bride Crushes The Serpent's Head (Judges 4:1-24)
God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong
1 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7 and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”
8 And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!”
9 So she 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.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh.
12 And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.
17 However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.” And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.
19 Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’ ”
21 Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. 22 And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.” And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.
23 So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. 24 And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
In the Book of Judges thus far, Israel has rebelled against her God, has been disciplined by God through foreign oppressors, has repented and returned to drawing near to Him in worship, and has been delivered by judges God has raised up. Now, God does something different. He raises up a mother for Israel, and the story ends with a woman crushing the head of the serpent.
Deborah the Mother of Israel (v. 1-5)
After the judge Ehud dies, the children of Israel fall right back into their idolatry. They resume worshiping the demon gods of the Canaanites. Yahweh is not absent in this, but responds, this time by selling them into the hands of a restored Canaanite king named Jabin, who reigned in the northern city of Hazor, a city that had been devoted to destruction in the conquest, now is rebuilt. And he oppressed Israel for 20 years before Israel finally cried out to the Lord to save them. 20 years of brutality before Israel finally forsook their false gods and worshiped Yahweh.
And so God raises up Deborah, whose name means “bee,” to be a prophetess and judgess of Israel. Before we go any further, it has to be pointed out that we live in an age where decades of blurring the distinctions between men and women have come full bloom, and now transgenderism has entered the mainstream. Just this past week was a major celebration for men who believe they are women and vice-versa, and a major producer of children’s entertainment, Disney publicly proclaimed they are fully in support of promoting transgenderism among children. The people responsible for leading us to this point of utter insanity love this chapter of the Bible. They believe that it is an example in scripture of feminism, of there being no distinction between what men and women are created to be and to do.
They like to present Deborah as an Israelite Xena: Warrior Princess. And the powers that manufacture most people’s perception of reality have spent hundreds of millions of dollars producing women’s action heroes to plant in the mind of everyone within the American cultural empire the idea that “strong women” like Black Widow or Rey Skywalker can beat up all the bad guys. But despite the full-court press of manufacturing an alternative reality, God’s reality still exists. Women are not as strong as men. Even the absolute strongest women on the planet, the 0.0001% of elite female Olympic athletes are not a whole lot stronger than the average male weightlifter. The overwhelming majority of women are physically weaker than the bottom tenth percentile of men.
Now, 30 years ago, it might seem incredibly pedantic to even have to explain that, but you can understand the pressure that billions of dollars of cultural and social distortion have had on us. For all of human history, people everywhere, Christian, non-Christian, European, African, Asian, everywhere and for all time it was implicitly recognized that men go to war to defend and protect their women. Only in the last few decades in the apostate Christian West, and only in the face of billions of dollars of intentional propagandizing, is this even in question.
But within this massive confusion, people who want to conform the Bible to the absurd manufactured reality of the current year will take Deborah as an example that supports their beliefs. But a careful look at the text shows this isn’t the case. She is not a warrior princess. She is not even a warrior at all. Her office is even distinct from the male office of judge. The office of judge is a civil office, not an ecclesiastical or liturgical one. Just as the male judges are a stand-in for King Yahweh, Deborah is a stand-in for a queen. She is the representative of Yahweh’s bride, who is Israel. She is the first among the people of Israel and stands within them while representing them. She does not lose the unique aspects of her sex by filling this civil office.
Those who seek to confuse the distinctions between women and men do so to promote things like women’s ordination. They want Deborah to be an example of a lady pastor. But that is not what she is doing. She is not leading God’s people in worship in the tabernacle. That role is for the priest. And despite there being rare examples of prophetesses, judgesses, and queens in the Bible, there never, ever are any priestesses. God created Adam specifically to guard the sanctuary and all that was in it (including Eve). This particularly male role continued on in the tabernacle and temple and in the church. The priest is an Adam guarding the garden and keeping it, leading in liturgy and worship. The minister fills that exact same role in the New Covenant. Deborah does not contradict any of this.
Barak and The Lord’s Victory at Mount Tabor (v. 6-17)
Deborah has fulfilled her role as a mother for Israel, faithfully judging them when she sends for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh Naphtali, a city of refuge, thus making him a Levite. She passes the role of judge and deliverer to him to lead Israel in battle, and gives him word directly from Yahweh. But rather than accept his duty immediately on faith, Barak tests God, saying to Deborah that he would not go up without her coming along. Deborah agrees, but tells him the Lord’s judgment, that the glory of the great victory will not go him and his military prowess, but to a woman.
Deborah goes with him, but nowhere are we told she is anything but present with the army of Israel. Every instance in the text describing the battle, Barak is in command, not Deborah. In. v. 14, it even appears that Deborah remained on Mount Tabor while Barack and the army of ten thousand came down to fight Sisera in the valley. Yahweh had given Sisera and the Canaanites into Barak’s hand and Israel did not leave a single Canaanite alive.
Jael Crushing the Head of the Serpent (v. 18-24)
Sisera fled the battle and came to the household of Heber the Kenite who had separated himself from the Kenites united to Israel and was (sinfully) at peace with the Canaanites. His wife, Jael greeted Sisera and told him he would be safe inside her tent. He asked for water, but she brought him milk. Then he commanded her to watch the door, and to tell anyone who asked if a man was here to lie and say “no.” After Sisera fell asleep, Jael takes a tent peg and drove it into Sisera’s temple, killing him. After this Barak appears and Jael tells him he will find Sisera inside her tent.
People often get confused by this story, but they should not be. Jael did not sin by deceiving Sisera, any more than Rahab or the Hebrew midwives sin in their deception of the enemy. It is impossible to understand this story outside the context of Genesis 3. The serpent deceives the bride, and later God promises that the seed of the bride will crush the head of the seed of the serpent. Well, in this scenario the Bride is represented by first Deborah, then by Jael, and the serpent is represented by Jabin, then Sisera. Jael literally crushes the serpent’s head, while Deborah (through Barak) figuratively crushes Jabins head (the word in v. 24 for destroy literally means “cut off” and is the term for castration). Jabin attacks the bride and he is castrated. Sisera attacks the bride and has his skull caved in. And for Jael, the weapon of the enemy—deception—is turned against him. This is why God always has women deceiving the enemy in the Bible, what the serpent did to the Woman is turned against him by women.
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