The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Judges 5

Jdg 5:1

Other songs of women: Miriam (Exo 15:3), Hannah (1Sa 2:1-10), Mary (Luk 1:46-55). All these songs express the joyfulness of victory of Spirit over human pride and arrogance.

Jdg 5:2


Jdg 5:3

YOU KINGS: A summons to Gentile rulers, to heed this warning.

Jdg 5:4

Typ history of Exodus. As a memorial (Exo 12:14), a day of national deliverance never to be forgotten (Exo 13:14-16).

EDOM: Opposed Jews in their journey to Land of Promise (Num 20).

SHOOK: "To move like waves" (Psa 68:8; 77:18). Suggested by Josh 3:16.

POURED: "To fall in drops", ie to speak by inspiration (Job 29:22; Exo 20:46; 21:2). Transl "prophesy" in Mic 2:16; Zec 13:3. See Deu 32:2. At Sinai and at Tabor God's powerful word was demonstrated. Earthquakes accompany awesome manifestations of God: Exo 19:18; Jdg 5:4; Psa 77:18; 114:4; Isa 2:10-22; Jer 4:24; Eze 38:20; Joe 3:16; Amo 9:1,5; Zec 14:4; Rev 6:12; 11:19; 16:18.

WATER: As in desert of Sinai (Psa 68:8). Rain = word of God in Isa 55:9.

Jdg 5:5

QUAKED: "To drip, overflow" (as Psa 147:18; Isa 48:21). Note figure in Isa 64:1,2; Luk 3:5. Thus Mt Zion is exalted (Isa 2:2-4).

Jdg 5:6

ROADS ABANDONED: Being unsafe for travel.

WINDING PATHS: Usually little-traveled secret ways, to avoid Gentile oppressors.

Jdg 5:7

Vv 7-13: An organized resistance.

Jdg 5:8

Idolatry/apostasy brings calamity upon Israel.

NOT A SPEAR... WAS SEEN: Israel was virtually defenseless before its enemies. It was only by faith that a few managed to save Israel.

Jdg 5:10

WHITE DONKEYS: Nobility's mark of distinction (Jdg 10:4; 2Sa 16:2).

Jdg 5:11

Deb tells women to commemorate the dividing of the spoil by Israel, each day as they meet at the wells. Also, to remember the righteous acts of their "rulers" (Jael: vv 24-27), and to enjoy the new-won freedom in their gates (in ct to v 8).

CITY GATES: Centers of administration of law, justice (Deu 16:18; Jos 20:4; Jer 17:19,20).

Jdg 5:12

TAKE CAPTIVE YOUR CAPTIVES: Barak delivered Israel from king of Canaan (Jdg 4:2), who had enslaved them. Christ delivers us from the bondage to sin (Rom 6:6; Eph 4:8). See also Psa 68: psa of salvation at Sinai: "leading captivity captive" (v 18), journey to Zion to be manifested in glory before kings of earth. Praise to God again, in the new song of Rev 5:9.

"Is it just accident that identical words are quoted in Eph 4:18 and Psa 68:18 with direct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ? His captivity was his New Israel in bondage to sin until he came and led it forth to liberty, and a glorious inheritance, even as Moses did Israel.

Again, is it just accident that Deborah's song concludes with words which anticipate very remarkably the expression Jesus himself used to describe the final emancipation of the righteous from sin?: 'Let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might' (Jdg 5:31). With these words compare: 'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father' (Mat 13:43).

Since the beginning and end of this Son have close associations with the New Covenant, it is hardly likely that the rest of it is devoid of similar significance." And so the whole of Jdg 5 may be read as a commentary on the willingness (or otherwise) of the tribes ("ecclesias") of Israel to act in freeing their bre from bondage (repr preaching of gospel).

Jdg 5:13

The weak and insignificant, who had faithfully served Barak, are elevated over the honorable.

Jdg 5:14

The Ephraimites had taken land from the Amalekites (Jdg 12:15). Benjamin followed Ephr's example.

THOSE WHO BEAR A COMMANDER'S STAFF: "They that handle the pen of the writer" (AV). Fuller (17th century) puts it this way: "Gown-men turned sword-men, clerks became captains, changing their pen-knives into swords." Cp what happened with the apostles, most of them from Zebulun's area: fishers of fish became "fishers of men"!

Jdg 5:15

MUCH SEARCHING OF HEART: A "resolution" to answer call, but... they finally decided to stay home.

Jdg 5:16

WHISTLING: Sig scorn, translated "hissing" in Jer 18:16. Reuben turned a deaf ear to his bre's cry for help, in violation of his promise to be a part of Israel in the west (Jos 22).

"There was probably good reason for this hesitance too. For on Reuben's borders were Moab and Ammon, rapacious, relentless foes, ever eager for cattle-rustling and raiding of villages. How could Reuben leave his territory wide open to the enemy! It was faith that was lacking" (WJR).

Jdg 5:17

GILEAD: Repr tribes east of Jordan (as Jos 22:9; Jdg 20:1), but were excluding Manasseh (v 14).

"The Manassites there would surely come to the aid of their fellow-tribesmen. But no! The deep cleft of Jordan made the distance seem great, and so whilst there was doubtless much sympathy, there was no practical help" (WJR).

DAN, WHY DID HE LINGER BY THE SHIPS?: Or poss "remain at ease". Although in north of Israel, they fled from Sisera, taking refuge in ships?

"There was little excuse here, surely, for the coastal plain gave Dan easy access to the centre of operations. Yet maybe the growing strength of the Philistines coming in from Crete was sufficient deterrent to the furnishing of active support. Once again it was faith that was lacking. 'He that is not for us is against us' " (WJR).

COVES: Or "creeks". Asher, in north too, but they shirked responsibilities as had Dan by hiding in secret streams. (Asher was separated from the rallying point by the main forces of the enemy.)

Jdg 5:18

FIELD: Jdg 4:6,9. They exposed themselves upon Mount Tabor, conspicuous and unarmed except for shield of faith (Eph 6:16).

Jdg 5:19

MEGIDDO: These cities had been sinfully spared by the Jews, and now they became centers for Canaanite oppression of Israel (Jdg 1:27; Jos 17:11).

NO PLUNDER: Motive: jealousy (cp Pro 6:34,35).

Jdg 5:20

Vv 20-22: Josephus' acct of battle mentions torrents of rain, lightning, thunder, flood, general confusion, panic.

Jdg 5:23

Jdg 5:23.

MEROZ: A "refuge", or so it seemed. Here the inhabitants hid and did nothing, as the slothful servant who hid his talent (Mat 25:18,26).

Jdg 5:24

Jael -- a faithful Gentile woman -- as Ruth, Rahab.

Jdg 5:25

MILK: A sour milk (LB 441).

Jdg 5:27

The first blow, dealt while he was asleep, did not kill him. He leaped up. A 2nd and 3rd blows were required by Jael to slay Sisera. Or (2) when he fell down in sleep, he was already as good as dead. Or (3) "Very soon Jael realised the precarious nature of her plight, undefended in the presence of this villain. All at once it was evident that he was set on taking advantage of her loneliness. So, frantically wrenching herself free from his clutches, she snatched up a hammer -- one of her husband's tools -- and swung it wildly as he came at her. The blow went home and he tottered drunkenly, then crumpled up and lay still... The savage resentment and apparently barbarous ferocity behind Jael's next action are thus more readily understood [ie, because of his sexual attack upon her]. Sisera was only stunned. At any moment he might come round. In frenzy and panic she took an iron tent-peg, and drove it with desperate force through his temple. So distraught was she, that long after his brain was pierced she went on hammering, hammering, and only came to herself when the tent-peg was driven well into the hard ground beneath" (WJR).

AT HER FEET: Lit, "between her feet" -- suggesting an attempted rape! "The details mentioned earlier... led generations of Jewish scholars to infer that Jael was provoked to this violence by the violence that was attempted against her" (WJR).

Jdg 5:28

The Canaanites customarily took Jewish women as slaves and concubines. Like a mother, she chooses not to attribute women captives to her son.

Jdg 5:30

GIRL: "The Hebrew noun translated 'girl' means literally 'womb' (BDB 933), but in this context may refer by extension to the female genitalia. In this case the obscene language of Sisera's mother alludes to the sexual brutality which typified the aftermath of battle" (NETn). The Canaanites customarily took Jewish women as slaves and concubines. Like a mother, she chooses not to attribute women captives to her son. She cared not as much to see her son as to grasp the spoils (LB 441).

Jdg 5:31

WHEN IT RISES IN ITS STRENGTH: A glorious promise to the saints: Dan 12:3; Mat 13:43; cp Psa 19:4,5.

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