Categories: Women in the Old Testament
- The name Deborah means "bee," but
it also has the same consonants as the Hebrew
root for "speak" or "word."
- This was also the name of Rachel's nurse.
(See Gen. 35:8)
- Some scholars define Deborah in relation to
the significant man in her life. (She is the
"wife of Lappidoth", though absolutely
nothing is ever said about him). Other scholars
translate this same phrase as "woman of
torches." (And she certainly lit a fire
- Deborah is called a prophet, i.e., someone
who speaks for God (i.e., inherent in her name).
- Though she was a professional prophet, she
spent her days "judging" Israel. (All
Israel came to her for guidance and decisions.)
- She is the only one acting in this legal capacity
- She sat outside the town (under the Palm of
Deborah), thereby making her accessible to everyone.
[The Palm of Deborah was named after Rachel's
nurse.] (This brings to mind memories of Moses
"judging" the people in the wilderness.)
- The fact that the people came to Deborah and
not to the priests suggests a breakdown of the
- There is no explicit directive from God to
go into battle.
- Deborah uses the prophetic formula anyway.
- She tells Barak to "go" and "get"
- 10,000 Troops answered the call, no doubt
because of Deborah.
- Barak refuses to go into battle without her
-- maybe out of fear, maybe out of respect for
the stature of Deborah.
- She agreed to go along, but then said the
glory will go to a woman.
- Her commitment to be present is seen as a
symbol of God's presence.
- Despite all these signs of God's approval,
the battle was long and difficult.
- Ultimately, the Lord routed Sisera and his
men with a flash flood whereby their chariots
got stuck and they were swept away (Echoes of
- Deborah announced when Sisera would be delivered
into Barak's hand.
- Her prophecy was fulfilled.
- The Song of Deborah (5:1-31) is probably older
than the narrative.
- The Song of Deborah tells what life was like
before Deborah and how the Lord delivered them.
- In the poem, Deborah is called a "mother
of Israel." (5:7)
- Because of Deborah, Israel was given new life
Ackerman, Susan. Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen. New York: Doubleday, 1998.'
Auld, A. Graeme. "Joshua, Judges, and Ruth." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.
Block, Daniel. "Judges, Ruth." The New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999.
Gehman, Henry Snyder, ed. The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1974.
Hamlin, E. John. "Judges, At Risk in the Promised Land." The International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1990.
Harris, J. Gordon. "Joshua, Judges, Ruth." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000.
McCann, J. Clinton. "Judges." Interpretation. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.