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the wife of Lapidoth, who was greatly reverenced of all the people for her wisdom; she dwelt under a palm tree on Mount Ephraim, and the Israelites used to go there to her that she might give judgment for them.
Now it pleased God to tell Deborah what the people should do, and she sent for a man named Barak, the son of Abinoam, and told him that the LORD would have him lead ten thousand men of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon towards Mount Tabor. And Deborah told Barak that when he had done this, God would bring Jabin's great army, led by its Captain Sisera, down to the River Kishon, and there would deliver the whole army, with all the king's chariots, into his hands.
Barak intreated Deborah to go with him, and she agreed, but by the gift of prophecy, which God gave her, she foretold that Barak would not have the glory of the victory, as the LORD would deliver the great Captain, Sisera, into a woman's hand.
Then Barak gathered together his ten thousand men, and he and they, and Deborah, went up to Mount Tabor as the LORD had commanded. There was a certain man called Heber who dwelt in the plains of Kedesh; he
was a descendant of Moses' father-in-law, and had in a way separated himself from the people of the land, but he was living at peace with King Jabin. Now he gave Sisera notice that the Israelites were gone up to Mount Tabor, and directly Sisera gathered his army, his chariots and horses, and went to the River Kishon, expecting utterly to destroy the enemy. But the Children of Israel had One mightier than all the kings and armies on earth with them.
They fought from heaven ;—the stars in their courses fought against Sisera ;” and God gave Israel strength utterly to defeat the great army. Chariots and horses, and armed men, were all overthrown with the edge of the sword, and swept away by the strong fierce stream of the River Kishon.
When the Captain of this great host, Sisera, saw how he was beaten, and all his men slain, he fled away alone and on foot, to try and save his own life. Now the LORD had said by the mouth of Deborah, that Sisera should fall by the hand of a woman. He therefore sent Sisera to the tent of Heber the Kenite; and Jael, Heber's wife, came out to meet Sisera, and brought him in. The great Captain was weary and spent, and glad to lie down, and Jael covered him with a mantle. Sisera asked her to give him a little water to quench his thirst, and Jael gave him milk to drink. Then he bade her stand in the door of the tent, saying, “If any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.”
Then Sisera, being very weary, turned away, , and fell asleep; and Jael, when she saw that he slept, took one of the great nails of the tent, and a hammer, and went gently to his side, and smote the nail into Sisera's temples, quite through into the ground. So he died.
Later on, Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him, saying, “Come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest.” And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples. Thus God subdued His enemies, and saved His people from the hand of Jabin king of Canaan. Then Deborah and Barak gave great thanks unto the LORD their Avenger, and sang a song of triumph before all the people, saying, “ Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings! give ear, O ye princes ! I, even I,
! will sing unto the LORD. I will sing praise to
the LORD God of Israel. LORD, when Thou wentest out of Seir, when Thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped; the clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the LORD, even Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. Awake, awake, Deborah : awake, awake, utter a song : Arise, Barak, and lead captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam. ... The LORD make thee have dominion over the mighty. ... The kings came and fought. ... the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The River of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the River Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
“ Then were the horsehoofs broken, the prancings of their mighty ones.
“Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. He asked water and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish. She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's bammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
“ The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming ? why tarry the wheels of his chariot ?
“ Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself. Have they not sped, have they not divided the prey ; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil ? So let all Thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.
After this great victory the Children of Israel had peace and rest again for forty years.
The whole history of Israel is one constant chain of sinning against God, and bearing the punishment of their sins : crying out for mercy, and receiving His help and deliverance, and then falling back into sin, when the suffering was past.