Judges 5 (Song of Deborah)

Well, I messed up my schedule last night.  I stopped at Chapter 5 instead of reading through chapter 5.  Just as well because the Song of Deborah deserves its own space.  First, it is interesting to me because it gives much more detail, despite being in verse, about who did and did not fight against “the kings of Canaan,” Judges 5:19.  Here’s a visual summary of verses 13 through 18.

So, some folks stayed home while others risked their life.  There is a similar description of the battle and the river Kishon.  Also, more feminist bits.  For one, the period is described as “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael.”  Judges 5:6.  So, not just Deborah as the major Judges, but Jael the general slayer defines the age in some respect. 

NB: The Song of Deborah dates to the twelfth century BCE, according to my NIB commentary.  The commentary notes that the archaic Hebrew makes translation very difficult in several places.

Last remark, the following lament spoken by the enemy’s mother has always struck me as so emotionally complex.

28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;
behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?’

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