Apr. 8. Era of Judges Begins; Deborah, Israel’s Woman Judge

Judg. 3:7-5:31

After a period of eight years serving the Mesopotamians, God chose a deliverer for the children of Israel. That first judge to lead Israel was Othniel. He was a nephew of Caleb. They had a period of peace/rest for forty years and then Othniel died.

With the death of Othniel came another period of evil among the Israelites. They were defeated by Eglon, the king of Moab and served him for eighteen years. Ehud became their judge after they had cried out to the Lord for deliverance. King Eglon was assassinated by Ehud. He, with God’s help led the children of Israel to victory over the Moabites and they lived another eighty years in rest from their oppressors.

A trend developed with Israel obediently following God and their judge during that judge’s lifetime, but then returning to their evil ways after the judge had died. Shamgar was the third judge recorded as leading the Israelites to deliverance.

The trend of following years of peace with years of rebellion continued. God allowed Jabin, king of Canaan to oppress the Israelites for a period of twenty years. During that time a woman prophetess named Deborah was the judge of Israel.

Israel had been ordered by God to assemble an army of ten thousand men to engage Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army of well-equipped men in battle. Deborah called for Barak to lead that army. For whatever reason, he refused to go unless she would go with him. With the woman, Deborah by Barak’s side they went and, “The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak…” All of Sisera’s army was killed, but he escaped to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ father-in-law. She took him in BUT as the tired warrior slept, she drove a tent peg into his temple. “So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan…”

Deborah and Barak celebrated their victory with a song of praise to God. That song depicted the many ways that God had helped them to gain victory over their enemy, the king of Canaan. It ended with a mother’s cry for the return of her son from battle.