For other uses, see Deborah (disambiguation).
, Deborah in "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"
Shelter in Mount Ephraim, which is between Ramah in Benjamin and Bethel
Debora, Débora, Dvora
Prophetess of God, Fourth Judge of Israel
Deborah (Hebrew: דְבוֹרָה, Modern Dvora Tiberian Dəḇôrā ; "Bee", Arabic: دبورة Daborah) was a prophetess of the God of the Israelites, the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel, counselor, warrior, and the wife of Lapidoth according to the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5.
The only female judge mentioned in the Bible, Deborah led a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera, the narrative is recounted in chapter 4.
Judges chapter 5 gives the same story in poetic form. This passage, often called The Song of Deborah, may date to as early as the 12th century BC and is perhaps the earliest sample of Hebrew poetry. It is also significant because it is one of the oldest passages that portrays fighting women, the account being that of Jael, the wife of Heber, a Kenite tent maker. Jael killed Sisera by driving a tent peg through his temple as he slept. Both Deborah and Jael are portrayed as strong independent women. The poem may have been included in the Book of the Wars of the Lord mentioned in Numbers 21:14.
In Hebrew, her name, דְּבוֹרָה, translates as bee. The Deborah number, a dimensionless number used in rheology, is named after her.
1 Biblical narrative,
2 The Song of Deborah,
3 Historical and biblical context,
4 See also,
6 Further reading,
7 External links,
In the Book of Judges, it is stated that Deborah was a judge of Israel and the wife of Lapidoth (Hebrew: לפידות; the name means "torches"). (Judges 4:4) She rendered her judgments beneath a palm tree between Ramah in Benjamin and Bethel in the land of Ephraim. (Judges 4:5) Some people today refer to Deborah as the mother of Israel, as she is titled in the Biblical "Song of Deborah and Barak" (Judges 5:7).
Judges in the Bible
In the Book of Joshua
In the Book of Judges
In First Samuel
†Not explicitly described as a judge
After the people of Israel had been oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan, whose capital was Hazor, for twenty years, Deborah prevailed upon Barak, who was the head captain of the army at that time, to face the Assyrian General Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, in battle. This led to the victory of an Israelite force of ten thousand over Sisera's force of nine hundred iron chariots. (Judges 4:10)
When Deborah saw the army, she said, according to Judges 4:14:
Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
As Deborah prophesied, the Lord gave the victory to the Israelites. Sisera fled the battle site seeking refuge in the tent of a woman named Jael. In the Biblical account, Jael killed the enemy leader, Sisera.
The Biblical account of Deborah ends with the statement that after the battle, there was peace in the land for 40 years. (Judges 5:31)
Traditional Jewish chronology places Deborah's 40 years of judging Israel (Judges 5:31) from 1107 B.C. until her death in 1067 B.C. The Dictionary of World Biography: The Ancient World claims that she might have lived in the period between 1200 B.C. to 1124 B.C.
The Song of Deborah:
The Song of Deborah is found in Judges 5:2-31 and is a victory hymn, sung by Deborah and Barak, about the defeat of Canaanite adversaries by some of the tribes of Israel. Biblical scholars have generally recognized the Song as one of the oldest parts of the Bible, dating somewhere in the 12th century BC, based on its grammar and context. However, some scholars argue that the song's language and content indicate that it was written no earlier than the 7th century BC. The song itself contains a number of challenging differences from the events described in Judges 4. The song mentions six participating tribes (Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali) as opposed to the two tribes in Judges 4:6 (Naphtali and Zebulun) and does not mention the role of Jabin. It describes Sisera's death in a different manner. Judges 4:17-21 describes Jael killing Sisera by luring him into her tent, letting him lay down to rest, and then while he was asleep hammering a tent peg into his head killing him.
Though it is not uncommon to read a victory hymn in the Hebrew Bible, the Song of Deborah stands out as unique in that it is a hymn that celebrates a military victory helped by two women: Deborah and Jael. Michael Coogan writes that Jael being a woman "is a further sign that Yahweh ultimately is responsible for the victory: The mighty Canaanite general Sisera will be 'sold' by the Lord 'into the hand of a woman' (Judges 4:9) - the ultimate degradation."
Historical and biblical context:
After the death of Joshua, the tribe of Judah led the tribe of Simeon in a campaign against the Canaanites and Perizzites, defeating Adoni-Bezek at Bezek. Then they marched against Kiriath-Arba (Hebron) and defeated three more kings. The descendants of Hobab the Kenite, father-in-law of Moses, accompanied Judah into the wilderness of Negeb but later left to live with the Amalakites. Judah did not take Ashkelon, or Ekron. The Canaanites continued to hold Beth Shean, Dor, and Ibleam. Zebulun was unable to drive them out of Kitron or Nahalol; nor could Asher drive out the inhabitants of Akko, Sidon, Achzib, or Rehob. The Amorites drove back the Danites into the highlands.
Jabin a king of Canaan reigned at Hazor and the commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Haroseth-ha-goiim. The accounts of Judges 4 and 5 tell the story of a battle at Taanach near the River Kishon. Few allies among the southern tribes could come to the assistance of Deborah and Barak. Israel, which the song of Deborah and Barak numbers at 40,000 spears, was unavailable except for forces from the tribes of Ephraim, Machir, Zebulon, Issachar, and Naphtali. While Sisera is said to have had 900 iron chariots, "the Song of Deborah" implies that heavy rain rendered them ineffectual.