|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:12-23 Deborah called on her own soul to be in earnest. He that will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. Praising God is a work we should awake to, and awake ourselves unto. She notices who fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Who fought against them. They were obstinate enemies to God's people, therefore the more dangerous. Who fought for them. The several tribes that helped are here spoken of with honour; for though God is above all to be glorified, those who are employed must have their due praise, to encourage others. But the whole creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy. The river of Kishon fought against their enemies. At most times it was shallow, yet now, probably by the great rain that fell, it was so swelled, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass, were drowned. Deborah's own soul fought against them. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us. She observes who kept away, and did not side with Israel, as might have been expected. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantage. Narrow, selfish spirits care not what becomes of God's church, so that they can but get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, Php 2:21. A little will serve those for a pretence to stay at home, who have no mind to engage in needful services, because there is difficulty and danger in them. But we cannot keep away from the contest between the Lord and his enemies; and if we do not actively endeavour to promote his cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse against the workers of iniquity. Though He needs no human help, yet he is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance his cause. He requires every man to do so.
Verse 15. - He was sent on foot into the valley. It was a mark of extraordinary valour that he rushed down from Mount Tabor on foot against the 900 iron chariots in the plain (Judges 4:14). For the divisions, etc. Or, among the water-brooks, i.e. the Reubenites, dwelling amidst their flocks among the water-brooks, were much perplexed with doubts whether they should stay still or join their countrymen.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah,.... On Mount Tabor, whither they came to offer themselves to join in the war against Jabin; or to assist with their counsels, the men of this tribe being understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 1 Chronicles 12:32.
even Issachar: not the princes only, but the whole tribe also; so the Targum paraphrases it,"the rest of the tribe of Issachar:"
and also Barak, he was sent on foot into the valley; which was at the bottom of Mount Tabor, from whence he was sent down by Deborah, when Sisera's army was come thither; and where he went cheerfully on foot at the head of his 10,000 men, to engage Sisera with his horse and chariots; and which latter were capable of doing great execution in the valley, by running among the foot, and cutting them in pieces with the scythes at the side of them; but Barak, fearless of danger, readily obeyed the command of the judge and prophetess, believing it was of God: or the words may be rendered, as by Noldius (h).
as Issachar, so Barak; he was sent, &c. the one as the other, with equal readiness and cheerfulness, courage and intrepidity, descended the mountain, at the order of Deborah, and took the field in the open plain, to engage with Sisera and his numerous host:
for the division of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart; either for their divisions among themselves in their own councils, some being for going over Jordan to assist their brethren the Israelites against Jabin, and free them from his yoke, pitying their distressed state and condition; and others were for keeping at home, and taking care of their flocks, and not intermeddle in the quarrel; judging it to be most for their worldly peace and profit to observe a neutrality: by reason of which divisions no assistance was given. Or for their divisions and separations from their brethren the Israelites, from whom they were not only separated by the river Jordan, but in their affections to them, and regards for them; keeping at a distance from them, when their help was required: and this conduct of theirs caused many thoughts of heart in Deborah and Barak, in the princes and people of Israel, who could not well understand the reason of it; and which caused much grief and uneasiness of mind, that so powerful a tribe, and who had been assisting to them in the conquest of the land, and lay convenient to help them, yet should be so very indifferent to them.
(h) "sicut Issachar sic Barach", Concord. Ebr. part. p. 305. No. 1214. So Belg.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. Then comes a reproachful notice of the tribes which did not obey the summons to take the field against the common enemy of Israel. By the
divisions—that is, the watercourses which descend from the eastern hills unto the Jordan and Dead Sea.
For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart—They felt the patriotic impulse and determined, at first, to join the ranks of their western brethren, but resiled from the purpose, preferring their peaceful shepherd songs to the trumpet sound of war.
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