|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 17. - In ships. The celebrated hat. hour of Joppa (Jonah 1:3), now Jaffa, was in the tribe of Dan. His breaches. The creeks and bays where they kept their fishing. boats.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Gilead abode beyond Jordan,.... A country which lay on the other side Jordan, and was given by Moses, half of it to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the other half to the half tribe of Manasseh, Deuteronomy 3:12 and being here distinguished from Reuben, it seems that not only that tribe, but also the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, on that side Jordan, came not to the help of Israel; but abode where they were, attending their flocks and herds, and preferring their own private profit to the public good; yet as Gilead was given to Machir, Deuteronomy 3:15 and some are said to come out from thence to serve in this expedition, Judges 5:14 some read the words, as Kimchi observes, with an interrogation, "did Gilead abide beyond Jordan?" no, he did not; though his situation was beyond it, as well as Reuben's, yet he did not continue there, but came over to help his brethren; and so this is introduced to upbraid Reuben, and leave him without excuse, since he could as well have left his flocks as Gilead did, and come over to the help of his brethren as well as he:
and why did Dan remain in ships? the Danites inhabiting Joppa, and other places bordering on the Mediterranean sea, attended their navigation and merchandise; and which they chose rather to do, than to appear in the field of battle in the behalf of their brethren; judging this to be a sufficient excuse, though the question put implies the contrary; according to the Targum, they were meditating a flight, and put their goods into ships to flee with them, should Sisera get the day:
Asher continued on the sea shore; on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, attending traffic and business, and did not concern themselves at all in this war:
and abode in his trenches; in his towns and cities, the walls of which had been broken down by the Canaanites, and remained unrepaired, nor were they suffered to repair them; and therefore excused themselves on this account from engaging in the war, being obliged to stay at home to keep and defend their cities; which were in such a ruinous and weak condition, that the enemy might enter at any time: some render it, "in their creeks" (i) bays and havens where they had much shipping, and which required their attendance.
(i) "in portubus", V. L. "ad sinus suos", some in Vatablus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17, 18. Gilead abode beyond Jordan—that is, Both Gad and the eastern half to Manasseh chose to dwell at ease in their Havoth-jair, or "villages of tents," while Dan and Asher, both maritime tribes, continued with their ships and in their "breaches" ("havens"). The mention of these craven tribes (Jud 5:18) is concluded with a fresh burst of commendation on Zebulun and Naphtali.
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