And she said, I will surely go with you: notwithstanding the journey that you take shall not be for your honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will surely go with thee.—Literally-Going, I will go.
Shall not be for thine honour.—Literally, thy pre-eminence (LXX. “proterēma”; Luther, “der Preis “) shall not be on the path which thou enterest.
Of a woman.—To enter into the force of this we must remember the humble and almost down-trodden position of women in the East, so that it could hardly fail to be a humiliation to a great warrior to be told that the chief glory would fall to a woman. He may have supposed that the woman was Deborah herself; but the woman was not the great prophetess, but Jael, the wife of the nomad chief (R. Tanchum, and Jos., Antt. v. 5, § 4). Compare the feeling implied in Judges 9:24.Jdg 4:9. The journey thou takest — Hebrew, the way thou takest, which may mean the course he had resolved upon, not to go without her. Shall not be for thine honour — Though his faith was accepted, yet the weakness of it somewhat eclipsed his glory. The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman — It is greatly to the honour of a conqueror to take the general of the enemy’s army, or to kill him with his own hand; which, she tells him, should be denied him, as a small punishment for his diffidence and reluctance to comply with her directions; and as he would not go without a woman, so a woman should take away his honour from him.Judges 4:22). For a similar use of a weak instrument, that the excellency of the power might be of God, compare the history of Gideon and his 300, David and his sling, Shamgar and his ox-goad, Samson and the jawbone of the ass. (See 1 Corinthians 1:26, 1 Corinthians 1:31.) Barak would probably think the woman must be Deborah. The prophecy was only explained by its fulfillment. Her presence as a prophetess would give a divine sanction to Barak's attempt to raise the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. To Barak himself it would be a pledge of her truth and sincerity. She probably commissioned some chief to raise the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh (Judges 5:14, compare Psalm 80:2), while she went with Barak and mustered Zebulun, Naphtali, and Issachar. Notwithstanding the journey, Heb. the way, i.e. the course or practice, as the way is taken, Numbers 22:32.
A woman; either,
1. Jael; or rather,
2. Deborah, who being, as it were, the judge and chief commandress of the army, the honour of the victory would be ascribed to her. But for Jael, her fact would have been the same, though Barak had gone into the field without Deborah.
notwithstanding the journey thou takest; the way or course he steered, the methods he took in insisting on it that she should go with him:
shall not be for thine honour; as a general of an army, who is commonly solicitous to have the whole glory of an action:
for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman; meaning either herself, for she being judge of Israel, and going along with him, would have the glory of the victory ascribed to her, as usually is to the principal person in the army; and so it would be said in future time, that the Lord delivered Sisera and his army, not into the hand of Barak, but into the hand of Deborah, whereby he would not have all the honour which otherwise he would have, if she went not with him; or else Jael, Heber's wife, is meant, into whose hands Sisera did fall, and by whom he was slain; but this seems to have no connection with Deborah's going or not going with him, it did not depend upon that one way or another; unless it can be thought that thus it was ordered in Providence as a rebuke of his diffidence and weakness, that because he would not go without a woman, Sisera should fall not into his hands, but into the hands of a woman; and if so, this is a clear instance of Deborah's having a spirit of prophecy, and of a prediction of a future contingent event:
and Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh; that is, they went together from the palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim, to Kedesh in Mount Naphtali, in order to raise the ten thousand men that were to fight with Sisera.And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. notwithstanding] Lest Barak’s hopes should soar too high, the prophetess foretells that the crowning glory shall not be his but Jael’s. It is doubtful whether any blame of Barak is implied: the words mean simply ‘thou wilt not gain the honours of the expedition.’
And Deborah arose … to Kedesh] From the neighbourhood of Beth-el the journey would take four or five days. But we have seen reason to doubt the existence of Deborah’s home in the S.; these words are perhaps a harmonizing addition; see notes on 5 and 6a.Judges 4:1-3. As the Israelites fell away from the Lord again when Ehud was dead, the Lord gave them into the hand of the Canaanitish king Jabin, who oppressed them severely for twenty years with a powerful army under Sisera his general. The circumstantial clause, "when Ehud was dead," places the falling away of the Israelites from God in direct causal connection with the death of Ehud on the one hand, and the deliverance of Israel into the power of Jabin on the other, and clearly indicates that as long as Ehud lived he kept the people from idolatry (cf. Judges 2:18-19), and defended Israel from hostile oppressions. Joshua had already conquered one king, Jabin of Hazor, and taken his capital (Joshua 11:1, Joshua 11:10). The king referred to here, who lived more than a century later, bore the same name. The name Jabin, "the discerning," may possibly have been a standing name or title of the Canaanitish kings of Hazor, as Abimelech was of the kings of the Philistines (see at Genesis 26:8). He is called "king of Canaan," in distinction from the kings of other nations and lands, such as Moab, Mesopotamia, etc. (Judges 3:8, Judges 3:12), into whose power the Lord had given up His sinful people. Hazor, once the capital of the kingdoms of northern Canaan, was situated over (above or to the north of) Lake Huleh, in the tribe of Naphtali, but has not yet been discovered (see at Joshua 11:1). Sisera, the general of Jabin, dwelt in Harosheth of the Goyim, and oppressed the Israelites most tyrannically (Mightily: cf. Judges 7:1; 1 Samuel 2:16) for twenty years with a force consisting of 900 chariots of iron (see at Joshua 17:16). The situation of Harosheth, which only occurs here (Judges 4:2, Judges 4:13, Judges 4:16), is unknown; but it is certainly to be sought for in one of the larger plains of Galilee, possibly the plain of Buttauf, where Sisera was able to develop his forces, whose strength consisted chiefly in war-chariots, and to tyrannize over the land of Israel.
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