Judges 5:1
Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
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(1) Then sang Deborah.—She was a prophetess, I and the word for “prophet,” like the Latin vates, involved gifts which were closely allied to those of the poet.

And Barak.—Doubtless Deborah was the sole author of the song, as is implied by the singular verb (Judges 5:3); but no doubt Barak joined in antiphon when it was sung, just as Moses, at the head of the warriors, and Miriam, at the head of the women, sang the song of Moses, in Exodus 15. As the English version requires some correction, I have appended a translation at the end of the chapter, which must be regarded as a kind of running commentary.

Jdg 5:1. Then sang Deborah — The composer of this song, one of whose special gifts, as a prophetess, it was to sing God’s praises, 1 Chronicles 25:1-3. And Barak — Who was now probably become a judge, in consequence of this great deliverance which God had wrought by him. On that day — In which they had completed their victory, by the destruction of Jabin’s kingdom. Whether they two only sang this song, or the elders of the people, called together into one assembly, sang it with them, is not certain. The text, however, only speaks of its being sung by them two; and Dr. Kennicott has expressed his opinion strongly, that they sang it in alternate verses, answering each other, and that the not observing this has rendered many parts of it obscure, and of difficult interpretation, and destroyed the force and beauty of the whole. “It is certain,” says he, “though very little attended to, that it is said to have been sung by Deborah and by Barak. It is also certain, there are in it parts which Deborah could not sing; as well as parts which Barak could not sing. And therefore it seems necessary, in order to form a better judgment of this song, that some probable distribution should be made of it; while those words which seem most likely to have been sung by either party, should be assigned to their proper name; either to that of Deborah the prophetess, or that of Barak the captain-general. For example: Deborah could not call upon Deborah, exhorting herself to awake, &c., as in Jdg 5:12. Neither could Barak exhort himself to arise, &c., in the same verse. Again: Barak could not sing, Till I Deborah arose, a mother in Israel, in Jdg 5:7. Nor could Deborah sing about a damsel or two for every soldier, in Jdg 5:30 : though indeed, as to this last article, the words are probably misunderstood.” The doctor, therefore, to do more justice, as he judges, to “this celebrated song,” which, he says, is deservedly admired, furnishes us with a new translation of it, assigning therein to Deborah and Barak the parts which he supposes each to have sung, and representing them, through the whole, as answering each other. See Kennicott’s Remarks on Select Passages of the Old Testament, p. 94. We must leave the reader to judge for himself what weight there is in what the doctor advances, and shall only observe as to this hymn in general, that, like the songs of Moses, (Exodus 15.; and Deuteronomy 32,) it is distinguished in the Hebrew, as being poetry, and in our present translation would appear to more advantage if printed in hemistics. See on Deuteronomy 32:1. It must be evident to every reader, that it is expressed in another kind of style than that of the historical part of this book; and in language so majestic, in such a variety of elegant figures, and such natural expressions of those affections which the occasion requires, that none of the ancient Greek or Latin poets have equalled the noble flow of these divine strains.

5:1-5. No time should be lost in returning thanks to the Lord for his mercies; for our praises are most acceptable, pleasant, and profitable, when they flow from a full heart. By this, love and gratitude would be more excited and more deeply fixed in the hearts of believers; the events would be more known and longer remembered. Whatever Deborah, Barak, or the army had done, the Lord must have all the praise. The will, the power, and the success were all from Him.Deborah, as "a prophetess," both composed and sang this noble ode, which, for poetic spirit and lyric fire, is not surpassed by any of the sacred songs in the Bible. And, as Miriam took up the first verse of the song of Moses Exodus 15:21, and sang it as an antiphony, so Barak, with the chorus of men, answered the song of Deborah by singing Judges 5:2, which is also exactly suited for an antiphon, summing up as it does the subject matter of the whole ode. Compare David's example 2 Samuel 6:15. CHAPTER 5

Jud 5:1-31. Deborah and Barak's Song of Thanksgiving.

1. Then sang Deborah and Barak … on that day—This noble triumphal ode was evidently the composition of Deborah herself.Deborah exhorts to praise; she begins; recounts the former wonders and mercies of God to his people, Judges 5:1-5. From the miseries of former times glories in their present state, Judges 5:6-9. Excites the governors, &c. to praise the Lord, Judges 5:10-13. Commends the chief of the tribes who went forth willingly to this battle, and checks the unwilling who tarried at home, Judges 5:14-18. Describes the victory in all its circumstances, Judges 5:19-22. Curseth Meroz for not coming to their assistance, Judges 5:23. Extols Jael and her act, Judges 5:24-27. Derideth Sisera’s court ladies, Judges 5:28-30. Prays for like judgment on their enemies, and prosperity to God’s people, Judges 5:31.

Deborah was the composer of this song as may be gathered from Judges 5:7.

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam,.... Deborah is first mentioned, because she was, as Kimchi says, the root or foundation of the work, the chief person in it, both in the direction of the war, and in the composition of this song; and indeed, as Ben Gersom observes, she alone composed it, see Judges 5:7; and the verb is singular: "then sang Deborah"; and after her, and in her words, sung also Barak; he joined with her, not in making the song, but in singing it; and so likewise the people of Israel joined with her in singing it, as they did with Moses at the Red sea; and this song was sung

on that day; not on the precise day on which the victory was obtained over Sisera and his army, but on occasion of that memorable day, and what followed upon it:

saying; the following divine hymn or song, penned by Deborah, under divine inspiration, as the sublimity of the style, the fine and noble thoughts and sentiments that are in it, the beautiful and elegant phrases in which they are expressed, abundantly show; no Sappho, or any Grecian poetess, nor indeed any poet whatever, uninspired, being equal to the writer of this poem.

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
1. The title says that the Ode was sung by Deborah and Barak, no doubt on account of the 1st person in Jdg 5:3; Jdg 5:9; Jdg 5:13, and the verb rendered I arose in Jdg 5:7. But in Jdg 5:12 Deborah herself is addressed by name (cf. Jdg 5:15), and in Jdg 5:7 the verb can just as correctly be rendered thou didst arise; while the 1st person in Jdg 5:3; Jdg 5:9; Jdg 5:13 is readily explained by the love of personification so common in the O.T. (see on Jdg 1:3): the poet acts as the mouthpiece of his victorious countrymen. The title represents a traditional view of the Song, but it does not carry more weight than the title of the Song of Moses Exodus 15, or the headings of the Psalms.

Verse 1. - Then sang Deborah, etc. The ode which follows was doubtless the composition of Deborah the prophetess, and was sung by her (as the gender of the Hebrew verb indicates), assisted by Barak, who perhaps sang the antistrophe (cf. Exodus 15:1, 21). It is a song of wonderful beauty and lyric power, somewhat difficult, as all Hebrew poetry is. Judges 5:1The historical introduction ("Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying") takes the place of a heading, and does not mean that the song of Deborah and Barak which follows was composed by them jointly, but simply that it was sung by them together, in commemoration of the victory. The poetess or writer of the song, according to Judges 5:3, Judges 5:7, and Judges 5:12, was Deborah. The song itself opens with a summons to praise the Lord for the willing and joyful rising up of His people.
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