Judges 5:11
They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
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(11) They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water.—This is usually explained to mean that in the time of oppression the shepherds and the women could not go to the wells to draw water without being disturbed by the enemy’s archers; and the construction in that case is changed in the middle of the verse, to remind them that they can now sing God’s praises by the safe well-sides. The meaning is highly uncertain. The “they that are delivered” is a conjectural addition of our version. The Hebrew only has “from the noise.” The Vulgate renders it, “where the chariots clashed together, and the army of the enemy was strangled.” The LXX. (some MSS.) connect the clause with the last verse: “Sing;” or “tell it from (i.e. by) the voice of those who strike up their tunes in the midst of the water-drawers.” The Chaldee is here utterly vague. Ewald renders it, “from the shoutings of the spoil-dividers between the water-troughs.” Amid these uncertainties we have nothing better to offer than the conjecture of our translators.

Righteous acts.—Where these words first occur, the Hebrew is Tsidkôth; but in the second recurrence of the English words, “even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of the villages”—in which they are guided by the Chaldee Targum—we have only the Hebrew words, Tsidkôth pirzônô. Here, as in Judges 5:7, the versions were perplexed by the word perâzôn; but it is now generally agreed that the meaning is either “the righteous acts of his governance in Israel” (Ewald), or “towards the leaders in Israel” (Rosenmüller, &c.).

Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.—After singing the just deeds of God, they resumed their usual pursuits, unabashed and un-terrified.

Jdg 5:11. From the noise of archers — From the triumphant noise and shouts of archers, rejoicing when they met with their prey. Together with the princes, judges, and merchants, she would have the shepherds praise the Lord every time they came to water their flocks; remembering how they were formerly disturbed by the archers lurking in the woods or thickets, who shot whole quivers of arrows at them and their cattle, whereby they were put to great difficulty and danger in watering their cattle, which now they brought safely to the pits or springs. There shall they rehearse, &c. — When they come to those places with freedom and safety, which before they could not approach but with extreme danger, they shall rehearse the righteous and gracious acts of the Lord, who had taken a just vengeance on their oppressors, and most graciously delivered them from their tyranny. Toward the inhabitants of his villages — She would have the meanest peasants bear them company in the praises of God; for now they lived as quietly in their open villages as if they had been in the strongest cities. Then shall the people go down to the gates — The great prophetess sums up all in these words, that the whole country was bound to praise the Lord, every man having liberty to go down safely to the gates of his own city, from whence, undoubtedly, many had been driven by the Canaanites, and forced to wander abroad. The gates of their cities, it must be observed, were the chief places to which both city and country resorted for public business and matters of justice, from both of which they had been debarred by their oppressors, but which would now resume their wonted course, and the people have free access and passage, either in or out of their gates, as their affairs required. And they who had been compelled to leave their cities would now return in peace and triumph.

5:6-11. Deborah describes the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin, that their salvation might appear more gracious. She shows what brought this misery upon them. It was their idolatry. They chose new gods, with new names. But under all these images, Satan was worshipped. Deborah was a mother to Israel, by diligently promoting the salvation of their souls. She calls on those who shared the advantages of this great salvation, to offer up thanks to God for it. Let such as are restored, not only to their liberty as other Israelites, but to their rank, speak God's praises. This is the Lord's doing. In these acts of his, justice was executed on his enemies. In times of persecution, God's ordinances, the walls of salvation, whence the waters of life are drawn, are resorted to at the hazard of the lives of those who attend them. At all times Satan will endeavour to hinder the believer from drawing near to the throne of grace. Notice God's kindness to his trembling people. It is the glory of God to protect those who are most exposed, and to help the weakest. Let us notice the benefit we have from the public peace, the inhabitants of villages especially, and give God the praise.The sense of the King James Version is that, whereas formerly they could not go in safety to draw water from their wells, but were shot at by the archers of the enemy, now they were delivered from such tumults; and standing round the wells in security rehearsed the righteous acts of the Lord in delivering them, and "the righteous acts of His government in Israel." (See Judges 5:7).

Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates - Israelites, who had hid themselves in caves and deserts, could return in security to the gates of their own cities for justice, or commerce, or to dwell there, now that the Canaanite was subdued.

11-14. The wells which are at a little distance from towns in the East, are, in unsettled times, places of danger. But in peace they are scenes of pleasant and joyous resort. The poetess anticipates that this song may be sung, and the righteous acts of the Lord rehearsed at these now tranquil "places of drawing water." Deborah now rouses herself to describe, in terms suitable to the occasion, the preparation and the contest, and calls in a flight of poetic enthusiasm on Barak to parade his prisoners in triumphal procession. Then follows a eulogistic enumeration of the tribes which raised the commanded levy, or volunteered their services—the soldiers of Ephraim who dwelt near the mount of the Amalekites, the small quota of Benjamin; "the governors," valiant leaders "out of Machir," the western Manasseh; out of Zebulun. From the noise of archers; either,

1. From the noise or sound, and consequently the force of those arrows which are shot at them; but she names the noise, because this epithet is frequently given to bows and arrows in poetical writings. Or,

2. From the triumphant noise and shout of archers rejoicing when they meet with their prey.

In the places of drawing water; at those pits or springs of water, which were scarce and precious in those hot countries, to which the people’s necessities forced them oft to resort, and nigh unto which the archers did usually lurk in woods, or thickets, or hedges, that from thence they might shoot at them, and kill and spoil them. When they come to those places with freedom and safety, which before they could not, they shall with thankfulness rehearse this righteous, and faithful, and gracious work of God, in rescuing his people, and punishing his enemies. He mentions the inhabitants of his villages, because as their danger was greater, Judges 5:7, so was their deliverance, and their obligation to praise God.

To the gates, to wit, of their cities, which were the chief places to which both city and country resorted for public business and matters of justice, from which they had been debarred by their oppressors; but now they had free access and passage, either in or out of the gates, as their occasions required; and they who had been driven from their cities, now returned to them in peace and triumph; so the citizens’ deliverance is celebrated here, as the countrymen’s is in the foregoing words.

They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the place of drawing water,.... Meaning either the army of the Israelites, delivered from the archers of Sisera's host at the river Kishon; or such persons, as maidens and others, that went out of the cities to fountains and wells of water, to fetch water from thence for their necessities, but were frightened by the noise of archers that shot at them; or shepherds who led their flocks to water them there, but were repulsed or slain by archers that lay in wait in woods or lurking places thereabout; but now the country being cleared of them, they could without fear have recourse to these places of drawing water for their flocks or other uses, which laid them under obligation to do as directed in the next clause. The words are by some rendered,"because of the voice of those that number (sheep and other cattle) at the places of drawing water (g):''which now they could do, being a time of peace; and for which the persons before described ought to be thankful:

there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord; coming to those places again, it would put them in mind to what hazards and dangers they had been exposed formerly by the enemy, but now were freed from; and this would lead them to discourse of and repeat the righteous dealings of God in taking vengeance on their enemies and delivering them from them:

even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his villages in Israel; they being now in no danger of having their houses broke open, and their substance plundered as before, Judges 5:7 then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates; either of their enemies, pursuing them unto them, as they did, Judges 4:16 or rather to the gates of their own cities, where they had now free egress and regress; and those that were in the fortified cities, who had fled thither from the villages because of the rapine of the enemy, now would go down to the gates, and pass through them, and return to their villages again; or else the meaning is, that the people would now frequent as formerly the courts of judicature held in the gates of their cities, to have justice done them, and be in no fear of being disturbed by the enemy, as before.

(g) So Cocceius, Noldius, p. 561. No. 1992.

They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
11. Another most obscure verse.

Far from] The prep. (a single letter in Hebr.) is suspicious; omitting it we may render The voice of the archers …!, or Hark! the archers …, resting after battle by the cool, shaded wells which are a favourite place of resort in the East. The word for archers, however, is uncertain; Budde conjectures Hark! how merry they are …! (the word as in Exodus 32:6); places of drawing water as well as archers, only here.

There shall they rehearse] i.e. where the people congregate: the verb occurs once again with a somewhat similar meaning in Jdg 11:40 of celebrating the daughter of Jephthah.

the righteous acts of the Lord] His justice displayed in delivering His people; Micah 6:5; 1 Samuel 12:7, cf. Psalm 103:6.

of his rule] See on Jdg 5:7.

went down] The word is used of the advance of the Israelite army (Jdg 5:13-14), hence the gates will be those of the enemy. But the whole clause anticipates the description of the campaign, which does not begin till Jdg 5:12; it closely resembles the first half of Jdg 5:13, and may safely be expunged as a doublet, to the great improvement of rhythm and thought.

Verse 11. - A very difficult verse, and very variously rendered. For archers some give the interpretation dividers, i.e. MEN SHARING THE BOOTY THEY HAVE TAKEN; or, SINGING IN ALTERNATE VERSES. For They that are delivered from, some render far away from. Others again take the preposition from in the not uncommon sense of more than, meaning here louder than. The chief different senses which emerge are -

(1) that of the A.V.: "Those that can now draw water from the wells without being molested by the hostile archers shall sing praises to God in the very spots where they were wont to be attacked."

(2) "Far from the noise and tumult of those that divide the spoil among the water-troughs, there shall they sing, - etc.

(3) "With a louder voice than that of the shepherds who sing among the water-troughs (while they are watering their flocks), there shall they rehearse," etc. Or,

(4) combining (2) and (3), "With a voice louder (and more exultant) than that of those who divide the spoil, there shall they rehearse," etc. The inhabitants of his villages. Render his leaders, as in ver. 7. Then shall the people... go down to the gates of the cities for judgment, or to the bazaars, as in old times, without fear of their enemies. Judges 5:11The whole nation had good reason to make this reflection, as the warriors, having returned home, were now relating the mighty acts of the Lord among the women who were watering their flocks, and the people had returned to their towns once more. This is in all probability the idea of the obscure verse before us, which has been interpreted in such very different ways. The first clause, which has no verb, and cannot constitute a sentence by itself, must be connected with the following clause, and taken as an anakolouthon, as יתנּוּ שׁם does not form a direct continuation of the clause commencing with מקּול. After the words "from the voice of the archers," we should expect the continuation "there is heard," or "there sounds forth the praise of the acts of the Lord." Instead of that, the construction that was commenced is relinquished at יתנּוּ שׁם, and a different turn is given to the thought. This not only seems to offer the simplest explanation, but the only possible solution of the difficulty. For the explanation that מן is to be taken as signifying "away from," as in Numbers 15:24, etc., in the sense of "far from the voice of the archers, among the watering women," does not suit the following word שׁם, "there," at all. It would be necessary to attribute to מן the meaning "no more disquieted by," a meaning which the preposition could not possibly have in this clause. מחצצים are not sharers in the booty, for חצץ simply means to cut, to cut in pieces, to divide, and is never applied to the sharing of booty, for which חלּק is the word used (vid., Judges 5:30; Psalm 68:13; Isaiah 9:2). מחצּץ is to be regarded, as the Rabbins maintain, as a denom. from חץ, to hold an arrow, signifying therefore the shooter of an arrow. It was probably a natural thing for Deborah, who dwelt in Benjamin, to mention the archers as representatives of warriors generally, since this was the principal weapon employed by the Benjaminites (see 1 Chronicles 8:40; 1 Chronicles 12:2; 2 Chronicles 14:7; 2 Chronicles 17:17). The tarrying of the warriors among the drawers of water, where the flocks and herds were being watered, points to the time of peace, when the warriors were again occupied with their civil and domestic affairs. יתנּוּ is a simple aorist. תּנּה, lit. to repeat, then to relate, or praise. "The righteousness of Jehovah," i.e., the marvellous acts of the Lord in and upon Israel for the accomplishing of His purposes of salvation, in which the righteousness of His work upon earth was manifested (cf. 1 Samuel 12:7; Micah 6:5). פּרזונו צדקות has been rendered by modern expositors, either "the righteous acts of His guidance or of His decision" (Ewald and Bertheau), or "the righteous acts of His commanders," or "the benefits towards His princes (leaders) in Israel" (Ros. and others). But neither of these can be sustained. We must take פּרזון here in just the same sense as in Judges 5:7; the country covered with open towns and villages, together with their inhabitants, whom Jehovah had delivered from the hostile oppression that had rested upon them, by means of the victory obtained over Sisera. After that victory the people of the Lord went down again to their gates, from the mountains and hiding-places in which they had taken refuge from their foes (Judges 5:6, Judges 5:7), returning again to the plains of the land, and the towns that were now delivered from the foe.
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