Judges 5:12
Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
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(12) Awake, awake, Deborah.—The prophetess rouses herself in this verse—which forms an introduction to the second section of the song—to describe the loyalty of the tribes and the grandeur of the victory.

Lead thy captivity captive.—Lead in triumph thy long train of captives. For the expression, comp. Revelation 13:10.

Jdg 5:12. Awake, awake, Deborah — Stir up thyself, with all that is within thee, to admire and praise Jehovah. This work needs, and well deserves, the utmost liveliness and vigour of soul. Thus, having called upon all others, she now excites herself, with the most earnest and zealous affection, (expressed by the repetition of the same thing four times,) to celebrate the wonderful works of God. One cannot help observing the decorum which the prophetess observes in speaking of herself. Though she went along with Barak to levy his forces, accompanied him to the field of battle, and gave him the word of command when to charge the enemy, (Jdg 4:9-14,) yet, suitably to her sex and office, she only speaks of uttering a song of praise on the occasion, while she assigns to him, under God, the glory of the victory, and the honour of the triumph. Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive — She calls on Barak to show his captives and spoils, that the Israelites might see how great reason they had for giving thanks to God. Some ask what captives he could have to lead when the whole army of Sisera was cut off? Jdg 4:16. To which the answer is easy, that when Barak, after he had routed their army, pursued his victory as far as Harosheth, he doubtless took many prisoners, and probably not a few of the best quality, and brought them captive with him out of the country.

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.Deborah incites Barak to carry off as his prey the captive Canaanites and their sheep and cattle (their "captivity"). 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. Awake, awake; stir up thyself and all that is within thee to admire and praise the Lord.

Lead thy captivity captive: how could this be done when there was none of them left? Judges 4:16.

Answ. 1. None were left to make head against them.

2. None is oft put for few, and those few might be taken after the battle, and carried captive, and led in triumph, and afterward slain.

Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake, utter a song, &c. Either perceiving some languor and remissness in her spirits, while she was delivering this song, and therefore arouses herself to attend to this service with more ardour and zeal; or rather finding herself more impressed with a sense of the great and good things the Lord had done for Israel, calls upon her soul to exert all its powers in celebrating the praises of the Lord, and therefore repeats the word awake so often as she does:

arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam; for though the whole army of Sisera was destroyed, that not a man was left, Judges 4:16 yet as Barak pursued to Harosheth of the Gentiles, many there and in other places which fell into his hands, that belonged to Jabin, might be taken captive by him; and though the Canaanites were to be slain, yet they might first be led captive in triumph; and besides, there might be some of other nations that were taken by him in this war; see Psalm 68:18.

Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead {h} thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

(h) That is, they who kept your people in captivity.

12. The real subject of the Song, introduced by the previous verses, begins here. Part II, Jdg 5:12-22, describes the muster and the battle. Like Part I it consists of three stanzas; like Part III (which has two longer stanzas) it starts with a short prelude, Jdg 5:12 cf. Jdg 5:23.

Awake, awake, Deborah] We are transported to the time before the outbreak of the war; the poet calls upon Deborah to rouse herself and summon the tribes.

utter a song] lit. ‘speak a song’ (an unusual expression), not the present song of praise for victory won, but the war-song which stirred up the clans for battle, and promised them success (cf. Jdg 4:6-7; Jdg 4:14).

Arise, Barak] as the recognized military leader. A slight change of pronunciation gives the improved rendering take prisoner those who took thee prisoner, cf. 1 Kings 8:48, Isaiah 14:2; this is the proper meaning of the word, rather than ‘lead captives in a triumph,’ cf. Numbers 21:1; Deuteronomy 21:10; Psalm 68:18. Barak himself had suffered at the enemy’s hands; like Gideon (Jdg 8:18), he had wrongs of his own to avenge.

The LXX. cod. A, however, suggests a better form of the original text than that which lies before us; eliminating doublets we obtain the following:

Rouse thee, rouse thee, Debôrah;

arouse the myriads of the people:

in thy strength arise, Barak,

capture thy captors, son of Abinôam.

We thus have a four lined verse, which is much wanted (cf. Jdg 5:23), and we get rid of speak a song. The second line of the present text is readily explained as a corruption of the first.

13–15a. The muster.

Verse 12. - Awake, etc. She seems to go back in thought to the moment when she received the Divine call to her mission of deliverance, and executed it by the voice of her stirring prophecies. Then she lashed her soul into action, and roused Barak from his lethargy by the promise of spoil and victory. Judges 5:12Judges 5:12 forms the introduction to the second part, viz., the description of the conflict and the victory. Throwing herself into the great event which she is about to commemorate, Deborah calls upon herself to strike up a song, and upon Barak to lead off his prisoners:

12 Awake, awake, Deborah!

Awake, awake, utter a song!

Rise up, Barak, and lead captive thy captives, O son of Abinoam!

עוּרי has the tone upon the last syllable on the first two occasions, to answer to the rapid summoning burst of the Lord in the opening address (Bertheau). שׁבי שׁבה, to lead away captives, as the fruit of the victory; not merely to lead in triumph. On the form וּשׁבה with Chateph-patach, see Ewald, 90, b. In the next three strophes of this part (Judges 5:13-21) the progress of the conflict is described; and in the first two the part taken in the battle by the different tribes (Judges 5:13-15, and Judges 5:15-18).

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