Judges 5:25
He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
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(25) Butter.—Rather, curdled milk.

In a lordly dish.—Rather, in a dish of the nobles: sephel, a splendid bowl, reserved for great occasions. All this was done to lull his suspicions into a false security.

Jdg 5:25. He asked water, &c. — The original here is very poetical and elegant, and not badly imitated in our translation of it, if it were placed in hemistics thus:

He asked water, and she gave milk;

She brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

The last clause, however, perhaps had better be rendered, cream in a princely bowl; that is, she brought forth the choicest of her milk in the best dish or bowl she had; not indeed such a one as the luxury of after ages introduced, but such as was agreeable to the simplicity of those times and of this family, and such as the better sort of people then used. Jael, we have observed, on Jdg 4:19, probably at that time intended him no other than kindness, till God, to fulfil Deborah’s prophecy, by an immediate impulse on her mind, directed her to do otherwise.

5:24-31 Jael had a special blessing. Those whose lot is cast in the tent, in a low and narrow sphere, if they serve God according to the powers he has given them, shall not lose their reward. The mother of Sisera looked for his return, not in the least fearing his success. Let us take heed of indulging eager desires towards any temporal good, particularly toward that which cherishes vain-glory, for that was what she here doted on. What a picture does she present of an ungodly and sensual heart! How shameful and childish these wishes of an aged mother and her attendants for her son! And thus does God often bring ruin on his enemies when they are most puffed up. Deborah concludes with a prayer to God for the destruction of all his foes, and for the comfort of all his friends. Such shall be the honour, and joy of all who love God in sincerity, they shall shine for ever as the sun in the firmament.Butter - Rather curdled milk, probably a fermented and intoxicating drink. All these marks of respect and friendship would lull Sisera into security. 25. butter—curdled milk; a favorite beverage in the East. Butter, or, cream, i.e. the choicest of her milk; so the same thing is repeated in differing words.

In a lordly dish; which you are not to understand of such a stately and costly dish as the luxury of after-ages brought in, which is not agreeable to the simplicity, either of this family, or of those ancient times; but of a comely and convenient dish, the best which she had, and such as the better sort of persons then used.

He asked water, and she gave him milk,.... That is, Sisera asked it of her, as the Targum expresses it, when he turned into her tent:

she brought him fresh butter in a lordly dish; which signifies either the same, the milk with cream on it, for that is meant by butter; or having first taken off the cream, she gave him milk to drink, and then brought the cream in a dish for him to eat, and thereby the more incline him to sleep; and this she brought in a dish fit for any lord or nobleman to eat out of; in such a polite and courteous manner did she use him, so that he could have no suspicion of her having any ill design against him. R. Jonah, as Kimchi notes, interprets this of a dish of the mighty or lordly ones, of the shepherds, the principal of the flock, as they are called in Jeremiah 25:34, out of which they had used to drink their milk, or eat their cream, and such an one was likely enough to be Jael's tent; from this Hebrew word "sepel", here used, seems to come the Latin word "simpucium" or "simpulum", used in things sacred, and which, according to Pliny (t), was an earthen vessel; and so some of the Rabbins, as Kimchi observes, say, this was a new earthen vial; it is very probable it was a broad platter or dish fit for such an use.

(t) Nat. Hist. l. 35. c. 12.

He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth {s} butter in a lordly dish.

(s) Some read churned milk in a great cup.

25. The original is more forcible:

Water he asked, milk she gave,

In a bowl fit for nobles she offered him curd.

A bowl of (i.e. fit for) nobles was a large, rich bowl. The word, only here and Jdg 6:38 in Hebr., is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as an object of plunder or tribute, e.g. a bowl was brought to Shalmaneser by Jehu (Schrader, COT. i. p. 199). Not butter, which the Bedouin do not use, but curdled milk is meant, a refreshing drink such as would be offered to a guest. Genesis 18:8.

Verse 25. - A lordly dish. A dish fit for princes; perhaps one reserved for the most illustrious guests. Judges 5:2525 He asked water, she gave him milk;

She handed him cream in the dish of nobles.

26 She stretched out her hand to the plug,

And her right hand to the workmen's hammer,

And hammered Sisera, broke his head,

And dashed in pieces and pierced his temples.

27 Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down:

Between her feet he bowed, he fell:

Where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

Assuming that the fact itself is well known, Deborah does not think it necessary to mention Sisera's name in Judges 5:25. חמאה, which generally signifies thick curdled milk, is used here as synonymous with חלב, in the sense of good superior milk. ספל is only used here and in Judges 6:38, and signifies a bowl or vessel for holding liquids (see Arab., Chald, and Talm.; also Bochart, Hieroz, i. pp. 625ff., ed. Ros.). The dish of nobles is a fine costly bowl, such as they are accustomed to hand to noble guests. The whole verse is simply intended to express the thought, that Jael had given to her guest Sisera a friendly reception, and treated him honourably and hospitably, simply in order to make him feel secure.

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