Judges 5:4
LORD, when you went out of Seir, when you marched out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
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(4) Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir.—See Psalm 68:7-9; Habakkuk 3:3-12. The majority of commentators, both ancient and modern, suppose that the reference is to the promulgation of the law on Sinai, as described in Exodus 19:16-18, Deuteronomy 33:3. But the mention of Seir and Edom seems to show that this is not the case, and, indeed, the imagery is different, and the context requires a more pertinent allusion. It the thunders and lightnings of the fiery law are alluded to, we can only suppose that a contrast is intended between the glory which Israel derived from that revelation and their recent abject condition; but the train of thought is clearer if we explain the allusion of the march of Israel from Kadesh Barnea to their first great conquest on the east of the Jordan. This march seems to have been signalised, and the battles of Israel aided, by the same majestic natural phenomena as those which had helped them to defeat Sisera, as though Jehovah Himself were the leader of their vanguard. Though the earthquakes and rains which made so deep an impression upon them are not recorded in the Pentateuch, the memory of the circumstances is preserved in these three passages.

Jdg 5:4. Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir — Thus the prophetess, by a sudden apostrophe, addresses him, not as their present deliverer, but as the God who had formerly exerted his miraculous power to bring them into the promised land; leaving her hearers to recollect, that it was the same power which had now subdued the Canaanites, that at first expelled them; the same power which had now restored to the Israelites the free enjoyment of their country, that at first put them in possession of it. In other words, being to praise God for the present mercies, she takes her rise higher, and begins her song with the commemoration of the ancient deliverances afforded by God to his people; and the rather, because of the great resemblance this had to them, in the miraculous manner of them. Seir and Edom are the same place, and these two expressions mean the same thing, even God’s marching at the head of his people, from Seir or Edom, toward the land of Canaan. The earth trembled — God prepared the way for his people, and struck a dread into their enemies, by earthquakes, as well as by other terrible signs. The heavens dropped — That is, thou didst send storms and tempests, thunder and lightning, and other tokens of thy displeasure upon thine enemies. The books of Moses, indeed, do not mention any earthquake as happening during their march from Seir in Edom, to war against Sihon and Og, and take possession of their land; but it is highly probable, from what is repeatedly spoken of the terror occasioned by their march, and the universal fear that was spread round because of them, that it was attended with such commotions of nature. See Psalm 68:7-8; Isaiah 64:3; Habakkuk 3:6; Deuteronomy 1:19-20.5:1-5. 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.Compare Psalm 68:7-9, and Habakkuk 3:3-16. The three passages relate to the same events, and mutually explain each other. The subject of them is the triumphant march of Israel, with the Lord at their head, to take possession of Canaan, and the overthrow of Sihon, Og, and the Midianites. This march commenced from Kadesh, in the immediate neighborhood of Self, and the victories which followed were an exact parallel to the victory of Deborah and Barak, accompanied as it had been with the storm which made Kishon to overflow his banks. 4, 5. Allusion is here made, in general terms, to God's interposition on behalf of His people.

Seir … the field of Edom—represent the mountain range and plain extending along the south from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf.

thou wentest out—indicates the storm to have proceeded from the south or southeast.

Seir and

Edom are the same place; and these two expressions note the same thing, even God’s marching in the head of his people from Seir or Edom towards the land of Canaan. Whilst the Israelites were encompassing Mount Seir, there were none of the following effects; but when once they had done that, and got Edom on their backs, then they marched directly forwards towards the land of Canaan. The prophetess being to praise God for the present mercy, takes her rise higher, and begins her song with the commemoration of the former and ancient deliverances afforded by God to his people, the rather because of the great resemblance this had with them, in the extraordinary and miraculous manner of them.

The earth; either,

1. The inhabitants of the earth or land; or,

2. The earth, properly taken, as the following passages are; God prepared the way for his people, and struck a dread into their enemies by earthquakes, as well as by other terrible signs.

The clouds also dropped water, i.e. thou didst send most dreadful showers of rain, storms and tempests, thunder and lightning, and other tokens of thy displeasure, upon thine enemies; as may appear by comparing this with other parallel texts. Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the fields of Edom,.... Here properly begins the song, what goes before being but a preface to it; and it begins with an apostrophe to the Lord, taking notice of some ancient appearances of God for his people, which were always matter of praise and thankfulness; and the rather are they taken notice of here, because of some likeness between them and what God had now wrought; and this passage refers either to the giving of the law on Sinai, as the Targum and Jarchi; see Deuteronomy 33:2; or rather, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and others, to the Lord's going before Israel, after they had encompassed the land of Edom, and marched from thence towards the land of Canaan, when they fought with Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, and conquered them; which struck terror into all the nations round about them, and the prophecies of Moses in his song began to be fulfilled, Exodus 15:14; and which dread and terror are expressed in the following figurative phrases:

the earth trembled; and the like figure Homer (a) uses at the approach of Neptune, whom he calls the shaker of the earth, perhaps borrowed from hence; it may design the inhabitants of it, the Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Canaanites, and others:

and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water; which, as it may literally refer to the storm and tempest of rain that might be then as now, see Judges 4:15, so may figuratively express the panic great personages, comparable to the heavens and the clouds in them were thrown into, when their hearts melted like water, or were like clouds dissolved into it.

(a) ' , Iliad. 13. v. 18, 34, 44.

LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
4, 5. Jehovah’s advent. These verses describe the awful coming of Jehovah to help His people in the battle: the Godhead approaches in storm and thunder, in the very storm which brought disaster upon Sisera’s army, Jdg 5:20 f. Similar accompaniments of Jehovah’s presence are alluded to in Micah 1:3-4; Isaiah 64:1; Psalm 18:7-15; Psalm 50:3; Psalm 97:2-6. The ancient dwelling-place of Jehovah, before the establishment of the sanctuary on Zion, was not in Canaan but at Sinai (J’s name, and P’s) or Horeb (E and D) Exodus 3:1, 1 Kings 19:8, situated at a distance, of ‘eleven days by the Mt Seir road from Kadesh-Barnea’ (Deuteronomy 1:2), probably in Midian, E. of the Gulf of ‘Aḳăbah; from thence He issued across the field i.e. region of Edom into Canaan for the deliverance of His people. Cf. Deuteronomy 33:2; Habakkuk 3:3; Zechariah 9:14.

wentest forth … marchedst] Cf. Habakkuk 3:12 f., and Psalm 68:7 (imitated from here).

Seir] the mountain range E. of the ‘Arâbah, from the S. of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of ‘Aḳăbah, in which the field of Edom lay, Genesis 32:3; Genesis 36:8. Seir was the home of Esau, Deuteronomy 2:5; Joshua 24:4.

the heavens also dropped] The object water is suspended till the next line, an instance of the parallelism noted above (1). But instead of dropped the LXX. A gives were in commotion, which perhaps implies the Hebr. word for swayed; this correction is adopted by some scholars. The last two lines of this v. and the second of Jdg 5:5 are copied in Psalm 68:8.Verses 4, 5. - The recent victory recalled the glories of those days when God brought up Israel from Egypt into Canaan. She specifies the march from Seir or Her, and the day when Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, and the whole mount quaked greatly. When Barak, who was in pursuit of Sisera, arrived at Jael's tent, she went to meet him, to show him the deed which he had performed. Thus was Deborah's prediction to Barak (Judges 4:9) fulfilled. The Lord had sold Sisera into the hand of a woman, and deprived Barak of the glory of the victory. Nevertheless the act itself was not morally justified, either by this prophetic announcement, or by the fact that it is commemorated in the song of Deborah in Judges 5:24. Even though there can be no doubt that Jael acted under the influence of religious enthusiasm for the cause of Israel and its God, and that she was prompted by religious motives to regard the connection of her tribe with Israel, the people of the Lord, as higher and more sacred, not only than the bond of peace, in which her tribe was living with Jabin the Canaanitish king, but even than the duties of hospitality, which are so universally sacred to an oriental mind, her heroic deed cannot be acquitted of the sins of lying, treachery, and assassination, which were associated with it, by assuming as Calovius, Buddeus, and others have done, that when Jael invited Sisera into her tent, and promised him safety, and quenched this thirst with milk, she was acting with perfect sincerity, and without any thought of killing him, and that it was not till after he was fast asleep that she was instigated and impelled instinctu Dei arcano to perform the deed. For Jehovah, the God of Israel, not only abhors lying lips (Proverbs 12:22), but hates wickedness and deception of every kind. It is true, He punishes the ungodly at the hand of sinners; but the sinners whom He employs as the instruments of His penal justice in carrying out the plans of His kingdom, are not instigated to the performance of wicked deeds by an inward and secret impulse from Him. God had no doubt so ordered it, that Sisera should meet with his death in Jael's tent, where he had taken refuge; but this divine purpose did not justify Jael in giving to the enemy of Israel a hospitable reception into her tent, making him feel secure both by word and deed, and then murdering him secretly while he was asleep. Such conduct as that was not the operation of the Spirit of God, but the fruit of a heroism inspired by flesh and blood; and even in Deborah's song (Judges 5:24.) it is not lauded as a divine act.
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