Judges 5:4
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.
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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. Judges 5:4To give the Lord the glory for the victory which had been gained through His omnipotent help over the powerful army of Sisera, and to fill the heathen with fear of Jehovah, and the Israelites with love and confidence towards Him, the singer reverts to the terribly glorious manifestation of Jehovah in the olden time, when Israel was accepted as the nation of God (Exodus 19). Just as Moses in his blessing (Deuteronomy 33:2) referred the tribes of Israel to this mighty act, as the source of all salvation and blessing for Israel, so the prophetess Deborah makes the praise of this glorious manifestation of God the starting-point of her praise of the great grace, which Jehovah as the faithful covenant God had displayed to His people in her own days. The tacit allusion to Moses' blessing is very unmistakeable. But whereas Moses describes the descent of the Lord upon Sinai (Exodus 19), according to its gracious significance in relation to the tribes of Israel, as an objective fact (Jehovah came from Sinai, Deuteronomy 33:2), Deborah clothes the remembrance of it in the form of an address to God, to bring out the thought that the help which Israel had just experienced was a renewal of the coming of the Lord to His people. Jehovah's going out of Seir, and marching out of the fields of Edom, is to be interpreted in the same sense as His rising up from Seir (Deuteronomy 33:2). As the descent of the Lord upon Sinai is depicted there as a rising of the sun from the east, so the same descent in a black cloud amidst thunder, lightning, fire, and vapour of smoke (Exodus 19:16, Exodus 19:18), is represented here with direct allusion to these phenomena as a storm rising up from Seir in the east, in which the Lord advanced to meet His people as they came from the west to Sinai. Before the Lord, who came down upon Sinai in the storm and darkness of the cloud, the earth shook and the heaven dropped, or, as it is afterwards more definitely explained, the clouds dropped with water, emptied themselves of their abundance of water as they do in the case of a storm. The mountains shook (נזלוּ, Niphal of זלל, dropping the reduplication of the ל equals נזלּוּ, Isaiah 63:19; Isaiah 64:2), even the strong rocky mountain of Sinai, which stood out so distinctly before the eyes of the singer, that she speaks of it as "this Sinai," pointing to it as though it were locally near. David's description of the miraculous guidance of Israel through the desert in Psalm 68:8-9, is evidently founded upon this passage, though it by no means follows from this that the passage before us also treats of the journey through the desert, as Clericus supposes, or even of the presence of the Lord in the battle with Sisera, and the victory which it secured. But greatly as Israel had been exalted at Sinai by the Lord its God, it had fallen just as deeply into bondage to its oppressors through its own sins, until Deborah arose to help it (Judges 5:6-8).
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