Judges 5:7
The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
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(7) The inhabitants of the villages ceased.—The one Hebrew word for “the inhabitants of the villages” is perâzôn. The rendering of our version is supported by the Chaldee, and by the meaning of the analogous words in Deuteronomy 3:5.1Samuel 6:18, &c. But this cannot be the meaning in Judges 5:11; and it is far more probable that the LXX. (Cod. B) is right in rendering it “princes” (dunatoi; Vulgate, fortes), though the difficulty of the word is shown by its being simply transliterated (phrazon) in the Alexandrine MS. The meaning probably is “warlike chiefs” (comp. Habakkuk 3:14). Luther renders it “peasants.”

A mother in Israel.—For this metaphor, comp. 2Samuel 20:19; Job 29:16; Genesis 45:8.

Jdg 5:7. The inhabitants of the villages ceased — The people forsook all their unfortified towns, not being able to protect them from military insolence. A mother — That is, to be to them as a mother, to instruct, and rule, and protect them, which duties a mother owes to her children.

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.Render the word "villages" (here and in Judges 5:11) judgment, rule, or judges, rulers. The sense is "The princes (or magistrates) ceased in Israel," i. e. there was no one to do justice in the gate, or defend men from their oppressors. 6-8. The song proceeds in these verses to describe the sad condition of the country, the oppression of the people, and the origin of all the national distress in the people's apostasy from God. Idolatry was the cause of foreign invasion and internal inability to resist it. The villages ceased; the people forsook all their unfortified towns, as not being able to protect them from military insolence.

A mother, i.e. to be to them as a mother, to instruct, and rule, and protect them, which duties a mother oweth to her children as far as she is able.

The inhabitants of the villages ceased,.... Not only did those Canaanitish robbers go upon the highway, and robbed all they met with, which made travelling difficult and dangerous; but entered into the villages and unwalled towns, and broke into houses and plundered them; so that the inhabitants of them were obliged to quit their dwellings, and go into the fortified cities for security; by which means the villages were left empty, and in time fell to ruin, and ceased:

they ceased in Israel: for they were the villages which belonged to the Israelites that were plundered, and not those that belonged to any of the Canaanites; and these were the unhappy circumstances Israel were under

until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel; until it pleased God to raise her up, and endow her in a very wonderful and extraordinary manner with gifts qualifying her to be a nursing mother to Israel, to teach and instruct them in the mind and will of God, to administer judgement and justice to them, to protect and defend them, and in all which she discovered a maternal affection for them; and as a good judge and ruler of a people may be called the father of them, so she, being a woman, is with propriety called a mother in Israel, having an affectionate concern for them as her children: now, till she arose, there was no perfect salvation and deliverance wrought for them, since the death of Ehud, even throughout the days of Shamgar and Jael; which is observed to excite praise and thankfulness on the present occasion, which hereby became the more illustrious.

The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a {c} mother in Israel.

(c) Miraculously stirred up by God to pity them and deliver them.

7. The rulers ceased] The Targ., Peshitto, Jewish commentators followed by AV., treat the Hebr. pěrâzôn (sing.), found only here and Jdg 5:11, as equivalent to pěrâzôth (plur.) = ‘open regions,’ ‘hamlets,’ as opposed to walled towns, Ezekiel 38:11, Zechariah 2:3; hence perâzî ‘hamlet-dweller’ 1 Samuel 6:18 and, doubtfully, Perizzites Jdg 1:5 n. But this rendering inhabitants of villages does not suit Jdg 5:11; ‘the righteous acts towards his peasantry’ makes sense in English, but it does not fairly represent the harshness of the Hebrew. Another ancient rendering, is ‘powerful ones,’ LXX. B, Vulgate fortes, rulers, more strictly ‘power,’ ‘rule’; but this, though suitable for Jdg 5:11, has no support in usage or etymology. The meaning of the word here and in Jdg 5:11 must be left uncertain. In the following words ceased in Israel, they ceased, the repetition of the verb is either accidental, or a clause has dropped out.

Until that I Deborah arose] till thou didst arise, Deborah, didst arise etc. The verb is to be taken as 2nd fem. (archaic), on account of the address in Jdg 5:12, though the Massoretic scribes intended the form to be 1st pers., as it usually is: LXX, Vulgate 3rd pers., Peshitto, Targ. 1st pers.

a mother in Israel] Cf. the use of father in. Isaiah 22:21; Job 29:16.

Verse 7. - Instead of The inhabitants of the villages ceased, some render the leaders ceased. Till Deborah arose and stirred up Barak, there was no one to put himself at the head of the people. Judges 5:7 6 In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath,

In the days of Jael, the paths kept holiday,

And the wanderers of the paths went crooked ways.

7 The towns in Israel kept holiday, they kept holiday,

Until that I, Deborah, arose,

That I arose a mother in Israel

8 They chose new gods;

Then was war at the gates:

Was there a shield seen and a spear

Among forty thousand in Israel?

The deep degradation and disgrace into which Israel had sunk before the appearance of Deborah, through its falling away from the Lord into idolatry, forms the dark reverse of that glorification at Sinai. Although, after Ehud, Shamgar had also brought help to the people against their enemies by a victory over the Philistines (Judges 3:31), and although Jael, who proved herself a heroine by slaying the fugitive Sisera, was then alive, things had got to such a pitch with Israel, that no one would venture upon the public high roads. There are no good grounds for the conjecture that Jael was a different person from the Jael mentioned in Judges 4:17., whether a judge who is not further known, as Ewald supposes, or a female judge who stood at the head of the nation in these unhappy times (Bertheau). ארחות חדלוּ, lit., "the paths ceased," sc., to be paths, or to be trodden by men. נתיבות הלכי, "those who went upon paths," or beaten ways, i.e., those who were obliged to undertake journeys for the purpose of friendly intercourse or trade, notwithstanding the burden of foreign rule which pressed upon the land; such persons went by "twisted paths," i.e., by roads and circuitous routes which turned away from the high roads. And the פּרזון, i.e., the cultivated land, with its open towns and villages, and with their inhabitants, was as forsaken and desolate as the public highways. The word perazon has been rendered judge or guidance by modern expositors, after the example of Teller and Gesenius; and in Judges 5:11 decision or guidance. But this meaning, which has been adopted into all the more recent lexicons, has nothing really to support it, and does not even suit our verse, into which it would introduce the strange contradiction, that at the time when Shamgar and Jael were judges, there were no judges in Israel. In addition to the Septuagint version, which renders the word δυνατοὶ in this verse (i.e., according to the Cod. Vat., for the Col. Al. has φράζων), and then in the most unmeaning way adopts the rendering αὔξησον in Judges 5:11, from which we may clearly see that the translators did not know the meaning of the word, it is common to adduce an Arabic word which signifies segregavit, discrevit rem ab aliis, though it is impossible to prove that the Arabic word ever had the meaning to judge or to lead. All the old translators, as well as the Rabbins, have based their rendering of the word upon פּרזי, inhabitant of the flat country (Deuteronomy 3:5, and 1 Samuel 6:18), and פּרזות, the open flat country, as distinguished from the towns surrounded by walls (Ezekiel 38:11; Zechariah 2:8), according to which פּרזון, as the place of meeting, would denote both the cultivated land with its unenclosed towns and villages, and also the population that was settled in the open country in unfortified places-a meaning which also lies at the foundation of the word in Habakkuk 3:14. Accordingly, Luther has rendered the word Bauern (peasants). שׁקּמתּי עד for קמתּי אשׁר עד. The contraction of אשׁר into שׁ, with Dagesh following, and generally pointed with Seghol, but here with Patach on account of the ק, which is closely related to the gutturals, belongs to the popular character of the song, and is therefore also found in the Song of Solomon (Judges 1:12; Judges 2:7, Judges 2:17; Judges 4:6). It is also met with here and there in simple prose (Judges 6:17; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:26); but it was only in the literature of the time of the captivity and a still later date, that it found its way more and more from the language of ordinary conversation into that of the Scriptures. Deborah describes herself as "a mother in Israel," on account of her having watched over her people with maternal care, just as Job calls himself a father to the poor who had been supported by him (Job 29:16; cf. Isaiah 22:21).

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