Deborah - Bible study ideas

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Film Quiz
Can you name these films about women who fight back?
Answers HERE

Gone With The Wind
A League of Their Own

Any others?


Paradise Road is an inspiring story of women fighting for survival in wartime


Find out more

A bee, symbol of Deborah

Deborah's story

Scroll of the Bible

Bible text

Jael murders Sisera, Artemesia Gentileschi 

The murder of Sisera

Stone wall engraving showing heavy-wheeled chariot with archers

Ancient Chariots

Sisera's mother at the window, waiting for her dead son: painting by Albert Joseph Moore

Three women
Deborah, Jael & Sisera's mother

Ancient walled city

King Jabin's city

War mask

Ancient Warfare 

Tents of nomadic people

Tents like Jael's

Young hawk

Deborah's Battle Plan







Activities for individuals and groups


The stories of Jael and the young King David are similar in several ways. Yet there is a great difference between the fame of David and Jael. Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, (see Bible Men and Women: David for the story),  but few people have heard of Jael.

  • Why is this so? Discuss in a group, sharing your ideas.

  • List the reasons in order of priority.


Women in films about war
(group or single activity)
A scene from 'Rome, Open City'
Stage 1:  Make up a list

List some films about women in war. You can choose recent films or classics like Rome, Open City or Two Women. If this is a group activity, choose films most people know. 

Stage 2:  Glance over your list

1.  Have you chosen films that are realistic, or do you prefer films that are inspiring/uplifting?
2.  Is war too grim a subject to depict truthfully in a film?
3.  Do you have favorites that are both realistic and inspiring? 
4.  What does this say about you and what you find most satisfying in a story?

'Mrs Miniver': Greer Garson and Teresa Wright, both of whom won Oscars for this film

'Mrs Miniver'

Stage 3:  Choose the film you like best 
4.  What are the central relationships in this film? 
5.  Is the relationship shown in a realistic light? 
6.  Do any of the scenes remind you of your own life or experiences? You may not have experienced war itself, but you may know what it's like to be on the Home Front, or even to be a bystander when there is conflict in your family or community.

Stage 4:  Think about your choices

Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.

Single activity: sit down for a few minutes and focus your mind; make a quick list of your favorites; read through the Stage 3 questions, and think about them as you do other tasks in your day.

Comparing the stories

The story of Jael is told in prose (Judges 4) and poetry (Judges 5). Go to Bible text: Deborah to find passages from both accounts that describe the same incident.

  • What are the main differences that you see?

  • Which of the two forms is the more effective?

Warfare in ancient times

Heavy wheeled chariots carrying an archer and a driver; Sisera used similar chariots. 
Notice the large hunting dog running alongside; 
these were especially trained for battle

Research methods of warfare in the period of the Judges - see for example
 Bible Archaeology: War . Find information on

  • the types of weapons used at the time

  • different methods of fighting

  • the size and organization of armies

  • the topographic layout of the site of Deborah and Barakís battle.

Try where possible to present your information visually, using maps, drawings, models, etc. What lessons can we learn from Deborah's approach to the battle?


In depth study of one person's story


Jael and Sisera; Artemia Gentileschi

Choose one of the people in this story and develop a presentation about them.
The presentation should include 
 *  a supporting image/picture/painting of each person 
 *  a map of Israel showing the cities and areas where the story took place.  
You may call up other websites to support your ideas.

In your presentation, answer the following questions:

1. What are the main events of the person's life? Tell the story.

2. What were their main qualities? What made them stand out from the crowd?

3. What obstacles did they face? Did they overcome them, or go with the flow? Explain.

4. How did they use their abilities to do Godís work?  

5. Which part of their story appeals to you most? Why?

Include three short quotations from the Bible to illustrate the points you are making. 



Drawing a cartoon

Collect examples of modern satirical cartoons about war and fighting. How do they make fun of the person/situation they are depicting? 

Using modern cartoons as your example, draw 

  • a cartoon that shows the scorn of the Israelites, and the glee in the Song of Deborah after the Canaanites lost the battle, or

  • your opinion of a current political situation.



Focus Questions

The Oracle at Delphi

1. What are the most interesting moments in Deborah's story?
2. In the story, who acts? Who gets what they want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends with? Which person would you want to avoid?
3. What is God's interaction with the main character? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image?
4. What is happening on either side of the story, in the chapters before and after it? Does this help you understand the story?
5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?
6. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life, especially your own?



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