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          BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY: WAR - Weapons, tactics                     BIBLE MURDERS - Jael kills Sisera

 

 BIBLE PEOPLE - THEIR STORIES

  

   

                DEBORAH

DEBORAH, BIBLE PEOPLE, WARRIOR WOMAN   RETURN TO HOME PAGE
   


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 BIBLE REFERENCE

 PEOPLE IN THE STORY

 FAMOUS QUOTES

 INTERESTING SITES

 ACTIVITIES/QUESTIONS

 

DEBORAH LISTENS TO GOD

Deborah was a ‘prophetess’ - not someone who foretold the future but who ‘heard’ a message from God in some way and passed it on to the people around her. 

Deborah also acted as an oracle when, sitting under a sacred tree in the hill country of Ephraim, she gave judgment on particular matters. People came to her when they needed a dispute settled, or when they needed advice about their future actions. She listened, considered the problem, then gave her advice.

Deborah spoke out about deteriorating state of the country around Ephraim. Law and order had broken down, and it was no longer safe to travel on the highways. The Israelite settlers in the hill-country harassed the Canaanite 'old-timers', raiding their farms and villages down on the plains.

DEBORAH SUMMONS BARAK

The Canaanites in Ephraim were led by King Jabin of Hazor. He wanted to get rid of the problem altogether by simply wiping out the hill tribesmen. In this emergency, the Israelites turned to Deborah. She in turn summoned a military leader called Barak, and gave him orders.  He should go to Mount Tabor with as many fighting men as he could muster, and draw King Jabin into battle. 

Barak was reluctant to obey her orders, perhaps thinking of the nine hundred iron-wheeled chariots and the well-disciplined army that Barak's general Sisera commanded. The Israelites had nothing like Sisera's fire power, since they lacked the technology and know-how to develop comparable weapons.

Barak had a much smaller army, comparatively untrained, and with inferior weapons. It was unlikely he could succeed against such odds. Like any good general, he did not wish to sacrifice his men unless there was a chance of winning.



 

Sisera, on the other hand,  assembled a terrifying force. He had 900 iron-wheeled chariots, and they could do fearsome damage. Their weight and velocity as they charged into an opposing army could plough a dreadful furrow through the ranks of soldiers.   
 

Deborah, however, was able to inspire him. She knew the Israelite's forte was guerilla warfare, and she counting on the weather to help her - she had waited until the time of year when there were heavy rainfalls. Her army, led by Barak, assembled at Mount Tabor. They were a brave but motley force.

THE BATTLE AT MOUNT TABOR

Sisera, on the other hand,  assembled a terrifying force. He had 900 iron-trimmed chariots at his disposal, and they could do fearsome damage. Their weight and velocity as they charged into an opposing army could plough a dreadful furrow through the ranks of soldiers. 

The Canaanites ought to have won the battle easily. They did not. There was a tremendous downpour and the 900 chariots, meant for quick maneuvering on firm ground, became bogged in the mud. The flash flood swelled the nearby Wadi Kishon and turned the battleground into deep mud, giving the Israelite foot soldiers the advantage over the Canaanite chariots. Unhampered by heavy armor, they were more mobile than the Canaanites, who were easy prey for the Israelite swords and lances.

In the aftermath of the battle, Sisera was slaughtered by a Kenite tribeswoman called Jael.  There is a pathetic description of Sisera's mother standing at the window of her house, watching the road for the son who will never return.
         

 
 

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BIBLE REFERENCE
Judges 4:1-24, 5:1-30 (Judges 4 is a narrative; Judges 5 is a more ancient form of the story, a victory song
   
PEOPLE IN THE STORY
Deborah, a leader and prophetess who led the Israelites against King Jabin of Hazor
Barak, the general of the Israelite army
Jabin, king of Hazor and leader of the Canaanites
Sisera, leader of King Jabin's Canaanite army

 

   
FAMOUS QUOTES
'Up! For this is the day that the Lord has given Sisera into our hand.' (Judges 4:14)
'...at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead.' (Judges 5:26-27)
'So perish all your enemies.' (5:31)

 

 

   
 

 

 

INTERESTING SITES - stories, pictures, reconstructions            

Deborah, Jael and Sisera's mother  - three powerful women
BIBLE WOMEN: DEBORAH AND JAEL

Hazor, the city of King Jabin, Deborah's mortal enemy
BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY: CITIES 

The Army, Battles and Weapons in ancient Israel
BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY: WAR 

Barak, one of the Top Ten Bible warriors - the mud-stained soldier
BIBLE TOP TEN: WARRIORS: BARAK
 

The tent where Jael first hid then murdered the enemy general Sisera 
BIBLE ARCHITECTURE: HOUSING 

The murder of Sisera - don't trust a woman bearing curds
BIBLE TOP TEN: MURDERS 

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ACTIVITIES AND FOCUS QUESTIONS

Comparing the stories
The story of Jael is told in prose (Judges 4) and poetry (Judges 5). 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
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 transport
·     the size and organization of armies
·     the topographic layout of the site of Deborah and Barak’s battle.
Try where possible to present your information visually, using maps, drawings, models, etc.


In depth study of one person's story
Choose one of the people whose stories are told on this site and develop a PowerPoint presentation about them.
The presentation must be at least 10 slides long and 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 (approximately 10 minutes), 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 God’s work?  

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

You must include three short quotations from the Bible texts to illustrate the points you are making. 

 

 

Drawing a cartoon
Collect examples of modern satirical cartoons. How do they make fun of the person/situation they are depicting? Using modern cartoons as your example, draw a cartoon that shows the ridicule of the Israelites, and the glee in the Song of Deborah after the Canaanites lost the battle.

 

Discussion
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.
·     Discuss in groups why this might be so.
·     Share your group’s opinions with other groups.
·     List the reasons in order of priority.


Focus Questions

1. What are the most interesting moments in Deborah's story?
2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? 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 characters? 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 what is happening?
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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Bible Stories: People of the Old Testament - Bible Study Resource
Deborah, judge, warrior woman