Deborah, Judge of Israel and prophetess

There are two women in the Bible named Deborah. One is Deborah, Rebekah's nurse and the other was a Judge of Israel.

Deborah the Judge was one of the 15 judges who ruled over the land of Israel during ancient times, before the Israelites had kings. Deborah also was a prophet and the wife of Lappidoth (Judg. 4:4). Her story is told in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapters 4 and 5.

Deborah's reign as a judge began during a difficult time in Israel's history. Jabin, the king of Hazor, had been subjecting the land for 20 years when Deborah became a judge. Deborah roused her people to bring an end to the oppression.

As explained in Judges 4, Jabin's army commander, Sisera, had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron to aid in the suppression of the Israelites within the land of Canaan. The people cried out for help from God.

Deborah sent for a man named Barak and told him to gather an army of men from the northern part of the land of Israel and march against Jabin's army:

"The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'"

Barak told Deborah that he would follow her command if she accompanied him, and she did.

In Judg. 4:15, Barak led an attack with his army at Mount Tabor and that the Lord routed Jabin's army. Barak's men killed all of Jabin's soldiers. Sisera, Jabin's army commander, escaped on foot but was killed by Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, after he had tried to hide in her tent.

Deborah's leadership in delivering Israel from oppression is commemorated in Judges 5, in what is called the Song of Deborah.

The land of Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years after the rout of Jabin's army.

The name Deborah means "bee."

Next person in the Bible: Delilah

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