Into the Hand of a Woman

“And she said, ‘I surely will go with you, even so, the road which you walk will not bring you renown, for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose and walked with Baraq to Qedshah. And Baraq summoned Zebulun and Naphtaliy to Qedshah and they went up at his feet — 10,000 men. And Deborah went up with him.”

(Judges 4:9-10)

If you had never read this account before, the temptation would be to assume that the “woman’s hand” into whom Sisera was being given would be Deborah’s. We know from reading ahead that this will not be the case by any means, yet such has not yet been indicated by the text. There will indeed be a degree of ironic justice, but not in the way we would likely expect, were we reading this text with fresh eyes.

Adding credence to the notion that Judges often overlapped one another, we find Baraq calling out his forces from the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, calling them to gather in Kadesh. These two tribes are to the northern region of the tribal areas, but why he perhaps did not call from Asher or Manasseh, for example (two other northern tribes), seems to indicate (given the direct command of God to call men from these two tribes only) that Baraq and Deborah’s influence was more regional than national. This, we do not know for sure, but it seems plausible.

The key, of course, is that the men are now assembled…the 10,000 agains the multitudes that God will assemble from Sisera’s armies. The battle to come is clearly one-sided, for while the multitudes may seem to outnumber the 10,000 on the side of the people of Israel, God also fights on the side of his people, making the multitudes of the pagan nations seem puny at best. Isn’t it sad that we fear the foes we face today given that we worship the same God that defeated Sisera and Eglon and the Philistines?

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