How Do the Scriptures Speak of Deborah?
It is incredible how valuable Deborah is to the conversation about women in leadership, when such little is actually written about her in the Scriptures. We are going to look at Judges 4 and 5.
As we look ahead of those 2 chapters, from the book of Judges, we see no previous mentioning of Deborah. We do know that the judges handled disputes, and that when a judge would die the Lord would raise up a new judge. Up until the 4th chapter, male judges were listed, then suddenly enters Deborah…
Who Was Deborah:
- Judges 4:4 lists Deborah as a prophet, a wife to Lappidoth, and leader of Israel.
- Judges 4:5 explains that Deborah held court, and the Israelites came to her to settle disputes.
- Judges 4:8 gives us a glimpse into how others viewed Deborah, she was so revered and seen as someone with God’s favor. So much so, that once Deborah shared with Barak the Lord’s command… Barak agreed to go only if Deborah went with him. In verse 9, Deborah makes sure that Barak understands that due to his lack of confidence in the Lord … the victory would be at the hands of a woman.
- In verse 14, we see that Deborah gave the marching orders to Barak.
Why Deborah? I’ve heard that the only reason Deborah was selected as a judge was because there were not suitable men. This is not seen in this portion of scripture. We need to find out where this idea was birthed. Is it supported in the scripture.
Why the Order? I noticed that Deborah’s role as a Prophet was listed first, even before her role as a wife. When we, as women, are constantly told that our marriage/family is our first and most important calling… I think this order is very interesting. Is this significant, that she was listed as a Prophet before wife? I want to explore this question.
Why the Various Roles? Deborah is listed as a prophet, leader of Israel, and a judge. What are the differences between each of these positions? Where do they overlap, and if/why this matters?
Judges Chapter 5:
The Unwilling Men:
In Judges 5, we see the first mentioning of the unwilling me. However, this piece of scripture doesn’t relate to there being no willing or capable men for leading Israel or sitting as a judge. It specifically mentions an unwillingness to fight, which I see as a direct reflection on Judges 4:8,9 where Barak was unwilling to go into battle unless Deborah went with him.
As we begin to answer the questions I mentioned prior to the excerpt from Chapter 5, I think we are going to need to keep this piece of scripture in our pocket. As we discern if there is (or is not) a difference between prophet, leader, and judge this (5:7) could be very important.
Tomorrow, we will set forward to answer these first questions.