Deborah the Only Woman Judge of Israel
God chose the people of Israel and was guiding them. He sent patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets to guide them. After the death of Joshua, God raised up Judges to lead the Israelites.
Deborah the Only Woman Judge of Israel
At the death of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the people of were praying God for guidance. He sent ‘Judges’ to lead and rule Israel. Among the judges who led them in the path of God Deborah was the only woman judge who led them as their leader, judge, prophetess and worship leader. She is the only woman judge mentioned in the Book of Judges in the Holy Bible.
Deborah the ‘bee’
The name ‘Deborah’ signifies ‘bee’ in Hebrew. As the name signifies, Deborah was a very active leader of the Israelites. The name also means ‘spirited or fiery woman’. She was their confident and trusted woman judge. She was the wife of Lappidoth and so she is hailed as a married prophetess. Deborah ranks as the fifth one among the judges of Israelites and was the first and last woman to hold that position.
Deborah to lead the Israelites
Israelites were without a strong spiritual advisor or leader after the death of Joshua. They served the Canaanite gods as the king of Canaan, Jabin, the ruler in Hazor, had kept the northern tribes of Israel cruelly oppressed for more than twenty years. Jabin had a superior military with 900 iron chariots and well trained warriors. He had been the undisputed ruler of the area. Because of this the Israelites had lost all their spirit of patriotism. They reeled under the oppression of the Canaanite king and cried to the Lord seeking defensive help. It is in this emergency that Deborah roused the people from their lethargy, promising them the protection of God. Her faithful ministry as leader and prophet spread her name far and wide. Deborah became the ‘mother Israel’ and ‘the children of Israel’ came to her for judgment. She came to the rescue of the people in a great time of distress. She settled the disputes and guided them to overthrow the yoke of bondage.
A leader under ‘Palm of Deborah’
As a judge, Deborah sat under a ‘palm tree’ and solved the problems of the Israel people. “She used to sit under what was called the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel, in the land of Ephraim” (Judges 4:5) She summoned Barak, the head soldier from Kadesh of Naphtali, and delivered him the divine message to attack Sisera, Jabin’s general. But Barak hesitated because he knew about the power of the Canaanites and induced Deborah to accompany him. She rebuked Barak for his lack of faith. She prophesied that he will not get the glory for the victory over the enemies that God had promised. Barak and Deborah led 10.000 men of Zebulun and Naphtali to Mount Tabor on the Plain of Esdraelon. With the signal of Deborah, they attacked the Canaanites and Yahweh made them win over Sisera and his men. Deborah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Sisera was killed by Jael, wife of Heber.
Triumph ode of Deborah
After this remarkable victory, Deborah along with Barak sang the ‘ode of triumph’. ‘The song of Deborah’ commemorated the great deliverance. It gratefully remembers the peace achieved by the fight of Deborah after forty years of bonded slavery.
Deborah the messenger of God
People of Israel looked at Deborah as the messenger from God. They had no difficulty in accepting and respecting her. She stepped forward to lead them as a judge, as a prophetess and as a leader of the nation to march ahead of the army to fight for God. She was a faithful wife, a civic official, a judge and a worship leader. God equipped her with an incredible load of talent and versatility.
Faithful to all
Deborah was faithful to Yahweh in everything. She was strong in her faith all along. Her unrivaled faith revealed that she was the messenger of God. Through her faith she conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained everything that was promised and became mighty in battles. She had the extraordinary charisma to convince people to take up risks and succeed.