The woman hurried along the short, dusty path that led to her home stopping at the well to remove a crock of goat’s milk. Inside, she kicked off her sandals, poured a cup of cool milk, and relaxed atop a soft cushion to reflect upon the day’s events.
As a prophetess and judge of her people, Deborah had spent most of the day under the date palm tree in front of her tent. Here she listened intently to her people’s complaints and sufferings. The Israelites had endured twenty years of cruel oppression from their captives, the Canaanites.
King Jabin’s Captain Sisera and his army had destroyed vineyards, dishonored the women, and killed many of their people. Today, when she asked God for help, Deborah heard His plan for deliverance. She summoned General Barak from his home in Kedesh.
A week later Barak arrived. He bowed to Deborah and sat on the ground before her.
“I will get right to the subject, Barak. The Lord God of Israel, commands you to take 10,000 men and lead them to Mount Tabor. He will lure Sisera into a trap and bring him, his 900 iron chariots, and troops to the Kishon River. There the Lord will hand him over to you.”
Barak’s dark eyes widened. He jumped to his feet and whined, “But we have no chariots or decent weapons. They will slaughter us.”
Deborah stood and glowered at him. She wanted to call him a coward but held her tongue and replied, “Our God will sustain us, Barak. Remember, He led our people through the Red Sea and broke Pharaoh’s hold on them. God is mightier than Jabin or Sisera. He will deliver us from our oppressors.”
Barak paced back and forth. He stopped and said, “God has chosen you as our leader. I will go but only if you go with me.”
Deborah turned away and gazed at the mountains. Silently she prayed, Lord, please tell me what to say? God answered.
“Barak, I will go and lead the army with you but the honor will not be yours; the Lord will deliver Sisera into a woman’s hands. Let us go now and gather together our army.”
Two weeks later Deborah, Barak, and ten thousand Israelites met Sisera and his 900 iron chariots at the spur of the Tabor hills.
Deborah looked out from a lofty rock, pointed her finger at the enemy, and exclaimed to Barak, “Go, for this is the day the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hands! God has gone out before you.”
Suddenly a storm of sleet and hail burst over the plain into the face of Sisera, his soldiers, and charioteers. The rain beat down disabling the slingers, archers, and swordsmen.
Floodwaters raced down the mountainside causing the heavy chariots to sink deep into the mud. The Israelites rushed in to slay them with their swords. Not a man remained alive except Sisera who ran for his life.
Barak looked toward Deborah who waved him on and yelled, “Go after him. God is on our side, the victory is ours!”
Barak and his men cheered and shouted, “God is on our side!”
Weary from battle Sisera ran to the Kenites camp for there was peace between their people. Here he could rest safely. Jael, wife of Heber, greeted the nervous Captain.
“Please, Captain, come into our tent and rest. Here is a bottle of milk to soothe your thirst.”
Sisera rushed inside and gulped the milk. He tossed the empty bottle on the ground and hissed, “Close the flap and stand watch. If a man asks for me, tell him I am not here.”
“I will watch.” Jael replied, sneering as she covered Sisera with a mantle.
When he was sound asleep, Jael crept to his side, placed a tent nail to his temple, and hammered it through both temples into the ground.
Hot in pursuit of Sisera, Barak soon came to the tent of Jael.
“Have you seen Sisera?” Barak hoarsely asked.
“Come, and I will show you the man you seek.” Jael said.
Barak gazed upon his dead enemy and remembered Deborah’s prophesy, “The Lord will deliver Sisera into a woman’s hands.”
When Deborah heard that Sisera was dead, she led the Israelites in a celebration of deliverance.
“Praise the Lord. Our enemies came and fought but our God prevailed. May Jael be the most blessed of women. But may those who love you shine like the morning sun. Praise the Lord.”
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