1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years. 4 At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgement. 6 She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, “Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. 7 I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.” ’ 8 Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’ 9 And she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him.
Notes on Judges 4:1-10.
The story in this reading, reminds us of a country at war with her neighbours. Some leaders like Ehud and many others died in a battlefield for Israelites’ freedom. The rise of Deborah and Barak to defend the land and the peoples came because of adhering to the commands of God, the King of Israel, and our King. The leadership style exemplified here is very counter-cultural on the place of woman and man in our modern society. Some cultures deny women taking up responsibilities in serving the nation instead men, who are given many opportunities. But, according to this reading, God can bless and use anybody, men, and women to lead and serve His people. We can build each other up when we trust in God and trust in each other’s talents and gifts without judging. Deborah and Barak are good examples of teamwork and collaboration. God is NOT gender exclusive, but He is inclusive and diverse without discrimination as our Holy Father. Are WE! Or ARE WE NOT?