HOW A WOMAN WON A GREAT VICTORY
Judges iv: 1, to v: 31.
GAIN many of the people of Israel were drawn away from the
worship of the Lord, and began to live like the people
around them, praying to idols and doing wickedly. And
again the Lord left them to suffer for their sins. A
Canaanite king in the north, whose name was Jabin, sent
his army down to conquer them under the command of his
general, named Sisera. In Sisera's army were many
chariots of iron, drawn by horses; while soldiers in
the chariots shot arrows and threw spears at the
Israelites. The men
 of Israel were not used to horses, and greatly feared
All the northern tribes in the land of Israel fell
under the power of King Jabin and his general, Sisera;
and their rule was very harsh and severe. This was the
fourth of these "oppressions," and it bore most heavily
upon the people in the north. But it led those who
suffered from it to turn from their idols, and to call
upon the Lord God of Israel.
At that time a woman was ruling as judge over a large
part of the land; the only woman among the fifteen
judges who, one after another, ruled the Israelites.
Her name was Deborah. She sat under a palm-tree north
of Jerusalem, between the cities of Ramah and Bethel,
and gave advice to all the people who sought her. So
wise and good was Deborah that men came from all parts
of the land with their difficulties and the questions
that arose between them. She ruled over the land, not
by the force of any army, or by any appointment, but
because all men saw that God's Spirit was upon her.
Deborah heard of the troubles of the tribes in the
north under the hard rule of the Canaanites. She knew
that a brave man was living in the land of Naphtali, a
man named Barak, and to him she sent this message:
"Barak, call out the tribes of Israel who live near
you; raise an army, and lead the men who gather about
you to Mount Tabor. The Lord has told me that he will
give Sisera and the host of the Canaanites into your
But Barak felt afraid to undertake alone this great
work of setting his people free. He sent back to
Deborah this answer:
"If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not
go with me, I will not go."
"I will go with you," said Deborah; "but because you
did not trust God, and did not go when God called you,
the honor of this war will not be yours, for God will
deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman."
Deborah left her seat under the palm-tree and went up
to Kedesh, where Barak lived. Together Deborah and
Barak sent out a call for the men of the north, and ten
thousand men met together with such arms as they could
find. This little army, with a woman for its chief,
encamped on Mount Tabor, which is one of three
moun-  tains standing in a row on the east of a great plain
called "the plain of Esdraelon," "the plain of
Jezreel," and "the plain of Meggido,"—for it bears all
these three names. On this plain, both in Bible times
and also in the times since the Bible, many great
battles have been fought. Over this plain winds the
brook Kishon, which at some seasons, after heavy rain,
becomes a foaming, rushing river.
From their camp on the top of Mount Tabor the little
army of Israel could look down on the great host of the
Canaanites with their many tents, their horses and
chariots, and their general, Sisera. But Deborah was
not afraid. She said to Barak:
"March down the mountain with all your men, and fight
the Canaanites. The Lord will go before you, and he
will give Sisera and his host into your hand."
Then Barak blew a trumpet and called out his men. They
ran down the side of Mount Tabor and rushed upon their
 The Canaanites were taken so suddenly that they had no
time to draw out their chariots. They were frightened
and ran away, trampling each other under foot, chariots
and horses and men in a wild flight.
And the Lord helped the Israelites; for at that time
the brook Kishon was swollen into a river, and the
Canaanites crowded after each other into it. While many
were killed in the battle, many were also drowned in
Sisera, the general of the Canaanites, saw that the
battle had gone against him and that all was lost. He
leaped from his chariot and fled away on foot. On the
edge of the plain he found a tent standing alone, and
he ran to it for shelter and hiding.
It was the tent of a man named Heber, and Heber's wife,
Jael, was in front of it. She knew Sisera, and said to
him, "Come in, my lord; come into the tent; do not be
Sisera entered the tent, and Jael covered him with a
rug, so that no enemy might find him. Sisera said to
her, "I am very thirsty; can you give me a little water
Instead of water she brought out a bottle of milk and
gave him some: and then Sisera lay down to sleep, for
he was very tired from the battle and from running.
While he was in a deep sleep, Jael crept into the tent
quietly with a tent-pin and a hammer in her hand. She
placed the point of the pin upon the side of his head,
near his ear, and with the hammer gave blow after blow,
driving it into his brain and through his head until it
went into the ground underneath. After a moment's
struggle Sisera was dead, and she left his body upon
In a little time Jael saw Barak, the chief of the
Israelite army, coming toward the tent. She went out to
meet him, and said, "Come with me, and I will show you
the man whom you are seeking."
She lifted the curtain of the tent, and led Barak
within; and there he saw lying dead upon the ground the
mighty Sisera, who only the day before had led the army
of the Canaanites.
BARAK SEES THE MIGHTY SISERA
That was a terrible deed which Jael did. We should call
it treachery and murder; but such was the bitter hate
between Israelite and Canaanite at that time that all
the people gave great honor to Jael on account of it,
for by that act she had set the people free from the
king who had been oppressing Israel. After this the
land had rest for many years.
 Deborah, the judge, wrote a great song about this
victory. Here are some verses from it:
"Because the elders took the lead in Israel,
Because the people offered themselves willingly,
Bless ye the Lord.
Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes;
I, even I will sing unto the Lord;
I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel.
. . . . . . . .
The kings came and fought.
Then fought the kings of Canaan,
In Taanach by the waters of Meggido.
They took no gain of money.
They fought from heaven,
The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
The river Kishon swept them away,
That ancient river, the river Kishon.
O my soul, march on with strength;
. . . . . . . .
Blessed among women shall Jael be,
The wife of Heber the Kenite,
Blessed shall she be among women in the tent.
He asked water, and she gave him milk,
She brought him butter in a lordly dish.
. . . . . . . .
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay;
At her feet he bowed, he fell.
Where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
Through the window a woman looked forth and cried,
The mother of Sisera cried through the lattice,
Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the wheels of his chariot?
. . . . . . . .
So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord;
But let them that love him be as the sun,
When he goeth forth in his might.