After Ehud's death, the Israelites again did what was evil in the LORD's sight.
So the LORD handed them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim.
Sisera, who had nine hundred iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.
Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who had become a judge in Israel.
She would hold court under the Palm of Deborah, which stood between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to settle their disputes.
One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: Assemble ten thousand warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor.
I will lure Sisera, commander of Jabin's army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him."
Barak told her, "I will go, but only if you go with me!"
"Very well," she replied, "I will go with you. But since you have made this choice, you will receive no honor. For the LORD's victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.
At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand warriors marched up with him. Deborah also marched with them.
Now Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses' brother-in-law Hobab, had moved away from the other members of his tribe and pitched his tent by the Oak of Zaanannim, near Kedesh.
When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,
he called for all nine hundred of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River.
Then Deborah said to Barak, "Get ready! Today the LORD will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you." So Barak led his ten thousand warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle.
When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic. Then Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot.
Barak chased the enemy and their chariots all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera's warriors. Not a single one was left alive.
Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber's family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor.
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don't be afraid." So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
"Please give me some water," he said. "I'm thirsty." So she gave him some milk to drink and covered him again.
"Stand at the door of the tent," he told her. "If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no."
But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, "Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for." So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
So on that day Israel saw God subdue Jabin, the Canaanite king.
And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin, until they finally destroyed him.
On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
"When Israel's leaders take charge, and the people gladly follow -- bless the LORD!
"Listen, you kings! Pay attention, you mighty rulers! For I will sing to the LORD. I will lift up my song to the LORD, the God of Israel.
"LORD, when you set out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom, the earth trembled and the cloudy skies poured down rain.
The mountains quaked at the coming of the LORD. Even Mount Sinai shook in the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.
"In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the days of Jael, people avoided the main roads, and travelers stayed on crooked side paths.
There were few people left in the villages of Israel -- until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.
When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates. Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!
My heart goes out to Israel's leaders, and to those who gladly followed. Bless the LORD!
"You who ride on fine donkeys and sit on fancy saddle blankets, listen! And you who must walk along the road, listen!
Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes. They recount the righteous victories of the LORD, and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the LORD marched down to the city gates.
"Wake up, Deborah, wake up! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song! Arise, Barak! Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!
"Down from Tabor marched the remnant against the mighty. The people of the LORD marched down against mighty warriors.
They came down from Ephraim -- a land that once belonged to the Amalekites, and Benjamin also followed you. From Makir the commanders marched down; from Zebulun came those who carry the rod of authority.
The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak. They followed Barak, rushing into the valley. But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.
Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds -- to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? In the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.
Gilead remained east of the Jordan. And Dan, why did he stay home? Asher sat unmoved at the seashore, remaining in his harbors.
But Zebulun risked his life, as did Naphtali, on the battlefield.
"The kings of Canaan fought at Taanach near Megiddo's springs, but they carried off no treasures of battle.
The stars fought from heaven. The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.
The Kishon River swept them away -- that ancient river, the Kishon. March on, my soul, with courage!
Then the horses' hooves hammered the ground, the galloping, galloping of Sisera's mighty steeds.
'Let the people of Meroz be cursed,' said the angel of the LORD. 'Let them be utterly cursed because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty warriors.'
"Most blessed is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.
Sisera asked for water, and Jael gave him milk. In a bowl fit for kings, she brought him yogurt.
Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg, and with her right hand she reached for the workman's hammer. She hit Sisera, crushing his head. She pounded the tent peg through his head, piercing his temples.
He sank, he fell, he lay dead at her feet.
"From the window Sisera's mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don't we hear the sound of chariot wheels?'
A reply comes from her wise women, and she repeats these words to herself:
'They are dividing the captured goods they found -- a woman or two for every man. There are gorgeous robes for Sisera, and colorful, beautifully embroidered robes for me.'
"LORD, may all your enemies die as Sisera did! But may those who love you rise like the sun at full strength!" Then there was peace in the land for forty years.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)