sis'-er-a (cicera', of doubtful meaning; S(e)isara):
(1) Given in Judges 4 as the captain of the army of Jabin, king of Hazor. The accounts given of the battle of Sisera with Barak, as found in Judges 4 and 5, have important points of difference. The first is a prose, the second a poetic narrative. In the first only Naphtali and Zebulun are mentioned as being under the command of Barak; in the second 6 tribes are given as being under his command. In Judges 4 Sisera is known as the captain of Jabin's forces, while in Judges 5 he seems to have been an independent leader. There is also a difference as to the scene of the battle and as to the manner in which Sisera met his death at the hand of Jael. Because of these points of difference, added to the fact that this is the only account, in these early times, where a king did not lead his own forces, it is thought by many that there is here the combination of two traditions dealing with different and distinct events.
Sisera resided in Harosheth of the Gentiles, a place identified with el-Charithiyeh, on the right bank of the Kishon and commanding the way from the Central Plain to the sea. Taking the versions in the two chapters of Judges as being the account of a single campaign, we find Deborah urging Barak to combine the forces of Israel to wage war with Sisera as the representative of Jabin, the king of Hazor. The scene of the battle was on the plain at the foot of the slopes of Mt. Tabor (Judges 4:12-14), or at the foot of the Carmel heights (Judges 5:19). The attack of Barak and Deborah was so furious, animated as it was by the hatred of Sisera and the Canaanites, that the hosts of Sisera were put to rout, and Sisera, deserting his troops, fled on foot to the Northeast. He took refuge in the tent of Heber, near Kedesh, and here met death at the hands of Jael, the wife of Heber (see JAEL). Sisera's name had long produced fear in Israel because of his oppression of the people, his vast army and his 900 chariots of iron. His overthrow was the cause of much rejoicing and was celebrated by the song in which Deborah led the people.
It is interesting to note that the great rabbi Aqiba, who fought so valiantly in the Jewish war for independence as standard bearer to Bar-cocheba, was descended from the ancient warlike Sisera of Harosheth.
(2) In Ezra 2:53 and Nehemiah 7:55 the name Sisera, after a long interval, reappears in a family of the Nethinim. There is no evidence that the latter Sisera is connected by family descent with the former.
C. E. Schenk
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