Judges 5

Listen to Judges 5

The Song of Deborah and Barak

1 1Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:
2 "That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that 2the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!
3 "Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the LORD I will sing; I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.
4 "LORD, 3when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, 4the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water.
5 The mountains 5quaked before the LORD, 6even Sinai before the LORD, the God of Israel.
6 "In the days of 7Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of 8Jael, 9the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.
7 The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
8 10When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. 11Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who 12offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.
10 "Tell of it, 13you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets[a] and you who walk by the way.
11 To the sound of musicians[b] at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel."Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.
12 14"Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! Arise, Barak, 15lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam.
13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.
14 From 16Ephraim their root 17they marched down into the valley,[c] following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from 18Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant's[d] staff;
15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to 19Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
16 Why did you sit still 20among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 21Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; 22and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? 23Asher sat still 24at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings.
18 25Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; 26Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.
19 "The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at 27Taanach, by the waters of 28Megiddo; 29they got no spoils of silver.
20 30From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 31The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might!
22 "Then loud beat the horses' hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23 "Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, 32because they did not come to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 "Most blessed of women be 33Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25 34He asked water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble's bowl.
26 35She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen's mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell--dead.
28 36"Out of the window she peered, the mother of Sisera wailed through 37the lattice: 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?'
29 Her wisest princesses answer, indeed, she answers herself,
30 'Have they not found and 38divided the spoil?-- A womb or two for every man; spoil of dyed materials for Sisera, spoil of dyed materials embroidered, two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?'
31 39"So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But your friends be 40like the sun 41as he rises in his might."42And the land had rest for forty years.

Images for Judges 5

Judges 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

Praise and glory ascribed to God. (1-5) The distress and deliverance of Israel. (6-11) Some commended, others censured. (12-23) Sisera's mother disappointed. (24-31)

1-5. No time should be lost in returning thanks to the Lord for his mercies; for our praises are most acceptable, pleasant, and profitable, when they flow from a full heart. By this, love and gratitude would be more excited and more deeply fixed in the hearts of believers; the events would be more known and longer remembered. Whatever Deborah, Barak, or the army had done, the Lord must have all the praise. The will, the power, and the success were all from Him.

6-11. Deborah describes the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin, that their salvation might appear more gracious. She shows what brought this misery upon them. It was their idolatry. They chose new gods, with new names. But under all these images, Satan was worshipped. Deborah was a mother to Israel, by diligently promoting the salvation of their souls. She calls on those who shared the advantages of this great salvation, to offer up thanks to God for it. Let such as are restored, not only to their liberty as other Israelites, but to their rank, speak God's praises. This is the Lord's doing. In these acts of his, justice was executed on his enemies. In times of persecution, God's ordinances, the walls of salvation, whence the waters of life are drawn, are resorted to at the hazard of the lives of those who attend them. At all times Satan will endeavour to hinder the believer from drawing near to the throne of grace. Notice God's kindness to his trembling people. It is the glory of God to protect those who are most exposed, and to help the weakest. Let us notice the benefit we have from the public peace, the inhabitants of villages especially, and give God the praise.

Verses 12-23 Deborah called on her own soul to be in earnest. He that will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. Praising God is a work we should awake to, and awake ourselves unto. She notices who fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Who fought against them. They were obstinate enemies to God's people, therefore the more dangerous. Who fought for them. The several tribes that helped are here spoken of with honour; for though God is above all to be glorified, those who are employed must have their due praise, to encourage others. But the whole creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy. The river of Kishon fought against their enemies. At most times it was shallow, yet now, probably by the great rain that fell, it was so swelled, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass, were drowned. Deborah's own soul fought against them. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us. She observes who kept away, and did not side with Israel, as might have been expected. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantage. Narrow, selfish spirits care not what becomes of God's church, so that they can but get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, ( Philippians 2:21 ) . A little will serve those for a pretence to stay at home, who have no mind to engage in needful services, because there is difficulty and danger in them. But we cannot keep away from the contest between the Lord and his enemies; and if we do not actively endeavour to promote his cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse against the workers of iniquity. Though He needs no human help, yet he is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance his cause. He requires every man to do so.

Verses 24-31 Jael had a special blessing. Those whose lot is cast in the tent, in a low and narrow sphere, if they serve God according to the powers he has given them, shall not lose their reward. The mother of Sisera looked for his return, not in the least fearing his success. Let us take heed of indulging eager desires towards any temporal good, particularly toward that which cherishes vain-glory, for that was what she here doted on. What a picture does she present of an ungodly and sensual heart! How shameful and childish these wishes of an aged mother and her attendants for her son! And thus does God often bring ruin on his enemies when they are most puffed up. Deborah concludes with a prayer to God for the destruction of all his foes, and for the comfort of all his friends. Such shall be the honour, and joy of all who love God in sincerity, they shall shine for ever as the sun in the firmament.

Cross References 42

  • 1. [Exodus 15:1]
  • 2. ver. 9; [2 Chronicles 17:16]
  • 3. Deuteronomy 33:2; [Psalms 68:7]
  • 4. 2 Samuel 22:8; Psalms 18:7; Psalms 68:8; Psalms 77:18; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:10
  • 5. Isaiah 64:1, 3
  • 6. [Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 4:11]
  • 7. Judges 3:31
  • 8. Judges 4:17
  • 9. Leviticus 26:22; Isaiah 33:8; Lamentations 1:4
  • 10. Judges 2:12, 17; Deuteronomy 32:16
  • 11. [1 Samuel 13:19, 22]
  • 12. ver. 2
  • 13. [Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14; Zechariah 9:9]
  • 14. Psalms 57:8
  • 15. Psalms 68:18; Ephesians 4:8
  • 16. Judges 3:27; Judges 12:15
  • 17. [Judges 12:15]
  • 18. Numbers 32:39, 40
  • 19. Judges 4:14
  • 20. Genesis 49:14; Psalms 68:13; [Numbers 32:1]
  • 21. See Joshua 13:24-28
  • 22. [Joshua 19:46]
  • 23. [Joshua 19:29, 31]
  • 24. Genesis 49:13
  • 25. Judges 4:10
  • 26. Judges 4:10
  • 27. Judges 1:27; Joshua 17:11; 1 Kings 4:12
  • 28. 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 23:29, 30; 2 Chronicles 35:22
  • 29. [ver. 30]
  • 30. Joshua 10:11
  • 31. Judges 4:7
  • 32. [Judges 21:9, 10]
  • 33. Judges 4:17
  • 34. Judges 4:19
  • 35. Judges 4:21
  • 36. [2 Samuel 6:16]
  • 37. [Proverbs 7:6]
  • 38. Exodus 15:9
  • 39. [Psalms 83:9, 10]
  • 40. [2 Samuel 23:4; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43]
  • 41. Psalms 19:5; Psalms 37:6
  • 42. See Judges 3:11

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain; it may connote saddle blankets
  • [b]. Or archers; the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  • [c]. Septuagint; Hebrew in Amalek
  • [d]. Hebrew commander's

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a song of praise on account of the victories obtained over Jabin, and his kingdom; after an exhortation to praise is given, and kings excited to attend to it, the majestic appearance of God at Seir, on Sinai, is observed, to raise in the mind a divine veneration of him, Jud 5:1-5; then the miserable state and condition Israel was in before these victories, and therefore had the more reason to be thankful, Jud 5:6-8; the governors, and judges, and the people that were delivered, together with Deborah and Barak, are stirred up to rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, and bless his name, Jud 5:9-13; and those who willingly engaged in the war are praised, and such who were negligent reproved, and some even cursed, Jud 5:14-23; but Jael, Heber's wife, is particularly commended for her exploit in slaying Sisera, Jud 5:24-27; and the mother of Sisera, and her ladies, are represented as wondering at his long delay, and as assured of his having got the victory, Jud 5:28-30; and the song is concluded with a prayer for the destruction, of the enemies of the Lord, and for the happiness and glory of them that love him, Jud 5:31.

Judges 5 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.