Judges 4 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Judges 4
Pulpit Commentary
And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.
And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
Verse 2. - Sold them. See Judges 2:14, note. Jabin king of Hazor. The exact site of Hazor has not been identified with certainty, but it is conjectured by Robinson, with great probability, to have stood on the Tell now called Khuraibeh, overlooking the waters of Merom (now called Lake Huleh), where are remains of a sepulchre, Cyclopean walls, and other buildings. In Joshua 11:1-14 we read of the total destruction by fire of Hazor, and of the slaughter of Jabin, the king thereof, with all the inhabitants of the city, and of the slaughter of all the confederate kings, and the capture of their cities; Hazor, however, "the head of all those kingdoms," being the only one which was "burnt with fire." It is a little surprising, therefore, to read here of another Jabin reigning in Hazor, with confederate kings under him (Judges 5:19), having, like his predecessor, a vast number of chariots (cf. Judges 4:3, 13 with Joshua 11:4, 9), and attacking Israel at the head of a great force (cf. Judges 4:7, 13, 16 with Joshua 11:4). It is impossible not to suspect that these are two accounts of the same event. If, however, the two events are distinct, we must suppose that the Canaanite kingdoms had been revived under a descendant of the former king, that Hazor had been rebuilt, and that Jabin was the hereditary name of its king. Gentiles, or nations, or Goim, as Joshua 12:23, and Genesis 14:1. Whether Goim was the proper name of a particular people, or denoted a collection of different tribes, their seat was in Galilee, called in Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:15, Galilee, of the nations, or Gentiles, in Hebrew Goim.
And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
Verse 5. - The palm tree of Deborah. The tree, which was probably still standing in the writer's time, was known as "the palm tree of Deborah," just as a certain oak tree in the forest of Hoxne, in Suffolk, was known for many hundred years as King Edmund's oak.
And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
Verse 6. - Kedesh-naphtali, i.e. Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 19:37), as distinguished from Kedesh in the south of Judah (Joshua 15:23), and others. It still keeps the name of Kades, and lies four miles north-west of Lake Huleh. There are numerous ancient remains. Hath not the Lord, etc. She sneaks as "a prophetess" announcing God s commands, not her own opinions; declaring God's promises, not merely her own hopes or wishes.
And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.
And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
Verse 10. - Called, or rather gathered together, as the same word is rendered in ver. 13. Went up, viz., to Mount Tabor, as in vers. 6 and 12. Translate the verse. There went up ten thousand men at his feet, i.e. following him.
Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.
Verse 11. - Translate, Now Heber the Kenite had severed himself from the Kenites, viz., from the sons of Hobab, etc. The Kenites, as we read in Judges 1:16, had settled in the wilderness of Judah, south of Arad, in the time of Joshua. Heber, with a portion of the tribe, had migrated later to Naphtali, probably at the time When the Philistines were pressing hard upon Judah, in the days of Shamgar and Jael (Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:5).
And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.
And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
Verse 13. - Unto the river (or brook) of Kishon, now the Nahr Mukutta. In the plain of Esdraelon, through which the Kishon flowed into the Mediterranean, there would be room for all his chariots to come into action.
And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
Verse 14. - And Deborah, etc. Observe how throughout Deborah takes the lead as the inspired prophetess.
And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
Verse 15.- The Lord discomfited, etc. Deborah had announced that the Lord was gone out before the host of Barak, and so the victory was not man's, but the Lord's. "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
Verse 16. - Barak pursued after the chariots. Barak, supposing Sisera still to be with the chariots, pursued after them, and seems to have overtaken them, as they were embarrassed in the rotten, boggy ground which had been suddenly overflowed by the swollen waters of Kishon. Many were swept away by the flood and drowned, the rest put to the sword while their horses were floundering in the bog (Judges 5:21, 22). But Sisera had meanwhile escaped on foot unnoticed, and fled to the tents of the friendly Kenites.
Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
Verse 18. - With a mantle. Rather, "with the coverlet," such as was always at hand in the nomad tent.
And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
Verse 19. - A little water. Faint and thirsty as he was, he did not ask for strong drink, but only water.
Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
Verse 21. - Then Jael, etc. Sisera, having taken every precaution, had lain him down to rest; not, like David, trusting to the Lord to make him dwell in safety, but confiding in Jael's friendship and his own crafty directions. But no sooner had he fallen into a deep sleep, than the crafty and courageous woman, into whose hands Sisera was to be sold, took a tent pin and the heavy hammer with which they drove the pin into the ground, and with a desperate blow forced it through his temples, and pinned him to the ground. Without a struggle, he swooned and died. Instead of and fastened it into the ground, it is better to translate, that it (the pin) came down to the ground. It is the same word as is translated lighted Joshua 15:18. In the last clause put the full-stop after asleep, and read, So he swooned and died. It is impossible for us to view Jael's act in the same light as her contemporaries did, on account of its treachery and cruelty; but we can admire her faith in the God of Israel, her lave for the people of God, and her marvellous courage and strength of mind in carrying out her purpose, and make allowance for the age in which she lived.

And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
Courtesy of Open Bible