Judges 5:14 MEANING

Judges 5:14
(14) Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek.--The LXX. and Vulgate render it, "Ephraim uprooted them in Amalek." But the meaning seems to be, "Out of Ephraim (came down to the battle) those whose root is in Amalek," or, "among the Amalekites." Ephraim had firmly rooted himself (comp. Isaiah 27:6; Psalm 80:10) in the country which had been the stronghold of the Amalekites. (See Judges 12:15.)

After thee, Benjamin, among thy people.--Ephraim is here addressed by a sudden change of person (comp. Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 42:20. &c). After thee, O Ephraim, came down Benjamin, mingled with thy people. The forces of "little Benjamin" are overshadowed by, and almost lost in, the crowded ranks of its powerful neighbour-tribe. In after days Benjamin clung to the skirts of Judah, but at this period his fortunes were more allied with those of Ephraim. "After thee, Benjamin," seems to have become (perhaps from this allusion) a war-cry of the tribe (Hosea 5:8).

Out of Machir came down governors.--Machir was the only son of Manasseh (Genesis 1:23; Numbers 27:1), and is here used for the Western Manassites (Joshua 17:5). The Eastern half-tribe, no doubt, held aloof with Gad and Reuben. The silence respecting Judah is remarkable. We may conjecture that Judah and Simeon were sufficiently occupied in keeping off the Philistines, or that, having secured their own territory, they remained in selfish isolation. The word rendered "governors" (LXX., "searchers out"; Vulgate, "princes ") is more strictly "law-givers" (Sym-machus, entassontes).

They that handle the pen of the writer.--Literally, they who draw with the staff (sh?bet) of the scribe (soph?r). Soph?r may mean scribe (literally, "one who counts "), and the verb rendered "handle" is, literally, "draw;" but sh?bet can hardly mean "pen"; nor is it easy to say of what special use "the pen of the writer" would be in the gathering of clans to battle; nor have we the faintest indication that Zebulon had any literary pre-eminence. There can be little doubt that the meaning is, "They who lead (so in Latin, traho sometimes has the meaning of duco) with the staff of the marshal." The soph?r is the officer (2 Kings 25:19) who musters, and therefore naturally counts and enrols, the host ( Jeremiah 52:25), and the staff: is his natural "rod of power," or ensign of office; just as it-was (vitis, Plin., H. N. xiv. 1, ? 3) of Roman centurions (Vulgate, De Zebulon qui exercitum ducerent ad bel-landum).

Verse 14. - They who spring (whose root is) from Ephraim went against Amalek, following thee, O Benjamin, with thy people; from Manasseh (Machir, son of Manasseh, Genesis 50:23) came down governors (literally, lawgivers: cf. ver. 9), and out of Zebulun they that handle the baton of the commander, i.e. the military chiefs.

5:12-23 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, Php 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.Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek,.... In this and some following verses, Deborah makes mention of the tribes that were siding and assisting in this war, and of those that were not; and begins with Ephraim, where she herself dwelt, Judges 4:5 who was the root, foundation, and source of this expedition, that under a divine influence directed, animated, and encouraged to it; and by whom, and from whence, a detachment was sent against the Amalekites, who upon all occasions were ready to assist the Canaanites, and now were about to do it; and to prevent their junction, a party was sent from Ephraim, and by the Ehpraimites; though the Targum, and the Jewish commentators in general, refer this to a past action, which Deborah here commemorates and celebrates; and understand by "root", Joshua, who was of that tribe, and who discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword, Exodus 17:13.

after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; which the same Targum and the same writers interpret of a future fact, and as spoken of by way of prophecy; and suppose that Saul of the tribe of Benjamin is meant, and the people of Benjamin, the two hundred thousand footmen he took with him, and fought against Amalek, and destroyed them, 1 Samuel 15:1 but it is rather to be understood of the tribe of Benjamin in general, which at this time went out against Amalek, to prevent their giving any assistance to Jabin king of Canaan, and who were followed in it by a party of the Ephraimites; so that Benjamin has the greatest honour given it, partly as it was first in this affair, and partly as it was general, the whole tribe engaged, whereas only a few in Ephraim, and those stimulated by the example of Benjamin:

out of Machir came down governors; Machir was the only son of Manasseh, and therefore this must respect that tribe, half of which was settled on the other side Jordan, and to which Jarchi and other Jewish writers ascribe this, and suppose it refers to the princes and great men of it, who subdued the Amorites, and took the sixty cities of Argob in the time of Moses; though Kimchi and Ben Gersom understand it of some of them that came from thence to assist in this war; but it is clearly suggested in Judges 5:17 that they abode beyond Jordan, and gave no assistance at all; it therefore must be understood of the half tribe of Manasseh, within Jordan, from whence came great personages, with a number of men no doubt along with them, to lend an helping hand against the Canaanites, or to be employed as assistants under Barak in this expedition:

and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer; which being a maritime tribe, and employed in trade and navigation, had many clerks famous for their readiness in handling the pen; but these through a zeal for the common cause dropped their pens, and took to the sword, in vindication of the rights and liberties of themselves and their brethren; for which they are justly commended.

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