The major judges can be very difficult. The question I keep asking myself is: Are some of the words superfluous? If so, which ones? Personally, I think every word in the original manuscripts is important; they are there for a reason. Therefore, I have missed a lot here; but it may aid others to input what I have missed.
“And the children of Israel again did that which was 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” (Jdg 4:2 RV).
Because Israel again did what was evil, God sold them into the hand of Jabin (discerner, the wise), king of Canaan (merchant; trader; or that humbles and subdues), that reigned in Hazor (castle; fortified; enclosed court; hay). What I learn from this is, once again: In order to get His people to repent, God, who is wise and not desiring His people to perish, is going to humble them utilizing those who are nothing but hay and stubble. Without the grace of God, we do not have the strength to overcome those that reign in castles built of hay and stubble. Jabin’s captain was Sisera (battle array; servant of Ra). He dwelt in Harosheth (workmanship; nations) of the Gentiles.
Deborah (a bee—thinking of honey and honeycomb) was a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth (torches). When I come across women in the Old Testament, I attempt to find a connection to either our Blessed Mother or the Church. In this case, I can see both. With the word “torches,” I think of the fire that protected Israel at night during the Exodus. I also think of God as a consuming fire, bringing our dross to the surface in order they may be removed. This is also the Church and its doctrines. From the Catholic Church document, Domini Iesus, we read on the unicity and unity of the Church: “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27;Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single or whole Christ . This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2;Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).” Therefore, the Catholic Church is also the “torch” which brings our sins and wrongful thoughts to light that we may confess and renew our minds, correcting the conscience.
Deborah “judged Israel at that time.” The word used for “judge” is defined in Strong’s: “A primitive root; to judge, that is, pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish; by extension to govern…” Hence, we see clearly our Blessed Mother and the Catholic Church, the Body of Jesus Christ, and we see the power our Lord gave the Church to bind and loose. Also, while there remains a fear because of sin, we can eagerly look forward to the Second Coming because He is coming to vindicate us, i.e. to defend us, to justify us. In the meantime, we must die daily to self, persevering to the end. If we think we stand, take heed lest we fall. We will not fall as long as we adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ.
“And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth–el in the hill country of Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Jdg 4:5 RV). The phrase, “in the hill country,” catches my eye. This phrase is one of the reasons why the Church connects the Blessed Virgin to the Ark of the Covenant—of which I will not expound upon due to the length it would take. It also makes me think of Jerusalem and the Church. Whether they realize it or not all Protestants come to the Catholic Church for judgment because all the truths they do have come from the Catholic Church, of which they at one time were part of.
Deborah sent a [messenger—apostle] and called Barak (lightning), the son of Abinoam (father of beauty, father of kindness, father of pleasantness). In this I see that lightning, which we fear—Mt. Sinai—is from our God, Who is Love. Yet that lightning will lead us to repentance and the Father if we allow it.
Barak was called out of Kedesh-naphtali. Kedesh means “holy;” Naphtali, “struggles or fights.”
“Go and draw unto mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun.” Zebulun and Naphtali makes me thing of Matthew 4: “And leaving Nazareth, [Jesus] came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people which sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, to them did light spring up” (Mat 4:16 RV).”
“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” (Jdg 4:7 RV). Kishon means “water course, torrent stream.” It causes me to think of the Red Sea and the Jordan River—Baptism. Notice the use of the word “draw” instead of “send.” This reminds me that God is constantly, continuously drawing us. Nevertheless, we must cooperate with His drawing. “And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, I will not go” (Jdg 4:8 RV). Let us not go anywhere with the Church, its teachings, and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
“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” (Jdg 4:9 RV). The Blessed Virgin, by virtue of being the Mother of God, crushes the head of the serpent.
“Now Heber (alliance, associate; passing over), the Kenite (smiths), had severed himself from the Kenites, even from the children of Hobab (beloved), the brother in law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far as the oak in Zaanannim (alliance, associate; passing over), which is by Kedesh. (Jdg 4:11 RV). There was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
“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 he turned in unto her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 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. And 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 tent–pin, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the pin into his temples, and it pierced through into the ground; for he was in a deep sleep; so he swooned and died. 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 he came unto her; and, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent–pin was in his temples” (Jdg 4:17-22 RV).
It is difficult for me to understand what this represents. All of the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ. Jael means “mountain goat; he that ascends.” Mankind, by virtue of original sin, Adam’s disobedience, made an alliance with Satan. Jael was the wife of Heber (alliance). She took a hammer and a tent pin (nail?), and drove it through Sisera’s temple. The Jews turned our Lord over to the Romans to be crucified. They put a robe upon Him and a crown of thorns. They, then, pierced His hands and feet and crucified Him. Although they did it out of hatred, God made it unto our salvation.
I will not go into Deborah’s Song. Someday I may come back to it.
And the land rested forty years.
In summary, we see God's providence at work, how He works in various ways, to secure our salvation. He gives us the Church to save us and keep us secure--only if we cooperate with it, recognizing that Christ has given the Catholic Church all truth, and we must renew our minds. --TT