- On that day Deborah (and Barak, son of Abinoam,) sang this song:
- 1 Of chiefs who took the lead in Israel, of noble deeds by the people who bless the LORD,
- Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes!
I to the LORD will sing my song,
my hymn to the LORD, the God of Israel.
- O LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the land of Edom,
The earth quaked and the heavens were shaken,
while the clouds sent down showers.
- Mountains trembled
in the presence of the LORD, the One of Sinai,
in the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.
- In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
in the days of slavery caravans ceased:
Those who traveled the roads
went by roundabout paths.
- Gone was freedom beyond the walls,
gone indeed from Israel.
When I, Deborah, rose,
when I rose, a mother in Israel,
- 2 New gods were their choice; then the war was at their gates. Not a shield could be seen, nor a lance, among forty thousand in Israel!
- My heart is with the leaders of Israel,
nobles of the people who bless the LORD;
- They who ride on white asses,
seated on saddlecloths as they go their way;
- Sing of them to the strains of the harpers at the wells,
where men recount the just deeds of the LORD,
his just deeds that brought freedom to Israel.
- Awake, awake, Deborah!
awake, awake, strike up a song.
Strength! arise, Barak,
make despoilers your spoil, son of Abinoam.
- Then down came the fugitives with the mighty,
the people of the LORD came down for me as warriors.
- 3 From Ephraim, princes were in the valley;
behind you was Benjamin, among your troops.
From Machir came down commanders,
from Zebulun wielders of the marshal's staff.
- With Deborah were the princes of Issachar;
Barak, too, was in the valley, his course unchecked.
Among the clans of Reuben
great were the searchings of heart.
- Why do you stay beside your hearths
listening to the lowing of the herds?
Among the clans of Reuben
great were the searchings of heart!
- Gilead, beyond the Jordan, rests;
why does Dan spend his time in ships?
Asher, who dwells along the shore,
is resting in his coves.
- Zebulun is the people defying death;
Naphtali, too, on the open heights!
- The kings came and fought;
then they fought, those kings of Canaan,
At Taanach by the waters of Megiddo;
no silver booty did they take.
- 4 From the heavens the stars, too, fought;
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
- The Wadi Kishon swept them away;
a wadi. . . , the Kishon.
- Then the hoofs of the horses pounded,
with the dashing, dashing of his steeds.
- 5 "Curse Meroz," says the LORD,
"hurl a curse at its inhabitants!
For they came not to my help,
as warriors to the help of the LORD."
- Blessed among women be Jael,
blessed among tent-dwelling women.
- He asked for water, she gave him milk;
in a princely bowl she offered curds.
- With her left hand she reached for the peg,
with her right, for the workman's mallet.
She hammered Sisera, crushed his head;
she smashed, stove in his temple.
- At her feet he sank down, fell, lay still;
down at her feet he sank and fell;
where he sank down, there he fell, slain.
- From the window peered down and wailed
the mother of Sisera, from the lattice:
"Why is his chariot so long in coming?
why are the hoofbeats of his chariots delayed?"
- The wisest of her princesses answers her,
and she, too, keeps answering herself:
- "They must be dividing the spoil they took:
there must be a damsel or two for each man,
Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil,
an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil."
- May all your enemies perish thus, O LORD!
but your friends be as the sun rising in its might!
And the land was at rest for forty years.
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Footnotes1 [2-31] This canticle is an excellent example of early Hebrew poetry, even though some of its verses are now obscure.
2 New gods: pagan deities; cf Deut 32:16-18. God punished the idolatry of the Israelites by leaving them relatively unarmed before the attacks of their enemies, who had better weapons, made of iron; cf 1 Sam 13:19-22.
3 [14-22] Praise for the tribes which formed the Israelite league against Sisera: Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh (represented by Machir), Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali (led by Barak). The tribes of Reuben, Gad (Gilead), Dan, and Asher are chided for their lack of co-operation. The more distant tribes of Judah and Simeon are not mentioned.
4 [20-21] It would seem that nature aided the Hebrews in some way. Perhaps the torrential rains swelled the waters of Kishon, which then overwhelmed the Canaanites.
5 Meroz: an unknown locality in which Hebrews probably resided, since its inhabitants are cursed for their failure to proffer aid.
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