According to the
Book of Judges
Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5,
דְּבוֹרָה, Modern Dvora, Tiberian Dəḇôrā,
"Bee") was a prophet of
Yahweh the God of the Israelites, the fourth
Judge of pre-monarchic Israel and the only female judge mentioned in
the Bible, and the wife of Lapidoth.
Barak that Yahweh
commanded him to lead an attack against the forces of
Jabin king of
Canaan and his military commander
Sisera (Judges 4:6-7); the entire
narrative is recounted in chapter 4.
Judges chapter 5 gives the same story in poetic form. This passage,
often called The Song of Deborah, may date to as early as the 12th
century BC and is perhaps the earliest sample of Hebrew poetry.
She is considered a saint in the Catholic Church.
1 In the Bible
1.1 The Song of Deborah
2 Traditional chronology
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
In the Bible
Deborah Beneath the Palm Tree (c. 1896-1902) by James Tissot
Kedesh attributed to
Barak or Deborah
In the Book of Judges, it is stated that
Deborah was a prophet, a
judge of Israel and the wife of Lapidoth. She rendered her
judgments beneath a date palm tree between
Ramah in Benjamin and
Bethel in the land of Ephraim.
The people of Israel had been oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan,
whose capital was Hazor, for twenty years. Stirred by the wretched
condition of Israel she sends a message to Barak, the son of Abinoam,
Kedesh of Naphtali, and tells him that the Lord God had commanded
him to muster ten thousand troops of Naphtali and Zebulun and
concentrate them upon Mount Tabor, the mountain at the northern angle
of the great plain of Esdraelon. At the same time she states that the
Lord God of Israel will draw
Sisera to the River Kishon. Barak
declines to go without the prophet.
Deborah consents, but declares
that the glory of the victory will therefore belong to a woman. As
soon as the news of the rebellion reaches
Sisera he collects nine
hundred chariots of iron and a host of people.
Deborah said, according to Judges 4:14:
“Go! This is the day the Lord has given
Sisera into your hands. Has
not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So
Barak went down Mount Tabor,
with ten thousand men following him.
Deborah prophesied, a battle is fought (led by Barak), and Sisera
is completely defeated. He himself escapes on foot, while his army is
pursued as far as Harosheth of the Gentiles and destroyed. Sisera
comes to the tent of Jael; and he lies down to rest. He asks for a
drink; she gives him milk; and while he is asleep she hammers a
tent-pin through his temple.
The Biblical account of
Deborah ends with the statement that after the
battle, there was peace in the land for 40 years. (Judges 5:31)
The Song of Deborah
Deborah portrayed in Gustave Doré's illustrations for La Grande Bible
de Tours (1865)
The Song of
Deborah is found in Judges 5:2–31 and is a victory hymn,
Deborah and Barak, about the defeat of Canaanite adversaries
by some of the tribes of Israel. Biblical scholars have generally
identified the Song as one of the oldest parts of the Bible, dating
somewhere in the 12th century BC, based on its grammar and context.
However, some scholars have recently argued that the song's language
and content indicate that it was written no earlier than the 7th
century BC. The song itself differs slightly from the events
described in Judges 4. The song mentions six participating tribes
(Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali) as
opposed to the two tribes in Judges 4:6 (Naphtali and Zebulun) and
does not mention the role of Jabin.
Though it is not uncommon to read a victory hymn in the Hebrew Bible,
the Song of
Deborah stands out as unique in that it is a hymn that
celebrates a military victory helped by two women:
Deborah and Jael.
Michael Coogan writes that
Jael being a woman "is a further sign that
Yahweh ultimately is responsible for the victory: The mighty Canaanite
Sisera will be 'sold' by the Lord 'into the hand of a woman'
Traditional Jewish chronology places Deborah's 40 years of judging
Israel (Judges 5:31) from 1107 BC until her death in 1067 BC. The
Dictionary of World Biography: The Ancient World claims that she might
have lived in the period between 1200 BC to 1124 BC. Based on
archaeological findings, different biblical scholars have argued that
Deborah's war with
Sisera best fits the context of either the second
half of the 12th century BC or the second half of the 11th century
Artistic depictions of Deborah
Barak in a miniature from the 13th-century Psalter of St.
Jael, Deborah, and
Barak (c. 1630) by Salomon de Bray
A statue of
Deborah (1792) in Aix-en-Provence, France
Deborah depicted in a pendentive of a church dome in Tenancingo,
Deborah Judging Israel, west-facing panel at the northwest corner of
the Nebraska State Capitol
Battle of Mount Tabor (biblical)
^ Coogan, Michael D. (2011), The Old Testament, A Historical and
Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, Oxford University
Press, pp. 214, 219
^ Judges 4:4
^ a b c "Deborah", Jewish Encyclopedia
^ Judges 4:5
^ a b Coogan, Michael D. (2009), A Brief Introduction to the Old
Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context, Oxford University Press,
^ Frolov, S. (2011). "How Old is the Song of Deborah?". Journal for
the Study of the Old Testament. 36 (2): 163–184.
doi:10.1177/0309089211423720. :'To be sure, the consensus
outlined here is by no means perfect; several publications that
appeared in the 1980s and 1990s diverge from it, sometimes in a major
way. In particular, Alberto Soggin, Ulrike Schorn, and Barnabas
Lindars see the Song, or at least the bulk thereof, as a product of
the early monarchy; Ulrike Bechmann and Manfred Görg place it in the
late pre-exilic period; Michael Waltisberg advocates early post-exilic
provenance (fifth to third centuries BCE); and B.-J. Diebner shifts
the composition’s date all the way to the turn of the eras.'
(p.165); 'With the text’s internal parameters and the external
conditions of its existence considered in a systematic fashion, what
we know as Judg. 5.2–31a presents itself as an integral part of the
Deuteronomistic oeuvre and should be dated, accordingly, between c.
700 and c. 450 BCE.' (p.183)
^ Nelson, Richard (2006). "Judges." The Harper Collins Study Bible,
Revised Edition. Eds. Attridge, Harold and Wayne Meeks. New York:
HarperCollins, p. 353.
^ Chabad.org - Jewish History:
Deborah the Prophetess
^ Northen Magill, Frank and Christina J. Moose (2003-01-23).
Dictionary of World Biography: The Ancient World - Deborah.
ISBN 9781579580407. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
^ Albright, W. F. (1937). "Further Light on the History of Israel from
Lachish and Megiddo". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental
Research (68): 22. doi:10.2307/3218855. JSTOR 3218855.
^ Mayes, A. D. H. (1969). "The Historical Context of the Battle
against Sisera". Vetus Testamentum. 19 (3): 353. doi:10.2307/1516506.
Bird, Phyllis (1974). "Images of Women in the Old Testament". In
Rosemary Radford Ruether. Religion and Sexism: Images of Women in the
Jewish and Christian Traditions. Simon & Schuster.
Brown, Cheryl Anne (1992). No Longer be Silent: First Century Jewish
Portraits of Biblical Women: Studies in Pseudo-Philo's Biblical
Antiquities and Josephus's Jewish Antiquities. Louisville, Ky.:
Westminster J. Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-25294-X.
Deen, Edith (1955). All the Women of the Bible. New York: Harper &
Lacks, Roslyn (1979). Women and Judaism: Myth, History, and Struggle.
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-02313-8.
Otwell, John H. (1977). And
Sarah Laughed: the Status of Woman in the
Old Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Phipps, William E. (1992). Assertive Biblical Women. Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28498-9.
Schroeder, Joy A. (2014). Deborah's Daughters: Gender Politics and
Biblical Interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Williams, James G. (1982). Women Recounted: Narrative Thinking and the
God of Israel. Sheffield: Almond Press. ISBN 0-907459-18-8.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Deborah.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Bible, King James, Judges#Chapter 4
Book of Judges
Book of Judges article, Jewish Encyclopedia
Debbora, Catholic Encyclopedia
Poetry - Reconstructing the Original Oral, Aural and
Deborah (Judges 5) Reconstructed
Judge of Israel
Book of Judges
Book of Judges Chapters 4 and 5
Heber the Kenite
Battle of Mount Tabor
Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Noah (in rabbinic literature)
Patriarchs / Matriarchs
in the Torah
Moses (in rabbinic literature)
Eldad and Medad
Mentioned in the
Zechariah ben Jehoiada
Isaiah (in rabbinic literature)
Daniel (in rabbinic literature)
Jonah (in rabbinic literature)
Job (in rabbinic literature)
Esther (in rabbinic literature)
Italics indicate persons whose status as prophets is not universally