Her eyes had fluttered open long before the faint rays of the sunrise had begun to spread light over the hills of her land. Her heart was already in prayer crying out to the God of her ancestors for deliverance from the oppression of King Jabin and his brutal commander, Sisera.
She wept in sorrow over the disobedience of her people, the Israelites. They had turned their backs, once again, on the God who loved and pursued them. Prostrating themselves before foreign idols, they no longer called to mind the promises and faithfulness of their God.
Israel was divided, making God’s people weak and vulnerable before Sisera’s army. They were defenseless before his mighty 900 iron chariots. Every man of her once proud nation, even the strongest, had given in to hoplessness and despair.
Two decades of being dominated and ruled by Jabin had finally brought Deborah’s people to their knees. They, too, were crying out to Yahweh, the God who had always heard the desperate cries of His people and delivered them to freedom.
Day after day she sat under the same palm tree, in the open air, listening to the squabbles and complaints of the people. Day after day, God gave her divine wisdom as a prophetess to bring peace and fairness to their disputes. She knew she heard from God, she believed Him and the people trusted her judgments.
But this was not just another day under the palm tree. This was the day God delivered His battle plans to bring an end to their oppression. She summoned Barak, the military leader, giving him the clear, concise plan God had spoken to her. Barak hesitated, even though God had declared He would give victory over Siscera . Barak refused to advance against Siscera without Deborah going into battle with him.
She boldly countered his hesitation and fear. She would courageously go to war with the 10,000 men God had instructed be gathered. But she informed Barak he would not receive the honor of destroying Siscera. A woman would be bestowed with the honor of destroying the enemy commander.
She, Barak, and the 10,000 inadequately armed warriors advanced to the top of Mount Tabor. There in the shelter of the abundant evergreens and oak trees, they watched as Siscera and his 900 iron chariots gathered below them at the Kishon River. Siscera had heard of the brewing rebellion and had been lured to the river bed.
Dark clouds began to gather all around them. How would they fight in a rainstorm? From their high vantage point, the Israelite army watched as the downpour of rain swelled the river to floodtide. What had just a short time before been a brook, was now a raging torrent of water, trapping mighty iron chariots and horses in muck and mire. Barak and his soldiers charged down the hill, their enemies now easy targets. Every soldier of King Jabin’s army died by the sword. Except, Siscera. He had abandoned his chariot and his army and escaped on foot.
She continued to watch as Barak pursued Siscera until they were out of her sight. She waited for Barak to return with news of Siscera’s death. Return, he did, with the report of a tent-dwelling woman named, Jael, having killed Siscera.
Siscera had sought refuge in Jael’s tent, presuming she was his ally. Inviting him to rest, she covered him with a rug, then proceeded to soothe him to sleep with kind words and warm milk. Being a tent dweller, Jael was adept with a tent peg and hammer. Moving swiftly, as Siscera slept, she drove a tent peg through his skull, pinning his head to the ground.
Jael went outside her tent to meet Barak in his pursuit of Siscera. Opening the entrance of her tent, she told him she would show him the man he was seeking. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the tent, the words spoken by Deborah rang in his ears…”the road you are going on will not lead to your glory. The Lord will sell Siscera into the hand of a woman.” There lay Siscera, the great commander, drawn to his death by Jael.
As Deborah and Barak led the procession to return to their people, they sang a song of triumph and victory. “The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.” “Most blessed of women be Jael, of tent dwelling women most blessed.”
Her own name, Deborah, meant honey bee. Jael’s name meant wild goat. Two unlikely women warriors who had been chosen to bring peace to her people.