Part of this week’s Torah portion is from Judges Chapter four and five. I have always been strangely curious about Deborah because she breaks all the stereotypes men have set for women in religious circles. Not only was she a judge, she was a prophetess and she was very comfortable in her authority. Her gift as a Torah expert was so amazing other Torah scholars came to her to gain understanding. This is the very opposite of Paul’s words, “I suffer not a woman to teach.” Of course, I go over that in my post titled, Should women be Behind Pulpits? I explain the language and the audience and the goddess teachings of that era and location. If you haven’t read that teaching you may want to.
The men came to Deborah’s palm tree to seek wisdom, counsel, and knowledge. The sages compared her to Samuel in means of prophecy and she had no problem calling the weak men out in her song after victory in battle. However, Deborah’s husband is also strangely curious and mostly unnoticed unless you know more about his name or names rather. Her husband had three names. Judges 4:4 says, “Now D’vorah (Deborah), a woman and a prophet, the wife of Lapidot, was judging Isra’el at that time.” CJB. The name Lapidot comes from the word lapid which means “Torch.” It was thought that he made wicks for the tabernacle because he was unlearned. According to Tamara Kadari and the Jewish encyclopedia, “Deborah’s husband had three names: Barak, Michael and Lappidoth: Barack, because his face was like lightning; Michael, because he would lower (memikh) himself, or after the angel by this name; Lappidoth, because of the wicks that he would bring to the Tabernacle at Shiloh.” When the text says unlearned, it more than likely is referring to his knowledge of Torah and his ability to read or study.
Deborah’s husband, when commanded to go to battle, tells her this, “Barak answered her: “If you go with me, I’ll go; but if you won’t go with me, I won’t go. She replied, “Yes, I will gladly go with you; but the way you are doing it will bring you no glory; because ADONAI will hand Sisra over to a woman.” Judges 4:8-9 CJB.
Not only does she tell him a woman will get the glory, she takes it a step further and explains to him that he didn’t need her help or any woman’s help because the Lord Adonai would go ahead of them and fight. Let’s look at that verse.
“D’vorah said to Barak: “Get going! This is the day when ADONAI will hand Sisra over to you! ADONAI has gone out ahead of you!” 4:14 CJB.
Sometimes it’s us women who need to remind our husbands that God is the one in control and reassure them to TRUST Him and not men or even their own flesh. Deborah’s song in chapter 5 is similar to Moses song and is blunt at calling out the men who were weak or more concerned with money than fighting alongside their brothers.
“Among Reuben’s divisions important men had second thoughts.
Why did you sit between the saddlebags?
Was it to listen to the shepherds playing their flutes?
Reuben’s divisions of important men had second thoughts.
Gilead remained east of the Jordan River. And Dan . . . Why did he stay by the ships?
Asher sat on the seashore and remained along the inlets. But Zebulun mocked death,
and Naphtali risked his life on the battlefield.” Judges 5:16-18 GWT.
And why do men, even important men have second thoughts? Because they are weighing their own strength and not the strength of Adonai!
Deborah doesn’t give these men an excuse or cover up their weakness and selfishness. She commends those who risked their life, but as she said earlier, a woman was going to get the glory and she does. Deborah sings the next verses with passion.
“Jael who drove the peg through the kings head and killed him. Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, should be the most blessed woman, the most blessed woman living in a tent.
Sisera asked for water. She gave him milk. She offered him buttermilk in a royal bowl. She reached for a tent peg with one hand, for a workman’s hammer with the other.
She struck Sisera. She crushed his head.” Judges 5:24-26. In the garden of Eden, Hashem told Adam that the snake would crush his head, but Jael crushed the mighty kings head and won the victory. One woman and a glass of milk. This puts a whole new twist on the slogan, “Got Milk?”
If you are a woman today struggling with your authority and gifting, stop. Look at Deborah and Jael and remember what you were fashioned to do. You can take out a whole army with the Lord Adonai on your side. You may have been fashioned from your husbands side but you are a warrior!