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Bible Commentaries
Judges 4

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.

And the children of Israel again did evil. — After fourscore years of peace and rest. Judges 3:30 The sedentary life is most subject to diseases: standing waters soon putrify. It is hard and happy not to grow worse with liberty.

Verse 2

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.

And the Lord sold them. — As Judges 2:14 . It must not be troublesome to us to hear the same things often: Verba toties repetita viva sunt, vera sunt, sans sunt, plana sunt, saith Augustine.

Into the hand of Jabin. — Whose father or grandfather, of the same name, Joshua had slain, and burnt his city. Joshua 11:1 ; Joshua 11:11 He therefore, on revenge, having got now the better of the Israelites, oppressed them most grievously for twenty years together, using them like beasts which are bought and sold to carry burdens, as Ferus noteth.

Which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. — Or, In the wood of the nations, In loco sylvatico. Jun. as some render it; that is, of the remaining Canaanites, who had hither betaken themselves for safety and conveniency of issuing forth against the enemy.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

He mightily oppressed the children of Israel. — See Judges 4:2 . In the Canaanites the same wickedness prospereth that is punished in Israel. Our very profession hurteth us, if we be not innocent.

Verse 4

And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

The wife of Lapidoth. — Or, A woman of Lapidoth, Lapidothana. or a woman of lights, - so some render it, taking the word appellatively, - so called either because concinnabat ellychnia, she made lights for the sanctuary; Tremel. or because she was full of heavenly lights, by the Spirit. Vatab.

Verse 5

And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah. — Or, She sat under the palm tree, as the Septuagint and Vulgate render it. The kings of Persia sat under a golden plane tree, or under a vine of gold, that had bunches of smaragdes and other precious stones, when they sat in judgment Athenaeus, lib. xii.

O curas hominum! o quantum est in rebus inane!

Verse 6

And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, [saying], Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?

And she sent and called Barak. — She sent; not went: for, (1.) She was a judge in Israel, and of great authority; (2.) It is not fit for women to wander up and down. Ambrose saith Barak was her son, others her husband, but neither is likely.

Ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali. — In which tribe Hazor stood; and therefore their oppression was the greater. But ten thousand were but a few to go against so potent an enemy. Mashac, est occulto impetu aliquem impellere quo velis. God can save with a little help. Daniel 11:34

Verse 7

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.

And I will draw unto thee … Sisera.Verbis pelliciam, I will persuade, I will incline his heart.

Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.

Verse 8

And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, [then] I will not go.

If thou wilt go with me. — He is famous for his faith, Hebrews 11:32-33 and yet here he showeth some unbelief. Let us be faithful in weakness, though but weak in faith, and pray, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" Albeit in some respects it was not amiss for Barak to desire Deborah’s company, viz., to advise him and pray for him, as being a prophetess. Neither fearful nor rash. Neque timide, neque temere, should be the soldier’s motto.

Verse 9

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.

Shall not be for thine honour. — Because a weak woman shall share with thee therein. Although in some women, such as were Deborah, Jael, Artemisia, Zenobia, Blandina, Queen Elizabeth, besides their sex there was nothing womanlike, or weak.

Verse 10

And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.

And he went up with ten thousand men at his feet. — They followed him κατα παδας , in due order, and, as it were, treading in his steps. See Trapp on " Judges 4:6 "

Verse 11

Now Heber the Kenite, [which was] of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which [is] by Kedesh.

Had severed himself from the Kenites. — Who dwelt in the wilderness of Judah. Judges 1:16 Why he severed himself is not expressed; perhaps for better pasture’s sake, or it may be for conveniency of contemplation; for it is said in the next words, that he pitched his tent into the plain - or oak, or grove, as the Septuagint and others render it - of Zaanam. Bernard confessed of himself, that what knowledge of the Scriptures he had attained unto, he had got it in the woods and fields by meditation and prayer, Nullos se aliquando magistros habuisse nisi quercus et fagos, but the oaks and beech trees.

Verse 12

And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.

And they showed Sisera. — It was brought unto him either by public rumour,

Sine vano publica fama,

or else by intelligencers employed for the purpose: Habent enim Principes suos coricaeos. Mount Tabor also was a high hill, and not far from him.

Verse 13

And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, [even] nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that [were] with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.

Unto the river of Kishon. — "That ancient river," Judges 5:21 famous afterwards for the slaughter of the Baalites there. 1 Kings 18:40

Verse 14

And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this [is] the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.

Is not the Lord gone out before thee? — As general of the army: yea, he alone is a whole army of men, van and rear both. Isaiah 52:12

Verse 15

And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all [his] chariots, and all [his] host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off [his] chariot, and fled away on his feet.

And the Lord discomfited Sisera. — Or, Terrified, as the vulgar Latin hath it, perhaps by thunder and hailstones, as Joshua 10:10 1 Samuel 7:10 , where the same Hebrew word is used; or else by some hurry noise made in the air by the angels, as 2 Kings 6:15-18 ; but something was certainly done from heaven, Judges 5:20 wherewith the Canaanites were so frightened, that many of them ran into the river Kishon and there perished. Judges 5:21 So the winds fought for Theodosius in that famous battle against Maximus. a Hence Claudian, a heathen, cried out of him -

O nimium dilecte Deo, cui militat aether,

Et coniurati veniunt ad classica venti ”

a Aug., De Civ. Dei, lib. v. cap. 26.

Verse 16

But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; [and] there was not a man left.

There was not a man left. — Heb., Unto one. Ne ignifer quidem relictus est, as the Latin proverb hath it, a scarce one left to bring the sad news of a πανολεθρια .

Desinat elatis quisquam confidere rebus:

Magna repente ruunt, summa cadunt subito. ”

a Claudian.

Verse 17

Howbeit 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.

For there was peace,i.e., Non erant simultates aut bella inter illos, Jun. there was no open hostility: or if there were a league, the Emperor of the world, saith Ferus, had now disannulled it, as having proscribed Sisera, and declared that he should be destroyed, and that by a woman.

Verse 18

And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.

Turn in, my lord, turn in to me. — Fair words make fools fain: Vide cui fidas. Jael is commended by Deborah for what she did. Judges 5:24

Dolus an virtus, quis in hoste requirat?

She covered him with a mantle.Stragula villosa, with a rug or blanket, to get him the sooner asleep.

Verse 19

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 she opened a bottle of milk.Ut esset potus suavior, et induceret illi somnum, saith Vatablus; that she might mend his liquor, and make him sleep; as it is the nature of milk, when drunk largely by them that are hot, to render them sleepy.

Verse 20

Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.

That thou shalt say, No. — An officious lie is held a peccadillo; but God’s children are such as will not lie. Isaiah 63:8 Zephaniah 3:13 Jael made him no promise to do as he desired, but said within herself, likely, as that good woman in Jerome did, Ideo mentiri nolo, ne peccem, I will do anything sooner than lie: for that were to sin against God.

Verse 21

Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

Took a nail of the tent. — Which was long and strong enough for her purpose to pierce his skull, and to fasten him to the ground.

And smote the nail into his temples. — Lo, there lay this proud worms’ meat sprawling, with his head fastened to the ground, as if it had been now listening what was become of the soul. In Ezekiel 32:27 , it is said, that such as cause terror in the land of the living, are tumbled together into hell.

For he was fast asleep and weary. — Fright, and flight, and grief, and perhaps long watching, had cast him into a deep sleep: which made way to that somnus ferreus, as the poets call death.

Verse 22

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 when he came into her [tent], behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail [was] in his temples.

Sisera lay dead. — By the hand of woman, which those warriors take for no small disgrace. Judges 9:54 Heber was perhaps in the army of the Israelites. We read of a brave Hungarian woman whose courage far exceeded the weakness of her sex: for at the siege of Buda, she thrusting in amongst the soldiers upon the top of the fort, with a great scythe in her hand, at one blow struck off two of the Turks’ heads, as they were climbing up the rampart. Turk. Hist., 741.

Verse 23

So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

So God subdued on that day Jabin. — By the death of his general and destruction of his forces. See Judges 4:16 .

Verse 24

And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Until they had destroyed Jabin. — So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord. Read the Church’s prayer, Psalms 83:9-10 ; - "Do unto them as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth."

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-4.html. 1865-1868.
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