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Bible Commentaries
Judges 5

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

Then sang Deborah and Barak. — Like as before had done Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15:1-21 , which chapter and this are by one called monumental chapters. Deborah was a poetess as well as a prophetess, learned, eloquent, industrious, far beyond Sappho or Procatia, who was called Musa Lyrica, and five various times got the better of Pindarus in versifying. Suidas.

On that day. — While the deliverance was fresh and their hearts well affected. So did Jehoshaphat and his army at Berachah. 2 Chronicles 20:26 So did Hezekiah newly recovered. Isaiah 38:9 ; Isaiah 38:22 So did Zacharias so soon as his mouth was opened. Luke 1:64 If this be not done speedily, benefits will soon wax stale, and putrify as fish. No part of the thank offering might be kept unspent till the third day. God loveth a cheerful giver. "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion." Psalms 65:1

Verse 2

Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

When the people willingly offered themselves. — As Judges 4:10 . Barak had no power to press them, but did only persuade with them, as the word Mashar there importeth. He gave goodly words, as being of the tribe of Naphtali, see Genesis 49:21 and prevailed, God working their hearts thereunto, who is therefore worthily praised. All his people are volunteers, Psalms 110:3 he draweth them and they follow him. Song of Solomon 1:4

Verse 3

Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, [even] I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing [praise] to the LORD God of Israel.

Hear, O ye kings. — Hear and give ear, be not proud, cast down your crowns, and give glory to God. The altar of incense was compassed about with a crown of pure gold, Leviticus 3:1-17 to show that gratitude is a rich and royal virtue, best beseeming the best princes.

Verse 4

LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir. — When thou marchedst before thy people through the wilderness. Thus this good woman recogniseth mercies long since received, that she may the better praise God for the present deliverance. A worthy pattern for us to imitate, with whom, as with children, eaten bread is soon forgotten. It is good to begin our thanksgivings high enough: and as shopkeepers, by turning over their books to look up one debt, take notice of many more: so should it be with us in revising and celebrating God’s favours.

Verse 5

The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.

The mountains melted from before the Lord. — Heb., Flowed.

Ruunt de montibus amnes.

There was a general concussion, and the nations were all affrighted. See Psalms 68:15-16 Joshua 5:1 .

Verse 6

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

In the days of Shamgar. — From the death of Ehud until this conflict with Jabin: for though Shamgur did worthily, - especially if without help of others he slew at one time six hundred of the enemy with an ox goad, Scanderbeg is said to have slain eight hundred Turks at several times with his own hands, some say three thousand, - and though Jael, a woman of a public spirit, and active beyond her sex, did her utmost; yet the times were very troublesome, "neither was there any peace to him that went out, or to him that came in, but great vexations"; 2 Chronicles 15:5 and no free commerce, or safe abode in any village, but

Luctus ubique, metus, et plurima morris imago.

Thus the dangers bypast are fitly recounted, that the present freedom may be the better prized. The miseries also of war, especially civil, when

vi geritur res,

are lively described, an evil so great as no words, how wide soever, are able to express. See Lamentations 1:4 ; Lamentations 4:18 .

Verse 7

[The inhabitants of] the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

The inhabitants of the villages ceased. — As now they do in Hungary, where the Turk wasteth at pleasure. They want but another Hunniades at the heels of them, who fought five times upon one day with the Turks, and five times foiled and put them to flight: and at that famous battle of Vascape, with fifteen thousand soldiers, he overthrew Abedin Bassa with fourscore thousand fighting men.

Until that I Deborah arose. — This she speaketh not as vaunting of herself, but to the glory of God, who had made use of her as his unworthy instrument to excite Barak to this expedition.

That I arose a mother in Israel. — A mater patrioe, a governess and protectress: such as was our English Deborah, Queen Elizabeth, whose usual saying was that she could believe nothing of her people that parents would not believe of their children. Camden’s Elisab., 205.

Verse 8

They chose new gods; then [was] war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?

They chose new gods. — τα καινα κενα: Nihil mihi antiquius, id est potius: We should set a jealous eye upon novelties, and say, The old is better. Idolatry is ancient, but not in comparison of God’s true worship. The serpent’s grammar first taught men to decline God plurally, Eritis sicut Dii, ye shall be as gods, saith Damianus.

Then was war in the gates.Hannibal ad portas; the enemy came up to their very gates, disarming and disabling them for their own defence. Rome, since it became Antichristian, was never besieged, but it was taken. Idolatry is a land desolating sin.

Verse 9

My heart [is] toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.

My heart is toward the governors of Israel. — Heb., Those in whom was the legislative power, that they should lay by their parliament robes and gird on their swords to fight against the common enemy: that these he goats should go before the flocks, Jeremiah 50:8 this got them a great deal of love and honour.

Verse 10

Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.

Speak, ye that ride on white asses. — Ye nobles and circuit judges; ye merchants and marketmen, that while durst not be seen abroad for Tories and cut throats, speak out God’s worthy praises for the re-enjoyment of your pristine privileges, that your Malvoy is now become a Salvoy.

Verse 11

[They that are delivered] from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, [even] the righteous acts [toward the inhabitants] of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.

In the places of drawing water. — The water bearers that erst could not draw water, but with the hazard of their lives or liberties, are now freed of that fear.

There shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord. — Not sing filthy songs and ballads, the scurf of scald heads, as one caileth them, but spiritual songs to God’s glory, and their mutual edification. In the primitive times, happy was he counted who could sing aliquid Davidicum, something of David’s ditties. Tatianus telleth us that the boys and girls, as they sat at their work, were wont to speak of God’s word. And Nicephorus writeth, that the Christians, even as they travelled and journeyed, were wont to sing psalms of praise to God. Eccles. Hist. lib. iii., cap. 37.

Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates. — Where was wont to be war, Judges 5:8 but no law and judgment. Inter arma silent leges. the noise of wars drowneth the voice of laws, Lamentations 2:9 the law is no more.

Verse 12

Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake. — As the cock clapping first his own sides awakeneth himself, and then calleth up others; so doth Deborah here, and finding haply some indisposition to this duty of praising God, she setteth the thorn to the breast, with the nightingale. Her good soul was unsatisfiable; and, like an earthly angel, she sings perpetual hallelujahs, stirring up others to do the like.

Verse 13

Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.

Then he made him that remaineth, — i.e., Once he made the relics of the Canaanites to rule over the nobles of Israel; but now the Lord hath made me or my people to have dominion over those mighties. Or rather thus, Then he made the residue of Israel to prevail over their oppressors. The Lord made me, a weak woman, to get the better of those nobles and high officials.

Verse 14

Out of Ephraim [was there] a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

Out of Ephraim was there a root By "root" some understand Joshua, and others the tribes of Judah and Simeon. of them. — Deborah, an Ephraimite, was the root and rise of this expedition against the Canaanites, and the Amalakites their auxiliaries.

After thee, Benjamin, — i.e., After thee, O Ephraim, came Benjamin.

Out of Maehir, — i.e., Out of that half tribe of Manasseh which dwelt within Canaan: for the other half tribe beyond Jordan are afterwards, under the name of Gilead, blamed for their backwardness Judges 5:17

That handle the pen of the writer. — Scribes and scholars took up arms to help the Lord against the mighty.

Verse 15

And the princes of Issachar [were] with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great thoughts of heart.

For the divisions of Reuben. — Who deserted their brethren in this war, there were great thoughts of heart, that is, great heart burnings and inward turmoil of discontent against them: they were very ill thought of, and hardly censured. Others, reading the words thus, In the divisions of Reuben, make this the sense, That the Reubenites are so divided among themselves, and cannot agree upon it to help their brethren against the common enemy; the true cause is their pride and haughtiness of spirit. The truth is, pride is a dividing distemper. Gouty swollen legs keep at a distance. Bladders blown up with wind spurt else from another, they will not close; but if you prick them, you may pack a thousand in a little room. Burr’s Heart Divisions.

Verse 16

Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great searchings of heart.

Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds? — Minding only thine own wealth and ease. Of the Portuguese it is said, that they are ready to obey any, so they may be rich. The Spaniards, while their lords, were wont to say of them, that they were Pocos y locos , few and foolish. These Reubenites were neither few, but a numerous tribe, nor fools, in their own opinion at least, but of deep reach for their own private ends. Howbeit here they are sharply reproved for their selfishness and baseness of spirit: for that they were toti in se, like the snail, still within doors at home, dressing up their own cabins when the whole ship was in danger of being cast away.

For the divisions of Reuben. — See on Judges 5:15 .

There were great searchings of heart. — Much musing what should be the matter that Reuben was so insensible.

Verse 17

Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.

Gilead abode beyond Jordan,i.e., Gad and the other half tribe of Manasseh, the degenerate offspring of valiant Machir.

And why did Dan remain in ships? … — All these are worthily shamed and shented, though they were not without some sorry pleas and pretences. The labouring Church must be some way helped, if it be but by our prayers: precando saepe plus efficitur quam praeliando. Great is the power of prayer.

Verse 18

Zebulun and Naphtali [were] a people [that] jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

That jeoparded their lives. — Or, Devoted, exposed; and are therefore worthily renowned and never enough commended. They that "do worthily in Ephrata," shall be "famous in Bethlehem." Ruth 4:11 What a name hath Seanderbeg, Hunniades, Zisca, the Black Prince, who was so called, not of his colour, but of his dreaded acts in battle! Speed.

Verse 19

The kings came [and] fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

The kings came and fought. — They could combine, but so could not the Israelites. What a shame is it that the great Turk should be heard to say, that he sooner expected that his fingers should be all of one length than that the Christian princes should be all of one mind against him their common enemy.

They took no gain of money.Desiderabile argentum non acceperunt, they served freely without pay, out of their love to the cause, and hopes of making themselves great gainers by the spoils of the Israelites. So George Fransperg, a general in the imperial army, under the conduct of Charles Bourbon, that sacked Rome in the time of Pope Clement VII, carried into Italy thirteen thousand soldiers of Germany, almost all Lutherans, with no other pay but of one crown apiece of his own goods, and a promise to lead them to Rome, where he would hang the Pope, and give them the spoil of the city. Hist. of Council of Trent, 43.

Verse 20

They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

They fought from heaven. — Where the Lord of hosts hath his Magnleh cheloth, his upper forces, say the Rabbins, as on earth he hath his Matteh cheloth, his lower forces ready prest. And sins unpardoned can soon raise the posse comitatus, all the armies of God against men.

The stars in their courses. — Like soldiers that observed both rank and file.

Fought against Sisera,s.c., By their extraordinary influences stirring up storms and tempests. See Joseph. "Antiq.," lib. v.

Verse 21

The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.

The river of Kishon swept them away. — For fear they ran into this river and there perished; which yet I, a weak woman, have manfully passed over on foot, without such danger: so Vatablus senseth the text, which he thus readeth, O my soul, thou hast trodden (that river) valiantly.

Verse 22

Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.

Then were the horse hoofs broken, — viz., With hasty flight; as afterwards it fell out at the battle of Spurs - so the battle of Terwin was called, where Henry VIII routed the French. Paul. Jov.

Verse 23

Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

Curse ye Meroz. — So effectual was this curse, that, as the fig tree cursed by our Saviour withered immediately, so this city Meroz now liveth only by fame, there being no mention of it elsewhere in Scripture, in Jerome, Adrichomius, or any other. Neutrality is most odious to Jesus Christ, the angel here mentioned. Solon made a law that none should stand neutal.

Verse 24

Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

Above women in the tent. — A fit place for women to be found in, but not for the men of Meroz; they should have been active in the field against the Church’s enemies, as she was in her tent. Others that were more remote are blamed: but they are bitterly cursed, and that by the authority of the angel.

Verse 25

He asked water, [and] she gave [him] milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

She gave him milk. — See Judges 4:19 .

Butter in a lordly dish. — Butter to eat, as well as milk to drink. Such are the murdering morsels of sin, εχθρων αδωρα δωρα και ιυκ ονησιμα : the giftless gifts of Satan.

Verse 26

She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.

She smote off his head. — Sept., She bored through, or pierced his head; as Ulysses perforated Polyphemus’s eye.

Verse 27

At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

At her feet he bowed, he fell. — He was soon despatched, and could never tell who hurt him. There now lies the greatness of Sisera: he that had vaunted of his iron chariots, is slain by a woman with one nail of iron.

There he fell down dead.Heb., Destroyed; dead as a door nail, as we say, ταλαιπωρος , miserable, as the Septuagint renders it. Thrice he essayed to rise, but bowed down thrice, and fell again. So did a better man than he, Huldericus Zuinglius, when slain in battle; but he could say what Sisera could not, Age, corpus quidem occidere possunt, animum non possunt. Well, the enemies may kill my body, but cannot come at my soul. Scultet, Annal., p. 348.

Verse 28

The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot [so] long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?

The mother of Sisera.Per hypotyposin, Mulierum hostilium iactationes cum sarcasmo traducit.

Verse 29

Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,

Her wise ladies. — The wicked’s hopes fail them when at highest, and prove to be "as the giving up of the ghost." Job 11:20

Verse 30

Have they not sped? have they [not] divided the prey; to every man a damsel [or] two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, [meet] for the necks of [them that take] the spoil?

Have they not sped? — Yes, they are sped, they have their passport, and your hopes hop headless.

To every man a damsel or two. — The Hebrew word signifieth, vulvam vel uterum; so they call the Israelitish damsels by way of contempt, as Lavater observeth.

Verse 31

So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but [let] them that love him [be] as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

So let all thine enemies perish, … — "Let them be as dung for the earth"; Psalms 83:10 yes, do thou dung thy vineyard with their dead carcasses.

Be as the sun. — Let them do great exploits, live and die with glory.

And the land had rest forty years. — Counting from those eighty. Judges 3:30

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-5.html. 1865-1868.
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