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Bible Commentaries
Judges 5

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


THE SONG OF DEBORAH, Judges 5:1-31.

Among the many impassioned poems with which Hebrew literature abounds, this triumphal ode, universally known as “Deborah’s Song,” is one of the most splendid specimens. In it abound force, beauty, grandeur, and sublimity. Bold and startling metaphors, sudden and abrupt transitions, and occasional touches of sarcasm, most consummately set, are noticeable features of the song; and, while they serve to make the thoughts presented more impressive, often render the exposition very difficult. We have felt that no commentary based upon the common version of this chapter would meet the wants of the modern student unless accompanied by a translation more true to the sense and emotionality of the original. The late Dr.

Edward Robinson said of the common English version of this song, that “in many parts it is wholly unintelligible.” We therefore give underneath the text of the authorized version, and, so as to be easily compared with it, a new and literal translation, in which the order and force of the Hebrew original are, as far as possible, preserved; and to save circumlocution, our notes are based on the new translation.

Cassel points out the alliteration, which he regards as an important feature of the song, and as betraying, more than any thing else, the presence of conscious art in its construction. Such alliteration is, to a certain extent, noticeable in the Hebrew text; but an attempt to transfer it into a modern version would be likely to lose somewhat in accuracy. In our own translation, however, we have preserved, at places, even this feature of the Hebrew.

The following analysis will serve to present in a condensed form the order of thought followed by the prophetess:

1 . Opening hymn to Jehovah. Judges 5:2-5.

2 . The emergency. Judges 5:6-8.

3 . Grand triumphal chorus. Judges 5:9-12.

4 . The gathering of the tribes to the war, with praises and reproaches according to their merits. Judges 5:13-18.

5 . Vivid picture of the battle. Judges 5:19-23.

6 . The ruin of the enemy. Judges 5:24-31.

Verse 1

1. Then sang Deborah and Barak. As Moses and Miriam led Israel in singing the triumphal song of Exodus 15:0, so in this case Barak probably led the men, and Deborah the women, and at the appropriate periods these responded to one another. Compare also 1 Samuel 18:6-7. No one will pretend that both Deborah and Barak were jointly the authors of this poem. An all but universal opinion ascribes it to Deborah herself, and in support of this opinion we may urge (1.) Various evidences that it was composed by a contemporary of the scenes described. (2.) The thought, again and again suggested in the song itself, that the author was a woman. “A man,” says one writer, “would have portrayed the boldest deeds of arms, the most striking scenes of the struggle, which the woman only designates by a single pencil-stroke, while she dwells with delight upon the flight of the enemy. Only a woman could praise the deed of Jael as Deborah did. To none other than a woman’s mind would the cares and anxieties of the mother be suggested, as the chariot of Sisera long delayed its coming.” (3.) A comparison of Judges 5:3; Judges 5:7 clearly shows that Deborah is the professed authoress. Of all the Judges only Deborah prophesied, and she expressed herself in lyric song. And she sang, not as Miriam, who merely led the singing of a song another had composed, but as Moses, the victor, and the creator of the song.

On that day That day when Israel returned from the battle, flushed with enthusiasm over their great national triumph. This song was doubtless composed by the prophetess immediately after the victory, and this most naturally explains the freshness and emotionality apparent in nearly every line.

Verse 2

2. For the loosing of locks A poetical expression denoting an act of self-consecration to God’s service, and to be explained, metaphorically, as an allusion to the unrestrained growth of the locks of one who took upon himself the Nazarite vow. The Hebrew is בפרע פרעות , which the English version, following substantially the Syriac and Arabic, renders, For the avenging; Septuagint, For the leading of the leaders; Luther, That Israel has again become free. These versions represent the principal explanations of the commentators, ancient and modern, but they have received various modifications, and, of course, each different rendering has the support of certain special reasons. But they all fail in this most important particular, that they are destitute of any sure support or ground in Hebrew usage. The verb פרע is used sixteen times in the Old Testament, and everywhere has the meaning of loosing, or letting loose, from some sort of restraint, but never, as Luther and others would have it, of the emancipation of a people from bondage. In Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 13:45; Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 5:18, it is used of loosing the head of its covering or head-dress. In Exodus 32:25, it is twice used of letting the people loose from all restraint, and giving them over to wild play and licentious revelling. Similar is the meaning in 2 Chronicles 28:19. In Proverbs 1:25; Proverbs 4:15; Proverbs 8:33; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 29:18, it is used of breaking loose from, or abandoning, that which is good or evil: in Exodus 5:4, of letting a laborer loose from his allotted task; and in Ezekiel 24:14, of Jehovah loosing the guilty from penalty. In all these cases it is clear that the main idea of the word is that of loosing from restraint, and when used of the hair, as in our text, it naturally means letting it go loose and free from all artificial cuttings, shavings, or restraints. This was what the Nazarite did. The noun פרע occurs in the singular but twice, (Numbers 6:5; Ezekiel 44:20,) and in both places means a lock of hair. This no one questions. Why, then, should the plural of the same word (occurring only here and in Deuteronomy 32:42) be rendered either revenges, or leaders, or freemen? The English version of Deuteronomy 32:42 the beginning of revenges makes no sense at all; but head of flowing locks, is a most simple and natural translation of the original. We therefore translate בפרע פרעות for the loosing of locks, and explain with Cassel, (in Lange’s Bibelwerk,) that the expression is a poetical allusion to the unrestrained growth of the locks of a Nazarite. Of Samson it was ordered that no razor should come upon his head, (Judges 13:5,) and when Hannah vowed to consecrate her son to God’s service she said, “No razor shall come on his head;” that is, his locks shall be left loose and free to grow. The loosing of locks in Israel, as expressive of a solemn act of consecration to God’s service, is further explained and confirmed by the next line of the parallelism for the free self-offering of the people. All the people who had taken part in this great war against the hosts of Jabin are conceived of as having taken on them a vow of consecration to Jehovah as solemn and divine as that of a Nazarite. “They were the long-haired heroes of a divine freedom.”

Bless Jehovah For all this blessed and glorious consecration the prophetess first bursts out in an ascription of joyful praise to Jehovah.

Verse 3

3. Kings… princes The kings and princes of the Canaanites (and, indeed, of all the earth) are referred to, not the princes of Israel, for Israel, at this time, had no kings. The prophetess, having opened her song with an exclamation of blessing to Jehovah, now boldly calls on the heathen kings to listen to her strains of triumph, and from them take warning and instruction. Compare Psalms 2:10.

I… even I will sing That is, I, Deborah; comp. Judges 5:7. “O kings,” she says, in lofty defiance, “I, even I, a feeble woman, sing a song of triumph over you.”

Will sound the harp The original word rendered “sound the harp,” is the one used for singing with an instrument. She will not only sing, but play with a stringed instrument to the Lord.

Verse 4

4. Thy going out from Seir What going out from Seir is here meant? There is an allusion to the desert-journey of Israel, and the theophanies connected with it, especially the theophany at Sinai; and the same occurs in substance again in Psalms 68:7-8, and Habakkuk 3:3-4. That sublime theophany was the grand independence day of Israel, always fresh, and to be celebrated in the greatest of national hymns; but to explain this verse and the following as a reference exclusively to that ancient time, and as having no other application, is to meet insuperable difficulty in bringing the passage into any sort of harmony with the context. We, therefore, reject such an explanation of these words. The trembling earth, the dropping heavens, the quaking mountains, together with the statements of Judges 5:20-21 that the heavens fought, and the Kishon swept the hosts of Sisera away, all point to a terrible thunder storm which God sent on that occasion to discomfit the enemies of his people. See note on Judges 4:15. The inspired poetess saw in that tempest a sublime theophany, which reminded her of the ancient scenes at Sinai, and she very naturally passes from her address to the heathen kings (Judges 5:3) to speak of this miraculous interposition of Jehovah. She clothes her description in imagery drawn from the theophany at Sinai. Compare the use of similar imagery in Psalms 18:7-15. The going out from Seir, and through the fields of Edom, is, therefore, to be explained as the approach, from that southern quarter of the heavens, of the tremendous tempest in which Jehovah moved forth from his seat on Sinai, and marched to the rescue of his people. See note on next verse. This view, which is that of Robinson and some of the best scholars, seems to us much more tenable than that of most expositors, which makes Judges 5:4-5 the description of a scene which had no connexion at all with the subject matter of this song.

Heavens did drop Poured down floods of water, that speedily swelled the Kishon and other streams so as to sweep multitudes of the warring host away. Compare Judges 5:21.

Verse 5

5. Mountains quaked The fearful peals of thunder which accompanied the storm shook hills and plains. The English version, melted, (margin, flowed,) is after the Vulgate, and is supported by many interpreters, but is less suitable than quaked, which is the version of the Septuagint, Gesenius, Furst, and many of the best scholars. These latter derive the word from זלל , to shake, (compare Isaiah 64:1; Isaiah 64:3;) the former from נזל , to flow.

That Sinai The traditional seat of Jehovah, so famous in the history of the Hebrews. Sinai would naturally be mentioned if this storm came from the fields of Edom; for before Zion became the central seat of worship for all the tribes, Israel would naturally conceive of Jehovah as dwelling on Mount Sinai. So in this highly wrought description, that Sinai is represented as trembling when Jehovah moves from it northward to defend his people. Psalms 68:7-8, is evidently based on this passage in Judges, and is an imitation of it; but is so changed and modified as to suit its own particular context.

Verse 6

6. Shamgar See on Judges 3:31.

In the days of Jael Many scholars understand that this Jael was not the wife of Heber, mentioned in chap. Judges 4:17, and in Judges 5:24 of this chapter, for such a reference to a contemporary, and one so prominent in this very victory over Sisera, would be strange; besides, the context seems to refer to a period previous to the time when Deborah arose; and the prophetess carefully distinguishes her contemporary as “the wife of Heber, the Kenite.” They therefore understand by this Jael either another name for Shamgar, or Ehud, as Gideon is also called Jerubbaal, (Judges 6:32,) or else a judge (either male or female) who lived soon after the time of Shamgar, but of whom we have no other mention. But as this is all conjecture, it is, perhaps, safer to understand the Jael of this history, whom it is Deborah’s purpose to immortalize in song. Shamgar and Jael may be mentioned as bounding the age of misery and fear: as if she had said, From the days of Shamgar to those of Jael. She modestly names Jael here instead of herself, whom she names in the next verse in connexion with a similar thought.

Ceased the roads Ceased to be travelled, as explained in the next line. The highways were abandoned on account of the dangers to which travellers were exposed; and those who were obliged to travel turned aside from them, and stole from place to place by winding by-paths. “We have ourselves,” says Kitto, “known in the East, in unsettled times, persons afraid to stir, for months together, beyond their towns and villages; and for still longer periods travelling wholly abandoned, or undertaken only in large and well-armed bodies.”

Verse 7

7. Ceased the government During the long period of subjection and disorder just described, there ceased to be any government in Israel worthy of the name. Dominion was in the hands of foreign rulers, and the Hebrew people were shut up in their towns and villages, not daring to go forth; the laws were not observed, and even the work of Shamgar seems to have been only a throwing off of the yoke by one grand feat of strength; and not a government of the people.

They ceased That is, the ruling powers, the civil rulers, which the word government necessarily implies.

Etymologically, there is much reason to cling to the common version, villages, for פרזון , which we have rendered government; but the same word occurs again in Judges 5:11, and in such a connexion as to make no tolerable sense if rendered villages. We therefore give the above explanation, which has the support of the Septuagint, Vulgate, Gesenius, Furst, and many of the best scholars. I,

Deborah These words, in the absence of any thing sufficient to make it improbable, clearly fix the authorship of this song in the prophetess herself.

A mother in Israel As a distinguished chieftain, providentially raised up to lead a nation through a revolution, or to throw off a foreign yoke, is called a father of his country, so Deborah arose, a mother in Israel.

Verse 8

8. He chose gods that were new Israel chose new gods; that is, worshipped false gods, the idols of the heathen. See Judges 2:12-13.

Then… war War followed Israel’s idolatry, as a penal consequence.

Forty thousand in Israel This is not to be taken as an exact specification of the whole number of warriors in Israel at this time, but a round number, purposely large, among whom no arms could be found; and the question is a poetical intimation of the great destitution of warlike weapons in Israel. Their oppressors had probably robbed them of their arms, (comp. 1 Samuel 13:19-22,) and they had become too indifferent, or too dejected, to seek for new ones.

Verse 9

9. My heart is towards the rulers That is, her heart now turns with feelings of gratitude towards those noble Israelitish heroes and chieftains who volunteered in the battle with Sisera.

Verse 10

10. Dappled she-asses Such as had a reddish skin marked with white streaks or spots. Asses of this colour were scarce and costly, and therefore none but the rich and noble among the people were accustomed to ride on them.

Splendid carpets This seems to be the full meaning of the original word מדין . The Orientals were accustomed to repose, either for pleasure or for sleep, on mats and rugs. They who reposed on rich carpets were the wealthy. The English version judgment, which follows the Septuagint, Vulgate, and others, is inadmissible.

Travellers on the way The lower and middle classes. Thus in this verse the prophetess addresses three classes: the nobles who ride on costly beasts, the wealthy who repose in splendid state, and the more common people, who can now travel on the roads without danger, and not feel obliged, as formerly, to steal through crooked byways.

Meditate the song Ponder the subject-matter of this triumphal ode, and talk it over when ye ride, when ye sit down, or when ye are walking on the road.

Verse 11

11. From the voice That is, by the voice; from, here, denoting the instrumental cause. Or perhaps the sense may be, above the voice; that is, louder than the voice, showing a greater rejoicing than those that divide the spoil.

Spoil dividers Some render the word archers. Robinson describes the persons referred to as “the victorious warriors who return, laden with booty, to their various tribes, and halt at the watering-places to divide out the spoil. These, as is well known, are the usual places of encampment and rest in the East; and the division of the plunder was also an occasion of rejoicing and song. See the description of such a scene.

1 Samuel 30:16.”

Let them celebrate Let those who divide the spoil tell and sing their victory again and again.

Righteous acts of Jehovah His marvellous works in behalf of Israel, such as Deborah now celebrated.

Government See note on Judges 5:7.

Then went down to the gates That is, rallied to their gates to prepare for battle. The prophetess here begins to sing the action of the different tribes, but after this one line she pauses to call on others to join her, (Judges 5:12,) and then in Judges 5:13 resumes her rehearsal by returning to the word ירד , went, or came, down.

Verse 12

12. Awake, awake Having in the previous verses sung of the sublime coming of Jehovah from Sinai to deliver the nation from its fallen state, and having called on all classes to join her in the song, she now begins her vivid picture of the war with Sisera with this impassioned introduction.

Arise, O Barak In the singing of this song, Deborah, leading the women, and Barak, leading the men, responded to each other.

Lead captive thy captives This represents the triumph as complete, and the victor as returning from the field with a long train of captives following his triumphal march.

Verse 13

13. Then came down We feel constrained to discard the Masoretic punctuation in this word ירד , and translate it as if written ירד . To render it in the imperative, or with Robinson and others to supply I said, is awkward and unnecessary. The poetess refers to the coming down from their mountain homes of the valiant heroes who rendered such noble services in this war. The words nobles, mighty ones, rulers, commanders, and princes, in this and the two following verses, are to be understood as titles of honour attributed to those valiant soldiers in view of their noble work.

Jehovah came down to me To me, Deborah. This coming of Jehovah to the prophetess is explained by Judges 4:6-7. Jehovah came to Deborah with a revelation of the triumph over Jabin’s army which was about to exalt Israel from the dust.

Among the mighty ones Not against the mighty, for then we should have אל , but ב , in, or among. As the heroes of the land rallied around her, Jehovah himself came, as it were, among them, and also accompanied her as an ally to the war.

Verse 14

14. Out of Ephraim We are here to supply in thought, they came down, from the preceding verse. That is, the heroes came out of Ephraim. The poetess goes on until Judges 5:19 in specifying the action of the different tribes.

Whose root Or, their root, that is, their fixed abode, their established dwelling or lot.

In Amalek In Judges 12:15, mention is made of “the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites;” whence it appears that a colony of this people had migrated from the south of Palestine, and settled among the Canaanites, and given their name to the territory which afterwards became the possession of Ephraim.

After thee After Ephraim.

Among thy people Among Ephraim’s people. In approaching the Plain of Jezreel from the south, Benjamin, from his more southern location, would naturally follow after Ephraim; but as both advanced it would seem that the Benjamites became mixed with the more powerful Ephraimites.

Out of Machir Machir was the only son of Manasseh, and through him were all the Manassites descended. Genesis 1:23; Numbers 27:1. The name is here used poetically for that part of the tribe of Manasseh which was located on the west of the Jordan; just as Gilead, Manasseh’s grandson, is used, Judges 5:17, for the eastern Manassites.

Those that draw the pencil of the writer As the word here rendered pencil ( שׁבשׂ ) generally means rod, or sceptre, most modern scholars translate, the staff of the commander. But there seems no need of departing from the ordinary meaning of the words. The word משׁכים here represents the writer as drawing the letters with his pencil, and the pencil or style is metaphorically called the writer’s sceptre, as being the emblem of his power and worth. Zebulun’s location on the Phenician coast led his people to commercial enterprise, and to the cultivation of the art of writing. Clerks and accountants would therefore become numerous in that tribe. Deborah’s oracle and Ba-rak’s trumpet aroused even the literati to join the army. This was specially worthy of notice, since the quiet life and peaceful calling of the writer make him naturally averse to war.

Verse 15

15. Was he sent at his feet This was the way in which Issachar was Barak’s support. Obedient to orders he followed at his feet (that is, immediately after him, as in Judges 4:10) in the valley of the Kishon, and assisted Barak in the fight.

Determinations of heart This must be taken in connexion with deliberations of heart in the next verse, when this whole reference to Reuben will appear as a masterpiece of irony. They heard the call of Deborah, and at once began to make great plans and lofty resolutions and determinations to give their help to the war; but, as if charmed by the pipings among the flocks, all their great resolutions end in deliberations!

Verse 16

16. Double sheepfolds The word is in the dual number, and designates the enclosures made of hurdles, left open at the top, and usually separated by a hurdle into two parts for the two different kinds of flocks sheep and goats.

Pipings of the herds The pipings of the shepherds among the flocks.

Verse 17

17. Gilead The name of the grandson of Manasseh is here used poetically for the half tribe of Manasseh that dwelt on the east of the Jordan. Compare note on Judges 5:14. Those eastern tribes heeded not the summons of Deborah.

Dan… ships The portion of Dan took in the port of Joppa, (Joshua 19:46,) and the Danites who dwelt there, and at other places near or on the coast, doubtless interested themselves with the commerce of the Phenicians. Hence the allusion to their dwelling in ships.

Asher For the location of this tribe, see on Joshua 19:24-31.

Verse 18

18. Zebulun Mentioned a second time (compare Judges 5:14) because of the extraordinary bravery and heroism of the warriors of this tribe.

Scorned his soul to death Hazarded his life on the most conspicuous places of the battle field. So bold and fearless was he that he seemed actually to scorn ( חר Š ) his own life, and to treat it with contempt.

And Naphtali The same heroism and daring are predicated of the warriors of this tribe also, only the name of the tribe occurs but this once. The prominence of these two tribes in the action is seen in chap. Judges 4:6; Judges 4:10.

Verse 19

19. There came kings Canaanitish kings or princes confederate with Jabin. Compare Joshua 11:1-5. As in Joshua’s time, so now, all these kings combined together to fight with Israel.

At Taanach The modern Taannuk, in the southwestern part of the great Plain of Esdraelon. See at Joshua 12:21.

Megiddo The modern el-Lej-jun, about four miles northwest of Taunnuk. See again at Joshua 12:21.

The waters of Megiddo are the numerous small streams in the neighbourhood, which flow into and help to form the ancient Kishon.

Spoil of silver they did not take A caustic sentence. They gathered no spoils. Their plans of conquest ended in dire defeat.

Verse 20

20. From heaven they fought The elements of nature assisted in the strife. The violent thunder storm on which Jehovah rode over the fields of Edom was so terrible that the very heavens appeared to drop. See on Judges 5:4 and Judges 4:15.

The stars from their courses fought This is a more minute defining of the thought in the preceding line. The bursting clouds and darting lightnings are poetically spoken of as if the stars had started from their orbits and mingled in the war of elements.

Verse 21

21. The river Kishon snatched them away This celebrated stream has two principal sources, one at the base of Mount Tabor, and the other in the large fountain of Jerrin, (En-gannim,) about fifteen miles south of Tabor.

Its general course is northwesterly, sweeping along the northern base of Mount Carmel, and emptying into the Mediterranean. It drains the great valley of Esdraelon. In the southern part of the plain, at Megiddo and Taanach, the Kishon is not a permanent stream, but flows only during the rainy season; but after a violent rain storm the dry bed suddenly changes to a sweeping torrent, and snatches away everything it meets. So in the present case, the rushing waters carried away the bewildered soldiers of Sisera.

Trample down, O my soul A burst of enthusiastic exultation over such a sudden destruction of the strong enemy.

Verse 22

22. From the galloppings The rapid and hasty flight of the Canaanitish heroes caused their horses’ hoofs to smite terribly the ground. The frantic steeds struggled to get loose from the chariots, and escape the miry ground, and became more frantic still by the urgency of their strong drivers. The gallopping of his strong ones is to be explained as the galloppings caused by the strong men that urged on their frantic flight. This verse, says Robinson, presents “a most vivid image of hasty and rapid flight and hot pursuit.”

Verse 23

23. Curse Meroz The name of this place occurs here only, and of its history we have no other trace. Perhaps it utterly perished by reason of this awful curse. It would seem to have lain along the route of the flying Canaanites, and its inhabitants culpably neglected to help the leaders of Israel in their pursuit. The apathy of some of the tribes only called forth censure or reproach, (Judges 5:16-17;) but the neglects of Meroz were so great as to call forth a bitter curse.

Angel of Jehovah Some think Deborah herself is meant; but the reference is more likely to the Angel who fought for Israel, and perhaps revealed himself to the prophetess.

Among the mighty ones See note on Judges 5:13.

Verse 24

24. Blessed… be Jael From the cursing of Meroz the prophetess turns to the blessing of Jael, and puts the blessing in contrast with the curse. Note at end of chap. 4. This blessing of the inspired poetess, as well as the curse pronounced on Meroz, breathes the spirit of the vindictive psalms. The blessing does not require us to defend the absolute morality of Jael’s act. Grotius had not then written on the laws of nations, nor had the softening spirit of the Gospel yet done its work in exalting the standard of morality. The act of Jael and the song and soul of Deborah were at the level of the laws of war in their age. The prophetess aims to immortalize the heroine.

Women in the tent Women that dwell in tents; shepherdesses.

Verse 25

25. A bowl of the nobles A costly bowl, such as only nobles were wont to use.

Curd Or, curdled milk, a common and favourite beverage in the East. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and English versions erroneously render the word butter.

Verse 27

27. He sunk down, he fell The reference is doubtless to the supposed convulsion in which he rolled off from the low divan and fell to the floor. See note on Judges 4:21.

Verse 28

28. The mother of Sisera The poetess passes from one female character to another from Jael to Sisera’s mother. This abrupt and striking prosopopoeia is one of the most masterly passages in this truly grand poem. “Who should first suffer anxiety, if not a mother? Of a wife nothing is said; such love thrives not in the harem of a prince. He is his mother’s pride, the great hero who had been hitherto invincible. What she has in him, and what she loses, concerns no other woman.” Cassel. Never dreaming of defeat, this proud mother confidently awaits her son’s triumphal return, but grows impatient at his long delay, and she and her royal maidens entertain themselves with speculations noticeably characteristic of oriental female vanity.

Lattice-window Of this character are the windows of all female apartments in the East.

Royal steeds The Hebrew word means state chariots, but the preceding word paces shows that the reference is more particularly to the horses that drew the chariots.

Verse 29

29. The wise ones Here is another touch of irony. What wisdom was in their counsels and hopes!

She also She also falls in with the fond hopes of her wise ladies, and keeps murmuring the answer to herself.

Verse 30

30. The spoil The spoil, or booty, as the context shows, was supposed to consist of captive girls and rich garments. None but oriental females would speculate in the manner here portrayed. Their joy would be, not that the enemy was defeated, and great deeds of arms had brought glory to their country, and to their fathers, husbands, and sons, but that much spoil had been taken, and especially of that kind in which females delighted.

Two maidens, to the head of a hero That is, one or two captive females assigned to each warrior, a common custom of the ancient times.

Dyed garments for Sisera “The wise lady of the harem was not desirous that Sisera himself should acquire any damsels. She wished only for variegated garments and showy trappings for the triumphal procession of her lord.” Herder.

Of double embroidery Embroidered on both sides.

At the necks of the spoil To be hung and carried in the triumphal procession, on the necks of the captive maidens, who were so important a part of the spoil. These ladies of the harem doubtless expected to share largely in these rich garments, but they looked to see them brought on the necks of the captive damsels. Others explain, for the neck of the spoiler, that is, Sisera; or, as English version, for the necks of them that take the spoil. Bertheau and Keil read שׁגל , queen, instead of שׁלל , spoil. But for this latter there is no authority, and the former is unnecessary, and far less simple and natural than the explanation we have given.

Verse 31

31. So shall perish Or, so let all thy enemies perish. “The prophetess does not stop to say that all the hopes of Sisera’s mother were dashed to the ground, but she implies this in another abrupt apostrophe, in which she invokes like destruction upon all the enemies of Jehovah. This abruptness makes a far more vivid impression than any language.” Robinson.

As the going forth of the sun A bold and striking figure, which forcibly and truly indicates the rising and growing power of the true Israel of God.

Rest forty years The result of this great victory over Jabin’s host, a victory that has no parallel in the history of the Judges. Joshua’s great battle at Merom seemed to have crushed the northern Canaanites; but from that fearful blow they rallied again, and regained, apparently, nearly all their ancient power. But by this defeat of Sisera’s host the kingdom of Hazor seems to have been utterly ruined, and we hear no more of Canaanitish dominion in northern Palestine. Hence the prophetess conceived this victory as a type of Jehovah’s ultimate triumph over all his foes.

How many of the sacred books have their divine songs! In Genesis (49) we have Israel’s dying blessing, a psalm prophetic of the destinies of his children; in Exodus (15) Moses celebrates the triumph at the Red Sea; in Numbers (23, 24) are the wondrous oracles of Balaam; and in Deuteronomy (32, 33) the last song of Moses. Here in Judges we have Deborah’s song; in 1 Samuel (2) Hannah’s magnificat; and in 2 Samuel (22, 23) David’s songs of triumph over all his foes. In the New Testament (Luke 1:0) we have the Magnificat of Mary and the song of Zacharias; “and all these songs,” says Wordsworth, “are preludes to the new song, the song of Moses and the Lamb, which the saints of the Church glorified, from all nations, will sing at the crystal sea, with the harps of God, (Revelation 14:1-3; Revelation 15:2-4,) when all the enemies of Christ and his Church will have been subdued, and their victory will have been consummated for ever.”

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Judges 5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/judges-5.html. 1874-1909.
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