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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Judges 5

 

 

Verses 1-31

5:4. When thou wentest out of Seir. God came from Teman, in Seir; he covered the heavens with his glory, and the earth was full of his praise. Habakkuk 3:3. In like manner he now arose to save Israel.

5:7. The villages ceased. In this time of sore oppression, the people fled to walled towns for safety and defence.

5:8. Was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand? The enemies and oppressors had stripped the land of armour; this accounts for Shamgar’s killing six hundred men with an ox-goad: 3:31.

5:14. The pen of the writer. Zebulun’s lot being contiguous to Phœnicia, they seem to have been assisted by that people in the acquisition of letters.

5:20. The stars in their courses fought. That is, heaven or angels fought against Sisera. A storm of hail and thunder, says Josephus, beat against the eyes of the men and horses, and aided Barak in throwing them into the utmost confusion. History records many such storms. A shower of snow set in the faces of the duke of Lancaster’s men in the battle of Towton field, near Tadcaster, in 1461, when more men fell in the course of an hour than in any other battle in England. It was the same, as Eusebius states, when the emperor Theodosius fought against Eugenius and Maximus, the tyrants. At Agincourt, when fifteen thousand English defeated sixty thousand French, a shower of rain wetted the bow-strings of the enemy, while the English had taken the precaution to cover their strings. These were all decisive battles for the throne.

5:23. Curse ye Meroz, or Merom, as in Joshua 11:5. The waters of Merom form the upper lake of the Jordan. It lay in the bosom of those Canaanites, and the people were afraid to act. Barak fought near this place.

5:31. The land had rest forty years; from the death of Ehud, which of course includes the twenty years oppression of Jabin.

REFLECTIONS.

This divine song opens with an exordium of praise to God. It was composed by Deborah, in ecstasy of soul, and its intrinsic excellencies demonstrate the endowment she had received of the Lord. It celebrates the preseding victory obtained over the Canaanites, rolling in chariots of iron, by a handful of men, almost destitute of arms. It invites kings and princes to see the wonders of the Lord, which from the beginning he had wrought for his people. It traces the calamities Israel had sustained before Shamgar was raised up to slaughter the Philistines, and before Jael slew Sisera; for Deborah would applaud the virtues of another in preference to her own. Honest people travelled in by-paths to avoid the robbers and invaders who infested the public road. The villages were forsaken, and the shepherds and labouring poor driven to seek refuge in the walled towns.

After these calamities which befel the Israelites had excited repentance, Barak was roused to action by Deborah; he was directed by a woman in all the plans and operations of the war. He drew his enemy across the brook, and posted himself at the foot of mount Tabor, where the chariots were entangled. Here, impelled by the Lord, he fell upon Sisera, as on a beast drawn into a pit, the stars or tempests of heaven aiding the vengeance of his arm. The prancing of the horses began the carnage, ere the sword of Barak could penetrate the affrighted host. Sisera was the first to fly, leaving his chariots, his allies, his honours all behind. How well do our affairs succeed when we stand in the divine counsel; and how easy is the transition from adversity to prosperity when God undertakes our cause.

Barak stayed not his hand: he pursued the enemy, yea all the kings of Canaan to Megiddo, where all the power of that people was for ever lost. Ephraim, catching the patriotic spirit, fell upon Amalek, purified the interior of idolaters, and enabled Barak to lead his captivity captive. Thus Christ has triumphed over the world, the grave, and all the powers of hell: and he now calls on us in the same spirit to awake and lead captive those habits and sins to which we have been so long enslaved.

For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Some were for their country, some were for Jabin, and others sought a criminal repose. “Why abodest thou by the sheepfold to hear the bleatings of the lambs.” An apostrophe equally severe may here be addressed to those christians who, wholly occupied with cattle and care, forget the way to the house of God. The Lord pours down a blessing on his people, he spreads a table for his guests, and glorifies his word in the conversion of sinners; yet they spend the sabbath on the dunghill, and have no soul worthy of his glory or his grace. The men of the world however do not always gain the world: there are more blanks than prizes in the lottery of life. This appears from the severe satire passed on the mercenary kings, in alliance with Jabin—”They took no gain.” No, not so much as their own bodies: these they left in the river Kishon. How often do our martyrs to business, to pleasure, to dissipation, share the same mortification. Witness those blasted hopes, those ruined fortunes, those emaciated constitutions, which so frequently occur. Had they served the Lord as they served the world, he would not have abandoned them to misery and reproaches.

The inhabitants of Meroz are pronounced accursed, yea bitterly accursed by the angel; for they stood on their towers, and saw their brethren bleed in the glorious struggle to emancipate their country, and basely forbore to fly to their aid, and to share a victory already obtained. This was a gross breach of Israel’s national covenant, the foulest act of an infidel cowardice; and if a man incurred a curse by removing his neighbour’s landmark, how much more by a deed which risked the lives and hopes of Israel. Let the lukewarm professors of religion who decline every cross, and shrink from every duty which exposes the flesh, be here instructed. God, the angry God, will not suffer them to go without a full reward.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 5:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/judges-5.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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