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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

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Deb´orah (a bee), a prophetess, wife of Lapidoth. She dwelt, probably, in a tent, under a well-known palm-tree between Ramah and Bethel, where she judged Israel (). This in all likelihood means that she was the organ of communication between God and his people, and probably, on account of the influence and authority of her character, was accounted in some sort as the head of the nation, to whom questions of doubt and difficulty were referred for decision. In her triumphal song she says—


'In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,

In the days of Jael, the ways lay desert,

And high-way travelers went in winding bypaths.

Leaders failed in Israel, they failed,

Until that I Deborah arose,

That I arose, a mother in Israel.'


From the further intimations which that song contains, and from other circumstances, the people would appear to have sunk into a state of total discouragement under the oppression of the Canaanites; so that it was difficult to rouse them from their despondency and to induce them to make any exertion to burst the fetters of their bondage. From the gratitude which Deborah expresses towards the people for the effort which they finally made, we are warranted in drawing the conclusion that she had long endeavored to instigate them to this step in vain. At length she summoned Barak, the son of Abinoam, from Kedesh, a city of Naphtali, on a mountain not far from Hazor, and made known to him the will of God that he should undertake an enterprise for the deliverance of his country. But such was his disheartened state of feeling, and at the same time such his confidence in the superior character and authority of Deborah, that he assented to go only on the condition that she would accompany him. To this she at length consented. They then repaired together to Kedesh, and collected there—in the immediate vicinity of Hazor, the capital of the dominant power—ten thousand men, with whom they marched southward, and encamped on Mount Tabor. Sisera, the general of Jabin, king of Hazor, who was at the head of the Canaanitish confederacy, immediately collected an army, pursued them, and encamped in face of them in the great Plain of Esdraelon. Encouraged by Deborah, Barak boldly descended from Tabor into the plain with his ten thousand men to give battle to the far superior host of Sisera, which was rendered the more formidable to the Israelites by nine hundred chariots of iron. The Canaanites were beaten; and Barak pursued them northward to Harosheth. Sisera himself, being hotly pursued, alighted from his chariot and escaped on foot to the tent of Heber the Kenite, by whose wife he was slain. This great victory (dated about B.C. 1296), which seems to have been followed up, broke the power of the native princes, and secured to the Israelites a repose of forty years' duration. During part of this time Deborah probably continued to exercise her former authority; but nothing more of her history is known.

The song of triumph, which was composed in consequence of the great victory over Sisera, is said to have been 'sung by Deborah and Barak.' It is usually regarded as the composition of Deborah; and was probably composed by her to be sung on the return of Barak and his warriors from the pursuit. It is a peculiarly fine specimen of the earlier poetry of the Hebrews.

Deborah, 2

Deborah. The nurse of Rebekah, whom she accompanied to the land of Canaan; she died near Beth-el, and was buried under an oak, which for that reason was thenceforth called Allon-bachuth—'the oak of weeping' ().





Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Deborah'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​d/deborah.html.
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