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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.
15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the Heb. gathered by cry, or proclamation. • Psal. 83. 9, 10.
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.
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray
Heb, unto one. 6 Or, rug, or blanket.
thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened 'a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
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.
23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No. 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.
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.
9 Heb. going went and was hard
7 Chap. 5. 25.
Verse 10. "Ten thousand men at his feet.”—Patrick and others think that this means that the soldiers were all footmen. This is very probable; but it does not necessarily follow from the expression, which is merely an Oriental mode of reference to the persons who are subject to the control of a particular person. It may be taken from the action of a slave being prostrate at the feet of his master, denoting submission or obedience. We continually meet with the expression in Oriental books. Mr. Roberts says that when the Hindoos speak of the British king, they often allude to the millions that are at his feet. The governors, generals, or judges in the East, are said to have the people of such countries, armies, or districts, at their feet. Nay, it is common for masters, and people of small possessions, to speak of their domestics as being at their feet.
11. "Pitched his tent."-This is an interesting indication that this family retained in a settled country like Palestine the habits of a pastoral people. At the present time, a very large proportion of the existing population of Persia consists of pastoral tribes, of foreign (Tartar) origin, who pitch their tents and feed their flocks in the pasture lands and (except by themselves) unappropriated plains of that extensive region.
12. "Barak...was gone up to mount Tabor."-This mountain, the supposed scene of our Lord's transfiguration, rises in the east of the great plain of Esdraelon, about two leagues S. E. from Nazareth, and nearly the same distance from the Jordan. It is a calcareous mountain, resembling in its figure a cone with the upper part struck off; and stands in the plain completely insulated from any of the neighbouring mountains, none of which equal it in elevation. This elevation has been very variously stated. Some of the elder writers stated it at four miles! but it has since been, by other accounts, gradually reduced to three miles-two miles-one mile-1000 feet. Part of this discrepancy may have arisen from the want of a distinct intimation whether the statement given, referred to the perpendicular altitude, or to the extent of the winding ascent up the mountain. The lowest statement, as above, of 1000 feet, is given by Buckingham, and is, probably, not over the mark, however much it may be below. That this estimate is not too high is probable from the fact mentioned by Burckhardt, that thick clouds rest upon its summit in the mornings of summer; and also from the time occupied in the ascent, which is seldom much less than an hour, although, by forced exertion, Buckingham was enabled to reach the summit in half an hour. At the top is an oval plain, of about a quarter of a mile in its greatest length, covered with a bed of fertile soil on the west, and having at its eastern end a mass of ruins, seemingly the vestiges of churches, grottoes, strong walls, and fortifications, ali decidedly of some antiquity, and a few appearing to be the works of a very remote age. Three of these grottoes are, absurdly enough, pointed out by the local guides as the remains of the three tabernacles which Peter proposed to erect for Jesus, Moses, and Elias. No particular history is assigned to any other of the remains, which seem, however, to have been mostly extensive religious buildings. The whole appears to have been once enclosed within a strong wall, a large portion of which still remains entire on the south side, having its firm foundations on the solid rocks; and this appears to be the most ancient part. Perhaps we might attribute to these a very high antiquity; for the mountain seems to have been from the earliest times employed as a military post, for which it is admirably adapted. We seem to have the first instance of this in the text. The "hill of a globular form," on which Polybius describes the town of Atubyrium as situated, was doubtless Mount Tabor. It was so strong, that Antiochus only succeeded in taking it by a stratagem, similar to that by which Joshua took Ai; and when taken, he secured it by leaving a garrison in it before he proceeded against the cities on the east of Jordan. (Polybius,' l. v., c. vi.) In the fatal war with the Romans, it was resorted to as a place of security, and the military historian Josephus encompassed the summit with a wall, which was completed in forty days, and is perhaps the same of which some ruins still appear. The Romans were only able to get possession of this strong hold by enticing the occupants down into the plain, by promises of security and friendship, which were shamefully violated. After this Mount Tabor seems to have become the seat of religious establishments, the remains of which are now mixed with those of the military fortifications.
From the summit of this mountain there is one of the most extensive and interesting prospects which the country affords. To the south is discovered a series of valleys and mountains, extending as far as Jerusalem, fifty miles distant; to the cast, the valley of the Jordan, with the lake of Tiberias, appear as beneath the feet, the lake itself seeming as if enclosed in the crater of a volcano; to the north are the plains of Galilee, backed by mountains, beyond which is visible, to the north-east, the high snow-capped range of Djebel-el-Telj, or the Snow Mountain' (a part of Anti-Libanus). To the west, the horizon line of the Mediterranean is visible over the range of land near the coast, and portions of its blue surface are seen through the openings left by the downward bends in the outline of the western hills.
The mountain itself, as viewed from below, presents a very fine appearance. "It is," says Pococke, "one of the finest hills I ever beheld, being a rich soil that produces excellent herbage, and is most beautifully adorned with groves and clumps of trees." These are chiefly, according to Burckhardt, composed of the oak and wild pistachio; but there are also (says Hasselquist) the carob-tree, the terebinth, the holly, and the myrtle, not to mention a large variety of other plants and flowers which cover the surface. The verdure is less abundant on the south than on the other sides of the mountian. There are ounces and wild boars in the wooded parts (Burckhardt); and Hasselquist saw the rock
goat and fallow-deer. Red partridges, also, are in great numbers. Besides the travellers cited in the course of the note, see Maundrell's Journey;' Jolliffe's Letters from Palestine,' vol. i. p. 40; Rae Wilson's 'Travels,' p. 367 ; Carne's Letters from the East,' p. 253. William Biddulph, who was there early in the seventeenth century, gives a much fairer account of the mountain than some subsequent travellers. "We beheld," he says, "the prospect of the mountain to be very pleasant, somewhat steepie, but not very high nor very large, but a comely round mountaine, beset with trees and thicke bushes, which at that time of the yeere flourished greene.' See the rest in Purchas.
15. Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet."-This seems rather strange conduct; but it is evident that the chariots being so hotly pursued, particularly perhaps his own chariot, which may have been distinguished by its greater splendour-he saw that his only chance for safety was to escape on foot, when he had an opportunity to do this unnoticed, calculating that Barak would continue the pursuit of the chariots, as actually happened.
18. "Into the tent."-We must consider these Kenites as Arabs, and estimate their proceedings accordingly. Sisera's claim on Jael, in the absence of Heber, was perfectly proper. When a stranger comes to an Arab camp where he has no acquaintance, he proceeds to the first tent, and if the proprietor is himself absent, his wife or daughters are not only authorised, but required to perform the duties of hospitality to him. As a character for liberal hospitality is an actual distinction of an Arab, no one can with honour repel from the tent a stranger who claims hospitality, nor, in ordinary circumstances, does any one desire to do so: on the contrary, there is rather a disposition to contend who shall enjoy the privilege of granting him entertainment. In the present instance Sisera's application to the tent of the sheikh, whose privilege it more especially was to entertain strangers, was in the common course of things. As belonging to a friendly people, Sisera's claim for protection was as valid as a common claim for hospitality, and could no be refused. Having once promised protection to a person, and admitted him to his tent, the Arab is bound not only to conceal his guest, but to defend him even with his life, from his pursuers; and if his tent should be forced and his guest slain there, it is his duty to become the avenger of his blood. On these sentiments of honour Sisera seems to have relied; particularly after Jael had supplied him with refreshments, which, in the highest sense, are regarded as a seal to the covenant of peace and safety: and, in fact, after all this, an Arab would be bound to protect with his own life even his bitterest enemy, to whom he may have inadvertently granted his protection. It is probable that Jael introduced Sisera for safety into the inner or woman's part of the tent. This she might do without impropriety, although it would be the most grievous insult for any man to intrude there without permission. There he was safe, as a pursued man.
19. "She....gave him drink.”—It is very likely that Sisera not only desired to have some refreshment, because he really wanted it, but as a seal to the pledge of protection which he had received in the words "Fear not," which Jael had addressed to him. At least his mind seems to have beens atisfied; for he had then no hesitation to recruit his weary frame with sleep. A person who needs protection, always feels quite at rest on the subject when he has once obtained meat or drink. This is the case even with a captive enemy, and much more so with a guest, as Sisera was. We have illustrated part of this subject in the note to Num. xviii. 19; and we now limit our attention to the single point to which we have adverted. The usage was not peculiar to the Orientals. We find it in Homer. Lycaon had been a captive to Achilles, who sent him to Lemnos to be sold: but he escaped from thence, and was again found by Achilles on the field of battle. He thus commences his plea for life:
"I clasp thy knees, Achilles! Ah, respect
Who hath sought refuge even at thy hearth;
A very striking instance of the force of this feeling, as connected with the simple act of receiving drink from a captor, is cited by Dr. Hales from Bohadin's 'Life of Saladin :'-" During a truce between the Crusaders and the Saracens, in the Holy Land, Arnold, lord of Cracha, cruelly pillaged and imprisoned the (pilgrim) caravan returning from Mecca to Egypt; adding insult to breach of faith-Let your Mahomet deliver you! Fired with indignation thereat, Saladin the sultan vowed to dispatch him with his own hand, if he could ever make him prisoner. The fatal battle of Hittyn, in which the Crusaders were defeated, and their principal commanders taken, gave him that opportunity. He then ordered the captives into his presence-Guy, the king of Jerusalem, his brother Geoffry, and Prince Arnold. Saladin presented Guy, who was nearly expiring for thirst, with a delicious cup cooled with snow, out of which the king drank, and then gave it to Arnold. Observe,' said Saladin, it is thou, king, and not I, who hast given the cup to this man.' After which he said to Arnold,― See me now act the part of Mahomet's avenger.' He then offered Arnold his life, on condition of embracing the Mahometan faith, which he refusing, the sultan first struck him with his drawn scimitar, which breaking at the hilt, the rest of his attendants joined and dispatched him." Here we see that Saladin felt and intended that the cup which he gave Guy should be received as a pledge of protection. So it was probably understood by the king, whose good-natured attempt to include Arnold in the concession, obliged the sultan to call his attention to the fact that the force of the pledge depended on its being received immediately from the person with whom the power to grant protection rested.
20. "Thou shalt say, No."-Sisera seems to have felt quite certain that the pursuers would not dare search the haram, after the woman had denied that any man was there. Indeed, it is almost certain that they would not have done so : for the Hebrews had too long and too recently been themselves a nomade people, not to have known that a more heinous and inexpiable insult could not be offered to the neutral Kenite Emir, than to disturb the sanctity of his haram, or even to enter, unpermitted, the outer part of his tent. We very much doubt whether they would have ventured, even if they had been certain that Sisera was there, to have entered to kill him, or take him thence, while under Heber's protection, although they might, possibly, have tried means of withdrawing him from that protection. This is an answer to Bishop Patrick, who would have recommended Jael not to have been so hasty to act herself, but to have waited till the pursuers came and took him. They could not take him, or even search for him, without inflicting on Heber a dishonour worse than death; neither could Jael have given him up to them, without bringing everlasting infamy upon her family and tribe.
21. "Nail of the tent."-This was probably one of the large pins which are driven into the ground, and to which are attached the ropes which, at the other extremity, are fastened to the poles of the tent in order to keep them erect. These pins are generally of wood, and are driven into the ground by a mallet, which is apparently the "hammer" of the text. It would seem that Jael could find no instrument more suited to the purpose.
The conduct of this woman is so decidedly and pointedly opposed to all the principles of honour by which Orientals are actuated, that it is absolutely impossible to account for it on any other supposition than that she was influenced by
some extraordinary and over-ruling impulse, and felt herself acting under that Divine warrant which alone could justify her in the course she took. She may have heard of Deborah's prophecy, that Sisera would fall by the hand of a woman, and, under the peculiar circumstances, she may naturally have conceived herself to be the woman pointed out and called to that service. That she really did act under the Divine sanction cannot be denied, without impugning the authority of this book of Judges. In the prophecy, before the fact, it is said: "The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hands of a woman;" and, after the fact, she is pronounced "blessed above women" for this her deed (chap. v. 24). Does, then, the Scripture sanction the assassination of enemies? By no means. This was a peculiar case, in which the Hebrews felt that Jael had acted under a Divine mandate, and which therefore cannot be fairly adduced as a general sanction, or as a precedent on which self-delegated avengers might act. The conduct of Jael cannot be vindicated on any inferior ground; and every one who has essayed the vindication on common principles and customs, has miserably failed in the attempt. The Rev. T. H. Horne, for instance (who will thank us for pointing it out), says: "With regard to the conduct of Jael, we must judge of it by the feelings of those among whom the right of avenging the blood of a relative was so strongly rooted, that even Moses could not take it away. Jael was an ally, by blood, with the Israelitish nation: their chief oppressor, who had mightily oppressed them for the space of twenty years, now lay defenceless before her; and he was, moreover, one of those whom Israel was bound, by Divine command, to extirpate." On this we only need remark, that "there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber the Kenite" (verse 17); and that the very principles of Arabian honour, to which Mr. Horne refers for an explanation, would oblige a man to lay down his life to defend that of the guest he had received under his protection-even if that guest proved to be the murderer of his own son, or one against whom his heart had burned in hatred and revenge for years.
22. "As Barak pursued Sisera."-He continued to pursue the chariots after the escape of Sisera (verse 16), but, not finding Sisera when he had routed the whole host, appears to have hastened back to seek the fugitive.
1 Deut. 4. 11.
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.
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. 5 The mountains melted from before
3 Heb. Rowed.
2 Psal, 97, 5.
the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.
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.
7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
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.
Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
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.
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 14thoughts of heart.
16 Why abodest thou among the sheep folds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? 15 For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his 17breaches.
that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
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.
4 Exod. 19. 18. 5 Chap. 3. 31. 10 Heb. righteousnesses of the LORD. 13 Or, in. 16 Or, port.
21 Heb. she hammered.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their "courses fought against Sisera. 21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
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.
27 22 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.
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?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned "answer to herself,
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?
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
18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people the land had rest forty years.
Chap. 4. 18.
7 Heb. walkers of paths.
8 Heb. crooked ways.
9 Or, meditate. 13 Or, in the divisions, &c. 14 Heb. impressions. 19 Heb. paths. 20 Or, tramplings, or plannings. 25 Heb. to the head of a man.
Verse 1. "Then sang Deborah."-The fine triumphal ode in this chapter is a noble specimen of Hebrew poesy; the more prominent beauties of which will not fail to strike the reader even as seen through the disadvantages of a translation made at a time when the principles of Hebrew poetry were but little understood. It has been ably analyzed and illustrated by Bishop Lowth and others. "Its design," says Dr. Hales, "seems to be two-fold, religious and political: