I've been blogging a little about women of the bible. My previous entries were about Hannah and Mary, both who had their praises to God recorded in Scripture. I have been reading about Deborah, a prophetess and a judge during the times of Judges. The time of Judges was a chaotic period of time after the Hebrews entered the promise land, led by Joshua after Moses died. It was the time that the story of Ruth took place, and the prayer of Hannah occured.
I looked up Deborah's name, and it means "a bee". Bees are hard workers, make honey and sting. I wonder if Deborah's name was chosen based on her character. She was married to Lappidoth, sat under a palm tree in a specific place in Ephraim, where the sons of Israel came to her for judgement. Her judgement was probably about what was right or wrong, settling disputes and concerning what was God's will. In order to be effective, she was a prophetess, meaning she heard God's voice. And the men came to her, she didn't go out to them trying to tell them what to do.
When she sent for Barak to tell him what God wanted him to do, basically to go out and confront the Canaanite king's army commander, Sisera, Barak wouldn't go without her. Deborah agreed, but told him that the honor would go to a woman for the Canaanite commander's death. I wonder if Barak didn't believe her when she told him that God said He would give them the victory. Or he didn't trust God. Or if he trusted in Deborah than he trusted in God. Whatever the reason, he would not enjoy honor, that God chose to give it to Jael, a Kenite woman living in a tent on the outskirts of Kedesh, where Sisera hid under a blanket after running off on foot when his army was defeated. Jael gave him some milk, and while he slept, she drove a tent peg through his head.
So, both Barak and Sisera had honor escape them. This had to be a tough thing, since men universally live for respect from others, and also die for it sometimes.
Deborah and Barak sing a song of victory and praise to God afterwards. What I especially love is how Deborah referred to herself as "a mother in Israel". That the peasantry of Israel had ceased until Deborah went to work as a judge, whose heart went out to the commanders of Israel. She wanted to see the men of Israel to be good leaders, and her motive was to help them be the kind of men that God wanted. But she herself, despite the remarkable things God accomplished through her, saw herself simply as a mother. That was enough honor for her.