Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
This verse briefly recites the subject of this inspired song, which consists of eight stanzas: The first opens with a devout thanksgiving. The second describes the magnificent scenes at Mount Sinai, etc. The third states the apostasy and consequent punishment of the Israelites. The fourth contrasts their present happy state. The fifth censures the recreant tribes of Reuben, Gad, etc. The sixth records the defeat of the confederate kings of Canaan. The seventh contains a panegyric on Jael. And the eight describes the fond anticipations and disappointment of the mother of Sisera.
Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
for the avenging
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.
O ye kings
I, even I
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.
The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.
Heb. flowed. that Sinai.
In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.
Heb. walkers of paths. by-ways. Heb. crooked ways.
The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
ye that sit
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.
in the places
Dr. Shaw mentions a beautiful rill of water in Barbary, which runs into a large bason, called shrub we krub, "drink and be off," because of the danger of meeting with robbers and assassins in this place, who fall upon those who come to drink.
Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
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.
handle the pen
Heb. draw with the pen.
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 thoughts of heart.
Heb. his feet. Beraglaiv, rather, "with his footmen:" so LXX. Alex. [pkzous autou] and Luther, mit feinem Fubvolt.
or, In the divisions, etc.
Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.
or, sea-port. breaches. or, creeks.
Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
Heb. exposed to reproach. their lives.
in the high
The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
O my soul
Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
Anciently, horses were not shod; nor are they at the present day in some parts of the East. The flight was so rapid that the hoofs of their horses were splintered and broken by the roughness of the roads; in consequence of which they became lame, and could not carry off their riders.
or, tramplings, or, plungings. mighty ones. Or, as Dr. Waterland renders, "mighty horses," or "strong steeds," as Dr. Kennicott, i.e., their war-horses, which gives great energy to the text, and renders it perfectly intelligible.
Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
This city of Meroz seems to have been, at this time, a place of considerable importance, since something great was expected from it; but probably, after the angel of the Lord had pronounced this curse, it dwindled and like the fig-tree which Christ cursed, withered away; so that we never read of it after this in Scripture.
to the help
Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
Chemah, may signify buttermilk, which is made by the Arabs by agitating the milk in a leathern bag; and is highly esteemed because of its refreshing and cooling qualities.
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.
Heb. She hammered. she smote off. Or rather, "she smote his head, then she struck through and pierced his temples:" which is more consonant to the original, and to fact, as it does not appear that she smote off his head.
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.
Heb. Between. where.
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?
Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,
Heb. her words.
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?
Have they not sped
Heb. the head of a man. of divers.
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 the land had rest forty years.
And the land
The victory here celebrated in this song, was of such happy consequence to Israel, that for the principal part of one age, they enjoyed the peace to which it had been the means of opening the way. The land had rest forty years, that is, so long it was from this victory to the raising up of Gideon. And well would it have been for the Israelites, if while the tribes had rest, they had taken advantage of the cessation from war, and had walked in the fear of the Lord.