Deborah was one of the 12 judges mentioned in the Book of Judges however the nation of Israel had “judges” before and after these. In fact Moses was probably the first judge. Actually God used judges to lead his people from the time for Moses until Israel’s first king. If we were to note the judges mentioned throughout all the Old Testament there would be:
- Moses and those Moses appointed to help him (unknown number)
- Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthat, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Sampson – from the Book of Judges
- Eli and Samuel and maybe Samuel’s sons Joel and Abiah – from 1 Samuel
- Kenaniah and his sons – 1 Chronicles
- Amariah and Zebadiah (son of Ishmael) – from 2nd Chronicles
In this list of 20 plus names, I really only recognize 6. And while I know about Deborah I’m not sure I ever thought of her as in the same class as Moses or Samuel! But indeed, she was.
In this passage I love her certainty about what God has said. When Deborah calls Barak it is not because he has heard the same thing. Barak was the general, not the prophet. She calls him because she has heard from the Lord and is forwarding God’s command on to the military leader.
Barak, like many of us, wondered if this was truly God speaking. He asked her to put her certainty on the line. Of course, Deborah knew what she knew so she did not hesitate to go with the army.
Many in Israel trusted Deborah and acknowledged her positon of wisdom and her prophet station, as probably did he. But in this case, when danger was eminent we are prone to doubt.
All in all, I would rather be remembered as a Deborah than as a Barak – though surely on any given day I could be either or both!