When we first meet Deborah, we learn that she is a prophetess, a wife, and a Judge over Israel—her roles are listed in that order.
Deborah is the fourth Judge of Israel, her 40-year reign falling between that of Shamgar and Gideon. She could often be found sitting beneath a certain palm tree (later named after her) between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim.
People from all over Israel would travel to meet with Deborah for the sole purpose of seeking her wise opinion on matters of justice.
One day, she sent for a man named Barak who was living in Naphtali. She prophesied that God was commanding him to prepare for battle; that God would bring their enemy to the Kishon River; and that God would give the Canaanite king into his hand.
Rather than step out in faith taking God at His word, Barak hesitated. In fact, he issued an ultimatum to Deborah: “Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.'” (Judges 4:8)
Deborah agreed to go but not before addressing his lack of faith. She prophesied that because of his attitude, the Lord would deliver his enemy into the hand of a woman. She did not specify who the woman would be.
Deborah not only went with Barak to battle, she also told him when to fight. She reminded him that the LORD would go ahead of him and that he would win the battle.
Judges 5 retells this story from chapter 4 in poetic form and is possibly one of the oldest parts of the entire Bible. This victory hymn “The Song of Deborah” dates back to the 12th century BC.
You can read more about Deborah in Judges 4-5.
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