The Woman Who Led the Israelites

After Joshua died, the Israelite people turned away from God. Then God caused them trouble. He let some of their enemies beat them and rule over them. When they turned back to him, he raised up a leader to help them beat their enemies. This happened several times. Every time the Israelite people would turn away from God, their enemies would win. But whenever they turned back to God, they would beat their enemies. The leaders that helped them win were called Judges.

Now some of the Canaanite people in the north of the land of Israel had not been killed by the Israelites. When the Israelites turned away from God, the Canaanites became strong. Their king, named Jabin, became ruler over the Israelites and treated them bad. His army had 900 chariots that were covered with iron. The Israelites were afraid of his army. It was led by a man named Sisera.

Now the Judge of the Israelites at this time was a woman named Deborah. She was also a prophet of God. When the Israelites turned back to God and prayed to him for help, He had Deborah send for a man named Barak, she told Barak, "God commands you to take ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them to Mount Tabor. He will make Sisera bring Jabin's army to fight you at the Kishon River. There you will win a victory over him." Barak answered, "If you will go with me, I will go, but if you don't go with me, I won't go either." So because he didn't trust God enough to go alone, Deborah told him, "I will go with you, but you will not get the praise for the victory, because a woman will defeat Sisera." So Deborah went with Barak.

Barak called for the men of Naphtali and Zebulun to come to him, and so ten thousand men met him and Deborah at Mount Tabor, he called out his arm with the 900 chariots, and led them to the Kishon River in the valley next to Mount Tabor.

Deborah told Barak, "Go down; God is leading you. Today you will win the battle." So the Israelites went down the mountain and attacked the Canaanites. God helped them and they won a great victory. All of Sisera's army was killed and Sisera ran away on foot.

Now a man named Heber had set up his family's tents in a place all alone. Sisera came to these tents and hid in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. She hid him under a rug. Then he said, "Give me some water to drink. I'm thirsty." She gave him a drink of milk. He told her; "Stand at the door and tell anyone who comes that no one is here." Then he fell asleep on the ground. While he was sleeping, she took a hammer and a tent peg and drove the tent peg through his head, nailing him to the ground. When Barak came up, she said, "Come here. I'll show you the man you're looking for." So he went in her tent and found Sisera dead.

Then Deborah and Barak made up and sang a song praising God for the Israelites' victory. The song told about how Jael had killed Sisera, the Israelites' enemy. After this the Israelites had peace for 40 years.

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