Warrior Ladies - Book of Judges 4 and 5

Deborah Israel's judge most passionate

Was moved much by her peoples plight,

And with determined brow her challenge met

To take up arms herself to go and fight.

This judge and warrior prophet  mother sat

And listened to the woes of Israel,

She knew apostasy had widely spread

Since Josuah's death and what since then befell.

She counselled with great wisdom all that came

Relieved their anguish, fear and lent support.

And resolutely lit  again the flame

Of passionate loyalty for Israel's Lord.

Apostasy had spread  throughout the land,

Things were no longer as they were before,

And many wayward could not understand

Why Yahwe would no longer lend succor.

For twenty years king Jabin,- Canaanite

Did  Israelites with cruelty oppress,

When rose this peoples’ Judge and shining light,-

Deborah, Judge,  and counselling  prophetess.

A judge in time of peace, and counselor,

Who wisely heard and settled their disputes,

In times of war, a leader strong and warrior,

A prophetess, - familiar with feuds.

A mother  tender and affectionate,

And full of understanding of the woes

And suffering that had come of late

Since Jabin, king of pagans strong arose.

Her people had bowed  long to tyranny,

Acquiesced to it with slavishness and cowed,

With hearts too faint, and some complacency,

While Deborah with indignation glowed.

Outraged by crimes committed, she spurned fear,

Intrepid woman who did trust the Lord,

Spurned Sisera, his iron  charioteers,

And the commanders of king Jabin‘s court.

She never sat and pondered over things,

She felt a calling,- action was her  role,

And down the ages like a trumpet rings

Her hymn, inspiring the Jewish soul.

A military strategist superb,

With vision and with ingenuity

Determined, no-one dared perturb

The exercise of her great ministry.

"I am His instrument", - so thank me not

For rescueing you from Jab in's tyranny,

The thanks and credit goes alone to God

Who rescues you in is benignity.

She summoned Barak, her commander chief,

And tribes of Naphthali and Zabulon,

For strong her faith  in God and her belief,

A war against king Jabin could be won.

“If you  go.  I’ll go too- but if not

I will not go“- thus Barak did defer,

To Deborah,-a  woman- stirred by God,

And strong, and he agreed to follow her.

”The Lord will fight for you she spoke, don‘t quake!

Before commander Sisera‘s charioteers,

You have His word,- and He will not forsake

His children for He saw their bitter tears“.

They met, she, Barak and his fighting men,

Discussing military strategy,

To work  for the attack  a detailed plan

That would set Israel from bondage free

Chief Barak would ascend mount Tabor, then

While Sisera lay in ambush with his men

The Israelites would fast desced again,

With   Sisera following, swooping down the plain

And so it came to be, the army foe

Swooped down mount Tabor with great force and speed,

To deal the Israelites the mortal blow.

And  vanquish them and chase them in defeat.

Deborah from a lofty rock cried out:

To Barak, chief: “Up! Up! - this is the day

On which the Lord, our God will put to route

The enemy, and cause their disarray“.

“He will deliver mighty Sisera

Into the hands of woman” so she cried,

“And strike the battling force of Caanaa“,

Thus Deborah, Judge and Warrior prophesied.

But Sisera was mighty and he had

Nine hundred chariots and charioteers,

And well equipped the forces that he led

Which only made increase the Hebrews’ fear.

A storm rose from the east  and heavy rain

Drove into Sisera’s face and all his men,-

Torrential hail and sleet burst o’r the plain,

And efforts for retreating proved in vain.

Entangled the commander’s chariot

And horses’ hoofs of his fine cavalry,

That splashed  around and sank deep into mud,

The horses tried in vain to struggle free.

The archers were disabled by fierce rain

That kept a-beating  down on them with might,

Disabled  were the skillful slingers‘ train,

The storm, the hail and rain impaired their sight.

The swordsmen‘s train was crippled by great cold,

The Kishon river‘s furious  flood swelled high,

.The hail beat down on them, while thunder rolled.

Their strategy and plans all went awry.

But Deborah, Barak and the Israelites

Behind them had the storm that whipped and lashed,

And saw the struggling smitten Canaanites,

Their chariots that either sank and crashed.

His army slain,- chief Sisera took to flight

By foot, to seek the hospitality

Of Jael, wife of Heber, the Kenite,

Assured  their tent would  lend security.

Fatigued from battle, he sought sleep and rest,

He  asked for water from his hostess first,

But Jael brought warm milk in for her  guest,

To quench  the tired fugitive’s great thirst.

Warmed by the milk and comfort, Sisera stretched,

And was asleep at once upon his bed,

While Jael peg-nail and a hammer fetched

And drove the tent peg into Sisera’s head.

Killed by a woman,- killed by woman’s hand,

Fulfilled indeed Judge Deborah prophesy,

And liberated was her people’s land,

From harsh oppression and from tyranny.

But Sisera's mother on her balcony

Stood waiting, waiting and refused to learn

From messengers arriving finally

That her dear only son would not return.

All Israel gave thanks unto the Lord

Who had avenged, and granted victory,

They sang a martial hymn in one accord,:-

First martial hymn of praise in history.

The bible’s first and only women who,

Elected by her people’s free consent,

Was mother and deliverer brave and true

That guided panicked children by her hand,

A forebear of  the Maiden of Orleans,

Who twenty seven centuries from thence

Would many battles for her army win,

Saint Joan of Arc, the joy and pride of France.

Behold the mission extraordinaire

And high vocation at a time of need.

Intrepid ladies,- warrior missionaire,

To prophesy, to cuunsel, fight and lead.

by: Elizabeth Dandy

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