On January 3rd we discussed the prose version of the story of Deborah, Barak, Sisera and Jael.
On January 17th we discussed Chapter 5, the song version, which also includes Sisera’s mother.
The Song version differs from the prose version in several ways.
o Barak is presented differently. He is mentioned as a singer, but otherwise not highlighted.
§ It is not told that Barak, by being helped by a woman, will have no honor or glory, no right to boast about his deed.
§ Jael does not present the murdered Sisera to Barak.
o The story of Jael is shorter – the murder is told forcefully.
§ She is not shown as enticing Sisera into her tent.
§ She appears to murder Sisera while he is still on his feet
o The Song of Deborah has many points of connection with the Exodus story, including the theophany on Mt Sinai (an appearance of a god to a human; a divine manifestation), as well as the crossing of the Sea of Reeds (prose and Song of the Sea).
§ God is presented in God’s manifestation as a force of nature in the Song of Deborah (the stars and heavens direct the battle, Judg 5:20, the Wadi Kashon sweeps away the warriors, Judg 5:21), whereas in the prose version (Judg 4:23) we see God as superhuman warrior, on the field of battle. For comparison, see Ex 14-15 where God is shown as both warrior and force of nature.
§ At the Sea of Reeds and at the Wadi Kashon, God as force of nature overwhelms the horses (and chariots) of the enemy. See Song of the Sea, Ex 15.5 and prose version Ex 14:26-28 in comparison to Judg 5:21-22.
§ In Judges 5, the prophet is Deborah; in Exodus 14-15, the prophet is Moses. It is worth while discussing what this difference may mean.
§ Like at Mt Sinai (Ex 19:16-19), when God appears in the Song of Deborah, the earth trembles and the mountains quake (Judg 5:4-5).
o Judg 5 includes the story of Sisera’s mother, which is not recounted in Judg 4. Judg 5 opens with a mother (Deborah, mother in Israel) and closes with a mother (Sisera’s). [there is a closing paean to God]. In reading Judg 4, we wondered why Jael’s story was told, and why she had to kill Sisera. Now in Judg 5, we wonder why the story of Sisera’s mother is included. Perhaps because she is such a contrast with the triumphant, prophetic singer, Deborah. Sisera’s mother is a tragic mother, looking out for a son who has already been murdered. But she is also gloating over the fact that Sisera will abduct one or two wombs (yes, wombs = racham, rachematayim) and will despoil the losers.