Deborah a notable judge - Odessa American: People

Deborah a notable judge

By Bob Campbell bcampbell@oaoa.com | Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 4:00 am

As the fourth in a line of 12 judges of Israel, Deborah was the only woman and, as remembered in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament, was one of the best because she guided Israel for 60 years, overthrew the tyranny of the Canaanites and brought 40 years of peace.

The Rev. Terry Pugh, Rabbi Jordan Parr and the Revs. John Copeland, John McLemore and Ron Hankins say Deborah had a somewhat indefinable quality that made people respect her and want her advocacy in the 12th Century B.C.

“She evidently had quite a bit of drive and leadership ability for the nation of Israel to follow her,” said the Rev. Pugh, pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church. “She also recognized her limitations and asked Barak to lead the army into combat, but he said he wouldn’t go unless she came along with them.

“She was a unique individual because the culture she was in was almost 100 percent male-run.”

Pugh said Deborah “was not a king but was somebody like a tribal lord. “She rose to the highest position of influence because God worked through her abilities,” he said.

“That’s the way He is now. He will use you with the talents, abilities and skills you possess if you make yourself available.”

Rabbi Parr, of Temple Beth El, said the judge “must have broken the mold of women for her time.

“I find her very impressive,” he said. “She fought on behalf of God and not for herself. She didn’t seem to have that kind of ego. She was a strong general who led a massive defeat of the Canaanites.”

Asked why Deborah rendered her judgments under a date palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in Ephraim, Parr said the setting “reflected the reality of the times.

“There were no palaces,” he said. “She had the people at heart and put God first. Her concept of leadership was that if you do things for God and the people, the people will praise you and God will bless you.”

The Rev. Copeland, pastor of Crescent Park Baptist Church, said the original Hebrew text says Deborah was “a woman of torches.”

“She was a fiery woman in that culture,” he said. “She was the wife of Lapidoth, but she was a woman of great independence.”

Copeland said Deborah “is a great reminder to us that the Bible shows women raised to a standard of independence and significance.

“Jesus highlighted women in his ministry,” he said. “Deborah had tremendous courage and sensitivity to the spirit of God.”

Noting that the Song of Deborah in Judges 5 may be the Bible’s oldest poetry, Copeland said it “shows that women have been in power all through history.

“As men, we shouldn’t be afraid of it,” he said. “We should embrace it.”

The Rev. McLemore said the judge “was truly remarkable, a judge, a military strategist, a poet and a prophet.

“Although she wasn’t a priestess who offered sacrifices, she did lead public worship services,” said McLemore, pastor of Belmont Baptist Church. “Her courage and wisdom in calling up an army to break Hazor’s control gave the Israelites 40 years of peace.

“I believe these chapters show that God’s purposes will be fulfilled by those whom he chooses whether or not we understand or agree with his choices.”

The Rev. Hankins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, said the judges were put into place to maintain political and social order and direct the military between the death of Joshua and the coronation of Saul, Israel’s first king.

Hankins said Deborah’s name translates as “Honey Bee.”

“Her vision of the world was shaped not by the political situation of the day but by her strong relationship with God,” he said. “Her leadership and courage aroused the Israelites, thereby enabling them to throw off the attacks of their adversaries.”

Hankins said King Jabin sent 900 iron chariots against Israel but was defeated. “This highlights that God shows his great mercy upon his children by answering their cries for help, despite their rebellion, and sends prophets, both women and men, to direct and lead his people,” he said.