Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Have You Heard the One About Deborah?

You know the one.

God could not find a single decent man in all the land to become the next judge of Israel. And since all those men were so worthless God had to resort to raising up a woman to judge. Her name was Deborah. At least that is how I've heard it taught before.

The problem is, if you read the account without the idea that women can't lead, you realize there is nothing written to imply that God chose Deborah because there were no qualified men. This is never said or even implied. It is something imposed on the text by men who would rather insult and emasculate ALL the Hebrew men living in Deborah's day rather than to admit that God simply picked Deborah because He wanted to use a woman this time.

The account of Deborah is in found in Judges 4 and words that supposedly imply that Barak was weak and afraid and that God wanted to punish him for it are found in vss 8 & 9.

8 Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

It is assumed from this that Barak was being punished for his lack of faith. But if you read it carefully, there is no real rebuke in verse 9. In fact, the verse could just as easily be interpreted as Barak trying to honor Deborah by asking that she go along. But even with this honor, Deborah reasserts that God wants this to be a woman's story, an example to those to come that God can and wants to work through women. God wants there to be a witness in His word to His daughters that women can be strong and mighty too, that this sort of faith is not reserved for men. Leadership is not reserved exclusively for men.


Incongruous Circumspection said...

Yep! Heard that one. Thanks for ripping it apart.

Anonymous said...


I heard VF say SO many times that it was because there were no men fit to judge ... that I actually thought it was in there ... just now re-read it, and, nope, nothing in there at all about men being unfit leaders. Wow. *scrubs brain*

It does kinda seem like Barak's wimping out, though, because it looks like Deborah's taking him to task for not responding to God's command, and he says, "well, I'm only going to go if you go with me [to make sure God really is on my side]" and Deborah says, "all right, I'll go, but somebody else (who happens to be a woman) is going to get the glory for the victory". Just my perspective :-)

Love your blog! First time in a while I've had to do a double-take ... can't believe there's STILL some of this crap I still believe >.<

Mara Reid said...

You know, I did a word study on the sentence where Deborah was talking to Barak, saying that the victory would be by the hands of a woman. I used a KJ Bible and a Strong's Concordance and truely, it could go either way.
I saw no more evidence of it being a rebuke than it just being Deborah saying how it was going to be. It could just as easily be interpreted as NOT a rebuke as being a rebuke. To me, there just isn't enough evidence to say, "Yeah, it is definitly a rebuke. For sure and for certain."
Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't.

Joanna Marie said...

@ Quietpanther... I had the SAME reaction! I really thought that was in the passage, that there were no worthy men or something... reread it and it doesn't even hint at that. :-P