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Judges 5:14-18


5:14 They came from Ephraim, who uprooted Amalek, 1 

they follow 2  after you, Benjamin, with your soldiers.

From Makir leaders came down,

from Zebulun came 3  the ones who march carrying 4  an officer’s staff.

5:15 Issachar’s leaders were with Deborah,

the men of Issachar 5  supported 6  Barak;

into the valley they were sent under Barak’s command. 7 

Among the clans of Reuben there was intense 8  heart searching. 9 

5:16 Why do you remain among the sheepfolds, 10 

listening to the shepherds playing their pipes 11  for their flocks? 12 

As for the clans of Reuben – there was intense searching of heart.

5:17 Gilead stayed put 13  beyond the Jordan River.

As for Dan – why did he seek temporary employment in the shipyards? 14 

Asher remained 15  on the seacoast,

he stayed 16  by his harbors. 17 

5:18 The men of Zebulun were not concerned about their lives; 18 

Naphtali charged on to the battlefields. 19 

1 tn Heb “From Ephraim their root in Amalek” (the words “they came” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons). Because of the difficulty of the MT, many prefer to follow one of the ancient versions or emend the text. For various proposals see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 252-53. The present translation repoints שָׁרְשָׁם (shorsham, traditionally translated “their root”) as a Piel verb form with enclitic mem (ם). The preposition ב (bet) on עֲמָלֵק (’amaleq) introduces the object (see Job 31:12 for an example of the construction). Ephraim’s territory encompassed the hill country of the Amalekites (Judg 12:15).

2 tn The words “They follow” are supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

3 tn The word “came” is supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

4 tn Or possibly “who carry.”

5 tn Heb “Issachar.” The words “the men of” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

6 tn Or “was true to.”

7 tn Heb “at his feet.”

8 tn Heb “great was.”

9 tc The great majority of Hebrew mss have “resolves of heart,” but a few mss read “searchings of heart,” which is preferable in light of v. 16.

10 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word מִשְׁפְּתַיִם (mishpÿtayim) is uncertain. Some understand the word to mean “campfires.”

11 tn Or “whistling.”

12 tn Heb “listening to the pipe playing for the flocks.”

13 tn Heb “lived” or “settled down.”

sn Apparently the people of Gilead remained on the other side of the river and did not participate in the battle.

14 tn Heb “Dan, why did he live as a resident alien, ships.” The verb גּוּר (gur) usually refers to taking up residence outside one’s native land. Perhaps the Danites, rather than rallying to Barak, were content to move to the Mediterranean coast and work in the shipyards. For further discussion, see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 262.

15 tn Heb “lived.”

16 tn Heb “lived” or “settled down.”

17 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word מִפְרָץ (mifrats) is uncertain, but the parallelism (note “seacoast”) suggests “harbors.”

18 tn Heb “Zebulun was a people which despised its life even unto death.”

19 tn Heb “Naphtali was on the heights of the field.”

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