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Judges 5:5-17


5:5 The mountains trembled 1  before the Lord, the God of Sinai; 2 

before the Lord God of Israel.

5:6 In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,

in the days of Jael caravans 3  disappeared; 4 

travelers 5  had to go on winding side roads.

5:7 Warriors 6  were scarce, 7 

they were scarce in Israel,

until you 8  arose, Deborah,

until you arose as a motherly protector 9  in Israel.

5:8 God chose new leaders, 10 

then fighters appeared in the city gates; 11 

but, I swear, not a shield or spear could be found, 12 

among forty military units 13  in Israel.

5:9 My heart went out 14  to Israel’s leaders,

to the people who answered the call to war.

Praise the Lord!

5:10 You who ride on light-colored female donkeys,

who sit on saddle blankets, 15 

you who walk on the road, pay attention!

5:11 Hear 16  the sound of those who divide the sheep 17  among the watering places;

there they tell of 18  the Lord’s victorious deeds,

the victorious deeds of his warriors 19  in Israel.

Then the Lord’s people went down to the city gates –

5:12 Wake up, wake up, Deborah!

Wake up, wake up, sing a song!

Get up, Barak!

Capture your prisoners of war, 20  son of Abinoam!

5:13 Then the survivors 21  came down 22  to the mighty ones; 23 

the Lord’s people came down to me 24  as 25  warriors.

5:14 They came from Ephraim, who uprooted Amalek, 26 

they follow 27  after you, Benjamin, with your soldiers.

From Makir leaders came down,

from Zebulun came 28  the ones who march carrying 29  an officer’s staff.

5:15 Issachar’s leaders were with Deborah,

the men of Issachar 30  supported 31  Barak;

into the valley they were sent under Barak’s command. 32 

Among the clans of Reuben there was intense 33  heart searching. 34 

5:16 Why do you remain among the sheepfolds, 35 

listening to the shepherds playing their pipes 36  for their flocks? 37 

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

5:17 Gilead stayed put 38  beyond the Jordan River.

As for Dan – why did he seek temporary employment in the shipyards? 39 

Asher remained 40  on the seacoast,

he stayed 41  by his harbors. 42 

1 tn Or “quaked.” The translation assumes the form נָזֹלּוּ (nazollu) from the root זָלַל (zalal, “to quake”; see HALOT 272 s.v. II זלל). The LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Targum also understood the word this way. (See Isa 63:19 and 64:2 for other occurrences of this form.) Some understand here the verb נָזַל (nazul, “to flow [with torrents of rain water]”).

2 tn Heb “this one of Sinai.” The phrase is a divine title, perhaps indicating that the Lord rules from Sinai.

3 tc The translation assumes the form אֳרְחוֹת (’orÿkhot, “caravans”) rather than אֳרָחוֹת (’orakhot, “roadways”) because it makes a tighter parallel with “travelers” in the next line.

4 tn Or “ceased.”

5 tn Heb “Ones walking on paths.”

6 tn The meaning of the Hebrew noun פְרָזוֹן (fÿrazon) is uncertain. Some understand the meaning as “leaders” or “those living in rural areas.” The singular noun appears to be collective (note the accompanying plural verb). For various options see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 237-38.

7 tn Or “ceased.”

8 tn The translation assumes that the verb is an archaic second feminine singular form. Though Deborah is named as one of the composers of the song (v. 1), she is also addressed within it (v. 12). Many take the verb as first person singular, “I arose” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV).

9 tn Heb “mother.” The translation assumes that the image portrays Deborah as a protector of the people. It is possible that the metaphor points to her prophetic role. Just as a male prophet could be called “father,” so Deborah, a prophetess, is called “mother” (B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 239).

10 tn Or “warriors.” The Hebrew text reads literally, “He chose God/gods new.” Some take “Israel” as the subject of the verb, “gods” as object, and “new” as an adjective modifying “gods.” This yields the translation, “(Israel) chose new gods.” In this case idolatry is the cause of the trouble alluded to in the context. The present translation takes “God” as subject of the verb and “new” as substantival, referring to the new leaders raised up by God (see v. 9a). For a survey of opinions and a defense of the present translation, see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 239-40.

11 tn The translation of this difficult line is speculative because the second word, לָחֶם (lakhem), appears only here. The line in the Hebrew text literally reads, “Then [?] gates.” Interpretations and emendations of the Hebrew text abound (see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 239-40). The translation assumes a repointing of the form as a Qal participle לֹחֵם (lokhem) from the verbal root לָחַם (lakham, “fight”) and understands a substantival use (“fighter”). “Fighter” is a collective reference to the military leaders or warriors mentioned in the preceding line and in v. 9. (For other occurrences of the Qal of לָחַם, see Pss 35:1; 56:2-3.)

12 tn Heb “A shield, it could not be seen, nor a spear.” The translation assumes that the Hebrew particle אִם (’im) introduces an oath of denial (see GKC 472 §149.e).

13 tn Traditionally “forty thousand,” but this may be an instance where Hebrew term אֶלֶף (’elef) refers to a military unit. This is the view assumed by the translation (“forty military units”).

14 tn The words “went out” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word מִדִּין (middin, “saddle blankets”) in this context is uncertain.

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

17 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain. Some translate “those who distribute the water” (HALOT 344 s.v. חצץ pi). For other options see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 246-47.

18 tn Or perhaps “repeat.”

19 tn See the note on the term “warriors” in v. 7.

20 tn Heb “take captive your captives.” (The Hebrew text uses a cognate accusative here.)

21 tn This probably refers to those who responded to the call for war. They were “survivors” of the Canaanite oppression (see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 250).

22 tn The translation assumes a repointing of the verb as a perfect or imperfect/preterite form of יָרַד (yarad, “to go down”). The form as pointed in the MT appears to be from רָדָה (radah, “to rule”). See GKC 188 §69.g. The same form, translated “came down,” occurs in the next line as well.

23 sn The expression mighty ones probably refers to the leaders of the army.

24 sn The speaker may be Deborah here.

25 tn The translation assumes the preposition ב (bet) prefixed to “warriors” has the force of “in the capacity of.” For this use of the preposition, see GKC 379 §119.i.

26 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).

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

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

29 tn Or possibly “who carry.”

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

31 tn Or “was true to.”

32 tn Heb “at his feet.”

33 tn Heb “great was.”

34 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.

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

36 tn Or “whistling.”

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

38 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.

39 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.

40 tn Heb “lived.”

41 tn Heb “lived” or “settled down.”

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

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