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Judges 5:6-11

Context

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

in the days of Jael caravans 1  disappeared; 2 

travelers 3  had to go on winding side roads.

5:7 Warriors 4  were scarce, 5 

they were scarce in Israel,

until you 6  arose, Deborah,

until you arose as a motherly protector 7  in Israel.

5:8 God chose new leaders, 8 

then fighters appeared in the city gates; 9 

but, I swear, not a shield or spear could be found, 10 

among forty military units 11  in Israel.

5:9 My heart went out 12  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, 13 

you who walk on the road, pay attention!

5:11 Hear 14  the sound of those who divide the sheep 15  among the watering places;

there they tell of 16  the Lord’s victorious deeds,

the victorious deeds of his warriors 17  in Israel.

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

1 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.

2 tn Or “ceased.”

3 tn Heb “Ones walking on paths.”

4 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.

5 tn Or “ceased.”

6 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).

7 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).

8 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.

9 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.)

10 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).

11 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”).

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

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

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

15 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.

16 tn Or perhaps “repeat.”

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



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