Posts Tagged ‘Deborah’

Judge Cycle 3

Posted: January 12, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
Tags: , , , ,

When the student is ready, the teacher will be revealed.

-Ancient Proverb

I believe I was pastoring for youth and children at Campbell-Stone United when we did an exploration of women in the Bible, it was the first time the kick-ass story of Deborah emerged onto my radar. For the uninitiated, think of her as Wonder Woman in the Hebrew Bible. It was the cycle time of screwing up again, when the nation needed help. She was a prophetess that is one that speaks the truth. A prophetess, like a prophet, points out what is unjust in the society, and what needs to happen to get back on track for the community. For an individual it can be akin to a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist or a medical doctor pointing out what needs to change for a healthier you, and then laying out the path (Judges 4).

Nothing like a tent peg path:

21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.

-Judges 4:21 (English Standard Version)

It is truly a time in the stories of Judges that shows the equality of creation. For reflection, one should see that the patriarchal misogyny that continues to rear its head in religion is contrary to the divine plan. To ensure such, there is a Psalm performed of the story, for those keeping track this would hover around the 152 Psalm in the Hebrew Bible, the second outside of Psalms.

Judges 5:

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:

“That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
that the people offered themselves willingly,
bless the Lord!

“Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the Lord I will sing;
I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.

“Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled
and the heavens dropped,
yes, the clouds dropped water.
The mountains quaked before the Lord,
even Sinai before the Lord,[a] the God of Israel.

“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
and travelers kept to the byways.
The villagers ceased in Israel;
they ceased to be until I arose;
I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
When new gods were chosen,
then war was in the gates.
Was shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel?
My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the Lord.

10 “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
you who sit on rich carpets[b]
and you who walk by the way.
11 To the sound of musicians[c] at the watering places,
there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord,
the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

“Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.

12 “Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, break out in a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
O son of Abinoam.
13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
the people of the Lord marched down for me against the mighty.
14 From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley,[d]
following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen;
from Machir marched down the commanders,
and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s[e] staff;
15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah,
and Issachar faithful to Barak;
into the valley they rushed at his heels.
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
16 Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds,
to hear the whistling for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
and Dan, why did he stay with the ships?
Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
staying by his landings.
18 Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death;
Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.

19 “The kings came, they fought;
then fought the kings of Canaan,
at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
they got no spoils of silver.
20 From heaven the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The torrent Kishon swept them away,
the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
March on, my soul, with might!

22 “Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs
with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.

23 “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord,
curse its inhabitants thoroughly,
because they did not come to the help of the Lord,
to the help of the Lord against the mighty.

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25 He asked for water and she gave him milk;
she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl.
26 She sent her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet;
she struck Sisera;
she crushed his head;
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 Between her feet
he sank, he fell, he lay still;
between her feet
he sank, he fell;
where he sank,
there he fell—dead.

28 “Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice:
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’
29 Her wisest princesses answer,
indeed, she answers herself,
30 ‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?—
A womb or two for every man;
spoil of dyed materials for Sisera,
spoil of dyed materials embroidered,
two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’

31 “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.”

And the land had rest for forty years.

A beautiful song that points out the peace that comes for another generational cycle. What is interesting though, that the story and song of Deborah shows is that we must always be aware that aid, healing, and new life can come from unexpected places. No one would have believed that Jael would be the hero to turn the tide, or that Deborah would know what she is doing.

But here we are, in our modern world still struggling with a faux duality, a misuse that only certain folks can facilitate healing or guidance or leadership. The ancient stories remind us that gifts will emerge in the ones that need to have them. The right people at the right moment will be there, but we need to be able to recognize it. For our own journey, we need to be willing.

Need to be willing to risk. To step outside of our normal role, and to be…

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Judges, part of the Deuteronic history of books within the Hebrew Bible includes Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, Deuteronomy and was first put to papyrus around 550 CE during the Babylonian Exile. It is more than just the (in)famous tale of Samson and his hair, but includes many other judges from Deborah (ah the war hammer) to Gideon. The stories cover the time period between the end of Joshua and the establishment of the Kingdom in the books of Samuel. It, as with other Deuteronic history stories, ties the hearer back to the covenant made with the Holy Mystery. Now, the modern reader has to remember that Deuteronomy was “discovered” in the newly re-established temple under Ezra, it was a refined look of the whole Torah (Pentateuch) and gave us the redacted 10 Commandments that shifted the No God command from no God before me, to NO GOD but me.

Judges is in this vein reminding the hearer of times when the covenant was discarded. Like a 1930’s pulp magazine or a Harlequin Romance Novel, there is a plug and play formula for these stories:

Related imageIt is not a unique cycle in the course of lifespan development. Think of our own journey in adolescences with our parents or mentors. Those times we would attempt to step out of the protection of the safe place for us (for some the home, others had other places).

The book of Judges breaks it down to sin language, but truly it is attempting assertion of self, and knowing what options are available. In the world of problem solving I would call it a POP strategy. The people come to a crossroads/problem. They look at options, they pick an option, and move forward with the Plan (P.O.P=Problem, Option, Plan). What happens though is that the option chosen is not healthy for the individual or the community, they run back to the source and plead for help in the conundrum, a judge rises and aids the solution. Metaphysically this is the interior castle moments when we know we have pooched it, we turn back to the divine within, with help of our mentors (like in adolescence when you would work out a P.O.P. unofficially with a parent or trusted adult). In our teens, my brother and I termed it the walk of shame, going back to Dad or Mum after our plan blew up in our faces, to let them know they were right and needing to get back on track. That is the judge (not like the Judges Moses commissioned, rather they are spirit guides or in some cases, like super heroes).

The new plan is laid out, followed through, and the nation/person is back on track.

In the point in time in history the stories were used to show how to avoid another exile, and what had led to exiles. For a personal reflection as we journey through it will be looking at our own times of disconnect and exile. Those times when we have fed the wrong wolf inside us, and the darkness is a bit stronger, what this means for our own personal judges being raised up to guide us back into our light and true self.

For the P.O.P. stratagem awaits…what are your options?