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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yael's Victory

Heber was not an Israelite, but he was a kinsman of Moses wife. He was married to Jael and they lived as nomadic herdsmen. He pitched his tent near Kedesh. The habits and culture of the nomadic herdsmen are singular to this group. While they did live in tents which had the capability of mobility, they often stayed in one location for 2 or 3 years. 

The tents were large with multiple rooms. They were made of heavy woolen fabric and leather. The women were responsible for erecting the tents when they were moved. The women's rooms were their private sanctuary and strangers were not invited there. Finding a man in a woman's rooms was justification to kill him. She would have been executed if she invited him there.

Many commentators criticize Jael's defense of herself. It was indeed a brutal and violent act; however in her defense, I feel we should look at 20 years of torment Israel suffered under Jabin's rule and Sisera's iron chariots. Yael would surely have become a slave when 
Sisera's army divided the spoils if he had won.

Judges 5 contains one of the oldest extant examples of Hebrew poetry. It is the victory song of Deborah and Barak describing the battle and Jael's act of self defense. The story includes the storm which contributed to Sisera's sound defeat. The final scene describes Sisera's mother anticipating his return.

Deborah led Israel in peace for 40 years. Read the whole story in Judges 4 and 5.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Deborah-Judge of Israel

Debora is one of the renowned women of the Bible, and her story is quite remarkable. She is the only female leader of Israel. Deborah was a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth; perhaps she had won renown as a prophet and that elevated her to the position of leadership. The Bible does not elaborate about how she became the leader of Israel.

She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.(Judges 4:5)
Ehud was the previous Judge and he died leaving Israel without leadership. Israel committed evil in the sight of God and God allowed Jabin, a Canaanite king, to punish them for their sin. Under the command of Sisera, Jabin's army tormented the Israelites for 20 years. When the people plead with God for mercy, he commanded Deborah to take action.
Deborah was now acting as Judge. In that time the Judge was also the military leader. She summoned Barak from Kedesh to be her commander. He agreed, but he did show hesitancy saying, "If you go with me, I'll go, but if you don't, I won't either." She agreed, but she told him that because of this he would not receive honor for defeating Sisera: that would go to a woman.

She called for volunteers from the tribes of Zebulon and Napthali. I questioned why she didn't call for volunteers from the whole country, but maybe, because these two tribes were close to Sisera's headquarters, they had more reasons to hate and fear him. The response was good They now had an army of 10,000 men. 

Sisera's  forces included 900 iron chariots. These were the tanks of the time. 

The chariot carried two soldiers: one controlled the horses and one carried a weapon, either a bow or a sword. When Israel prepared for war, their only weapons were homemade ones. Sisera commanded trained regiments. It didn't look good for Israel, but don't discount them: They did have God on their side.

Barak's men positioned themselves on Mount Tabor in readiness for battle. Sisera was told that Barak was assembling forces so he called his men and chariots to thtpe plain in the Kishon Valley. At the call to battle the forces of Deborah and Barak ran down the side of Mount Tabor to confront the foot soldiers and iron chariots of Sisera. Israel had the advantage since they had the high ground. They came down the side of the mountain in a flood. God had given them an advantage: A storm had soaked the ground allowing the heavy, iron chariots to sink in the mud. The thousands of volunteers overran the helpless chariots killing the soldiers caught in the mire and sludge at the foot of the mountain. Sisera evaded them and ran from the battlefield to find refuge in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.
                                             To  Be Continued