Judges 4:14-16: Barak Engages the Enemy

Verse 15:[1] And (Ps. 83:9, 10; see Josh. 10:10) the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.

[And He terrified (similarly the Septuagint), וַיָּהָם] He crushed (Syriac, similarly Montanus, Jonathan); He overthrew (Arabic); He routed (Junius and Tremellius). The word signifies to make afraid with a great din and noise (and thus it is necessarily taken in Exodus 14:24;[2] Joshua 10:10;[3] 1 Samuel 7:10[4]), whatever it may have been in the end, whether the noise of the army drawing near, as it were, as in 2 Kings 7, or of a storm raised by God (Bonfrerius). Lightning and massive stones of hail fell upon his army (Lyra, thus Serarius, Bonfrerius, Lapide). And this is indicated in Judges 5:20, from heaven it was fought against them. Add that, when a matter was brought to completion by God with noise, and the word הָמַם is used, generally a tempest and storm of this sort was employed, as in Exodus 14:24; Joshua 10:10; 1 Samule 7:10; 2 Samuel 22:14, 15.[5] Objection: But if God terrified them with lightning, etc., why is He said to have terrified, or crushed, with the mouth of the sword? Response: It is able to be translated, He crushed them, having been terrified by the great noise emitted: thus it is evident how the mouth of the sword did its work; namely, the mouth of the Israelites sword, coming upon them, increased their fear (Bonfrerius).

The Lord discomfited Sisera, with great terror and noise, as the word signifies, Exodus 14:24; Joshua 10:10; 1 Sam 7:10, most probably with thunder, and lightning, and hailstones, or other such instruments of destruction poured upon them from heaven, as is sufficiently implied, Judges 5:20. With the edge of the sword, that is, by the sword of Barak and his army, whose ministry God used; but so that they had little else to do but to kill these whom God by more powerful arms had put to flight.

[In the sight of Barak, לִפְנֵ֣י בָרָ֑ק] Before Barak (Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius), that is, at the onslaught of Barak (Vatablus).

[He fled on his feet] Hidden among the rank and file, he fled. And so he quit his chariot, prepared for him for protection and strength. And certainly, when God brings down courage and strength, what things were formerly weapons are rendered burdens and impediments (Martyr).

Fled away on his feet, that he might flee away more secretly and securely in the quality of a common soldier, whereas his chariot would have exposed him to more observation and hazard.

Verse 16:[6] But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man (Heb. unto one[7]) left.

[All the multitude of the enemy] Philo Byblius[8] asserts that nine hundred and ninety-seven thousand from the camp of Sisera were slaughtered: which hardly seems credible (Lapide). Josephus relates that there were three hundred thousand footmen and ten thousand horsemen.[9] The Chaldean supports this, which in Judges 5:8 numbers two hundred and fifty thousand (Lapide on verse 15).

There was not a man: To wit, in the field; for there were some who fled away, as Sisera did.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣הָם יְ֠הוָה אֶת־סִֽיסְרָ֙א וְאֶת־כָּל־הָרֶ֧כֶב וְאֶת־כָּל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֛ה לְפִי־חֶ֖רֶב לִפְנֵ֣י בָרָ֑ק וַיֵּ֧רֶד סִֽיסְרָ֛א מֵעַ֥ל הַמֶּרְכָּבָ֖ה וַיָּ֥נָס בְּרַגְלָֽיו׃

[2] Exodus 14:24: “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled (וַיָּהָם) the host of the Egyptians…”

[3] Joshua 10:10a: “And the Lord discomfited them (וַיְהֻמֵּ֤ם יְהוָה֙) before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon…”

[4] 1 Samuel 7:10: “And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them (וַיְהֻמֵּם); and they were smitten before Israel.”

[5] 2 Samuel 22:14, 15: “The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them (וַיְהֻמֵּם).”

[6] Hebrew: וּבָרָ֗ק רָדַ֞ף אַחֲרֵ֤י הָרֶ֙כֶב֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה עַ֖ד חֲרֹ֣שֶׁת הַגּוֹיִ֑ם וַיִּפֹּ֞ל כָּל־מַחֲנֵ֤ה סִֽיסְרָא֙ לְפִי־חֶ֔רֶב לֹ֥א נִשְׁאַ֖ר עַד־אֶחָֽד׃

[7] Hebrew: עַד־אֶחָד.

[8] Philo of Byblos (c. 64-141 AD) composed works of Greek grammar and lexicography. His works survive only in fragments; Philo’s Phœnician History is frequently quoted by Eusebius.

[9] Antiquities 5:5.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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