Judges 4:10-13: The Stage is Set for War

Verse 10:[1] And Barak called (Judg. 5:18) Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men (see Ex. 11:8;[2] 1 Kings 20:10[3]) at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.


[With them summoned, וַיַּזְעֵק] And he cried out to Zebulun, etc. (Septuagint, Montanus), as if he assembled them by a cry (Nobilius, similarly the Arabic); he gathered (Syriac); he sent for (Junius and Tremellius).


[He went up, וַיַּ֣עַל בְּרַגְלָ֔יו] And he went up on his feet (Pagnine, Montanus, Dutch, Drusius). And he made to go up, that is, he drew, to his feet, that is, with him (Vatablus). He drew (rather, he drew up, that is, he led up) at his footsteps (Junius and Tremellius) ten thousand men, etc., that is, who would follow his footsteps and lead (Malvenda). He led after him (Munster). And he went up on foot, etc. (Tigurinus). The same word occurs in verse 17, in which Sisera fled בְּרַגְלָיו, on foot (Martyr). This passage indicates that they were all footmen, without horsemen or charioteers (Drusius). The Israelites were not wont to be accomplished in horsemanship, to whom it was prohibited to gather a number of horses;[4] neither was this convenient for those about to go up into the mountain (Martyr). And they went up at his feet, ten thousand men, etc. (Septuagint).


At his feet, that is, who followed him or his footsteps; possibly he intimates that they were all footmen, the Israelites neither now having, nor otherwise allowed to have, a multitude of horses; and so this is emphatically added, to signify by what contemptible means God overthrew Sisera’s great host, wherein there were ten thousand horses, as Josephus reports.[5]


Verse 11:[6] Now Heber (Judg. 1:16) the Kenite, which was of the children of (Num. 10:29) Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, (Judg. 4:6) which is by Kedesh.


[Now, Heber the Kenite, etc., הַקֵּינִי֙ נִפְרָ֣ד מִקַּ֔יִן מִבְּנֵ֥י חֹבָ֖ב] Heber, a Kenite of the children of Hobab (which was of the children of Hobab [English]) had withdrawn, or, had separated himself, from the Kain (Tigurinus, English). Others: he had separated himself from the Kain, from the children of Hobab (Pagnine, similarly Munster, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). From Kain, that is, from the nation or family of the Kenites (Vatablus, Junius), which is called Kain, Numbers 24:22 (Junius, Piscator). By metonymy of cause parents and ancestors are very frequently used in the place of children and posterity, or the names of ancestral families as patronymics (Glassius’ “Sacred Rhetoric” 7). He had formerly withdrawn from the other Kenites (his brethren), the children of Hobab (Osiander). With the rest of the family left with the tribe of Judah, Judges 1:16, he had gone to dwell in the region of the Nephthalim (Malvenda out of Junius). What may have been the cause of the separation from his brethren is uncertain: Perhaps there had been a failure of pasture-lands, like in Genesis 13 (Martyr). This is woven in because of Jael, lest it should seem strange that a Kenite was found in this place (Bonfrerius).


Heber; the husband of Jael, verse 17. The Kenite; of whom see Numbers 24:21, 22; Judges 1:16. Hobab; called also Jethro. See Numbers 10:29. From the Kenites; from the rest of his brethren, who lived in the wilderness of Judah, Judges 1:16; which removal is here mentioned, lest any should wonder to find the Kenites in this place. His tent, that is, his dwelling, which probably was in tents, as shepherds used.


[Unto the valley, עַד־אֵלוֹן] Unto (or, near [Tigurinus]) the oak, or the oak forest (Tigurinus, Drusius, Junius and Tremellius, Montanus); unto Elon (Pagnine).


[Zeannim, בַּצְעַנִּים] But the Massoretes read, בְּצַעֲנַנִּים, in Zaanannim. It is the name of a place then known (Drusius). Concerning this, see Joshua 19:33 (Bonfrerius).


[Which was near Kadesh (thus the Septuagint, similary Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan), אֶת־קֶדֶשׁ] With Kadesh (Montanus, Drusius). By Kadesh: אֶת here means עִם/with. Thus, with thy face, Psalm 16:11, in the place of, before thy face[7] (Drusius). That is, in his tents he was occupying a great part of the territory of Kedesh (Vatablus). They were dwelling, not in houses, but in tents (Bonfrerius). Now, the Kenite had made himself neutral in this war, not daring to claim for himself a part of a land being the source or war. See verse 17 (Grotius).


Verse 12:[8] And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.


They, that is, his people dwelling there, or his spies; or, he was told, this being an impersonal speech.


Verse 13:[9] And Sisera gathered together (Heb. gathered by cry, or, proclamation[10]) all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.


[He gathered] Indeed, this passage shows that the verb הִזְעִיק is better rendered to gather than to call together. For chariots are not called together (Drusius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּזְעֵ֙ק בָּרָ֜ק אֶת־זְבוּלֻ֤ן וְאֶת־נַפְתָּלִי֙ קֶ֔דְשָׁה וַיַּ֣עַל בְּרַגְלָ֔יו עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת אַלְפֵ֖י אִ֑ישׁ וַתַּ֥עַל עִמּ֖וֹ דְּבוֹרָֽה׃


[2] Exodus 11:8: “And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee (אֲשֶׁר־בְּרַגְלֶיךָ, that are at thy feet): and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.”


[3] 1 Kings 20:10: “And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me (אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּרַגְלָֽי׃, that are at my feet).”


[4] See Deuteronomy 17:16.


[5] Antiquities 5:5.


[6] Hebrew: וְחֶ֤בֶר הַקֵּינִי֙ נִפְרָ֣ד מִקַּ֔יִן מִבְּנֵ֥י חֹבָ֖ב חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֵּ֣ט אָהֳל֔וֹ עַד־אֵל֥וֹן בַּצְעַנִּ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶת־קֶֽדֶשׁ׃


[7] Psalm 16:11: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence (אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ; cum vultu tuo, with thy face, in the Vulgate) is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”


[8] Hebrew: וַיַּגִּ֖דוּ לְסִֽיסְרָ֑א כִּ֥י עָלָ֛ה בָּרָ֥ק בֶּן־אֲבִינֹ֖עַם הַר־תָּבֽוֹר׃


[9] Hebrew: וַיַּזְעֵ֙ק סִֽיסְרָ֜א אֶת־כָּל־רִכְבּ֗וֹ תְּשַׁ֤ע מֵאוֹת֙ רֶ֣כֶב בַּרְזֶ֔ל וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתּ֑וֹ מֵחֲרֹ֥שֶׁת הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֶל־נַ֥חַל קִישֽׁוֹן׃


[10] Hebrew: וַיַּזְעֵק.

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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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