Judges 4:6, 7: The Calling of Barak

[circa 1296 BC] Verse 6:[1] And she sent and called (Heb. 11:32) Barak the son of Abinoam out (Josh. 19:37) of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?


[Barak] The Rabbis imagine that he was the husband (others, the son) of Deborah. If this were so, why does she never say so? how is it possible that they always treat one another as not belonging to the same family? (Bonfrerius).


She sent and called Barak, by virtue of that power which God had given her, and the people owned in her.


[From Kedesh-naphtali] Thus it is called to distinguish it from the other Kadesh in the tribe of Issachar, 1 Chronicles 6:72, and the Kadesh in Judah, Joshua 15:23 (Bonfrerius).


Kedesh-naphtali; so called, to distinguish it from other places of that name, one in Judah, Joshua 15:23, and another in Issachar, 1 Chronicles 6:72.


[He hath commanded] Hebrew: Hath he not commanded?[2] that is to say, certain He commands, and has already commanded. The question is a definite asservation, which does not need enlargement (Vatablus, similarly Grotius).


Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded? that is, assuredly God hath commanded thee: this is not the fancy of a weak woman, which peradventure thou mayst despise, but the command of the great God by my mouth. Which command of God, and the following assurance of success, she might either gather from the general rules of Scripture, and the common course of God’s gracious providence, which was always ready to succour them when they cried to God; or receive by instinct or direction from God.


[Go and lead the army, לֵ֤ךְ וּמָֽשַׁכְתָּ֙] Go and draw (Montanus). Go and draw on (Pagnine), that is, take, or lead, with thee (Vatablus). Draw together, supply, the army (Tigurinus). Go and draw/attract men (Munster). Persuade them with words (Kimchi in Munster) to come to the battle: for they were very frightened on account of Sisera’s army (certain interpreters in Malvenda). To draw is not so much to gather, or to summon, as with words and reasons, or by a certain hidden impetus, to draw where he wills (Drusius). Draw, understanding, to thee (Dutch), or, after thee (Munster), or, toward Tabor (English). Go and proceed. Concerning the use of this word, see what things we have on Jeremiah 5:8[3] (Dieu[4]). Go and make for the mountain, etc. (Jonathan); that thou go, and descend, etc. (Arabic). [Some refer the לֵךְ/go to what precedes, Hath not He commanded to thee? They read לָךְ, or לְךָ.[5]]


Go and draw, or, go; for so this word is oft used, as Genesis 37:28; Judges 20:37; Job 21:33; Hebrew, draw,[6] to wit, thyself, or thy feet.


[Unto mount Tabor] This was most advantageous, both to challenge Sisera from nearby, and to set troops in array, as in the central plain of Galilee, indeed, in the tribe of Zebulun, yet on the border of the tribes of Issachar and Manasseh, at the peak of which was an ample plain (Bonfrerius).


[Of Nephtali and Zebulun] For these Tribes share a border, and are near mount Tabor. Yet others joined themselves, especially of Manasseh and Issachar, as Judges 5:14, 15 relates (Bonfrerius).


Mount Tabor; a place most fit for his purpose, as being in the borders of divers tribes, and having a large plain at the top of it, where he might conveniently marshal and discipline his army. She names Naphtali and Zebulun partly, because they were nearest and best known to Barak, and therefore soonest brought together; partly, because they were nearest to the enemy, and therefore must speedily be assembled, or else they were likely to be hindered in their design, whilst the other tribes, being at more distance, had better opportunity of gathering forces for their succour, and partly, because these had most smarted under their oppressor, who was in the heart of their country, and therefore were most forward in the present service: but these are not named exclusively, as appears by the concurrence of some other tribes, as is related, Judges 5.


Verse 7:[7] And (Ex. 14:4) I will draw unto thee to the (Judg. 5:21; 1 Kings 18:40; Ps. 83:9, 10) river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.


[I myself will bring unto thee] Hebrew: I will draw to thee[8] (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). By placing in him a will to do battle against thee (Lyra). They are God’s words: that is, I will bring it to pass that they will come down (Vatablus).


I will draw unto thee, by my secret and powerful providence, ordering and overruling his inclinations that way.


[Kishon] This torrent was near to mount Tabor, as Jerome and Adrichomius testify (Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַתִּשְׁלַ֗ח וַתִּקְרָא֙ לְבָרָ֣ק בֶּן־אֲבִינֹ֔עַם מִקֶּ֖דֶשׁ נַפְתָּלִ֑י וַתֹּ֙אמֶר אֵלָ֜יו הֲלֹ֥א צִוָּ֣ה׀ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לֵ֤ךְ וּמָֽשַׁכְתָּ֙ בְּהַ֣ר תָּב֔וֹר וְלָקַחְתָּ֣ עִמְּךָ֗ עֲשֶׂ֤רֶת אֲלָפִים֙ אִ֔ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֥י נַפְתָּלִ֖י וּמִבְּנֵ֥י זְבֻלֽוּן׃


[2] Hebrew: הֲלֹ֥א צִוָּ֣ה׀.


[3] Jeremiah 5:8: “They were as fed horses roaming (מַשְׁכִּים): every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.”


[4] Louis de Dieu (1590-1642) was a Dutch Reformed minister, linguist and orientalist. He brought his considerable learning to bear upon the interpretation of the Scripture.


[5] To thee, feminine and masculine respectively.


[6] Hebrew: וּמָשַׁכְתָּ.


[7] Hebrew: וּמָשַׁכְתִּ֙י אֵלֶ֜יךָ אֶל־נַ֣חַל קִישׁ֗וֹן אֶת־סִֽיסְרָא֙ שַׂר־צְבָ֣א יָבִ֔ין וְאֶת־רִכְבּ֖וֹ וְאֶת־הֲמוֹנ֑וֹ וּנְתַתִּ֖יהוּ בְּיָדֶֽךָ׃


[8] Hebrew: וּמָשַׁכְתִּ֙י אֵלֶ֜יךָ.

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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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