Judges 4:8, 9: Barak's Ultimatum; Deborah's Presence and Prophecy

Verse 8:[1] And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.


[If thou comest with me, I will go: if thou art unwilling…I will not proceed] This hesitation in Barak was from excessive human prudence (Menochius). It appears that he sinned: For he owed to God, commanding through the Prophetess, immediate obedience, and to God promising, faith. Moreover, the punishment indicates fault. Nevertheless, he is commended on account of his faith, Hebrews 11. And it is able to be believed that he did not despise authority, but asked for Deborah as a companion, so that through her he might taken counsel in doubtful matters, and might keep the soldiers in their duty (Bonfrerius).


If thou wilt go with me, etc.: His offer to go with her shows the truth of his faith, for which he is praised, Hebrews 11:32; but his refusal to go without her shows the weakness of his faith, that he could not trust God’s bare word, as he ought to have done, without the pledge of the presence of his prophetess, whom he thought God would preserve and deliver, and himself for her sake.


Verse 9:[2] And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall (Judg. 2:14) sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.


[But in this way it shall not be reputed to thee, etc.,אֶ֚פֶס כִּי֩ לֹ֙א תִֽהְיֶ֜ה תִּֽפְאַרְתְּךָ֗ עַל־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַתָּ֣ה הוֹלֵ֔ךְ] Nevertheless (except that [Junius and Tremellius], but know that [Septuagint], only that [Junius]) it shall not be beauty upon the way in which thou art walking (Montanus). It shall not be thy glory in this going forth in which thou art going forth (Tigurinus). This shall not be for thine honor in the expedition which thou art preparing against him (Vatablus). In this shall not be thy glory in the way along which thou art walking (Pagnine, Dutch), or, because of the way in which thou art walking, that is, because of thine unbelief (certain interpreters in the Dutch). In this way, etc.: In this manner which thou art following, or, in this manner thou shalt not consult thine own honor. Thus the name of way is taken in Numbers 22:32 (Drusius). Not for thy glory shall be the journey which thou undertakes (Munster, English).


Notwithstanding the journey, Hebrew, the way,[3] that is, the course or practice, as the way is taken, Numbers 22:32.


[Into the hand of a woman] That is, Either Deborah, or, rather, Jael, from verse 21 (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Both are true; for each took a share of the glory that was due to Barak (Menochius).


A woman; either, 1. Jael; or rather, 2. Deborah, who being, as it were, the judge and chief commandress of the army, the honour of the victory would be ascribed to her. But for Jael, her fact would have been the same, though Barak had gone into the field without Deborah.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ בָּרָ֔ק אִם־תֵּלְכִ֥י עִמִּ֖י וְהָלָ֑כְתִּי וְאִם־לֹ֥א תֵלְכִ֛י עִמִּ֖י לֹ֥א אֵלֵֽךְ׃


[2] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֜אמֶר הָלֹ֧ךְ אֵלֵ֣ךְ עִמָּ֗ךְ אֶ֚פֶס כִּי֩ לֹ֙א תִֽהְיֶ֜ה תִּֽפְאַרְתְּךָ֗ עַל־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַתָּ֣ה הוֹלֵ֔ךְ כִּ֣י בְֽיַד־אִשָּׁ֔ה יִמְכֹּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־סִֽיסְרָ֑א וַתָּ֧קָם דְּבוֹרָ֛ה וַתֵּ֥לֶךְ עִם־בָּרָ֖ק קֶֽדְשָׁה׃


[3] Hebrew: הַדֶּרֶךְ.

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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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