Judges 5:28: The Fretfulness of Sisera's Mother

Verse 28:[1] The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?


Looked out at a window, expecting to see him returning; for she concluded that he went forth not so much to fight as to take the spoil.


[His mother howled, וַתְּיַבֵּב[2]] She cried out, or, shouted (Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Castalio). She chirped (Junius and Tremellius), that is, she murmured, hummed, sang with a thin and weepy voice (Malvenda). Sisera’s mother, upset by his delay, frequently looked out the windows, so that she might see him returning: and not without crying out did she do that, as if suspecting that some evil had befallen him (Martyr). Even this one passage shows that to those nations ἐννοίας/meditations were very poetic (Grotius).


[From the upper room, בְּעַ֣ד הָֽאֶשְׁנָ֑ב] אֶשְׁנָב is found only here and in Proverbs 7:6[3] (Serarius). They translate it, through the lattice (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, similarly Jonathan). The Septuagint supports these, διὰ τῆς δικτυωτῆς, that is, a reticulated and latticed window, as Hesychius,[4] Suidas,[5] and Favorinus[6] explain (Bonfrerius). Through a small window (Junius and Tremellius).


[Why is his chariot so long in returning? מַדּ֗וּעַ בֹּשֵׁ֤שׁ רִכְבּוֹ֙[7]] Why is his chariot delayed? (Munster, Pagnine, similarly Castalio, Dutch, Jonathan, Syriac, Vatablus). Why is his chariot ashamed? (Montanus, Septuagint). Shame is often a cause of delay, and a hindrance to appearing in public (Bonfrerius). Why does his chariot frustrate me, by not coming? (Tigurinus).


[Why are the feet of his chariot-team so slow? פַּעֲמֵ֖י מַרְכְּבוֹתָֽיו׃[8]] The feet (the steps [Munster], wheels [Tigurinus], progress [Castalio, Dutch], turns [Montanus], ringings [Syriac], advances [Junius and Tremellius]) of the chariot-team (chariots [Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius], charioteers [Syriac]) of him? (Pagnine, Dutch, Septuagint). Why is the approach of the rattle of his chariots not yet heard? (Arabic).

[1] Hebrew: בְּעַד֩ הַחַלּ֙וֹן נִשְׁקְפָ֧ה וַתְּיַבֵּ֛ב אֵ֥ם סִֽיסְרָ֖א בְּעַ֣ד הָֽאֶשְׁנָ֑ב מַדּ֗וּעַ בֹּשֵׁ֤שׁ רִכְבּוֹ֙ לָב֔וֹא מַדּ֣וּעַ אֶֽחֱר֔וּ פַּעֲמֵ֖י מַרְכְּבוֹתָֽיו׃


[2] יָבַב signifies to cry shrilly.


[3] Proverbs 7:6: “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement (אֶשְׁנַבִּי)…”


[4] Hesychius of Alexandria (fifth century AD) composed a Greek lexicon of almost fifty-one thousand entries, filled with explanations of rare and obscure words and phrases.


[5] Suidas was the compiler of the Suda, an encyclopedia containing more than thirty thousand entries concerning the ancient Mediterranean world. It was probably composed in tenth-century Byzantium.


[6] Favorinus of Arelate (c. 80-c. 160) was a Roman philosopher and sophist. He was on familiar terms with some of the most eminent men of his age, including the Emperor Hadrian. His works survive only in fragments.


[7] בּוֹשׁ signifies to be ashamed in the Qal, to delay in the Polel.


[8] פַּעַם, related to the verb פָּעַם, signifies a beat (a hoof-beat), or a foot.

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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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