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Deborah was the fourth Judge of Israel and the first female leader of Israel. She was the wife of Lappidoth and a prophetess. She followed after the leadership tradition of Moses's father-in-law and perhaps Judges before her, hearing cases from her home under a prominent palm tree known by her name.[1]

Deborah was raised by God, when the Canaanite King, Jabin ruled from Hazor. When Deborah asked Israel's military commander, Barak, to fight Jabin's forces lead by Sisera, he refused unless she would accompany him. Deborah accompanied the army, but prophesied to Barak that the honor of conquering Sisera (King Jabin's general) would go to a woman instead of him.[2]


Early life[]

Deborah's early family circumstances including birth are relatively unknown. The only thing that is known about Deborah's birth is that was she was a member of the Tribe of Ephraim.[3] Deborah was wed to Lappidoth and she lived out her house in the countryside of Ephraim, between Ramah and Bethel.

Deborah was a prophetess and perhaps because of her prophetic gifts God raised her to become the leader of Israel, a Judge.[4] She became Judge while Canaan (as an alliance of city-states, being dominated by Hazor) had rule over Israel. She would rule judicial cases reaching a national level, under a palm tree at her home. The palm tree became so well known it was eponymous; being called the "palm of Deborah".

Battle with Canaan[]

After Israel had been subjugated under Canaan's rule for twenty years, God commanded Barak, possibly through Deborah, to assembly Israel's army. Deborah confronts Barak about this, when he had not gone through with preparing the military. It is likely that Deborah was the one who relayed the original order from God to Barak because Barak is never described as a prophet. This could explain Deborah's familiarity with God's command.[5]

In response, Barak said he would not go into battle unless Deborah accompanied him. Deborah reluctantly agreed, but predicted the glory of battle would belong to a woman.[6]

Deborah is mentioned once more in the battle account leading Barak to begin the battle against the army of Sisera.[7] Deborah also led the leaders of the forces of Issachar to the battle site.[8]

Battle Celebration[]

After Israel defeated the Canaanites Deborah broke out into song.


  1. Judges 4:4-5 (Link)
  2. Judges 4:6-9 (Link)
  3. Judges 4:5, 5:14 (Link)
  4. Judges 4:4 (Link)
  5. Judges 4:6-7 (Link)
  6. Judges 4:8-9 (Link)
  7. Judges 4:14 (Link)
  8. Judges 5:15 (Link)