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The Song of Deborah and Barak

On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

Praise the Lord!
    The Israelites were determined to fight;
    the people gladly volunteered.
Listen, you kings!
    Pay attention, you rulers!
I will sing and play music
    to Israel's God, the Lord.
Lord, when you left the mountains of Seir,
    when you came out of the region of Edom,
    the earth shook, and rain fell from the sky.
    Yes, water poured down from the clouds.
(A)The mountains quaked before the Lord of Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel.

In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael,
caravans no longer went through the land,
    and travelers used the back roads.
The towns of Israel stood abandoned, Deborah;
    they stood empty until you came,[a]
    came like a mother for Israel.
Then there was war in the land
    when the Israelites chose new gods.
Of the forty thousand men in Israel,
    did anyone carry shield or spear?
My heart is with the commanders of Israel,
    with the people who gladly volunteered.
    Praise the Lord!
10 Tell of[b] it, you that ride on white donkeys,
    sitting on saddles,
    and you that must walk wherever you go.
11 Listen! The noisy crowds around the wells
    are telling of the Lord's victories,
    the victories of Israel's people!

Then the Lord's people marched down from their cities.[c]
12 Lead on, Deborah, lead on!
    Lead on! Sing a song! Lead on!
Forward, Barak son of Abinoam,
    lead your captives away!
13 Then the faithful ones came down to their leaders;
    the Lord's people came to him[d] ready to fight.
14 They came[e] from Ephraim into the valley,[f]
    behind the tribe of Benjamin and its people.
The commanders came down from Machir,
    the officers down from Zebulun.
15 The leaders of Issachar came with Deborah;
    yes, Issachar came and Barak too,
    and they followed him into the valley.
But the tribe of Reuben was divided;
    they could not decide to come.
16 Why did they stay behind with the sheep?
    To listen to shepherds calling the flocks?
Yes, the tribe of Reuben was divided;
    they could not decide to come.
17 The tribe of Gad stayed east of the Jordan,
    and the tribe of Dan remained by the ships.
The tribe of Asher stayed by the seacoast;
    they remained along the shore.
18 But the people of Zebulun and Naphtali
    risked their lives on the battlefield.

19 At Taanach, by the stream of Megiddo,
    the kings came and fought;
the kings of Canaan fought,
    but they took no silver away.
20 The stars fought from the sky;
    as they moved across the sky,
    they fought against Sisera.
21 A flood in the Kishon swept them away—
    the onrushing Kishon River.
I shall march, march on, with strength!
22 Then the horses came galloping on,
    stamping the ground with their hoofs.

23 “Put a curse on Meroz,” says the angel of the Lord,
    “a curse, a curse on those who live there.
They did not come to help the Lord,
    come as soldiers to fight for him.”

24 The most fortunate of women is Jael,
    the wife of Heber the Kenite—
    the most fortunate of women who live in tents.
25 Sisera asked for water, but she gave him milk;
    she brought him cream in a beautiful bowl.
26 She took a tent peg in one hand,
    a worker's hammer in the other;
she struck Sisera and crushed his skull;
    she pierced him through the head.
27 He sank to his knees,
    fell down and lay still at her feet.
At her feet he sank to his knees and fell;
    he fell to the ground, dead.

28 Sisera's mother looked out of the window;
    she gazed[g] from behind the lattice.
“Why is his chariot so late in coming?” she asked.
    “Why are his horses so slow to return?”
29 Her wisest friends answered her,
    and she told herself over and over,
30 “They are only finding things to capture and divide,
    a woman or two for every soldier,
    rich cloth for Sisera,
    embroidered pieces for the neck of the queen.”[h]

31 So may all your enemies die like that, O Lord,
    but may your friends shine like the rising sun!

And there was peace in the land for forty years.


  1. Judges 5:7 abandoned, Deborah … you came; or abandoned; they stood empty until I, Deborah, came.
  2. Judges 5:10 Tell of; or Think about.
  3. Judges 5:11 from their cities; or to their gates.
  4. Judges 5:13 One ancient translation him; Hebrew me.
  5. Judges 5:14 Probable text They came; Hebrew Their root.
  6. Judges 5:14 One ancient translation into the valley; Hebrew in Amalek.
  7. Judges 5:28 Some ancient translations gazed; Hebrew cried out.
  8. Judges 5:30 Probable text queen; Hebrew plunder.

The Song of Deborah

On that day Deborah(A) and Barak son of Abinoam(B) sang this song:(C)

“When the princes in Israel take the lead,
    when the people willingly offer(D) themselves—
    praise the Lord!(E)

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
    I, even I, will sing to[a] the Lord;(F)
    I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.(G)

“When you, Lord, went out(H) from Seir,(I)
    when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook,(J) the heavens poured,
    the clouds poured down water.(K)
The mountains quaked(L) before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel.

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,(M)
    in the days of Jael,(N) the highways(O) were abandoned;
    travelers took to winding paths.(P)
Villagers in Israel would not fight;
    they held back until I, Deborah,(Q) arose,
    until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders(R)
    when war came to the city gates,(S)
but not a shield or spear(T) was seen
    among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
    with the willing volunteers(U) among the people.
    Praise the Lord!

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,(V)
    sitting on your saddle blankets,
    and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers[b] at the watering places.
    They recite the victories(W) of the Lord,
    the victories of his villagers in Israel.

“Then the people of the Lord
    went down to the city gates.(X)
12 ‘Wake up,(Y) wake up, Deborah!(Z)
    Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, Barak!(AA)
    Take captive your captives,(AB) son of Abinoam.’

13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;
    the people of the Lord came down to me against the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim,(AC) whose roots were in Amalek;(AD)
    Benjamin(AE) was with the people who followed you.
From Makir(AF) captains came down,
    from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s[c] staff.
15 The princes of Issachar(AG) were with Deborah;(AH)
    yes, Issachar was with Barak,(AI)
    sent under his command into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens[d](AJ)
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?(AK)
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead(AL) stayed beyond the Jordan.
    And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher(AM) remained on the coast(AN)
    and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun(AO) risked their very lives;
    so did Naphtali(AP) on the terraced fields.(AQ)

19 “Kings came(AR), they fought,
    the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,(AS)
    they took no plunder of silver.(AT)
20 From the heavens(AU) the stars fought,
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The river Kishon(AV) swept them away,
    the age-old river, the river Kishon.
    March on, my soul; be strong!(AW)
22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves—
    galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.(AX)
23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the Lord.
    ‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the Lord,
    to help the Lord against the mighty.’

24 “Most blessed of women(AY) be Jael,(AZ)
    the wife of Heber the Kenite,(BA)
    most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;(BB)
    in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
    her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
    she shattered and pierced his temple.(BC)
27 At her feet he sank,
    he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
    where he sank, there he fell—dead(BD).

28 “Through the window(BE) peered Sisera’s mother;
    behind the lattice she cried out,(BF)
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
    Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
    indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:(BG)
    a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
    colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments(BH) for my neck—
    all this as plunder?(BI)

31 “So may all your enemies perish,(BJ) Lord!
    But may all who love you be like the sun(BK)
    when it rises in its strength.”(BL)

Then the land had peace(BM) forty years.


  1. Judges 5:3 Or of
  2. Judges 5:11 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  3. Judges 5:14 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Judges 5:16 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags

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