FN#23 - In this sentence our author seems to combine two different explanations of לִבִּי, etc, namely: 1. I imparted my spirit to the “Orderers” of Israel, by virtue of which they became such; and, 2. My heart loves those who proved themselves “Orderers,” etc. The latter explanation, merely hinted at by Dr. Cassel, is that commonly adopted by expositors. Bachmann remarks that if the first idea had been intended, it would have been more clearly expressed Tr.]
FN#24 - For further philological comparisons, see Benfey, i433, and Dieffenbach, Celtica, i85.
FN#25 - The same may be said of the use of the articles themselves. The popular custom of spreading out garments, like carpets or cloths, for persons to ride or walk over, is sufficiently familiar from the history of our Lord and the usages of both Greeks and Romans.
FN#26 - It does not appear how a piel הִצָּה can possibly be obtained from a niphal נִצָּה. The form מְחַצְצִים, in the text, can only be derived from חָצַע, either directly or indirectly. In the latter case if would be a denominative from הֵץ, an arrow, and would mean “archers;” so Bertheau, Keil, and many other interpreters, both ancient and modern. Many, perhaps most expositors, however, prefer the direct derivation from הָצַץ, to divide, but with various modifications of the radical idea. For a full discussion of the word and the interpretations it has received, see Bachmann, 1. pp351–359; it must suffice here to say that he translates it, Beutetheilenden, “those who divide the spoil” They (he explains) who frequent the places of drawing water are to praise the righteous acts of Jehovah, with the joyful voice of those who divide the spoil, cf. Isaiah 9:2 (3).—Tr.]
FN#27 - Keil and others connect the last clause of Judges 5:11, not with Judges 5:9; but with the immediately preceding praise for victory. “After this victory,” says Keil, “the people descended again to its gates, from the mountains and hiding-places whither it had betaken itself for safety from the enemy ( Judges 5:6 f.)—entered again into the plains of the land, into the cities now relieved of enemies.” Similarly, Bachmann. Dr. Cassel’s translation of אָז by “when” is against the usage of the word.—Tr.]
The People of God rushed with me against the powerful.[FN28]
14From Ephraim’s stock, the victors of Amalek;
After thee (marched) Benjamin against thy foes,[FN29]
Masters came from Machir,
Men skillful with the accountant’s pencil[FN30] distinguished Zebulun.
15But the first[FN31] in Issachar were with Deborah,
Yea, Issachar was the basis of Barak,
When into the valley his men threw themselves on foot,[FN32]—
While by the brooks abode Reuben’s great investigators.[FN33]
16Why sitt’st thou by the folds, listening to the shepherd’s flute?
By the brooks Reuben has great scrutinizers.
17Gilead stays beyond the Jordan;
But, Daniel, how didst thou sail in ships![FN34]
Asher sits on the sea-shore, sheltered in his bays,
18But Zebulon hazarded his soul unto death,
With Naphtali, upon the high plain of the field.
19Kings came to fight—Kings of Canaan fought,
At Taanach and by Megiddo’s waters,—
Satisfaction-money[FN35] gained they none.
20From heaven strove the stars,[FN36]
They strove from their stations with Sisera.
21Kishon’s stream swept them away—
A stream of succours was Kishon’s stream,—
Tread strongly on, my soul![FN37]
22When struck the sounding hoof of the rushing steed,
Of the flying strong ones![FN38]
23The ban on Meroz, commands the messenger of God, the ban!—
The ban on its inhabitants;
Because they came not to the help of the people of God,
Of the People of God against the powerful.[FN39]
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
1 Judges 5:13.—This rendering of Judges 5:13 supposes the Hebrew text to be pointed and divided thus:
אָז יָרַד שָׂרִיד לְאַדִּרִ֑ים
עַם יְחוָֹה יָרַד לִי בַּגִּבּוֹרִֽים׃
So also the LXX. (in Cod. Vat.) and many expositors. The most serious objection to it Isaiah, that as it is the easier reading, the Masorites must have had strong traditional grounds for preferring one more difficult. The verse has been translated and interpreted in a great variety of ways; but the view of Dr. Cassel commends itself strongly, especially when compared with Judges 4:14. Our English version seems to take יְרַד as imperf. apoc. Piel from רָדָה, after the example of several Jewish grammarians and interpreters.—Tr.]
2 Judges 5:14.—Dr. Cassel’s rendering of the first line of Judges 5:14—מִנִּי אֶפְרַיִם שָׁרְשָׁם בַּעֲמָלֵק—, Isaiah, Aus Efraim’s Art, die Amaleksieger. It does not clearly appear how he would translate the passage literally, but the following would probably express his view: “Out of Ephraim (came) their root (who were) against Amalek.” The “root,” then, according to our author’s exposition (see below), would be Joshua, in his relation to those whom he led to victory against “Amalek.” So far as שֹׁרֶשׁ is concerned, this interpretation has full as much in its favor as that which makes it mean “dwelling-place.” On the rendering of עֲמָמֶיךָ, see the commentary. The majority of expositors, would probably accept the rendering of the two lines given by Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Repos. 1831):—
“Out of Ephraim (came those) whose dwelling is by Amalek;
After thee (was) Benjamin among thy hosts.”
But in a document the language of which is so obscure as that of the Song of Deborah, much necessarily depends on the conception formed of the connection in which one passage stands with another. Now, while the majority of interpreters assume that Judges 5:14 speaks of such as took part in the war against Jabin and Sisera, our author maintains that it dwells on the fame of those who did not take part in this war, in order by this comparison to exalt that of those who did. On the decision of this question the interpretation in detail of the whole verse depends. Which of the two conflicting views is true, is not a matter to be discussed here, but it is certain that Judges 4. is very favorable to our author’s side, cf. the com. belew.—Tr.]
3 Judges 5:14.—The rendering of this line turns on שֵׁבֶט סֹפֵר. The Targum, Peshito, and most ancient expositors, explain it of the “stylus of the writer;” while most moderns translate it “the staff of the leader.” Compare the remarks in the preceding note.—Tr.]
4 Judges 5:15.—Dr. Cassel probably reads שָׂרֵי, with Bertheau, Keil, and most expositors. The preposition בְּ after the construct state is not unusual in poetry, cf. 2 Samuel 1:21; Job 18:2; etc. Some regard שָׂרַי as an unusual plural (cf. Ges. Gram. 87, 1, c), or as an archaic form of the construct (so Ewald, Gram. 211, c).—Tr.]
5 Judges 5:15.—On בְּרַגְלָיו, compare “Grammatical” note on Judges 4:10; also Judges 8:5; 2 Samuel 15:17; etc.—Tr.]
6 Judges 5:15.—חִקְקֵי לֵב; Dr. Cassel, Ergründler. For הִקרֵי לֵב, in the next verse, he has Ergrübler, which admirably reproduces both the paranomasia and the irony of the original. חִקְקֵי and הִקְרֵי are, of course, abstract nouns, followed by the genitive of the subject to which they pertain.—Tr.]
7 Judges 5:17.—“Aber Daniel, was zogst du auf schiffen aus!” Our author probably takes גּוּר in its most usual sense, “to sojourn:” to sojourn in or on ships, readily suggesting the idea of sailing in ships. Most expositors translate: “And Daniel, why abides he at the ships?” The prepositionless accusative is as easy or as difficult in one case as in the other.—Tr.]
8 Judges 5:19.—בֶּצַע כֶּסֶף: Dr. Cassel, Geld zur Busse, “penance money,” cf. the Commentary below. Bertheau, Keil, and others, taking בֶּצַע in its Arabic sense of frustum (cf. the root בצע), translate: “not a piece of silver did they take;” but against the Hebrew use of the word.—Tr.]
9 Judges 5:20—Dr. Cassel, following many previous expositors, alters the Masoretic text division by transferring “the stars” from the second to the first clause. But it is justly objected to this change that it reduces the second clause to a mere repetition by which nothing is added to the idea already expressed in the first. In the next line, the word מְסִלָּה signifies, “a causeway,” “highway.” Dr. Cassel’s rendering, Statten, places, is manifestly chosen for the sake of alliteration: Sie stritten von ihren Statten mit Sisera; compare the English imitation above.—Tr.]
10 Judges 5:21—תִּדְרְכִי נַפְשִׁי עֹז. This line has been very variously interpreted. It is now generally agreed, however, that it is an address of the Singer to herself. תִּדְרְכִי is the jussive of the second person, cf. Ges. Gram. 48, 4. עֹז may either be taken as an adverbial accusative (=בּעֹז), or as the direct object after the verb. Dr. Cassel decides for the former, after Herder, Justi, Bertheau, Ewald, Keil; Dr. Bachmann, with Schnurrer, Köhler, Holmann, etc, prefers the latter, and takes עֹז as the abstract for the concrete: “Tread down, my soul, the strong ones!” cf. Robbins, in Bibl. Sacra. In either case, the incitement of the line may be directed to the continuation of the Song of Solomon, or to the prosecution of the pursuit of the enemy. Bachmann prefers the latter; but the former seems to us more striking and appropriate.—Tr.]
11 Judges 5:22.—Dr. Cassel :—
Da der Jagenden Rosshuf hallend aufschlug,
Der entjagenden Starken.
On the translation of אָז by “when,” cf. note1, on p97. In the second line of the above rendering, the מִן does not come to its rights, and the suffix in אַבִּרָיו is neglected. The מִן is causal, and the suffix יו—goes back to the collective סוּס of the first line, so that it seems necessary to explain אַבִּירִים of men, not, as our author (see below) of horses. The best rendering of the verse is probably that adopted, for substance, by Keil, Bachmann, and many others:—
“Then the hoofs of the horses smote the ground,
Because of the galloping of their valiant riders.”
The last expression may very well be taken ironically: “runaway heroes.” On the repetition of דַּהֲרוֹת, to indicate continuance, see Ewald, Gram., 313 a; cf. also Ges. Gram. 108, 4.—Tr.].
12 Judges 5:23—On the above translation of Judges 5:23 it is to be remarked, 1. That the word rendered “ban,” is אַָרַר, and does not, like חָרַם, imply the actual destruction of the object against which it is aimed2. That with the LXX. (Cod. Vat.) our author transfers אֹרוּ from the second line to the first. On the construction of אָרוֹר (which below, but not here, he changes (with the LXX.) into אָרוּר), cf Ges. Gram. 131, 4 b3. That the expression “People of God” is our author’s interpretation of what is meant by “coming to the help of Jehovah,” cf. below4. That בַּגִּבּוֹרִים is by most recent expositors rendered, “among (or, with) heroes,” namely, the warriors of Israel. Compare the Septuagint and Vulgate; the Targum takes בְּ in the hostile sense.—Tr.]
EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL
Judges 5:12. With the words of Judges 5:11, “when the People of God hastened down to the gates,” i.e. out to battle, the prophetess transfers herself into the midst of the conflict. Verse 12 presents a reminiscence of the battle song. It recalls the rallying cry. Wake up! wake up! (עוּרִי from עוּר, cf. Isaiah 51:9.) “Awake, awake!” is addressed to Deborah, urging her to fire the soldiery through her song; “arise!” refers to Barak. For she sang, and Barak fought. שֲׁבֵה שֶׁבְיְךָ, “lead forth thy captives.” To be able to carry away captives, was evidence of a complete victory. When Jerusalem and Samaria fell, the people were carried away prisoners. The captivity of the enemy ends the conflict. The reason why a perpetual ban of destruction was pronounced against the enemies who attacked the host of Israel, in the wilderness, near Arad, was not merely that they fought against Israel, but that they also “took some of them prisoners” ( Numbers 21:1). The completeness of God’s victory, as the 68 th Psalm celebrates it, is indicated by the expression, Judges 5:19 (18): שָׁבִיתָ שֶׁבִי, “thou hast carried away the captives.”[FN40]
Judges 5:13. The prophetess now continues to depict the surprising contrasts that have arisen from Israel’s return to God. A שָׂרִיד, a remaining few, by no means all Israel, but a small band—like the remnant (שְׁרִידִים) whom, according to the prophet Joel ( Joel 2:32 ( Joel 3:5)), God calls,—takes up the conflict with אַדִּירִים, mighty ones. (Cf. my discussion on Psalm 8:2, in the Lutherischen Zeitschr., 1860. “Mighty kings,” מְלָכִים אַדִּירִים, are slain by God, Psalm 136:18). The next line runs parallel with this: “the people of God (עַם יְהוָֹה) charges against[FN41]gibborim.” Gibborim are warlike men of gigantic strength. It is applied here to enemies, as elsewhere to Nimrod, who also was an enemy. In the view of Scripture, God alone is the true Gibbor ( Deuteronomy 10:17, etc.). Usually, the gibborim conquer; but here the result is that of which Isaiah speaks ( Isaiah 49:25), “the captives of the gibbor are taken away from him.” There is a peculiar beauty in Deborah’s mode of stating her own share in the war: “the People of God rushed for me (לִי) against heroes.” For my sake, she sings, at my call, with me, did they hazard the conflict with men of superior strength.
Judges 5:14-16. It was truly a “remnant” that fought at the Kishon against Sisera. It was only a part of all Israel that was entitled to the honor of being styled the “People of God.” A special renown must henceforth attach to those tribes who took part in the war, just as the Athenians never lost the glory of having alone gained the battle of Marathon. In Israel, as in Hellas, rivalries obtained between the different tribes. Considerations like these afford the proper introduction to Judges 5:14. Expositors have made its difficulties altogether insurmountable, by supposing that all the tribes here named assisted Barak.[FN42] But this supposition is utterly untenable: 1. The statement of Judges 4is positive and definite, that only Zebulun and Naphtali fought on the plains of Issachar. It is moreover corroborated by the fact that, from her residence on Mount Ephraim, Deborah sends to just those tribes, because the oppression under which Israel suffered bore heaviest on them2. The question whether Ephraim and Benjamin took part in the war, could not have been overlooked by the narrator; for the direction of the march which he had to trace was altogether different from what, had they been combatants, it would have been. And why, in that case, would it have been necessary for Deborah to go with Barak to Kedesh? 3. It is contradicted by Judges 5:14 itself. Machir means Gilead proper.[FN43] Manasseh as a whole cannot be Intended by it (cf. the word יָרְדוּ). It is for the very purpose of designating a part that the term “Machir” is employed. But Deborah herself says, Judges 5:17, that Gilead did not take part in the campaign. Nor would it be at all apparent why Zebulun should be described by two different attributes ( Judges 5:14; Judges 5:18), in relation to the same event4. If those tribes took part in the conflict, why does Judges 5:18 speak only of Zebulun and Naphtali? The Platæans, who alone stood by the Athenians in the day of battle, were not thus forgotten. The most ancient Jewish expositors, however, already perceived the more correct view to be taken of the verse: it is to be historically interpreted. The poet’s mind, like the action itself, moves over the northern territory of Israel. The tribes of Judah and Simeon lie altogether beyond her present field of vision. But with the ancient glory of those tribes, whose territories stretched onward from Mount Ephraim—from the spot where she herself resided, near the border of Benjamin,—she compares that of the conquerors whom she led on. Each tribe had its own glorious traditions. No doubt, exclaims the prophetess, Ephraim is renowned, for out of him sprang he who was against Amalek. The ancients rightly understood this of Joshua, the conqueror of Amalek,[FN44] the pride of Ephraim, who was buried among them, and on whom, unquestionably, the Ephraimites always founded their claim to the leadership among the tribes.—אַחֲרֶידָ בִנְיָמִין בַּעֲמָמֶיךָ, after thee, Benjamin against thine enemies. Since בַּעְמָמֶיךָ (Aram. plur. c. suffix) manifestly answers to בַּעֲמָלֵק, the בְּ, which with the latter means “against,” must be taken in the same sense with the former. This is confirmed by the fact that the plural of עַם is always[FN45] applied to the “heathen,” the “nations,” and carries with it the idea of hostility against Israel. עֲמָמֶיךָ means the hostile nations who stand arrayed against thee,—“thy heathen,” so to speak, “thine enemies.” “After thee,” says the prophetess to Ephraim, “Benjamin advanced against thine enemies”—Benjamin, who bears the name of Wolf ( Genesis 49:27). It is the fame of Ehud, that renders Benjamin illustrious. The old expositors understood these utterances of Deborah, concerning Benjamin and the other tribes, as prophetic. But such an explanation cannot be accepted. A prophetess who looked into the boundless and indefinite future, could not have compared tribe with tribe in a manner possible only when dealing with the facts of history.—By the side of the warlike fame of Ephraim and Benjamin, the prophetess places the peaceful renown of Machir and Zebulun. How far the sons of Machir distinguished themselves as mechokekim, orderers of the law, we have, it is true, no information. But it is to be noticed that what is told of Jair, Judges 10:4, connects itself with a Jair who lived as early as the time of Moses ( Numbers 32:41). The sons of Machir were born “upon the knees” of their grandfather Joseph ( Genesis 50:23). It is only by supposing that the renown of Zebulun also, is one which existed previous to the war, that what is here said can be brought into easy and proper connection with what is said in Judges 5:18. Zebulun, formerly known only for his מוֹשְׁכִים בְּשֵׁבֶט כֹפֵר, experts with the ciphering-pencil, had now become a people courageous unto death. Zebulun was a commercial tribe, like Zidon. The purple-trade especially occupied them. Consequently, the art of the Sopher, i.e. writing, reading, and ciphering, could not fail to be extensively practiced in this tribe. The Sopher appears also in Phœnician inscriptions; Gesenius compares him with the quæstors of Carthage, who held an office next in importance to that of the Suffetes (Monum. Phœnic., 173). A like important office was held by the Sopherim at the courts of the Jewish kings. They are always named in conjunction with the high-priest (cf. 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3; 1 Chronicles 18:16; Isaiah 36:3; 2 Kings 19:2). The Sopher and the high-priest count the money found in the offering-box, 2 Kings 12:10 (11). King Josiah sends his Sopher Shaphan (שָׁפָן, cf. אֱלִיצָפָן. Elizaphan, a Zebulonite, Numbers 34:25) to the priest. It is he who reads the sacred book, which the priest has found, to the king ( 2 Kings 22:8). The commander-in-chief has a Sopher who enrolls the army ( 2 Kings 25:19; Jeremiah 52:25). The uncle of David is celebrated as a wise man and a Sopher ( 1 Chronicles 27:32). The Psalmist praises the stylus of a ready Sopher ( Psalm 45:1 (2)). The activity of a Sopher is everywhere pacific in its nature, demanding sagacity, and presupposing knowledge. The stylus, עֵט, of the Psalmist, is the same as Deborah’s שֵׁבֶט, staff. It was an honor to Zebulun, that in the tribe there were able Sopherim, who could make the art which commerce had caused to flourish among them, subserve the internal and higher life of Israel. The word משְׁכִים suggests a forcible picture; we see the writer artistically drawing the letters with his stylus. This constituted the ancient renown of the tribe. But the victory with Deborah at the Kishon, will not less highly exalt those who had a part in it. That thought forms the transition to Judges 5:15. Issachar, it is true, had not shared in the battle; but that did not diminish the significance of the tribe. Their territory was the theatre of the decision. Very much depended upon the attitude they assumed. Were the battle lost, Issachar must first bear the consequences. Nevertheless, their chiefs decided to hearken to Deborah. “The princes in Issachar were with Deborah.” They surrounded Deborah, while Barak plunged into the valley. As Moses did not himself take the field against Amalek, but intrusted Joshua with the conduct of the battle while he prayed on the mount, so Deborah stood behind the battle-ranks, surrounded by Issachar, uttering blessings, or in case discouragement showed itself,[FN46] urging, encouraging, inspiriting, in a manner similar perhaps to that which the German women were wont to adopt.[FN47] It has been well observed that in the expression וְיִשָׂשׂכָּר כֵּן כָּרָק the word כֵּן is not the particle, but the noun. (Schnurrer was the first to adduce this from among various opinions collected together in the commentary of R. Tanchum.) כֵּן signifies the base, the pedestal (cf. Exodus 30:18); and in truth Issachar was this for the whole battle. It was fought on his territory, an 1 his men formed the reserve of Barak, when that chieftain threw himself into the valley. כָּעֵמֶק שׁלַּת כְּרַגְלָיו expresses the storm-like rapidity of Barak’s movement. The Pual שֻׁלַּת is to be taken in the sense of the Greek middle voice.—Presently the thought occurs to the prophetess that still other neighboring tribes could have helped, Reuben, namely, and Gilead, beyond the Jordan, Dan at its sources, Asher on the coast; but their assistance did not come. Deborah does not blame the distant tribes, as Judah, Simeon, Ephraim, Benjamin, Gad, but only the near ones. Reuben at that time cannot have dwelt to the east of the Dead Sea, but according to Numbers 32:26, etc, must have had a more northerly location, reaching as far up as the banks of the Jabbok.[FN48] There he must have dwelt, pasturing his herds by his brooks. פְּלַגּוֹת, plural of פלַגּה, like פֶּלֶג, brook, stream (cf. my exposition of Psalm 1. Luther. Zeitschr., 1859, p537). Reuben, like the tribes beyond the Jordan generally, had been called on by Barak to take part in the war against Sisera. In like manner was Sparta summoned by Athens, before Marathon. And like Sparta, Reuben considered long. Hence the derisive description of the men of Reuben as לכתִקְקֵי and הִקְרֵי לֵכ, investigators and scrutinizers. They reflect upon the necessity and feasibility of acting, till the time for it is past. Reuben sits between the folds, and prefers to listen to the shepherd’s flute, שְׁרִיקָה שְׁרִקוִת עֲרָרִים, pipe, flute, from שָׁרַק, sibilare, to whistle, to hiss, according to the root and form of the name, is nothing else than the syrinx, pipe, whose invention Hellenic mythology ascribed to Pan. What is here said of Reuben, that he amuses himself with listening to the herdsmen’s flutes (עֵרֶר is properly the herd), is the same that Homer says, Iliad, xviii. Judges 525: “νομῆες τερπόμενοι σύριγξι.”
Judges 5:17. And Gilead tarries beyond Jordan. The fact that what is here said of Gilead might be equally applied to Reuben, since both dwelt beyond the Jordan, is suggestive of the excuse which Gilead may have urged in distinction from Reuben. Reuben reflected; but Gilead denied that the efforts of Barak concerned him: did he not live beyond the Jordan?