Reply To: Who was Deborah in the Bible?

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Deborah was a prophetess and judge in Israel. She was a woman who knew what needed to be done and wasn’t afraid to tell people. And apparently it was obvious to everyone else that she knew what she was talking about, because they listened.

We first read about Deborah, who was married to a man named Lappidoth, when she was leading the Israelites as a prophetess. She had set up her court in the hill country of Ephraim, roughly in the middle of the nation, and people came to her to have their disputes settled (Judges 4:4–5).

At some point, the Lord made it clear to Deborah that a man named Barak in the northern part of Israel was supposed to lead the Israelites to fight against the Canaanites who lived near him. When she told Barak, he must have gotten cold feet—but he trusted Deborah, because he refused to go into battle unless she went with him (Judges 4:7–8).

Deborah agreed to go, but she warned Barak that, as a result, he would forfeit the glory for the victory. In the end, Deborah and Barak won a great victory over the Canaanites, and they celebrated by singing a victory song together. The hill country of Ephraim, where Deborah set up her court, was home to several other early leaders of Israel. The judge Ehud lived there (Judges 3), as did the judge/prophet Samuel (I Samuel 7:15– 17) and the first king, Saul (I Samuel 9:1–4).