STUDY Hebrews 11:32-34 B (click here for notes)

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (NIV)



The story of Barak is also the story of two women: Deborah, a judge and prophetess in Israel, and Jael, the wife of a Kenite who befriended Sisera, the Canaanite general. Barak is remembered for his faith, but his story is intimately linked with the faith of Deborah as well. The story of Barak is found in Judges 4 and 5.

The time of the judges began with the death of Joshua and continued until the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. Many of God's covenant promises to Israel were already fulfilled: Israel had escaped slavery, become God's people, and entered the Promise Land. Now they had to settle in the land and systematically claim it for God by wiping out paganism as they advanced. Israel, however, repeatedly forgot God's miracles and aligned itself with the local gods, resulting in God's discipline: the pagan nations oppressed Israel. The judges were people God raised up to lead the people in deliverance from the oppressing pagan nations when Israel grew tired of suffering and cried to God for help.


Prophetess in Israel

1. Who was the judge over Israel during the time of Barak, and to what tribe did she belong? (Judges 4:4&5)


2. Besides being known as a prophetess, how else is Deborah remembered? (Judges 5:7)


3. What other women are recorded as being prophetesses? ( see Exodus 15:20; 2 Kings 22:14; Nehemiah 6:14; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:8-9)


4. What made the Israelites fear and dread Jabin, a king of Canaan? (see Judges 4:3)


God's "Flashing Sword"

5. In Moses' song of praise to God for his deliverance from Egypt, he prophesied about God's sovereignty and God's control over good and evil. How did Barak, whose name means "thunderbolt", partially fulfill God's promises of His sovereign victory? (see Deuteronomy 32:40-43)


6. The Song of Moses repeated in Deut. 32:40-41 refers to God's "flashing sword". How was the Song of Moses prophetic regarding the sovereignty, power, and justice of God? (see Exodus 15:1-18; Deuteronomy 32:1-43; Judges 7:20; Psalm 7:10-13; 45:3-4; Isaiah 27:1; 35:4-5; 66:16; Jeremiah 12:7-13; Ezekiel 21:1-12; Ephesians 6:14-17; Revelation 15:2-4; 19:11-15)


7. What characteristic did Barak the "thunderbolt" display (which other Israelite warriors also possessed) that warranted a rebuke from Deborah and the loss of final glory? (Judges 4:8-9; see also 9:54; 2 Samuel 11:21)



8. Who was Heber the Kenite, and who were the Kenites? (see Judges 1:16; 4:11; 1 Samuel 15:5-6)


9. The word "Kenite" suggests they were metalworkers; one meaning of the name "Heber" is ally. Based on the sketchy information here and above, what treachery does it seem likely Heber was committing, and how might Heber and his clan have been useful to the enemy? (see Judges 4:3; 17)


10. Who was Heber's wife? (Judges 4:17)


The Battle

11. Barak assembled 10,000 on Mt. Tabor, a small mountain about 1,300 feet high. Sisera, Jabin's general, assembled his men and 900 iron chariots in the Kishon Valley. Deborah gave Barak the order to "Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?" (Judges 4:14) How was the battle against Sisera's army won? (Judges 4:15-6; 5:20-21)


12. The word for "routed" in Judges 4:15 is the same word as that used of the panic in two other situations. What were those? (see Exodus 14:23-25; 1 Samuel 7:7-11)


13. What similarities and differences are there in the three events above?


The Final Blow

14. As Sisera's men fled and died, what did Sisera do? (Judges 4:17)


15. Jael, who may not have been Kenite and may even has been an Israelite, committed treachery of her own. What did she do? (Judges 4:18-22)


16. What universally accepted rule did Jael violate? (see Judges 19:23; Genesis 19:8b)


17. How did her treachery counteract her husband's?


18. What permanent relief made the story of Barak, Deborah, and Jael important? (see Judges 4:23-24; Psalm 83:9-12)


Universal Truths

19. Who actually broke the power of the Canaanite oppression?


20. Since women participating in military victory, and suffering defeat at the hands of a woman demonstrated weakness, what can we deduce about Israel during the time of Deborah?


21. This story includes two distinct threads of treachery, Heber's and Jael's, the husband and wife. How do you explain God using double-crossing and deceit to win his battles and to fulfill Deborah's prophecy in Judges 4:9?


22. How do you think the resident pagan nations viewed this victory over the Canaanites?


23. What elements in this story further established God as the sovereign Lord in the eyes of the local Baal worshipers?



24. How has God delivered you from trouble or hopelessness in spite of-or as a consequence of-weakness or character flaws in you?


25. What spiritual or personal weakness do you have that keeps you from living in complete surrender, trust, and rest?


26. What obstacle or problem do you face over which you cannot gain resolution?


27. What shame or embarrassment do you fear if you admit your weakness to Jesus and ask for healing?


28. What do you need to submit to Jesus today, asking him for his strength to be yours, his victory to be yours, his love to be yours, and his confidence and authority to be yours?


29. Praise God for his relentless love which pursues you and persists in bringing you into an awareness of reality and truth in your life.


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