The Death of Captain Sisera & Negeb

That was sneaky of Ehud.  Now since they came back to You are they going to stay with You or go the way of the world again?

“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. 

Death of Sisera
According to some scholars, the reference to Jabin in the narrative of Deborah’s victory is a later addition and that the original leader of the Canaanite coalition in Judges 4 and 5 was Sisera.

However, Sisera is never called a king, nor does he have a specific city of his own.

It was Sisera’s job to protect the interests of his master, the king of Hazor, in this highly profitable center for agriculture.

Harosheth-hagoiim of the prose account (Jdg 4:2, 13, 16) is synonymous with “at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo” of the poetic version (Jdg 5:19).

And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles” (Jdg 4:1-2).

And of course, the children of Israel cried to God, and Deborah, a prophetess and the wife of Lapidoth, steps in and judges Israel.

“And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 

Deborah also acted as an oracle when, sitting under a special palm tree in the hill country of Ephraim, she gave judgment on particular matters.

Image of the oracle at the Greek shrine of Delphi.

This palm tree was the ancient equivalent of a judge’s courthouse, a place where people went when they needed a dispute settled.

As Deborah prophesied, a battle is fought, and Sisera is completely defeated.

He himself escapes on foot, while his army is pursued as far as Harosheth of the Gentiles and destroyed.

Sisera comes to the tent of Jael; and he lies down to rest.

He asks for a drink; she gives him milk; and while he is asleep she hammers a tent-pin through his temple.

The Biblical account of Deborah ends with the statement that after the battle, there was peace in the land for 40 years.

And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.

And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. 

And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.  And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh” (Jud 4:6-9).

“And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. 

And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee?  So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. 

And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet” (Jdg 4:13-15).

Barak and his men chased after him and killed all of his men, but Sisera got away and went to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite because there was peace between him and Jabin, the king of Hazor.

“And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not.  And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. 

And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. 

Deborah was a prophetess of the God of the Israelites, the 4th Judge of pre-monarchic Israel, counselor, warrior, and the wife of Lapidoth according to the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5.

The only female judge mentioned in the Bible, Deborah led a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera, the narrative is recounted in chapter 4.

As Deborah prophesied, a battle is fought, and Sisera is completely defeated.

He himself escapes on foot, while his army is pursued as far as Harosheth of the Gentiles and destroyed.

Sisera comes to the tent of Jael; and he lies down to rest.

He asks for a drink; she gives him milk; and while he is asleep she hammers a tent-pin through his temple.

The Biblical account of Deborah ends with the statement that after the battle, there was peace in the land for 40 years.

Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here?  That thou shalt say, No” (Jdg 4:18-20).

Sisera then went to sleep so Jael hammered a nail into his temples and fastened it to the ground.

Victor H. Matthew and Don C. Benjamin argue that Jael wasn’t a hostess who betrayed her guest.  Dramatically they tell the story of how she stalked him as an enemy. 

They make the point that Sisera came to the tent of Jael (the wife, not Heber (her husband), not to enjoy the hospitality and protection of the head of the house.  Sisera came on foot secretly to her tent, her private tent, having slipped past the guards in the camp. 

He sought to have sex with her and to take over Heber’s household.  Her word to him to turn aside is interpreted to mean to turn away from his plants.  He asked for water; she served him mild, which is soporific and helped to put him to sleep. 

Then she drove a tent peg through his temple and killed him, in an act of self-defense, thus delivering herself and her husband, as well as the hosts of Israel.

Negeb (Negev)
Largest and southernmost region in the country (negev means south) .

Its shape is that of an upside-down triangle with its base across the waist of the country and its apex in Eilat.

History: Two international routes passed through the Negeb since the earliest recorded history: the Via Maris in the west, and the King’s Highway in the east.

A large number of archaeological finds indicate that the Negeb was occupied in all historical periods.

During the Israelite conquest it was included in the Simeon tribal allotment.

However, it was King David who succeeded in extending Israelite dominion over the whole of the Negeb.

King Solomon set up copper mining works here and developed the port of Elath.

Negeb

Modern geographies apply the term Negeb to a triangle of land extending south from Judah to the Gulf of Aqabah.  The biblical use of the term, however, is more restricted.  Negeb refers to the region around Beer-sheba and Arad.  

Beer-sheba receives about 10 to 12 inches of rain annually, an amount considered marginal for agricultural but adequate for grazing flocks.  Abraham and Isaac sojourned in the Negeb with their clans and livestock. 

Water was a perennial problem for inhabitants of the Negeb, but scattered wells along the major wadis and, later, the use of cisterns permitted settlements.  

Nomadic tribes inhabiting the desert fringe, like the Amalekites, often raided settlements in the Negeb.  David repulsed the Amalekites after an attack on Ziklag, a city of the Negeb (1 Sam 30).

By New Testament times the region of the Negeb was known as Idumea.  Herod the Great was an Idumean, a people despised by the Jews for their Edomite heritage.