Chapter 16 - Canaanites Are Defeated - Page 1 of 6 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Chapter 16
Canaanites Are Defeated Judges 4:12–24


Scripture

12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.
13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
18 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.
19 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.
20 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.
21 Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.


Commentary

The society of that day was strongly masculine, so it was humiliating when women had leadership in the land 1(Isa. 3:12). The pages of church history record the names of godly women like Deborah who knew God’s will, rallied God’s people, and won God’s victories; and we are grateful for them. In 2Hebrews 11:32 , Barak is named as a man of faith, but Deborah enlisted him and saved the day. What a strange victory! God used two women, a jug of milk, a hammer, a tent peg, and a storm to defeat the enemy! One person’s faith and obedience can make a difference in history. Whether you are a leader like Deborah or a follower like Barak, be sure to be a believer; because faith makes the difference between defeat and victory.

12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.

Accompanied by Deborah, Barak now returned to Kadesh, where he summoned the chiefs of Naphtali and Zebulon. Battle plans are made and the Jewish combatants converged in small companies, from all roads and directions, "on foot," towards the battlefield. About six or eight miles east of Nazareth abruptly rises a beautifully-shaped conical mountain, about 1,000 feet high. This is Mount Tabor, its sloping sides covered with trees, and presenting from its summit one of the most beautiful views in Palestine. Here the army under Barak and Deborah gathered.
News of their whereabouts soon reached the head-quarters of Sisera (His intelligence system would have reported this.). His chariots could, of course, only have the advantage when the fight was in the valleys, and he naturally marched north-west to the plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon.

This has always been, and will prove to be the site of the final contest—“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16), the great battle-field of Israel. This fight will be the first of many times that its fertile soil was to be watered with the blood of men. The conflict has been foretold in various passages in the Old and New Testament 3(Ps 2:1–3 ), but now the geographical location is added. The more popular name is Armageddon (the Greek noun has a rough-breathing equivalent to the letter H). Megiddo is a well-known common noun for “mountain.” The word comes from a verb, meaning “to slaughter”. The site was the great battleground of the Old Testament. It was the place of the victory of Deborah and Barak 4(Jud. 5:19 ); Josiah met his death before Pharaoh Nechoh in the Valley of Megiddo 5(II Chr 35:22–24 ). It will suffice to state that Megiddo is the mountain overlooking the Valley of Esdraelon (Gr for Jezreel), the great plain in the northern part of Palestine. Napoleon I is credited with having said of Megiddo: “What an excellent place into which all the armies of the world could be maneuvered.”
Sisera had chosen his position with excellent skill. Marching in almost a straight line upon the plain of Megiddo, his army was now posted at its entrance, resting in the ancient Canaanish town of Taanach 4(Judges 5:19, comp. 6Joshua 12:21 ). Behind, and at his left flank, were the mountains of Manasseh, before him opened the basin of the valley, merging into the Plain of Esdraelon, watered by the Kishon. Into this plain Barak’s army must descend "on foot, and" badly armed, without experienced officers, without cavalry or chariots—and here his own 900 war-chariots would operate to the best advantage. It was not even like one of those battles in which mountaineers hold their own stronghold, or swoop down on their enemies in narrow valleys. On the contrary, everything seemed to be working against Israel—except for this, that God had previously promised to draw Sisera and his army to the river Kishon, and to deliver them into Barak's hand. Then once more the Lord appears as "a man of war," and fights on the side of His people. It is said: "And Jehovah discomfited," or rather, "threw into confusion, Sisera and all his chariots, and all his soldiers." The expression is the same as when Jehovah fought against Egypt 7(Exodus 14:25 ), and again when before Gibeon Joshua bade the sun and the moon to stand still 8(Joshua 10:10 ). It indicates the direct interference of the Lord through terrible natural phenomena; (also compare its use in 92 Samuel 22:15 ; 10Psalm 18:14 ; 11144:6 ). As we gather from 12Judges 5:20-22 , a fearful storm swept down from heaven in the face of the advancing army. The battle must have drawn towards Endor, where its fate was finally decided 13(Psalm 83:9, 10 ). Presently the war-chariots were thrown into confusion, and instead of being a help became a source of danger. The frightened horses conveyed destruction into the ranks of the Canaanite host. Soon, they were involved in a common panic. A scene of wild confusion ensued. It was impossible to retreat, and only in one direction could flight be attempted. And now the waters of Kishon had swollen into a wild torrent which swept away the fugitives!

To escape capture, Sisera leaped from his chariot, and fled on foot northwards towards Hazor. Already he had passed beyond Kadesh, and had almost reached safety. There the boundary of Naphtali was marked by what was known as "the oakwood at the twin tents of wandering" (Joshua 19:33). Here Heber the Kenite had pitched his tent, having separated from his brethren, who had settled in the extreme south at Arad 14(Judges 1:16 ). Living close to the boundary of Jabin's dominion, and not being in actuality Israelites, the clan of Heber had been left unmolested and "there was peace between Jabin, king of Hazor, and the house of Heber the Kenite."

Only outward, not real peace! There is something wild and weird about the appearance of these Kenites on the stage of Jewish history. Originally an Arab tribe they retain to the last the fierceness of their race. Although they lived among the tribes of Israel, they never seem to integrate with Israel, and yet they are more keenly Israeli than any of the chosen race.


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