Judges 4 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Deborah, the Judge
4 After Ehud died, the people again did what the Lord said was wrong. 2 So the Lord allowed King Jabin of Canaan to defeat the Israelites. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor. A man named Sisera was the commander of King Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in a town called Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he was very cruel to the Israelites for 20 years. So they cried to the Lord for help.
4 There was a woman prophet named Deborah. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. 5 One day Deborah was sitting under the Palm Tree of Deborah, and the Israelites came up to her to ask what to do about Sisera. (The Palm Tree of Deborah is between the cities of Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim.) 6 Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak and asked him to come meet with her. Barak was the son of a man named Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead them to Mount Tabor. 7 I will make Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, come to you. I will make Sisera, his chariots, and his army come to the Kishon River.[a] I will help you defeat Sisera there.’”
8 Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go and do this if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
9 “Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But because of your attitude, you will not be honored when Sisera is defeated. The Lord will allow a woman to defeat Sisera.”
So Deborah went with Barak to the city of Kedesh. 10 At the city of Kedesh, Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali together. He gathered 10,000 men to follow him from these tribes, and Deborah also went with him.
11 There was a man named Heber who was from the Kenites. The Kenites were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law,[b] Hobab. Heber had left the other Kenites and had made his home by the oak tree in Zaanannim, near the city of Kedesh.
12 Someone told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam was at Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, and they marched from the city of Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Today the Lord will help you defeat Sisera. Surely you know that the Lord has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led the 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15 Barak and his men attacked Sisera. During the battle, the Lord confused Sisera and his army and chariots. They did not know what to do. Barak and his men defeated Sisera’s army, but Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16 Barak continued fighting Sisera’s army. He and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. They used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of Sisera’s men was left alive.
17 But Sisera ran away to the tent where a woman named Jael lived. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. His family was at peace with King Jabin of Hazor. That is why Sisera ran to Jael’s tent. 18 Jael saw him coming, so she went out to meet him and said, “Sir, come into my tent. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 But first, Sisera asked Jael for a drink of water. Jael had some milk in a bottle made from animal skin. So she gave him a drink of the milk and then covered him up.
20 Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say, ‘No.’”
21 But Jael found a tent peg and a hammer. She quietly went to Sisera. Sisera was very tired, so he was sleeping. She put the tent peg to the side of Sisera’s head and hit it with a hammer. The tent peg went through the side of his head and into the ground. Sisera died.
22 Just then Barak came by Jael’s tent, looking for Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, “Come in here, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered the tent with Jael. There Barak found Sisera lying dead on the ground, with the tent peg through the side of his head.
23 On that day God defeated King Jabin of Canaan for the Israelites. 24 So the Israelites became stronger and stronger until they defeated King Jabin of Canaan. The Israelites finally destroyed him.
Judges 4 New International Version (NIV)
4 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.
16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”
21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.
23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.