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Judges 5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Deborah and Barak Sing for the Lord

After the battle was over that day, Deborah and Barak sang this song:

We praise you, Lord!
Our soldiers volunteered,
    ready to follow you.
Listen, kings and rulers,
while I sing for the Lord,
    the God of Israel.

Our Lord, God of Israel,
when you came from Seir,
    where the Edomites live,
rain poured from the sky,
the earth trembled,
    and mountains shook.

In the time of Shamgar
    son of Anath,
and now again in Jael’s time,
roads were too dangerous
    for caravans.
Travelers had to take
    the back roads,
and villagers couldn’t work
    in their fields.[a]
Then Deborah[b] took command,
protecting Israel
as a mother
    protects her children.

The Israelites worshiped
    other gods,
and the gates of their towns
    were then attacked.[c]
But they had no shields
    or spears to fight with.
I praise you, Lord,
    and I am grateful
for those leaders and soldiers
    who volunteered.
10 Listen, everyone!
Whether you ride a donkey
    with a padded saddle
    or have to walk.
11 Even those who carry water[d]
    to the animals will tell you,
“The Lord has won victories,
    and so has Israel.”

Then the Lord’s people marched
    down to the town gates
12 and said, “Deborah, let’s go!
Let’s sing as we march.
    Barak, capture our enemies.”

13 The Lord’s people who were left
joined with their leaders
    and fought at my side.[e]
14 Troops came from Ephraim,
    where Amalekites once lived.
Others came from Benjamin;
officers and leaders
    from Machir and Zebulun.
15 The rulers of Issachar
    came along with Deborah,
and Issachar followed Barak
    into the valley.

But the tribe of Reuben
    was no help at all![f]
16 Reuben, why did you stay
    among your sheep pens?[g]
Was it to listen to shepherds
    whistling for their sheep?
No one could figure out
    why Reuben wouldn’t come.[h]
17 The people of Gilead stayed
    across the Jordan.
Why did the tribe of Dan
    remain on their ships
and the tribe of Asher
stay along the coast
    near the harbors?

18 But soldiers of Zebulun
    and Naphtali
risked their lives
    to attack the enemy.[i]
19 Canaanite kings fought us
at Taanach by the stream
    near Megiddo[j]
but they couldn’t rob us
    of our silver.[k]
20 From their pathways in the sky
    the stars[l] fought Sisera,
21 and his soldiers were swept away
    by the ancient Kishon River.

I will march on and be brave.

22 Sisera’s horses galloped off,
their hoofs thundering
    in retreat.

23 The Lord’s angel said,
    “Put a curse on Meroz Town!
Its people refused
to help the Lord fight
    his powerful enemies.”

24 But honor Jael,
the wife of Heber
    from the Kenite clan.
Give more honor to her
than to any other woman
    who lives in tents.
Yes, give more honor to her
    than to any other woman.
25 Sisera asked for water,
but Jael gave him milk—
    cream in a fancy cup.
26 She reached for a tent-peg
and held a hammer
    in her right hand.
And with a blow to the head,
    she crushed his skull.
27 Sisera sank to his knees
    and fell dead at her feet.

28 Sisera’s mother looked out
    through her window.
“Why is he taking so long?”
    she asked.
“Why haven’t we heard
    his chariots coming?”
29 She and her wisest women
    gave the same answer:
30 “Sisera and his troops
are finding treasures
    to bring back—
a woman, or maybe two,
    for each man,
and beautiful dresses
    for those women to wear.”[m]

31 Our Lord, we pray
that all your enemies
    will die like Sisera.
But let everyone who loves you
shine brightly
like the sun
    at dawn.

Midian Steals Everything from Israel

There was peace in Israel for about forty years.


  1. 5.7 villagers. . . fields: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 5.7 Deborah: Or “I, Deborah.”
  3. 5.8 The Israelites. . . attacked: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 5.11 Even. . . water: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 5.13 side: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
  6. 5.15 But. . . at all: Or “But the people of Reuben couldn’t make up their minds.”
  7. 5.16 sheep pens: Or “campfires.”
  8. 5.16 No. . . come: Or “The people of Reuben couldn’t make up their minds.”
  9. 5.18 to attack the enemy: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  10. 5.19 stream near Megiddo: Probably refers to one of the streams that flow into the Kishon River.
  11. 5.19 rob us of our silver: The army that won a battle would take everything of value from the dead enemy soldiers.
  12. 5.20 stars: In ancient times, the stars were sometimes regarded as supernatural beings.
  13. 5.30 and beautiful. . . wear: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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