Judges – Chapter 4

"...and the Bees."

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

When the Jews backslid into their bad ways, G-d allowed Canaan to occupy Israel, led by a general named Sisera. They cried out and G-d sent Devorah (Deborah, whose name is Hebrew for a bee) as a Judge to save them.

Devorah summoned Barak to lead her army. (Barak may be another name for Lapidos, and may have been Devorah’s husband.) Barak considered himself unworthy and said he would only do so if Devorah agreed to go, as well. She did, but she cautioned Barak that now a woman would be credited with the victory – and she didn’t mean herself!

Israel routed Sisera’s army, but the general himself escaped. He ran to the tent of Yael, wife of Chever the Kenite. (The Kenites were descendants of Moshe’s father-in-law, Yisro.) He asked to be hidden and for some water. She covered him with a blanket and gave him some milk to make him tired. (She may have done a few other things, but we won’t go into them here.) When Sisera fell asleep, Yael took the tent peg and drove it into his temple. She then showed Barak where Sisera could be found.

The Navi tells us that Devorah judged people under a date tree. The reason she did so because of yichud, the prohibition against being secluded with a member of the opposite sex. If a woman of Devorah’s caliber, who was above such temptations and certainly above suspicion, was concerned with such things, certainly we average folk should be careful with these laws!

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