Many, many years passed. The people of Israel forgot their promises to Moses and to God. They worshiped other gods. So the Lord allowed their enemies King Jabin and his General Sisera to conquer them.
At that time the Lord had sent a woman named Deborah to be a judge over Israel. God had blessed her with wisdom. She loved the Lord God very much. She often told her people to listen to God and obey Him. But most of them just laughed at her.
As a judge, Deborah listened to all the problems of the people. When Deborah held court, she sat underneath a big palm tree. Then all the people stood in line. They waited to talk with her.
One day Deborah sent for Barak, an Israelite soldier. “Barak, you are to take ten thousand men. Lead the way to Mount Tabor. When General Sisera hears you are there, he will bring his chariots and troops. We will fight a great battle and defeat him at the river.”
“Well, all right. If you say so, Deborah. But I don’t want to fight this battle unless you’re there, too.”
Deborah smiled at him. “Is your faith in God less than your faith in me?” she asked. “All right. Because you did not trust God, though, He will give the victory to a woman instead of to you.”
When the day of the battle came, Barak led his troops. Deborah raised her hands and prayed on the mountain top. God caused many things to go wrong for Sisera’s troops. Before Barak knew it, he was chasing all of Sisera’s soldiers into the hills. The people of Israel had won!
When General Sisera saw he had lost the battle, he ran away. He searched for a place to hide. He spotted the home of one of King Jabin’s friends. “Ah,” he thought, “these people will hide me.”
A woman came out to meet him. Her name was Jael. “Come right in, “she said. Sisera did not know it, but secretly, Jael hated Sisera and his army. Jael gave him some milk, then she covered him with a blanket.
General Sisera fell sound asleep. Jael tip toed over to his side. She carried a tent stake and hammer in her hands. Then Jael killed General Sisera.
Meanwhile, Barak was looking for Sisera. As he came to Jael’s tent, Jael went out to meet him. She told him what she had done.
Barak brought Jael back to Deborah and to the army. All the people of Israel cheered wildly. They called out, “Who killed Sisera?” Barak looked at Deborah. The credit for Sisera’s death must go to a woman. He held Jael’s hand up high so the crowd could see her. “This woman! Jael killed Sisera!”
All the people of Israel cheered Jael. Deborah and Barak told them, though, it was the Lord God who had won the war for them. They even sang a song about God’s victory.