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The prophetess Deborah

The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online.
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Some seek to justify “women’s lib” movement in the assembly by quoting one instance in scripture where Yahuwah chose to make a prophetess out of His handmaidens. The one most commonly referenced is Deborah. Of all the judges in the book of Judges, none were prophets. But she was a prophetess. Because she was a prophetess, people who had issues could come to her and she could declare “Thus saith Yahuwah” to them. Let’s look at one example of that:

Judges 4:4- Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 – And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 – Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not Yahuwah Elohim of Israel commanded, [a] ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7 – ‘and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”

Some hold - in the “Old Testament” Yahuwah worked through men, but the “New Testament” is a new era where He pours out His Spirit upon both men and women. This is clearly a false notion. As we can see, Yahuwah used women as prophetesses before this time. But the role of a prophet is not to teach and have authority. The role of a prophet is to speak “Thus saith Yahuwah” as the Spirit gives utterance. Deborah informed Barak what Yahuwah had spoken, and Barak listened and assembled the army of ten thousand at his command. However, the lack of faithful men at that time is revealed here. Barak lacks the confidence to go without Deborah:

Judges 4:8- And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!”

His unmanly fears and threat to not go without her seems to indicate a lack of confidence in Yahuwah’s words. And so Deborah informed him of the consequence:

9 – So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for Yahuwah will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

So Deborah submitted to Barak’s decision and went with him. However, she let him know that Yahuwah was going to give the honor of victory to a woman. In light of Barak’s demand that a woman go with him, it seems appropriate that Yahuwah would take away any honor of victory from him and give it to a woman. However, that woman was not Deborah; it was a woman by the name of Jael Jael ended up killing Sisera with a tent peg while he slept. Nevertheless, Deborah was joyful that Barak was at least willing to go and fulfill Yahuwah’s word. For when the victory was complete, Deborah sang:

Judges 5:2- When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless Yahuwah! 3 – “Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to Yahuwah; I will sing praise to Yahuwah Elohim of Israel. 4 – “Yahuwah, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth trembled and the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water; 5 – The mountains gushed before Yahuwah, This Sinai, before Yahuwah Elohim of Israel. 6 – “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, In the days of Jael, The highways were deserted, And the travelers walked along the byways. 7 – Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel. 8 – They chose new gods; Then there was war in the gates; Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel. 9My heart is with the rulers of Israel Who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless Yahuwah!

Out of her own mouth Deborah rejoiced “when leaders lead” and that her “heart is with the rulers of Israel”. This proves that she was not the leader and ruler, for she declared that her heart was with those that were–and she rejoiced when they led! So Yahuwah’s Spirit was upon this humble handmaiden of His who knew her place. In this case, it was in the role of a prophetess who spoke “thus saith Yahuwah” so that the men would know what Yahuwah had planned. In this, it was not a woman teaching but it was Yahuwah speaking. In this role, she is not repeating the mistake in the garden of Eden by questioning or casting doubt on Yahuwah’s words. Rather, Yahuwah’s direct words are being spoken! Speaking “thus saith Yahuwah” is not the same as interpreting and expounding upon the scriptures, or leading an assembly in a certain direction. Deborah was a humble handmaiden of Yahuwah who recognized that the men were the ones appointed by Yahuwah to be in the leadership role. She never rose up to be a leader or ruler over Israel but only spoke the word of Yahuwah as a prophetess. It was Yahuwah that brought Barak to overthrow Jabin and it was Deborah who rejoiced when the leaders were willing to lead!