Deb’orah (a bee). (b.c. 1857.)
1. The nurse of Rebekah. Gen. 35:8. Deborah accompanied Rebekah from the house of Bethuel, Gen. 24:59, and is only mentioned by name on the occasion of her burial under the oak tree of Bethel, which was called in her honor Allon-bachuth.
2. A prophetess who judged Israel. Judges 4, 5. (b.c. 1316.) She lived under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim, Judges 4:5, which, as palm trees were rare in Palestine, “is mentioned as a well-known and solitary landmark.” She was probably a woman of Ephraim. Lapidoth was probably her husband, and not Barak, as some say. She was not so much a judge as one gifted with prophetic command, Judges 4:6, 14; 5:7, and by virtue of her inspiration “a mother in Israel.” The tyranny of Jabin, a Canaanitish king, was peculiarly felt in the northern tribes, who were near his capital and under her jurisdiction. Under her direction Barak encamped on the broad summit of Tabor. Deborah’s prophecy was fulfilled, Judges 4:9, and the enemy’s general perished among the “oaks of the wanderers” (Zaanaim), in the tent of the Bedouin Kenite’s wife, Judges 4:21, in the northern mountains. Deborah’s title of “prophetess” includes the notion of inspired poetry, as in Ex. 15:20; and in this sense the glorious triumphal ode, Judges 5, well vindicates her claim to the office.