Deborah ~ Bible Study Questions

Deborah – Study One

Read Judges 4

1. What was Deborah’s role among the Israelites? What were her duties?

2. At the beginning of Judges Chapter 4, when Ehud the last major Judge had died, what was the nature of Israel’s relationship with God?

3. Why did Deborah send for Barak in verse 6? How did he respond to her request?

4. What was Barak’s attitude toward Deborah?

5. Who was Heber the Kenite? What was his relationship with the Israelites and the Canaanites? (verses 11,12 and 17)

6. What was the result of the battle? Who won the victory? (verses 14-24)

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13

7. How was Deborah a good leader? What qualities do we look for in leaders?


Deborah – Study Two

Read Judges 5

1. How was this chapter different to the previous one? To whom was it written, and what was being celebrated?

2. When the Israelites were called to war, what were their various responses? (verses 13-18)

3. How was Sisera’s army defeated? (verses 19-23)

4. How was Jael, wife of Heber, involved? (verses 24-27)

5. Women play a vital role in this part of Israel’s history. The usual role for women in war time was waiting anxiously at home. In this song, how does Sisera’s mother compare with:

a) Deborah, “Mother of Israel”?

b) Jael, “most blessed of tent-dwelling women”?

6. Who are God’s enemies and what fate was wished upon them by Deborah in her song?

7. What was Deborah’s wish for those who love God?

Read John 15:10 and 1 John 5:1-5

8. What battles do we face today and how can we be victorious?

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A Brief Prophetic History of Israel

by Deborah Horscroft

Below is a brief historical outline from Abraham to Jesus to help put our People of the Old Testament Bible studies into context.

The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the fathers of the nation that came to be known as Israel. Jacob (renamed Israel) had 12 sons and his descendents became the 12 tribes of Israel. They settled in Egypt around 1876 BC.

Moses and the Law: Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt around 1446BC. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the generation who had rebelled against God and worshipped the golden calf had all died (other than the faithful Joshua and Caleb). Moses gave the people God’s law but did not enter the Promised Land. Joshua led the people into Canaan.

The Judges: For 480 years God’s people were ruled by Judges. Samuel was the last.

The Golden Age of Israel: Kings Saul, David and Solomon reigned over the united kingdom of Israel from 1050-930BC. Psalms and Proverbs were written during this period.

The Divided Kingdom: The Kingdom split into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah), which maintained the dynastic line of David and contained the holy city of Jerusalem. Elijah, Jonah and Amos were prophets of this period.

The Fall of the Northern Kingdom 722BC: The Assyrians conquered Israel. Isaiah and Hosea were prophets during this period.

The Fall of Jerusalem 586BC: The people of Judah were taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah was the prophet of God’s judgement. Daniel and Ezekiel were written during the exile.

The Restoration 538BC: When Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon the Jewish exiles returned under Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Esther and Zechariah were also written during this period.

Between the Testaments 432BC-5BC: After the last group of exiles had returned under Nehemiah and the last prophet, Malachi, had spoken, there was a time of scriptural silence until…

The Birth of Jesus the Christ 5 BC: Now under the rule of the Great Roman Empire, Israel awaited the promised Messiah, born in Bethlehem in the line of Judah.

This very sketchy history, including all the dates, was gleaned from the very useful notes in the Zondervan NIV Study Bible, especially the historical timeline.

Israel’s Judges in the Old Testament

by Narelle Atkins

The book of Judges tells us about the twelve judges God raised up to lead Israel. There were six major judges and six minor judges. The major judges were Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson.

Gideon is remembered for being an ideal judge and Israel thrived under his leadership. In contrast Gideon’s son, Abimelech, was evil. The son of one of Gideon’s concubines, Abimelech murdered seventy of his brothers so he could rule over Israel after his father’s death. He is not considered a judge despite governing Israel for several years. Abimelech fought with everyone and was eventually killed. A woman dropped a millstone on his head and he died at the sword of his servant to avoid the shame of dying at the hands of a woman.

Samson is one of the more well known judges. He was a Nazirite, set apart by God to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Philistines. He possessed extraordinary strength from the Lord because the hair on his head had never been shaved. Samson fell in love with Delilah, who tricked him into revealing the source of his strength. Delilah betrayed Samson by arranging for the seven braids on his head to be shaved while he slept. Samson’s strength left him and he was captured by the Philistines.

Deborah was the only female judge to lead Israel. A prophetess, she was obedient to the Lord and brought a time of peace and prosperity to Israel.

The role of the Judges in Israel’s history

by Narelle Atkins

Judges Chapter 2 outlines the role the judges played in Israel’s history. The judges led Israel during the period of time after Joshua brought the Israelites into the Promised Land and before the establishment by Samuel of Israel’s monarchy, starting with King Saul and King David.

The angel of the Lord spoke to the Israelites at Bokim. The Israelites had disobeyed God by not driving out all the inhabitants of Canaan before they took possession of the Promised Land. After Joshua’s death, Canaanite nations and other people still lived in parts of Canaan. The Israelites had broken their covenant promise to God and He left the foreigners in Canaan to test the Israelites’ faith and obedience to His laws.

The next generation of Israelites after Joshua grew up without knowing God or what He had done for Israel. They intermarried with the foreigners living in Canaan and worshiped their gods including Baals and the Ashtoreths. The Israelites were wicked in the eyes of the Lord and they angered Him. God handed the Israelites over to their enemies, who plundered and oppressed them.

The Israelites eventually cried out to the Lord for help. God appointed judges who saved the Israelites from their enemies and He restored peace and prosperity until the judge died. After the judge’s death, the Israelites returned to their evil practices and worshiped other gods.

The cycle of sin, judgment, repentance and redemption continued. Israel repeatedly forgot about God’s love and the covenant promises God had made with His chosen people. The new generations of Israelites turned away from God and embraced the religious and cultural practices of the other nations in Canaan. God showed His mercy to the Israelites by sending judges to save them and re-establish peace in the land.

Deborah: A Faithful Judge

by Deborah Horscroft

From Joseph’s line came Deborah, the only female Judge over Israel. She brought the word of the Lord to the commander of Israel’s army, Barak. God promised them victory and gave them an unusual battle plan against a stronger foe that had iron chariots. Barak had faith in God’s promise, but asked Deborah to accompany him – just in case.

Like us, many of those we read about in the early years of Israel’s history had an imperfect faith in God’s promises, yet God was faithful to them. He honoured their struggles to uphold their responsibilities, even when those around them were turning from God. In His mercy He forgave their sins when they were repentant.

Hebrews 11 provides a tribute to many of the faithful, including some from the time of the Judges. It also reminds us what it means to have faith while we await the time when we shall be perfect.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for… And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; … whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. – the world was not worthy of them. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11: 1-2, 32-33, 38-40)