Lectionary Year A
November 17, 2002
Judges 4:1-10

IV: Broader Context


The earliest Christians, raised as Jews, knew and doubtlessly revered the Old Testament stories. The stories in the Book of Judges tells of God’s dealing with errant people and bringing them through their difficulties to return to God and godliness. Perhaps the image of “deliverer” that judges modeled gave a hint to the primitive Christians of some of Jesus’ accomplishments on behalf of sinners who cry out to the Lord. At least they could find in these stories how God had dealt with sinful people both deriously and salvifically.


Old Testament Judaism was formulated during the Exodus to the Exile period. They could appreciate real progress in the development of the peoples’ trusting God to discipline and to save them from troubles.

In the 2nd and 3rd century Old Testament Pseudepigraphal “Helenistic Synagogal Prayers”, we read of God’s having received the gifts of the righteous in their generations, including Deborah and Barak. These Greek speaking Jews could appreciate the image of God’ being involved in the affairs of their predecessors, having called Deborah to commission Barak to go and defeat Sisera’s troops and return Israel to peace for a period. They would also resonate with the teamwork Barak requested of Deborah in battle and that she rendered her presence with Barak there. Did the hellenist’s care for one another include extending the responsibilities of leading battles into the “It takes a village” to sustain tribes in trouble, as in Judges episode after episode? Probably.

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